Fallon Mercedes, a Fitness Manager at our Total Woman Glendale location, was approached with an amazing opportunity for a Personal Trainer; Gain weight and then lose it at the same time as your client to better understand your own client’s weight loss journey. Fallon was kind enough to share some insight on her experience. Check out our exclusive Q&A below.
Q: How did you ever find out about this opportunity?
A: I had a Casting Producer reach out to me. He had followed me on social media. I studied Journalism and Communications in college and I have a passion for Fitness and Health so it seemed like a natural fit.
Q: I know lots of people who would never even consider gaining 40 lbs. What possessed you to participate?
A: Well timing is everything. At the time I was approached, I was actually considering training for a bikini competition. This program was the opposite of a bikini competition. Most people would never consider this, but I was really intrigued by this challenge. As a reporter, this is the type of opportunity to put me in a client’s shoes. It’s not too different from an actor who gains weight for a role. Plus, I read the book that the show is based on years ago, and I was really moved by the compassion that the trainer realized during his journey. I wanted to feel the same thing.
Q: When you were at your heaviest, how did you feel?
A: When I train my own clients, I really focus on the idea of loving yourself no matter what size you are. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite so I had to keep reminding myself to love my body as I kept gaining the weight. After all, I am half Dominican and we’re known for our curves, so it was important for me to not define myself solely on my physical appearance. I didn’t want to lose myself. Overall it was a very emotional experience.
Q: Did you suffer from any health problems when you gained the 40 lbs.?
A: I did start to suffer from a lot of health issues as I started gaining the weight. I started experiencing migraines, fatigue and nausea. Plus, I started getting my menstrual cycle twice a month instead of once a month. I was very concerned that this weight gain might affect my fertility in the future. I don’t know if women realize and understand how much their diet, lifestyle and overall body fat percentage can affect your ability to have children.
Q: Was it hard coming into your job at Total Woman each day when you were gaining weight?
A: Actually, I think I had it easier than some of my fellow trainers on the show because Total Woman is designed for women. I didn’t feel like I was being judged the same way I would have been in a co-ed gym. I did lose clients during the process, but then I started teaching our BodyShred classes and ended up gaining new clients as they saw the weight come off.
Q: What was the hardest part of losing the weight?
A: Surprisingly, I had more trouble gaining weight than losing it. But for both situations (gaining and losing weight) the difficult part was stepping in front of the scale in front of producers, the crew and the client. It felt like I had to deliver each week and the accountability could be stressful, but it also kept me on task. That’s why having coaches or trainers while you’re trying to lose weight can be so helpful in finding success.
Q: What kind of foods did you focus on while losing weight?
A: My “go-to” is protein shakes. For me personally, I don’t like heavy meals in the morning. So I would wake up, drink a shake and then get a workout in. Aside from that, I also ate lots of eggs. I’m a big fan of crustless quiches, which I made using muffin tins. They are easy to make and perfect for "grab and go" during the week. I have other recipes that I am sharing on my website.
Q: How did this experience change your outlook on Personal Training and general weight loss?
A: I don’t think I realized before how much of weight loss is a psychological experience as it is a physical experience. You can have all the tools for weight loss, but if you are not mentally ready and committed to a weight loss journey, and how it will change/affect your life, then the changes might not stick. In a way, you're a therapist as much as you are a Trainer.
Q: Is there anything else you want to share about this experience?
A: There are a couple of things. One, this TV show is different than other weight loss shows. This was real life. We had to lose weight while living our everyday lives. We didn’t have personal chefs. We still had to prep all our own meals, make meals for our family and go to our jobs every single day. It was the same issues our clients have to deal with day to day, and we show that it is possible to be successful.
Second, I’m the first to say that I’m not skinny. I have curves and I like having curves. But, I am fit and it’s okay if my definition of fit is different than yours.
Third, when you set your training goals, remember that one workout will not magically take you back to your previous fitness level. It’s a progression. When I did my first workout after the weight gain, I was out of breath and struggling. It took weeks for me to get back to where I once was. Don’t get demotivated if you don’t see results right away.
We at Total Woman Gym + Spa feel grateful for having such dedicated and caring team members like Fallon and appreciate sharing more details about her experience. Feel free to add your own questions for Fallon below. Or follow her on her website www.fitwithfallon.com or on Instagram @fit_with_fallon.
Don't forget to watch Fallon's episode of "Fit to Fat to Fit" on A&E on Tuesday, March 8th. Check your local listings for time.