Can you really eat chocolate, drink wine and still get fit? It sounds too good to be true, but according to this Aberdeen fitness coach, yes – you really can.
Claire Spence, owner of online-based business Naked Clean Health, works exclusively with women across the north-east to help them “feel fabulous naked”.
Unlike other coaches or diets, Claire doesn’t set weight loss goals and she is adamant she’ll never offer 12-week programmes.
The 29-year-old, who launched her business in December, prides herself on helping clients “lose, maintain and sustain their weight loss journeys” – all while still getting their chocolate fix.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about weight loss is that in order to lose weight, you have to remove everything,” explained Claire.
“As soon as you restrict then you just want to binge. If you’re thinking about pizza, cookies and Chinese but then remove it all, you just want to eat it.
“All my clients can still enjoy alcohol, chocolate or cakes.
“Everything in moderation isn’t going to kill you. It’s actually going to benefit you along your weight loss process.”
Treating calories like money
Even so, for anyone who has ever been on a diet, Claire’s advice is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
But her client progress pictures speak for themselves. So how does this motivational online coach help women achieve their hopes for weight loss?
Claire, who prides herself on being her clients’ “biggest cheerleader”, explained: “I encourage my clients to treat calories like money. Each week or day, a client has a bank balance of calories.
“I educate clients on how they can include those amazing energy, metabolism boosting type foods, but then how they can also spend their calories on smaller, more yummy and fun foods – so how you can fit in wine or Nutella.
“You’ve just got to be smart with how you spend your money.”
Food diary: watch to see what Claire includes in her meal plan on an average Saturday
Claire added that, of course, if you’re still indulging on occasion, then you will have to make weight loss compromises.
“The only thing that comes with factoring in things like wine, cheese, chocolate – all the amazing things – is that the journey will just take a little bit longer,” Claire noted.
“But at the end of the day, if you’re going to reach your goals without feeling like you have to drastically change your life, then you’re far more likely to achieve them.
“As opposed to going on a 12-week programme, getting to the end and then binging again.”
With no client weight loss goals and unlimited time frames, surely that would make success hard to measure?
“No,” disagreed Claire. “I never set weight loss goals because I don’t think that’s important. What I do think is important is creating good habits and a path to success – rather than saying ‘I want to lose X amount of weight and I want to lose it now’.
“Course lengths is something I never want to set. I don’t want to offer one of these 12-week programmes – if a client doesn’t achieve their goals in 12 weeks, then it just puts them in a negative frame of mind.
“My clients are educated on what they are doing and why. So, why they are eating these foods, why you are doing these exercises, why has this happened in your weight loss journey. I want my clients to have an awareness of everything that’s going on.
“I do have a minimum sign up, but after that period I would review with the client where they are at, where they are going and if they need to stay on any further.
“There will come a point when the client is ready to go off and take the tools they’ve learned away with them and go for it.”
An online coach and former competitive bodybuilder, Claire has been met with some common fitness misconceptions over time.
As well as the misconception that you have to cut all bad foods to lose weight, others which stick in Claire’s mind include; having to eat 1,200 calories a day to lose weight and lifting weights makes a woman look “manly”.
“Everyone thinks that in order to lose weight you have to eat 1200 calories a day – that’s not the truth at all,” she stressed.
“What happens when you aim for 1200 calories a day is, it’s like, ‘are you really eating 1200 calories a day?’.
“Probably not because you’re likely sneaking in snacks and things you shouldn’t eat because you’re so hungry.
“You don’t need to under eat. You just need to find out what your calorie deficit should be and everyone’s is different.”
Speaking on lifting weights, Claire added: “People say lifting weights makes women look manly – I don’t know why this is still a thing.
“If you want to shape and sculpt your body then you have to lift weights. You can’t tone without building muscle, and when you pair that with a good diet… that’s when the magic happens.”