The SFN Sisterhood: Where It All Began

Whenever I stumble upon something that interests me online, a story, a journey or a movement that is established, I always find myself searching for that birthing point. I search out the blog that tells the story of how it came to be and always feel gutted when there isn’t one.

So here is the story of how the SFN Sisterhood became..

My own journey was very much the foundation of The Sisterhood, everything I wished I had, became cornerstones of this vision I created.

Rewind a fair few years and I was your average woman.  I steadily gained weight when I found love and this carried through to my two pregnancies. I wasn’t oblivious to the weight gain; of course I knew I was having to buy larger and larger clothes.  I avoid the mirrors more than ever, but always had it in the back of mind that I wanted to get back to the person I knew and scarily she was several stone lighter.

What happened over the next few years were a series of what I now consider “crazy diets” because crazy they did make me! Meal replacements, pills, pretty much anything I saw advertised, I tried.  I won’t and never have lied that I did in fact lose several stone this way. Who wouldn’t on 600kcal a day?

What I wasn’t: healthy or happy – essential aspects of a balanced life.

I reached a point where I was in the pits, emotionally and physically. I felt like I had tortured myself enough, that surely my hard work and tears should be rewarded?  Instead I was left with a body ravaged by low calories and a complete lack of nutrients. I also had this issue of flabbiness, but yet everyone was commenting that I was so slim.

So now I was confused, how could I be slim but flabby?

What happened next would change my life for ever. Whilst watching TV one evening I saw a guy training Peter Andre in a gym (I had not been in one of these for years) and I turned to my husband and said “I want him to train me”. Of course he just laughed it off, he should of known better!

By the next day I had contacted Nick Mitchell the owner of UP Fitness Mayfair and expressed an interest, however training with him was going to be impossible due to his schedule and my budget.  I was offered the next best thing, a block of training sessions with James Crossley aka Hunter from Gladiators and I snapped up the chance.

Suddenly this flabby unfit mum of two from Sussex, was making the 3 hour round trip to London twice a week to lift weights in an insane gym.  It was gruelling, but worth every second and I can honestly say I never looked back from there. I joined a gym locally and began looking at my diet differently, eating more protein and even started having protein shakes.

My body began to change, my mood lifted and my energy levels sored. I was hooked.

SFN Sisterhood Lucy Doyle

This was a bittersweet development.

As I watched my physique morph into something I felt proud of and my knowledge grew, so did my anger at all what I had been through. The loneliness I felt, the crap I had fallen for and the money had wasted.

Most of all I felt sad for how isolated I had been on my journey.  I knew it would have been so much more enjoyable if I had the support I needed. I decided at that point to use my anger to fuel something positive and enrolled on a Precision Nutrition Certification, I didn’t want other women to go through what I did.

Lean with Lucy became a reality not long after and I began helping other ordinary women, steering them away from fad diets and pills promising miracles. It was rewarding watching women develop their understanding and thus avoiding many of the pitfalls I had encountered.

One thing remained at the back of my mind, there were only so many women I could work with personally and as the workload grew I realised I had to stick with my integrity and accept I could not help so many in the capacity I was hoping to. It was then that we expanded and I took on several fantastic coaches to work with me and Lean with Lucy & Co was reborn. The Sisterhood movement was developing in the background and I loved seeing so many tweets with #GirlsSupportingGirls and #TheSisterhood.  I knew then that I wanted to grow the community, keeping its real and raw roots at the same time reaching a global audience.

When I came across the SFN Expo and its founders Jamie Rose and Neil Mclean, I was literally blown away by their vision and integrity and knew straight away that I wanted to work with them.  Thank god they wanted to work with me; otherwise I would have had to take to stalking.

So SFN and The Sisterhood joined forces and in a matter of months 1000 women came together in our group and a dream of mine, became reality.

At the SFN Expo 2015 we saw a huge rise in female attendance, taking it to a whopping 52% women and not just athletes or fitpro’s. Ordinary women, just like me, I was like a kid at Christmas!

We are 2000 strong and the most diverse group of women I have seen in one place, all who have one thing in common – a desire to improve their health, fitness, nutrition and they want to do so with the help and support from other empowered women.  I could not have realised my dream without the SFN team believing in me and every single woman who joins is another person who makes the global Sisterhood, what it is today.

SFN Sisterhood Lucy Doyle

If you haven’t joined us yet you can do so here www.facebook.com/groups/SFNSisterhood

To find out more about The Sisterhood’s future plans www.TheSisterhood.Club

To purchase your Sisterhood ticket to SFN 2016 and join us for a weekend of learning, inspiring and networking www.sfnexpo.co.uk and enter the code SISTERHOOD to receive a 10% discount on your ticket (early bird prices for just a few more days)

Transformation’s of the Year 2015: Scott McMartin

Meet Scott McMartin, Aged 47, from Larbert, Stirlingshire, and his amazing transformation story.

Before Scott’s Transformation

I was mentally and emotionally in a place where I kind of accepted the size i was, as that was what I was supposed to just be.  I wasn’t happy with how I looked and didn’t like looking in mirrors or seeing my reflection in shop windows etc.  I tried every diet going, some with some success than others, but always only lasted a few months, maybe for a holiday, then put weight on, on holiday and then struggled to get the weight off.

Physically I suffered from a sore back, sore right knee, and sore feet, looking back most of these were weight related.  I also had severe high blood pressure that I had to take medication for, but it still wasn’t getting into the normal range.

My main sport was playing golf, but being severely overweight meant that my back, knee and feet would get sore, and my game as affected for the last 3 or 4 holes due to being tired.

Transformation - Scott McMartin

Scott’s Amazing Transformation Story

In January 2015 I started ‘Slimming World’, I lost 1.5 stone till February but then the weight slowed down but I was only going to the gym maybe 2 times a week, but not training hard and doing the same old routine I had done for the last 15 years or so.  In March I decided that with a holiday to Tenerife in the April that I needed to increase my gym time and started for the first time in my life going to the gym in the morning before work and at lunch or after work too.  I also did my first ever Circuits class, after a 2 weeks of increased gym time I had lost 3 lb, and know that this was the answer.  I even went to the gym when on holiday every second day!

On return from my holiday I decided that it was time to get a Personal Trainer on the 13th June I had my first initial assessment session with Jane Ainslie of Xercise4less Falkirk.  I had always been sceptical of Personal Trainers as felt “I didn’t need some fit person to me I was unfit, I already knew that”.  How wrong was I? I have never looked back since started with a personal trainer.

I started with one PT session a week along with my new PT Program, I also started gradually attending more classes, like HIIT, as well as Circuits.  In June I increased my PT Sessions to 2 per week.

On 10th August my PT took over my Nutrition and I stopped Slimming World and moved to Macros. Along with myfitnesspal for my food logging. I also started Using a FitBIT Charge HR to log my calorie burn, so now I was logging calories In and out.

Mentally I had completedlt altered my attitude to food, exercise and weight loss. Although weight loss per week was my goal, I was now measuring body fat% and muscle %, as well has how my clothes felt on me ( I am now onto my 3rd wardrobe!).  I have averaged 1.5Lb lost per week during the whole 51 week period, (incl wee blips for holidays), some weeks more some week less.

Keeping Consistent

I managed to keep consistent by a complete change in my mind set to health, fitness and food.  The success was breeding success, I didn’t want to let myself down, or my PT.  Jane was and still is a constant help 24/7 with support and help when I need it.  I feel that without Jane no way would I have achieved so much.

I recognised that alcohol was wasted calories with n nutritional benefit, I wasn’t that much of a drinker before, but I completed have cut out all alcohol in the home and even if out socially I still drink but cut down and limit my intake.

Consistent gym session with a mix of Weight, PT Session, HIIT/Circuits and Cardio work works and helps me to keep the weight coming off along with the body fat% and the muscle growth. I go to the gym in average 8 to 9 times per week, 6 days a week with a Saturday as my rest day.

Using myfitnesspal and my Fitbit also keeps me consistent by measuring daily what goes I verses what I burn.

Scott’s Amazing Results

I am not finished yet, as still want to lose another 1.5 stone and get rid of some wobbly bits around stomach, chest and thighs, but I have lost 5 stone 2 lb in 51 weeks.  Went from 46” waist trousers to a 38”, chest from 52” to 46”.  My Blood pressure is now consistently in the normal range, although still on medication my Doctor and practice nurse are delighted.

I am starting to get muscle tone on my shoulders, arms and calfs which I never ever thought I would see.  This now drives me to keep going into 2016 and get to my target weight (14 Stone 2 lb) and then keep working on getting muscle definition on chest and abs!

It makes me feel proud of myself for the first time in decades, I used to feel that I was the fat husband/dad to my wife and 2 boys, and an embracement to them. I wasn’t in their eyes I was just their dad. But to me I felt bad. I now enjoy buying normal clothes and was delighted when could buy clothes without an x anywhere on them!

Comments from people I haven’t met in ages are the best motivator to keep working hard, as they got a bit of a shock!  Also my gym pals at Xercise4less in Falkirk keeps me on track and also others at Falkirk who are working hard to improve themselves for the better.

Scott’s Advice For You & Your Transformation

Believe in yourself, start slowly and don’t give up when nothing happens some weeks, just believe you are doing the right thing and the weight will start to come off.  Exercise AND diet are key. One on its own won’t work.  I’m honestly not sure if it really is 80% diet, 20% exercise I think it’s a closer balance than that if I’m honest.

Do weights as well as Cardio, Cardio alone I don’t believe will work long term. More muscle means more calorie burn doing your everyday job/life.

Try classes they are hard but good fun, and good comradery in them.  The classes help make friends who all help each other with their personal challenges ahead.

Use a food logger/databse as well as a fitness band. To track food in and calorie burn

Enjoy yourself gym variety will keep you from getting bored.

If you can invest in a Personal Trainer, they are worth the weekly charge over and over again. They keep you motivated, on track and ensure you are training safely.

To see more incredible transformation stories added every day this month, visit the Inspirational Transformation Stories page!
PS… want ultimate INSPIRATION? Two full days of inspiration at SFN EXPO 2016 – over 100 interactive stands, two seminar theatres, HUGE new live demo area, 5 incredible live events, interactive work shops, hundreds of your favourite athletes on hand for inspiration and advice! Get your Early Bird Tickets now before Early Birds end!

Transformation’s of the Year 2015: Jesse McClure (Storage Hunters)

You may recognise Jesse McClure from the TV Show Storage Hunters, but you haven’t seen him looking like this. This is Jesse McClure’s transformation story!

Before Jesse From Storage Hunters’ Transformation (…perhaps not his real name)

“I was drained all the time. I was definitely lazy and had really erratic sleeping patterns.”

Jesse McClure’s Amazing Transformation Story With Prestige Fitness

“I trained with the best!

I started getting personal training at Prestige Fitness. We looked into every aspect of my life style and goals. We made a clear plan how where I wanted to be and how to get there. I changed my diet from I eat just for practical, to a structured bespoke eating plan designed entirely to drop body fat and build muscle.

Mentality – I enjoyed exercise for the first time in years and this is only a credit to the personal training. I also did a lot of running, approximately 2 long runs of 8 miles a week.

To keep consistent, I kept making appointments with my trainer.”

Jesse McClure Storage Hunters Transformation Prestige Fitness

Jesse’s Transformation Results

“I’ve lost over 60 pounds
I’ve changed the way I look completely
I’ve changed the way I feel about food and training
I’ve improved my fitness and strength levels to the best in my life.

I just can’t describe how it feels right now. Everyone I meet says: “Wow, you made a serious transformation dude!”

Jesse’s Advice For You & Your Transformation

“Work your ass off. Be constant, be disciplined and find out what works for you. It isn’t a race, you should enjoy the ride.”

Thanks,
Jesse McClure

To see more incredible transformation stories added every day this month, visit the Inspirational Transformation Stories page!
PS… want ultimate INSPIRATION? Two full days of inspiration at SFN EXPO 2016 – over 100 interactive stands, two seminar theatres, HUGE new live demo area, 5 incredible live events, interactive work shops, hundreds of your favourite athletes on hand for inspiration and advice! Get your Early Bird Tickets now before Early Birds end!

Transformation’s of the Year 2015: Kirsty Cains

Meet Kirsty Caines, 23 years old, from Bristol. This is Kirsty’s transformation story!

Before Kirsty’s Transformation

I felt very down about my physical appearance and had no self confidence. I gained weight over a long time so didn’t notice at first. It wasn’t until I saw a picture of myself I realised I needed to do something.
Booking a holiday was my goal. I wanted to lose first, before I left.

Kirsty’s Transformation Story

I started by reducing my portion sizes and increased my cardio. Once I’d lost some weight it gave me the determination to carry on. I started running which really helped with my weight loss. I didn’t follow any diet plans i.e slimming world. Just maintained a healthy diet and exercise. Now I’ve got my weight off, I’ve started to have a personal trainer (Selina Scott) which had changed my body shape again.
Kirsty Cains transformation story selina scott personal trainer
Seeing a noticeable difference in my body was enough to make me want to keep it up. Mentally I was in a good place.
My start weight was 10st 10lbs. My current weight is 8st 6lbs!
I felt so much more comfortable in myself and had more self confidence. I feel I can now wear what I want rather then think am I’m too big too wear this. I’m mentally in a good place now and still very committed to training.

Kirsty’s Advice For You & Your Transformation

Set your goals to a realistic goal so you don’t get fed up. You need to want to loose weight to stay committed.
To see more incredible transformation stories added every day this month, visit the Inspirational Transformation Stories page!
PS… want ultimate INSPIRATION? Two full days of inspiration at SFN EXPO 2016 – over 100 interactive stands, two seminar theatres, HUGE new live demo area, 5 incredible live events, interactive work shops, hundreds of your favourite athletes on hand for inspiration and advice! Get your Early Bird Tickets now before Early Birds end!

Lucy Goes Veggie – Week 3

I wanted to do this challenge and follow on blog because I wanted to write something totally unedited. I wanted to write in the way I would have liked to read, warts and all. Bearing this in mind I sat down today with no choice but to stick with this, which meant not telling fibs and not hiding behind a perfect story.

I am not sure where this week went wrong. I can straight up say that I have not missed meat once (truth!) but nevertheless I confess to eating meat twice. I am even surprised myself as I write this, not surprised that I tripped (I had half expected that as a lifelong meat eater) but I am surprised because I thought it would be because the craving for meat would get so bad that I would give in.

Far from it, both occasions were due to circumstances and I decided that it would just be easier to go with the flow. So yes, oddly I have some sense of pride that I didn’t fall foul because I gave in to my desires, but just because it was easier in those moments.

Here is what I did find – meat is filling.

Late one night last week, I received a call from Lee Fitzpatrick from MuscleCake (check them out on Facebook as they are a company you’ll want to know) who deliver high protein brownies, direct to your door – yes I know epic right?

Anyway, the call wasn’t one I was expecting, neither was I expecting to be on a plane to Edinburgh just 12 hours later, to attend a black tie “Evening with Arnie” with the Muscle Cake and EFN team. I will avoid gloating about how awesome Arnold Schwarzenegger was (does that actually count towards gloating ha ha) but basically the site down meal was awesome and contained chicken.  I ate it with a pang of guilt, but I’m too long in the tooth to put myself on a guilt trip.

But here’s the thing. I don’t know if it was my excitement at Arnie being a few metres away, or I was genuinely unable to eat more than half the chicken breast, on my plate. It was unbelievably filling. Once upon a time I could eat a whole chicken in Nandos, true!

Those of you following me on My Fitness Pal will notice I haven’t written in my diary this week, blame my IPhone 6, that decided to self-combust (not literally, but it did overheat and die)

Whilst I cannot divulge my every move this last week, I can share the end result and also say that my meals are becoming more regular and I am enjoy eggs far more than I did before. Then only food I miss right now is tuna, but this serves to show how much I rely on tuna in my diet as a lean protein source.

I have also noticed that I am drinking more water. Related to my new eating habits or pure coincidence? Who knows?

Here are my stats;

Lucy Goes Veggie Lucy Doyle

For detailed daily breakdowns, don’t forget to follow me on My Fitness Pal www.myfitnesspal.com/TheSisterhood

This week I interviewed Toral Shah from The Urban Kitchen; she is resident foodie in the SFN Sisterhood and quite honestly is the queen of everything veggie!

Can you tell us how you started Urban Kitchen?

I began experimenting in the kitchen at university when I left medical school and found that I suddenly had more free time with fewer lectures in my BSc Cell Biology course. I specialised in studying cancer during the day and cooking for my friends and family in my spare time. Food became a huge passion so I studied at Le Cordon Bleu during the evenings and holiday. I probably was one of the best fed students at UCL!

When I was working in the City, I really got into training and noticed that there was v little healthy food to eat at the time. I had to cook my own food each day. Luckily, my office had a small kitchen so I sometimes threw salads together there. I had this idea for a healthy meal company 10 years ago when I worked in the City and was working, training, travelling and partying hard. I knew I needed to learn more about nutrition so left my job and went back to university, studying for an MSc in Nutritional Medicine.

Whilst I was studying, people kept asking me to teach them to cook or cater for events – that was the birth of Urban Kitchen. It’s evolved over the years but always been about a healthy gourmet lifestyle. Now, it’s more about nutrition, the science behind it and healthy recipes. I specialise in cancer nutrition as that has always been my passion. My MSc thesis focussed on the importance of diet and nutrition, in the prevention of breast cancer recurrence. I am now working on my first book explaining the science behind cancer preventing foods and sharing some of my delicious recipes.

2. Do you follow a vegetarian diet?

No, but I try to have a couple of vegetarian or vegan days a week.

3. What are your top 3 vegetarian recipe books?

A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones, The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia and Vegetarian by Alice Hart. Three incredibly innovative books.

4. What number one tip do you have for women thinking about giving a vegetarian diet a go?

The supermarkets are so much better for ingredients so rather than using meat substitutes, try actual plant based meals and mix the types of ingredients to ensure that you have a complete protein mix. Most vegetarian foods don’t have all the essential amino acids except quinoa and amaranth.

5. How do you keep protein high when not eating meat or fish?

As above, you have to ensure that you get enough protein from different sources. The government only recommends that you need 0.45g per kg body weight. I suggest a min of 1g per bodyweight but I actually eat between 1.5g and 2g per kg body weight a day. Most grains have quite a lot of protein, as do pulses, eggs, quinoa, soy products and dairy.

6. Do you have any events coming up? 

Yes, we also have a range of healthy eating classes. We have high protein for vegan class on Tues 23rd Feb.

http://www.theurbankitchen.co.uk/collections/classes/products/healthy-cooking-test

Transformation’s of the Year 2015: Stephanie Best

Meet Stephanie Best, 35 years old, from Whitburn, Tyne and Wear. This is Stephanie’s amazing transformation story.

Before Stephanie’s Transformation

Before my transformation I was really unhappy and extremely lacking in confidence.  I stopped going out with friends and family and instead hibernated in the house because I felt like everyone was judging me for my size.

Clothes shopping was my worst nightmare – I felt humiliated having to go to the plus size section and would quite often get really upset afterwards.

My health also suffered, just walking up the stairs would leave me breathless and eventually a health scare forced me to see how dangerously overweight I actually was.

Stephanie Best Transformation Story Athlete Nutrition SFN EXPO

Stephanie’s Amazing Transformation Story

I created a physical goal of walking to the summit of Ben Nevis. I researched using social media accounts of athletes for supplements that would help my weight loss goal and for healthy recipes.

I used a combination of a healthy nutrition plan supplemented with the Athlete Nutrition (insta: @an_supplements) Shred Stack and kettlebell workouts.

I then started on a training and nutrition plan by Liam Holder from Urban Training PT (insta: @urbantrainingpt).  Liam put together a full training and nutrition plan for me which is now not only helping me to lose weight but to transform my body in the gym and at home with kettlebells.

I had my heart set on being able to walk to the summit of Ben Nevis – I put pictures around the house of Ben Nevis to remind me what I was working toward.  I also had an extremely supportive family who helped me by keeping junk food out of the house.  It hasn’t been easy but every struggle has been worth it.

I’m still working on my overall body transformation but I am now at a healthy weight after losing 9 stone. I attend the gym 4 times a week and use kettlebells at home twice a week.  I also achieved my dream and reached the summit of Ben Nevis.

I feel fantastic now that I have lost weight.  My confidence is returning and more importantly I feel like myself again.

Stephanie’s Advice For You & Your Transformation

Be patient – transformations take time, effort and consistency – they don’t happen overnight or within a few weeks.  Use social media to your advantage.  Without the help I had from social media to begin with I know I wouldn’t have achieved half as much as what I have done.  I would also recommend if your budget allows finding a coach – my coach Liam has been amazing and supportive and has really helped me when my weight loss started to plateau.

To see more incredible transformation stories added every day this month, visit the Inspirational Transformation Stories page!
PS… want ultimate INSPIRATION? Two full days of inspiration at SFN EXPO 2016 – over 100 interactive stands, two seminar theatres, HUGE new live demo area, 5 incredible live events, interactive work shops, hundreds of your favourite athletes on hand for inspiration and advice! Get your Early Bird Tickets now before Early Birds end!

OFFICIAL: Ben Coomber At SFN EXPO 2016 & Hijacks Snapchat

Every year we put out a survey to ask who do you want to present at NEXT years SFN EXPO, and every year we hear the same name, amongst other greats – Ben Coomber!

Ben Coomber Announces SFN EXPO 2016 Via Snapchat LIVE Q+A

Ben Coomber at SFN EXPO 2016

Ben Coomber’s seminars at SFN EXPO 2016 are, as usual, set to be epic! He touched upon what he’ll be talking about, in the video above.  If you’re interested in fat loss, then you want this expert nutritionist in your corner.

Last year he spoke about How To Build Your Diet From The Ground Up, and it was amazingly received. Our SFN EXPO Twitter absolutely blew up with people tweeting about the seminar.

Possibly Ben’s best quality as a speaker – and probably why every wants him back – is that he turns very scientific data in to every-day you-and-I speak. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Dr in Nutritional Sciences or you’ve never read anything about nutrition in your life – you can take away everything Ben wants to get across.

SFN EXPO Snapchat LIVE Q+A’s

SFN EXPO Snapchat

All year we will be bringing you amazing opportunities to interact with our speakers and athletes via SFN EXPO Snapchat. You will be able to get all this for FREE:

  • See many speaker announcements before anyone else!
  • Ask our speakers burning questions privately and get a personalised video response!
  • Exclusive Snapchat only competitions!
  • Exclusive Snapchat only fitness industry discount codes and giveaways!
  • Follow the journey to SFN EXPO 2016: Venue visits, meetings with athletes, team gym sessions etc!

How to add SFN EXPO on Snapchat NOW: Simply screenshot the image above OR add username ‘SFNEXPO’ in to Snapchat. Easy. Done!

Transformation’s of the Year 2015: Shani McDonald

My name is Shani and I am 15 weeks out from my first bikini competition.

Shani’s Amazing Transformation

I started my fitness journey november 2014 after I quit smoking to prevent further weight gain.  I never intended on being committed to fitness as it was never something that stuck.
When I started seeing progress I became addicted.  I lost 2 stone in one month.

I didn’t have a lot of knowledge so I was a cardio bunny, never lifted any weights and thought carbs were the devil.
I didn’t start lifting until around April, thats when knowledge of food and supplements started to kick in.
Since then I became a massive fan of lifting weights. My favourite day is back day because of deadlifts.

Shani’s Accountability, Support & Results

A massive band of support followed from the team at Athlete Nutrition when I joined them in July.  It was actually a fellow ambassador that referred me to the transformation of the year.

Shani McDonald Transformation Story Fitness SFN EXPO
Also family and friends are singing their praises which is overwhelming and means so much.

Since November I am 36 kilos down and building muscle so i expect my weight will go up slightly but i honestly don’t care.
For the first time in my life I feel happy within myself.  I feel healthy.  I have a MUCH better relationship with food.  I don’t run out of breath running for the bus anymore.
I want to help spread the good word about healthy living so in the new year I plan on getting a personal training qualification so I can help others because it CAN be done.

If someone would have told me mid november last year that I would lose so much weight and become a fitness enthusiast who would be prepping to step on stage in a bikini, I would have laughed in their face and turned over in my bed.

To see more incredible transformation stories added every day this month, visit the Inspirational Transformation Stories page!
PS… want ultimate INSPIRATION? Two full days of inspiration at SFN EXPO 2016 – over 100 interactive stands, two seminar theatres, HUGE new live demo area, 5 incredible live events, interactive work shops, hundreds of your favourite athletes on hand for inspiration and advice! Get your Early Bird Tickets now before Early Birds end!

The Art of Communicating at UK Exhibitions

Are you communicating effectively with your customers at UK exhibitions? Cathy MacDonald discusses how to ensure you are getting the most of your investment at an exhibition.

Communication can be simple but there are layers surrounding our belief systems and emotions that impact on communication and they go beyond talking and listening. Because of those layers and the fact that we like to take shortcuts (without even realising it) we actually unintentionally miscommunicate more than we think.

Keeping it simple, there are some things I can suggest that will help. There is science behind everything I coach and while I will provide some of that science, I also need to keep the blog reasonably sized. If there is anything more you need to know, or understand then please contact me. I could truly write pages but for now I will offer one piece of advice in relation to initial contact, one in relation to communication and one about influence – a good balance to start a communication blog.

Lets start with initial contact with potential new clients.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

UK exhibitions

This is massively important because someone will make sense of what they see in a split second, much quicker than it takes for you to turn around and notice them. You will be subconsciously analysed by your potential customers by the way you look and from that initial split second they will simply decide whether they like you or not. Do they like you and your display sufficiently to approach?

You can encourage cognitive bias from the minute people see you – it is known as the halo effect but I tend to use the term halo or horns. In simple terms, when someone meets you for the first time they will very quickly decide whether they like you or not?

The more you can appeal to the Expo visitors on first impressions then the better chance you have of them approaching you. So, who are your audience likely to be and does the profile change throughout the weekend? If you know, then you can perhaps adapt within reason. Thinking about they way you look from personal grooming through to your choice of clothes may be beneficial. Considering how your display looks and the message it sends out matters. In fairness marketing professionals will be able to help with that more than me.

What I can offer is reassurance that you cant appeal to everyone all of the time BUT there are things you can do that makes you universally approachable in those first few seconds?

• Smile – it must be genuine (we can all spot a fake smile!!)
• Greet customers, even if it is simply a group ‘good afternoon everyone’ and thank them for showing interest
• Show interest in them without hard sales pitch

CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION

Once there is interest in you and your display, the most important piece of advice for dealing with customers is to listen to them and let them know you are listening which means responding to what they say. As human beings we need to know that we matter – its called status and is one of 5 core concerns we all need to function. If someone doesn’t listen properly then that is easily interpreted as ‘They don’t care and I don’t matter’ Customers need to know they matter to you. Here is a short list of dos and don’ts

• Avoid distractions – mobile phones are the most obvious. When a message sounds you will likely react, perhaps just with a look or a head turn but that immediately tells someone you are not listening to them and you would rather be reading your message. Allowing your mind to wander, looking at your watch or being distracted by what is happening around you can easily convey to someone that you are not listening.
• Try not to overtalk someone else. If you do then you are both competing for air space and listening ability is limited.
• When someone speaks, respond to what they have said or the emotion behind their words. That is the most effective way of reassuring someone that you are listening.
The most important word to someone is their name – if they introduce themselves – remember their name. A handy way to recall a name is to say it a few times when you hear it, sometimes relating it to something memorable about that person can help your recall.
• If you have a rehearsed sales pitch and people hear it a few times then they can feel ‘processed’ so be careful to respond to people in a way that makes them feel valued and not just another potential sale.
• No Surprises – if you know that there is a chance that your phone will ring or you have only a short timescale to talk, explain that at the beginning. If you start a conversation then there are subliminal rules that dictate you must continue, otherwise it’s rude. Some people find ending a conversation very difficult so setting a timescale at the beginning is one way of making it easier.

The BIGGEST mistake anyone can make is NOT LISTENING.

FREEBIES AND WHY THEY MIGHT NOT WORK

UK exhibitions
The power of reciprocity is exceptionally strong and is used daily by most people, in every part of the world. It is one of 6 social influential skills that Professor Cialdini, the expert of influence has researched and documented. There is an automatic human response that creates a feeling of being in debt to someone who gifts something and we try to balance that by gifting something back. It doesn’t have to be of great financial value and it may be an exchange of time for goods but one gift is normally repaid by another.

Freebies fall into the category of reciprocity, in exhibition terms that tends to be a freebie in return for an email address, a sign-up or a sale. If someone feels that the gift is given genuinely and graciously then that expectation may be fulfilled BUT, and this is important, as soon as that freebie is seen as an attempt to manipulate then it loses all its power to induce something in return.

It may be wise to carefully consider what you really expect to get in return for your free gifts. Most people attending Expos probably expect to pick up samples and freebies and providing they are useful after the event then there may be some true reciprocity value but the likelihood of bringing a return on the simple basis that you have given a gift is unlikely.

Go above and beyond what someone expects and that is more likely to bring a return. Think of your own reaction to someone going out of their way and encountering challenges to find product information for you and compare your appreciation to that action over someone giving out free keyring.

A FEW FINAL WORDS FOR NOW

Irrespective of whether you are meeting someone for the first time, discussing products or services or trying to influence someone, your ability to consciously communicate well is essential. Quite simply treat them as you would wish to be treated.

If you have any questions on communication contact Cathy directly on artofcommunication@btinternet.com

Transformation’s of the Year 2015: Nathan Peel

Meet Nathan Charles Peel, 35yrs old, from a small village called Waddington which is in Lancashire. This is his excellent transformation story!

Before Nathan’s Transformation

To start with, I was not in a very good place emotionally.  I had all intentions of taking part in my 2nd successful USN 12 week challenge in the January.  However, suffering the death of my best friend’s fiancé on Boxing Day 2014 and then also losing my Grandma (who raised me from the age of 7) shortly after, the start of the year was dreadful.

Having been in some kind of reasonable shape the year before, I disappointingly let myself go, and despite signing onto the 12 week challenge, I disgracefully kept letting my coach down and found myself back in the pub more than the gym.  It had got to the point where my wife was dragging me to classes and I was starting to ruin everything I had previously worked toward in my 1st USN BMC at the start of 2014.

Physically, my BF% was creeping back up to the 20% mark, my complexion and self-esteem had dropped right off.  I was doing little or no activity.

It was only one Friday evening around March time, when I actually dragged myself to the gym at which point I met Kerrie Donaghy.  The meeting totally changed my life, and from that day forward, my main aim was to get in the best shape I could ever be.

Nathan Peel USN Body Makeover Challenge Transformation SFN EXPO

Nathan’s Amazing Transformation Story

To start with, I wasn’t clear exactly what my goals were.  This was because I didn’t have the knowledge to know what my body could be; I didn’t know about correct form and extremely little knowledge about what it would take nutritionally to achieve what it was I didn’t know I was aiming for!!!!

Luckily, my coach Ben Dewhurst was amazing.  He guided me nutritionally, and taught me a lot about using correct form and about pushing myself physically and also mentally.  I worked hard in the gym, and prepared myself mentally for each session as if I was taking part in competition.

I even started running, and took part in a 10K race for a charity in aide of my mate’s fiancé.  This was something I had never done before; I posted a <50nin time which I was quite proud of.  Another achievement was breaking the world record for the most amount deadlifted in 12 hours.

I started to use carbs as a tool and really worked on eating more, which until that point I didn’t realise was the thing to do.  I also began to base my training around the Neil Hill Y3T methods which was extremely helpful as it forced me out of my comfort zone.  The strength and size gains were amazing, and also my fatigue levels were improved.

Portion management and calorie counting became a staple part of my routine, and towards the latter half of the year, really began to learn what macros were and how they affected me physically.

Finally, as it was approaching November, I was lucky enough to be chosen to take part in a USN photo shoot.  I had to get my body prepared for this, so started to reduce my carb and calorie intake.  I also started working on an area of my body that had previously been left redundant; my abs and core!!!  It was hard work, but eventually, they started to show, and come the time of the photo shoot, I was relatively happy.

How Nathan Stayed Consistent

I kept my focus on the photo shoot, and made working out a priority outside of work.  My wife was, and continues to be the most supportive person ever.  Knowing what I was like prior to being so involved in fitness, it makes us both happier; eating cleaner and not drinking so much.  It made me a better person, and if I ever had a bad day, I would bottle up all my energy and use it in the gym.  I started to go to the gym religiously, and as such, everybody around me started to become really encouraging.  They even tagged on, and since I have really got into it, we started up a member’s forum and now I constantly share with others what I have learnt……knowing that other people are taking notice of your change is massively encouraging, and as such, there was a drive to remain consistent even from them.

Locally, people were mentionin my change in physique; people who before, had never even known who I was…..it was an amazing feeling, and one that spurred me on even more.

What Was The End Goal You Achieved?

I managed to get my relative Body fat from around 17-20% down to about 7%.  I also managed to develop my physique so that it was more defined.  In the end, I wanted to look good, and for me, the final result was something that both my wife and I was happy with.

It still feels amazing to have transformed.  It has changed my mind set totally.  I have changed from a person who looked in on the fitness world and didn’t understand why people were so into it, into a person who wants to focus on fitness and fitness related goals moving forward.

Nathan’s Advice For You & Your Transformation

For me, the USN 12 week challenge is definitely a starting point.  The help and guidance I received from the team at USN was mind blowing.  I have to just say to people, that if I could do it, then they can.  People already ask for nutritional advice now, what products to use and best techniques to use in the gym, so in essence, I am feeding them the advice they need to transform.

The biggest thing I would say to people though is that it takes hard work and dedication; it doesn’t happen overnight, and to not feel too dispondant when things don’t change as quickly as you want.  The end goal is what matters, and if they work hard enough, they will achieve their goals!!!

To see more incredible transformation stories added every day this month, visit the Inspirational Transformation Stories page!
PS… want ultimate INSPIRATION? Two full days of inspiration at SFN EXPO 2016 – over 100 interactive stands, two seminar theatres, HUGE new live demo area, 5 incredible live events, interactive work shops, hundreds of your favourite athletes on hand for inspiration and advice! Get your Early Bird Tickets now before Early Birds end!