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I did a body transformation and lost 11 inches – this is what REALLY works for fat loss

Olivia's transformation MAIN WEEK 12

During her 12-week body transformation at Transition Zone, Olivia Hartland-Robbins lost a stone, 11 inches and almost 7% body fat – that is huge! These are the 13 things she learned about how to lose fat, not just weight

So that’s it. It’s all over. I cannot believe it has been 12 weeks and that I have lost a whole stone and nearly 7 percent body fat.

But stepping away from the statistics for just a small moment – I am amazed at just how much my body shape has changed.

In the past, yes I have lost weight, but I have looked exactly the same, just a slightly smaller version.

But as you can see from my before and after pictures, my body has seriously changed.

Copy of Before and after alllll angles week 12

Final Results:

Weight lost: 6.5kg

Body fat percentage lost: 6.8%

Inches lost: 11 inches

Before Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Weight kg 68.9 67.4 66.3 65.5 64.8 64.8 64.5 63.8 63.2 63.4 64.4 62.9 62.4
Body Fat % 27.0 25.8 24.2 24.6 23.2 22.8 22.4 23.1 22.7 21.9 21.1 20.4 20.2
Hips cm 107 107 104 105 104 104 104 102 101 100 103 100 99
Waist cm 77 75 74 73 71.5 71 71 72 70 70 72.5 71.5 69
Stomach cm 90 88 86 86 84 83 84 84 83 80 82 82 82
Thighs cm 56 55 54 55 54 54 54 54 54 54 54 54 53.5
Overall Weight Loss kg N/A 1.5 2.6 3.4 4.1 4.1 4.4 5.1 5.7 5.5 4.5 6.0 6.5


Copy of Before and after alllll angles week 12 (1)

Copy of Before and after alllll angles week 12 (2)

I now have an hour-glass shape that curves in all the right places, my back isn’t as ‘rounded’ as it was before, I have a proper waist and even my thighs have shrunk, which I never thought would happen…

And why has my body changed so much? Weight-training and a clean diet. It has finally clicked folks, I can now proudly say that I know how to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle – and boy does that feel good to say.

When I started this transformation I wanted to lose weight and body fat to look good. But now? Looking good is a bonus because the best thing to come out of this transformation is how amazing I feel and how much more confident I am.

I have more energy, I am happier, I can get up in the mornings, I enjoy eating proper food over rubbish, I can go out with friends without having a breakdown or crying my eyes out and I want to be as active as possible all of the time.

And of course I wouldn’t have been able to do all this without the help I have had from Personal Trainer Mark Stanton, Nutritionist Emma Bardwell and Transition Zone owner Claire Findlay.

They have literally changed my life and that is no exaggeration. It’s impossible to put into words how truly thankful I am for all of their hard work and support in helping me through this transformation.

The thing is my whole life I have wanted to lose weight, but the whole time what I really needed to focus on was fat loss.

Losing excess body fat is the key to better health. It will decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and also many cancers. So apart from looking better in your clothes (and out of them), losing fat will make a hugely positive change to your overall health.

Transition Zone, Emma Bardwell, Mark Stanton Olivia
Emma Bardwell (Left), Olivia (Middle), Mark Stanton (Right)

Read more about my transformation journey so far:

Week one: Body transformation week one – operation FAT LOSS,

Week 2: Body transformation week two – 8 diet rules to live by,

Week 3: Body transformation week 3 – how to get results from the gym,

Week 4: Body transformation week 4 – How to do cardio for weight loss,

Week 5: Exactly what to eat to lose weight – Body Transformation Week 5,

Week 6: Body Transformation week six – 10 sneaky ways to lose weight on holiday,

Week 7: Hit a plateau? This is how to get motivated – Body Transformation Week 7,

Week 8: Body transformation week 8 – The ONLY gym moves you need for serious fat loss

Week 9: These are the best foods to eat if you want to lose weight – Body transformation Week 9

Week 10: 4 hormones that help you lose weight from exercise – Body Transformation Week 10

Week 11: 9 weight-loss mistakes ruining your body goals – Body Transformation Week 11

13 things I have learnt about fat loss in 12 weeks:

So, contrary to what I used to believe and now that I have myself as living proof, this is what I finally learned really works for fat loss.

#1 Do something you enjoy

If you hate running, you’ll probably always hate running. If you despise cycling, you’re unlikely to wake up tomorrow and suddenly love going to Spin class.

If you are doing something you don’t enjoy in order to lose weight, stop right now because you will not stick to it long-term. Trust me – I would know after being to just about every fitness class out there.

It turns out that after trying all of those classes people told me I would ‘love’, I actually like to lift weights, and I like the feeling of lifting weights, it makes me feel strong and mentally, I don’t feel completely exhausted afterwards.  But stick me in a spin class and I would be miserable.  Oh and after a few of those, I would probably stop exercising for a month and be back to square one.

Focus on being as healthy as you possibly can, and eventually your body will look as healthy as it possibly can too

As with many things in life, finding something you enjoy is the key.  As long as whatever it is you are doing to up your fitness levels gets you moving and burns calories at least three times a week, eventually it will help you get to where you want to be. It’s that simple.

Remember though, everyone has their own opinion on the ‘best way’ to lose weight. But realistically, there isn’t one best way, it all comes down to what works for you, even if it takes you a while to figure it out, you’ll get there eventually.

#2 There is no miracle weight-loss solution

If weight-loss was easy, obesity wouldn’t exist and a hell of a lot of weight-loss companies would be out of business and I wouldn’t have had 500 breakdowns over my weight every time I want to go out with friends because of my body consciousness.

But obesity is a thing and there is a new weight-loss product on the market every single day. Weight-loss is hard work and I won’t lie to you, this transformation hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been impossible either.

Transition Zone has taught me so much about fitness, weight-loss, nutrition, motivation and commitment

What I have learnt is that you need willpower, commitment and knowledge. Without these three things, you are fighting a losing battle.

So what do you do to find these three things? You find a personal trainer or gym that actually cares about your long-term goals and who can each you how to exercise properly. Then you need to speak to a nutritionist who will teach you what is healthy and what isn’t, and how you can eat for energy and not only to look good on holiday.

Transition Zone has taught me so much about fitness, weight-loss, nutrition, motivation, commitment, the list is endless. But you can’t do one without the other so learn about exercise and learn about nutrition – that’s key to successful weight-loss and of course fat loss.

#3 You need to be lifting weights

Resistance training and lifting weights is incredibly important if weight loss is your goal – that is a fact – not spending an hour on the treadmill and starving yourself everyday.

Plus, lifting weights builds muscle, and the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. The weights you use can be dumbbells, a squat rack, machines or your own body weight – just make sure you can feel the burn and by that I mean it actually feels quite painful to lift whatever it is you’re lifting.

Spending just 20 minutes lifting some weights causes you to be just as breathless as if you have been running for an hour.

Plus, for the majority of this transformation I was only working out three times a week. That’s literally three hours a week and look at how significant my weight loss has been. That’s why I am so into the whole weight lifting thing now – I finally feel like I have discovered what really works.

#4 Clean-eating is the hardest part

One thing both Emma and Mark made clear from the beginning was that body fat loss can’t be achieved with weight training alone, diet plays a key role. So, there was no getting away with letting my diet slip or I simply wouldn’t have seen the results I did.

Like I said, I was only working out for around three hours a week. After each weights session, I would have a shower, grab a protein shake and all the burning muscle pain would seem like a distant memory. But then I had to stay motivated and not give in to food temptation for another 23 hours of the day.  That was the hard part.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration because we sleep for some of that, but the point is you spend more time battling with your willpower over food choices, than you do working out.

Except for a few naughty treats (so, one plate of pasta – a big one – a piece of toast with butter every weekend and one whole Snickers bar that actually gave me a headache…) I have pretty much stuck to the healthy eating side of things. That has honestly been one of the most challenging parts.

At the beginning of the transformation, all I could think about was food, but now?  I know that I have made some lasting healthy habits, thanks to a lot of help and support from Transition Zone’s in-house nutritionist Emma Bardwell, (@emma.bardwell).

Don’t get me wrong the whole not drinking and avoiding the naughty stuff all of the time has been tricky, but other than that I have remained motivated to make the healthiest food choices possible, and it has all been worth it.

Plus, before I reach for a chocolate bar or biscuit, I remind myself of how hard I worked in my training session and was all that pain really worth it just for biscuit that won’t even touch the sides? Definitely not.

#5 Sleep is crucial

Getting enough sleep will literally change your life. Sleep is important not only for weight loss but also for your overall health.

Quite simply, if you don’t get enough sleep, you will find it harder to get out of bed, struggle to perform exercises in the gym, and be less likely to make good food choices, all of which will make your life harder than it needs to be.

One of the main lifestyle changes Mark and Emma asked me to make at the beginning of this transformation was to create a good sleep routine. That meant getting enough sleep, going to bed at a similar time every night and not looking at any screens before bed.

Not sleeping will make you hungrier

Sleep matters not only to overall health and motivation but also to body fat and weight loss. Sleep helps regulate two hunger hormones called ghrelin and leptin, responsible for letting us know when we are full and when we are hungry. So, if the we’re not producing enough of these hormones we could end up feeling hungry even when we aren’t.

So, not sleeping will make you hungrier. And that’s exactly what I kept telling myself when it was 11pm and I still hadn’t got into bed.

If that’s not a good reason to get to bed earlier I don’t know what is.

#6 Walking is key to fat loss

Walking is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to burn fat. In week one Mark and Emma asked me to make sure I was taking 15,000 steps daily, as part of my healthy lifestyle changes. And let me tell you at the time I was like whaaaattttt?!

As well as doing 15,000 steps a day, I also needed to make sure not sit still for more than ten minutes at a time… again WHAAATTT?!

I now walk everywhere, and if I don’t hit my 15,000 steps I just feel weird, (I’ve been for a few late night walks just to make up the step count – I think I have lost the plot).

I go for a walk every lunch time (weather depending) for 50 minutes, I also always walk up the stairs or escalator when taking the tube. It’s actually not that hard to clock up 15,000 steps daily, even though it might seem like a lot. I have also turned into one of those weirdos that stands up on the tube even though there are seats – every little helps.

I now walk everywhere, and if I don’t hit my 15,000 steps I just feel weird

Lastly and perhaps most crucially, walking makes you feel better mentally. It never fails to clear my head and make me feel like I have more energy, even when I’m really tired.

One thing I will say though, an office job is not a great job to have when you are trying to be ‘as active as possible’, but we can only try our best right?

#7 Fitness boosts your confidence

I can’t tell you at exactly what point it was that I suddenly realised I could do this transformation thing but I think it was possibly around week three? Or was it week 8? The point is one day I realised that the exercise I was doing wasn’t as hard as it had been. That felt amazing and it was a major turning point for me.

I was actually able to do the exercises without feeling self-conscious or like it was all going to be for nothing. After that I actually looked forward to Mark adding more weight or making me do more reps, which is what Mark likes to call ‘progression’. (Mark Stanton’s Instagram: @insidetrack_pt)

If you are new to exercise and feel like it is the hardest thing ever (like I always thought) promise me that you will just stick with it. No matter what you feel or think – just keep at it, because one day you will be chuffed with yourself at how far you have come and that’s one of the best feelings in the world.

Soon enough, those lunges will feel so easy, you’ll want to lunge your way to work in the mornings…okay maybe not.

#8 Don’t lose weight just for the ‘gram’

I spoke about body image last week, and it’s been the biggest learning curve for me. There is a lot of focus out there in the social media world (especially Instagram) on aesthetics.

Girls with toned stomachs, peachy bums, perfect boobs, tiny waists, expensive trainers and teeny tiny crop tops with flawless skin and not a single hair out of place.  News flash – they aren’t real.

And even for the small percentage of girls who do actually look like that, it’s their job to look like that. Do not compare yourself to them or you will never be happy – trust me.

I will never be six foot with long thin legs, and so what? The happiness I feel physically is now far greater than the happiness I feel looking in the mirror.

I will never be six foot with long thin legs, and so what? I have learned that the happiness I feel physically is now far greater than the happiness I feel looking at myself in the mirror.

See health and fitness is about long-term health, and if you are going to the gym and eating healthy just so you can look good, I promise you will not keep it up.

Focus on being as healthy as you possibly can, and eventually your body will look as healthy as it possibly can too – make that your new life goal.

#9 Be realistic

Everyone wants to lose weight, like yesterday. But realistically it takes time, you need to be patient and understand that unless you want to sacrifice everything you enjoy in life, you won’t ever look like those Instagram girls.

Do you enjoy a glass of wine on a Friday? Yes. Do you like going for pizza with friends? Yes. Do you always head over to the cake at a birthday party? Yes. These things make life enjoyable so why give them up?

Your best and healthy weight is whatever point you get to where you feel great, look great and can still have an enjoyable and normal life.

#10 Organisation is everything

I don’t think I would have done this transformation as successfully, without organisation.

Laying out my gym clothes next to my bed the night before has been such a simple way of getting myself organised.  I also pack my gym bag with the clothes I will be wearing the next day and put that next to my bed too. All I have to do is get up, put my gym kit on, grab my bags and go.

That way, when the alarm goes off at 5:15/30am and I know I have all this sorted, it’s far easier to get out of bed and I feel far more motivated to get up and go. But the mornings where I haven’t been prepared? It is just that little bit harder to get out of bed.

As well as sorting your clothes out the night before, organise your meals for the next day also. No matter what you tell yourself the night before, you will not wake up early to make your lunch and if you do, it probably won’t be as nutritious as if it would be if you’d made it the night before. The alternative? You end up going to your local Tesco and getting one of those dreadful meal deals.

#11 You feel so SO grateful for the people who have helped you

I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am to Mark who had to put up with all of my complaining, to Emma who would listen to all my life woes and to Claire for always making sure I had the most delicious smoothie after my workout.

And to all three of these wonderful people who were so supportive for the entire 12 weeks. I have never walked into a gym and felt so welcomed than I did when I entered Transition Zone.  I may be biased but Transition Zone is the best and most friendly gym ever.

If you want to lose weight and feel you need the extra support, please call Transition Zone – you will not regret it.

#12 I’m still learning

And finally – I still haven’t got it all figured out to be honest. Just this morning I woke up with a plan to go to the gym, heard the rain outside and thought, ‘nah, not today’.

But that doesn’t mean I’m a failure, it doesn’t mean I can’t have some peanut butter for breakfast and it doesn’t mean I am going to gain half a stone next time I step on the scales.  What it does mean is I got some extra time in bed to recover from my four gym sessions last week.

Seriously though, just try your best, get sweaty, eat healthy food, read all of my transformation diaries and you will be fine.

#13 Supplements help

Lastly, there is nothing wrong with getting some extra help from supplements, here are three supplements I have religiously taken to help me through the transformation;

To manage stress levels: you can try a vitamin B supplement, as vitamin B is known to help in reducing stress levels. Try: Higher Nature’s Vitamin B12 powder, £8.90

To protect your joints: try upping your intake of omegas by eating oily fish or taking a supplement, such as Vitabiotics, Omega-H3 Blue Label, £9.95

To help muscle recovery and prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) try a magnesium supplement such as BioCare’s Magnesium Powder, £14.75

#14 Protein powder is a secret weapon when it comes to weight loss

Nutritionist Emma stressed this at the beginning of the transformation and that I’d need to focus on eating protein, protein and umm…more protein.

That’s because protein is essential to the human body. Protein contains amino acids that are the building blocks of all our cells and our bodies can’t make these on their own.

Protein also helps the body to build lean muscle tissue and it gives the body shape, which is great when you’re training hard because it means you don’t get any muscle wasting, but instead are constantly fuelling your muscles to shape and grow.

Another key benefit of protein at each meal is because it helps keep you fuller for longer. That means having protein at each meal and snack translates to fewer calories between eating opportunities.

Indeed, a randomised crossover study was performed on 40 men and 39 women, who ate diets of either 5%, 15%, or 30% of calories from protein. The participants who consumed 30% worth of calories from protein ended up eating an average of 575 fewer calories per day.

If I was ever feeling peckish or I hadn’t quite reached my protein target for that day I would grab my shaker and mix some Healthista Lean Vegan Diet Protein, £24.99 (chocolate is my fave) with some water. This provided me with 14 grams of protein and a full tummy.

Without protein powder – I wonder if I would have seen the same results?

Want to undergo a transformation yourself? Book a free 15 minute nutrition call with Emma Bardwell at Transition Zone to discuss your goals, expectations and what’s currently holding you back.

Follow Transition Zone on Instagram or see their website and latest newsletter for more information.

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