Fitness & Body Transformation Day 1 – video blog

Today is day 1 of my transformation project that I posted about yesterday. I got up this morning and took my measurements and weight. Not brace enough to post here yet, though! It was eye opening, and a bit unpleasant. No body fat % as no way to measure it aside from my wildly inaccurate scales (the body fat function is influenced by something as minor as a glass of water).

Here is my first video blog… outside or cleaning most of the day, no makeup, midway through cooking dinner and with unbrushed hair 😂 


From fat to the stage on a low protein diet

I have neglected this blog for a while. Truth be told, I’ve just been getting on with life and business, and for a long time I’ve put my own goals aside to help everyone else. A good friend helped me realise recently, that while it’s good to help other people that I am important too. Over the past year I’ve put everything into my business. All my spare time, money and energy. By the time looking after my family fits into that equation there was nothing left for me, and I’ve been exhausted. My training has long fallen by the wayside in favour of helping my personal training clients to achieve their goals. I’ve got that the wrong way round. No, not the wrong way round, but perhaps that balance is wrong. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice myself in order to help others, and I’ve decided that it stops now.

It’s with quite a bit of trepidation, and yes, even fear, that I resurrect this blog in the name of my goal. I’ve set myself a huge goal and it terrifies me. Previously I’ve experimented on myself in the name of science (well, sort of!) to learn how my PKU reacts to different kinds of exercise, but now I’ve decided to see how far I can truly push myself.

I’m not going to lie about the fact that over the past year or so I’ve gained some weight. At my biggest ever I was around the 140kg mark, and I’m nowhere near there, but I have gained. That’s what happens when you don’t make your own health and fitness a priority though, I suppose.

I’m giving myself a year to see how radically I can change my physique while still maintaining my low protein diet. My ultimate goal is to shred the fat and carve a stage worthy physique, notwithstanding the inevitable loose skin that would most likely prevent me on stepping onto an actual stage.

I’ve thought about this long and hard. I have no idea what can be achieved, and how much having PKU and maintaining decent phenylalanine levels will hold me back. I know it won’t be easy, and that’s certain. It’s going to mean hard work, dedication, early mornings, constant DOMS, possibly being hangry, frustration and no doubt annoying the hell out of my metabolic clinic with this, my latest crazy scheme.

There are going to be definite challenges. For one, this is going to be done on a tight budget. We’re trying to buy a house at the moment, and that means that all expenses except the absolute essentials have had to go, including my gym membership. I have some basic equipment in my home studio – a bench with bench press, ham curl and leg extension attachments (though I doubt the leg attachment will hold much weight as it’s quite poor quality, and it shows), a very basic squat rack, a low step, two kettlebells, battle ropes, a TRX that I have no room to use and some too light dumbbells. I also have costochondritis, and I have no idea how to train chest without hurting myself. One decent depth press up on my knees or a chest session with measly 1kg weights and that awful pain starts to come right back. I don’t want to end up back feeling like I’m having heart attacks every week or two! I also only eat 12-15g of protein per day, plus an additional 60g of protein from my GMP (from whey) based medication. That’s not exactly much.

The only thing I might do is to get a few sessions with a personal trainer of my own. I have someone in mind, but I need to speak to her to find out if I have to be a member of her gym to train with her, and if she accepts credit card payments over the phone (which, to be fair, is very unlikely). My ability to train with someone rides on those two things, because I can’t afford a gym membership, and the PT sessions would be a birthday present from my mum in Australia, who, I understand, wants to use her credit card rather than sending me money directly.

I have no idea how this is going to play out. I have a rough plan, tomorrow is my day 1. I will be weighing in, taking my measurements and… probably not my body fat % because I have zero idea how to do that by myself and I don’t have anyone I trust enough to grab and pinch handfuls of my fat.

I’m 34 in a few weeks. This challenge ends on almost my 35th birthday. I’ve never been small. I’ve never been under a size 14, and while I’m fairly okay with me as I am, I want to know what I can do if I am 100% dedicated and push myself without giving up.

But hey… what’s a year, right? 😉

Re-focusing, food experiments and travel

It has been a busy time in the Buckland house these last few weeks, so I’m sorry that I have been quiet. I have just started a new job at a private personal training studio in Southampton, so I’ve been covering all my usual shifts at PureGym, fulfilling my obligations to my current clients, and seeing new clients at the studio as well as trying to learn the ropes there. That has meant I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to train myself, prep my meals or experiment with cooking new healthy dishes.  It’s a very different environment from the big, bustling commercial gym I’m used to, and the approach is a bit different. All the trainers share clients, so I’m already seeing a broader demographic of clients, but I’m learning a lot!

Brightside PT – the private studio I’ve started working at

 At the beginning of this week I decided it’s time to really focus on my own progress for a while. I spend a lot of time experimenting on myself with different nutrition and training approaches so I can better help others with PKU. Sometimes it results in great progress, sometimes I go backwards terribly (which has happened recently), and sometimes I just end up completely breaking myself. Two weeks ago I taught a really intense spin class then backed it up four hours later with an hour long strength session. Bad idea. Despite my usual high activity levels I was broken, went into catabolism and have just gotten over the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
The other issue with experiments on myself in this manner is that it can result in unstable levels. That’s bad, obviously. I find instability affects me even more than consistently high phe levels. My last level was frighteningly high and it shocked me a bit because I felt okay. I’ve reined myself in now on the experimenting front and I’m eating 10g protein per day, taking 3-4 Lophlex per day and ensuring I’m eating enough. I’m also avoiding any really intense sessions of cardio over 15 mins (except my spin class – not much I can do about that!

I have played around with meals a bit. I tried BBQ pulled jackfruit, which was amazing, and surprisingly easy. Not that healthy though, mostly due to the sugar content (1 cup of bbq sauce plus extra added brown sugar).

BBQ pulled jackfruit

 Now I’m sat on the train to London to take part in a meeting with Nutricia’s patient advisory board, which should be fun 🙂  
Over the next few weeks I’m on training courses for a fitness system I’m training in, back up to London for a PKU study day at the Tower Of London and heading over to Ireland to talk about PKU and fitness at a PKU day.

Training for fat loss

Tomorrow is a big day for me – two exciting things are happening. The first one is that I’m having my first day at the private personal training studio I’ve recently accepted a job at (albeit to learn the admin side of the business… no clients just yet). The biggest thing happening tomorrow though, is that it marks the start of my new training plan.

I’ve been coasting along for a while. Since I got busy in the gym my own training has fallen by the wayside a little. To be honest, that is part of why I have decided to move on. Between the 10 free hours I work at the gym in return for not paying rent, plus training all my clients, the only time I’ve been finding to train is after 10pm. When I train that late, I find I can’t sleep, so I’ve been letting that become an excuse and I’ve only been training when and if I’ve been able to find a spare hour elsewhere in the day. I do walk about 5km daily, but that doesn’t really cut it when you’ve got a big fat loss goal like I do.

Starting at the new studio tomorrow marks the beginning of more time for me to fit in my own training. Granted, this month is going to be tough – I’m going to be training clients at both PureGym and the studio, plus fulfilling my free hours as I’m contracted to give four weeks notice to finish those up. However, I’ve set myself some pretty big fitness goals for this year (like trekking either the Inca Trail in the Peruvian Andes or The Great Wall of China to raise funds for either PKU or Alzheimers – I haven’t decided which yet). That means that I’ve got to get as tough with myself as I am with my clients. I’ve given myself a huge kick up the butt and I’m putting a lid on the excuses and just getting on with it.

Over the next four weeks I’m going to be working through a periodised programme I’ve DSC03604_061215_put together that focusses on fat loss through a combination of high intensity interval cardio training and resistance training specifically for muscle hypertrophy (growth).

But wait! Don’t women get bulky from lifting weights? Let me tell you now, this is a huge myth, and it’s FALSE!

Our body needs muscle, and building muscle is actually really important when it comes to fat loss. When you build muscle, you increase your metabolism, leading to higher fat burning, even while you’re fast asleep. And that can only be good, right? 🙂 My goal is to build curves in the right places and strip the fat off the top.

I’m going to be doing:

  • Three full body hypertrophy resistance workouts
  • Two high intensity interval cardio sessions (lasting roughly 15-20 minutes)
  • and one LSD (long slow distance, not the illegal drug 😉 ) cardio session

On top of that I’m also going to be teaching spin, pilates, a strength and conditioning class loosely based on Body Pump and a rig based circuit class each week, plus getting in some of my own pilates practice when Miss 2 allows (she loves to climb up and sit on me while I do Pilates, which makes it impossible sometimes!).

I’m also going to combine this with a healthy, balanced diet comprising mostly fresh, minimally processed foods, perhaps with the odd low protein product in there, and of course I’ll be taking my Lophlex LQ 20 four times per day (one with each meal plus one post workout).

Now if you’re new to fitness, I wouldn’t suggest you try this to start off with. Even though I haven’t done a lot of my own training, I still do a lot and I’ve got a good level of fitness already. You can still do three resistance workouts and two HIIT cardio days, but keep the weight and reps in the endurance range (I’ll post a table of this below). Try that for a couple of weeks to get your body used to lifting, then start to move up into the hypertrophy range.

If you’re more experienced, start in the hypertrophy range, and every now and then have a week in the strength range so you can then lift more when you return to the hypertrophy range. Rest weeks are important too. This doesn’t mean total rest. Rather, scale your training back, focus on long slow cardio (min 30 mins at a steady state – you should be puffed but able to talk) and keep your lifting in the endurance range.

The table below refers to 1 rep max. This is the most that you can lift for one single rep. There are plenty of free apps out there that will help you to work this out.

Guidelines for Weight Training Goals




Hypertrophy (muscle size)






Low Moderate High

Weight: % of 1 rep max


Less than 67% 67 – 85% More than 85%



12 – 20 6 – 12 1 – 5



2 – 3 3 – 6 2 – 6

Rest between sets


30-60 seconds 1 – 2 minutes 3 – 5 minutes

Frequency per muscle group


2 – 3 x per week 1 – 2 x per week 1- 2 x per week

Many people benefit from structure in their training programme. If you’d like some help you can sign up for an online training programme by creating a profile at