If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably heard me talking about my Online Coaching Program for GAA Players.
I do my best over there to explain what the program is about, but it can be hard to get across in an Instagram post. I do still get questions as to what's involved, so I decided to go into depth and take you through the journey of an athlete on the program from start to finish.
(Before we go on, let me get a cheeky sales pitch in: if you’ve already been thinking about getting involved, or are inspired to after reading this article, then check knowyourselfnutrition.com/gaaleanathlete to find out when the next intake is!)
If you don’t want to get onto the program, then you’ll probably still be able to take something from this article.
So let’s get into talking about this client who has recently finished up on the program. He didn’t want me to use his name, but we’ll call him James.
Taking the Leap
I knew James personally before I even created the program, and had previously given him different pieces of advice regarding his nutrition, and although he had seen some decent progress from this, he knew that having a more specific plan, taking into account his individual starting points and goals, as well as having someone checking in on him each week, would lead to better success, in terms of his body composition and performance.
He told me of how the university lifestyle of eating out, drinking a lot, and lazing around during the day was catching up on his waistline, performance on the pitch and the quality of his life.
He knew he needed to do something to get himself back on track, but like so many others, he never seemed to find the perfect time to start. (Hint: there is no perfect time. )
He needed to start. He needed a plan. And perhaps he needed a bit of a push to start and some accountability to keep going.
Being a student, James wasn’t sure if he had the money to invest in the program. I was keen to get across the importance of investing in himself.
So, I asked him to add up the amount of money he was currently spending on alcohol and fast-food, and contrast that with the money he could save by making better choices. It turned out that he could cut back £20 per week, which was more than enough to make room for the cost of the program.
So he filled in the application form, and I got him to fill in the in-depth initial consultation form, and send me over starting physique pictures.
From this, I went to work on his nutrition plan, to be sent over to him before week 1 of the program.
The Real Reason
James was following a gym program through his club team, so he was signing up for the Online Coaching Program for help with his nutrition and lifestyle, more than anything else. Well, in reality, what he was signing up for was a desired outcome.
James had gained some extra unwanted bodyfat in the months leading up to starting the program, and this, along with other factors, had led to him being on the sub-bench for his club team. The combination of the excess bodyfat, not achieving his potential as a player and other lifestyle factors led to him to feeling under-confident, unfulfilled and a bit crappy in general.
So, that determined the goal and the ‘why’ behind the program: Lose bodyfat and fuel performance, to stake a claim for a place on the team, and feel generally better about life.
I put together his starter pack, which broke down the coaching process, as well as explaining the fundamentals of fat-loss and fuelling performance, as well his individual plan.
The first thing I got him to do was to begin tracking his food through the MyFitnessPal phone app, and got him to aim for a certain calorie intake target, based o his physical attributes, training load, goals and a few other things. He used the Gaelic Athlete Cookbook to make quick, tasty, nutrition meals, that also allowed him to his this calorie goal.
Over the following few weeks, I got him to begin tracking various other elements of his nutrition and lifestyle (protein, fats and carbohydrates, number of fruit and vegetables eaten, sleep, step count etc.) From there, we began to bring in a couple of supplements to help him hit these targets, as well as help improve performance.
Through the weekly check-in process, we were able to go back and forth via email and asses any issues that had come up that week, as well as any changes that needed made, based on progress.
As we all know, life isn’t always aligned with our own personal health and fitness goals, and James’ wasn’t either. Birthdays, nights out, social events and changes in studying/work came up, as they do, and of course, you can’t always ignore them just because you have fat-loss goals, nor would you want to.
Thankfully, James was able to relay his plans to me and we’d create a plan together for how to deal with each situation, as opposed to the usual “Throw caution to the wind” approach that he may have taken before.
Over the weeks and months James began to see progress. I’d get check-ins saying things like, “Taking the lead in the runs at training”, “starting to get some game time”, and eventually, “I’ve lost a stone and I’m consistently on the 1st 15.”
And this is no exception. It is surprising the changes that can be made in a few months with some effort, consistency and patience!
And it wasn’t just his body composition and performance that changed. His confidence grew, and his life outside of GAA improved.
I think this is partly down to the idea of “How you do one thing is how you do everything.” When you make changes to your health and fitness, not only do you learn how to make changes to your health and fitness, but you also learn that you can do things that you previously thought were too difficult or impossible, and that bleeds over into other parts of your life.
The best part for me, was that James went away from the program with the knowledge and education that he needed to continue making progress, well after the program finished, and he continues to make progress now.
Are You Next?
So, if you find yourself in a similar position to that which James was in, where you want to optimise your body composition and performance as a GAA athelte, you could continue trying and failing and trying again in a vicious cycle, or you could take the leap, invest in yourself, and set yourself up for not only 12 weeks of progress, but the ability to keep making progress, long after the program is over.
To find out more about what’s involved, pricing and how to apply, go to knowyourselfnutrition.com/gaaleanathlete.
Conor O'Neill, Know Yourself Nutrition
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