To look at Ron Dykstra and Stephanie Buchanan today, you’d find it tough to believe that they ever needed to lose weight.
Strong, lean, with glowing skin and ready smiles, they’re walking advertisements for a healthy lifestyle.
Sure enough, Ron works in the fitness industry and Stephanie’s an athlete. And for many years their lives have centered on fitness and health — in fact, that’s a big part of what drew them together.
So what made them sign up for Precision Nutrition coaching? Why would they even need it?
Ron & Stephanie’s Transformation
For Stephanie, it had to do with her frustration with some of the other coaching she’d received over the years.
A self-confessed “martial arts junkie” who at various times in her life had competed in Taekwondo, Muay Thai, and Kung Fu as well as dance and gymnastics, she’d recently turned to boxing — and loved it.
Stephanie was a pro, used to working hard inside and outside the ring. Never one to hold back, in workouts and practices she always gave everything she had. So she was strong and fit and she certainly wasn’t obese. She wasn’t even technically “fat.”
Yet often, she struggled to make weight for her sport. And that struggle increased her stress levels, making it harder to focus on improving her performance.
“I know how to eat,” she thought. “I know what to do.” But despite her hard-earned knowledge, something wasn’t working.
Worse yet, none of the advice she was getting (most of it geared to teenage boys) helped her, an adult woman, fix the problem.
In fact, she was starting to wonder if there was something wrong with her. “Some of my coaches put unrealistic expectations on me,” she says. “But I had no idea that their expectations were inappropriate. I thought I was the problem. I just needed to work more, or work harder.”
Ron, meanwhile, had made something of a career out of being big.
Chubby — and bullied for it as a kid — as a teen he’d become fascinated with strength and power. Later, in his work as a trainer, he’d aimed to become the super-strong, massive guy, the one that everyone notices because of his size.
Over time, he had achieved the massive part. “I was a conscientious over-eater,” he jokes. “Deliberately overweight.”
The trouble was, he’d reached a point where his size wasn’t actually making him stronger. And, if he was honest with himself, too much of it was fat, not muscle.
Enter Krista Scott-Dixon, Precision Nutrition’s Program Director. She knew Ron and Stephanie as friends. Now she spoke to them as a coach and mentor, encouraging them to give Precision Nutrition Coaching a try.
It was their trust in Krista that prepared Ron and Stephanie to make the commitment, and to make it together, as a couple. Entering the program, they felt as eager as a pair of 10 year olds about to go off to camp together — hopeful and excited about their new shared adventure.
So what happened next surprised them.
Ron started losing weight. Stephanie didn’t.
In retrospect, this shouldn’t have come as a shock. After all, Ron’s a guy (and guys tend to lose fat more easily). Not to mention the fact that he had more fat to lose.
So they can and do laugh about it now.
But at the time, it didn’t seem so funny. Especially to Stephanie.
“I was doing all the grocery shopping…”
Ron nods in agreement.
“All the cooking…”
“She’s a great cook,” Ron interjects.
“I was working out non-stop, being super-conscientious in the gym.”
Ron nods again.
“And he was losing all the weight!”
Stephanie gives me a wry look and shakes her head. “I mean, really! What is this?”
Things went on like that for about six months.
“Let’s just say that Ron became an expert on living with an angry black woman,” she adds.
Participants in Precision Nutrition Coaching take photos and measurements once a month to document their physical transformations. And like many couples who go through the program together, Ron and Stephanie chose to take one another’s pictures.
“I shed my bitterest tears on measurement days during those first six months,” Stephanie says.
“I’m an athlete. So I’m super-competitive. It was hard for me to see so little change in myself while he was dropping pounds and inches like crazy.”
Worse yet, Ron would sometimes try to “fix” the problem.
“I’d be ranting to him. Telling him I was mad. And he’d try to come up with some… solution,” she laughs.
“What can I say?” Ron adds. “I’m a guy.”
It was six months before Stephanie started to see external changes. Six months before her weight or her measurements changed in a significant way. Six months of tears and frustration at picture time. Six month of niggling irritation that her partner was just breezing along, seemingly without a care
In the meantime, she learned important lessons about patience and comparison.
And she depended on some ‘elders’ in the PN community to help her out.
Women who had “been there” themselves and who knew what she was facing. Women like Coach Krista Schaus, who knew and understood that an adult woman’s body is different from a teenage boy’s or even from an adult male’s — and will respond differently to nutrition and training.
Finally, about halfway through the program, something clicked for Stephanie. “I made some connection between food, health, and how I was feeling,” she said. “I stopped thinking so much about what I looked like. The fear and anger decreased.” She thinks about it for a minute. “I guess I relaxed.”
For years, she’d been stuck in a “more” mentality — always aiming to work harder, train harder.
Now she learned to train in a new way. “I was more consistent, but less intense,” she says. I gave myself time to rest and recover.”
And that’s when the pounds began to come off. She made weight without stress. And she won the Ontario 2013 Golden Glove Championship in boxing.
Meanwhile, for Ron, Precision Nutrition Coaching was also proving to be an unexpected revelation.
To begin with, he hadn’t really understood that he had so much fat to lose. So, as the weeks passed and he followed Precision Nutrition Coaching habits and lessons, he was happily surprised to watch it melt away — revealing his muscles as it went.
Not only was Ron shedding fat and gaining strength, he was also adding important professional skills and knowledge to his repertoire.
As a trainer, Ron had worked with some terrific strength and conditioning athletes over the years — from both sides of the barbell.
“But I’d never really had consistent coaching,” he says. “I’d trained with some amazing people. And they’d helped me a lot. But I’d never worked so holistically on nutrition and fitness.”
Now that he did have a coach, it was changing the way he worked with his own clients.
“I started listening differently. I saw their challenges in a new way. And that made me better at my job.”
That message was brought home to him — literally — by one of his most valued clients: His life and business partner, Stephanie.
Ron had been working with Stephanie on strength and conditioning since 2009. Plus, Ron started attending Steph’s introduction to boxing class at around the same time, which opened up a whole new world of training for him. But the relationship was not without its tensions.
“Some people need to be told what to do,” Ron says. “But others have strong ideas of their own.”
He and Stephanie grin at each other. “Do they ever!” Stephanie admits.
“And with those people,” Ron continues, “You need to engineer a meeting of minds. The work becomes much more collaborative.”
Ron knew that Stephanie tended to push herself – that it was tough for her to go lighter at any time. But he also knew that life — even an athlete’s life — shouldn’t be an unending cycle of pain. Progression would be key to her improvement.
“It was difficult for me to trust, at first,” Stephanie admits. “I needed to know that going light at first was part of a plan. That he wasn’t just dismissing me.”
“She showed me that she could exceed my expectations,” Ron says. “And I learned to communicate more clearly.”
In fact, sometimes a client’s resistance results from a coach’s lack of clarity. Ron learned that through Precision Nutrition Coaching.
In the end, for both Ron and Stephanie, it was all about trust.
Trust in their Precision Nutrition coaches, trust in the program, and trust in each other.
“Both of us had blocks — stuff we had to break down,” Stephanie says. “In the gym. In the kitchen. In other areas of life. It was a process.”
That process wasn’t always comfortable. It brought old buried individual hurts to light. It brought tensions in their relationship to light. So sometimes they struggled.
But through it all, they had their coaches and the vibrant PN community to rely on.
They also had each other. And that made the biggest difference.
While the workout component of the program was relatively easy for the two of them, sometimes they “cursed and muttered” to each other about their Precision Nutrition Coaching lessons or habits.
Like the day that one of the lessons asked them to go without meat. Or the day they had to dine from their local farmer’s market. “Yeah, right. It only comes once a week to our area. The day after we do our groceries. And never in winter!”
But it was fun to have somebody to grumble with. And, more importantly, they supported one another in their new nutritional habits.
“There were never any arguments about food,” Ron says. “We didn’t have junk in the house.”
And Stephanie made it possible for this former meat-and-potatoes man to eat his vegetables. “She hid them,” he laughs. “Half the time I didn’t even know they were there.”
He could never have done this on his own. Without Stephanie’s practical and creative kitchen expertise, he’d have floundered on this foundational habit and might have missed that powerful punch of antioxidants all his life.
Meanwhile, Ron’s calm and analytical approach “grounded” Stephanie, who tends to be the creative and emotional one in their partnership.
“I joke about him needing to fix everything,” she says. “And it’s true that it bugged me when he’d try to find a solution to my anger.”
But as a matter of fact, sometimes his “fixes” actually worked. “He talked me down. He kept me sane. He helped me stop obsessing about stuff.”
Their most important message to other couples considering coaching?
“You are not the same person. You will not advance at the same rate.”
“For women, change is happening. It’s just under the surface,” Stephanie says. “In your darkest hours, when you think there’s nothing going on — that’s when the important stuff is happening.”
“There’s a certain element of just staying the course,” Ron adds. “If things seem tough or annoying, just wait, and see what the next week brings.”
That’s good advice.
Because, in the end, despite their different trajectories through Precision Nutrition Coaching, Ron and Stephanie had almost exactly the same result.
“It’s not about sticking to the letter of the law,” Ron says. “It’s about sticking to the process.”
“Challenge yourself to think about it, invest in it, stick with it,” Stephanie adds.
“We pushed each other to do that,” they add.
Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.
We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021.
If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.
- You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
- You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.
If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.
[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].