Sharon D’Arcy signed up for PN Coaching almost on a whim. But in retrospect, she wonders if the universe was prompting her.
“I wasn’t obese,” she says thoughtfully. “But my weight had been creeping up by about a kilo (a couple of pounds) a year.”
It wasn’t a healthy pattern, and she knew it. Both her parents are obese. Her dad has diabetes.
“In the back of my mind I knew that things were not as good as they could be,” she goes on. “And I really didn’t want to become a ‘bad’ older person — isolated, unhealthy, immobile, dependent.”
She just didn’t know what to do about it.
That’s where I come in.
Although we’ve never met in person — Sharon lives in Australia and I live in Canada — we both happen to be members of an Internet discussion group where I had talked a little bit about my own journey towards fitness and better health.
If PN Coaching had worked for me, she thought, why not her?
Lost 33 lbs and 13% body fat!
- Age: 46 years
- Weight Lost: 33 lbs (from 151 lbs to 118 lbs)
- % Body Fat Lost: 13% (from 28% to 15%)
- Total Inches Lost: 18.5 inches (from 209.1 inches to 190.6 inches)
Word of mouth. The testimony of people we trust — coming at a time when we are ready for change.
This is one of the most common pathways toward Precision Nutrition’s programs.
“Hearing your story gave me a bit of direction,” she says. It was just the push she needed. She started Precision Nutrition Coaching in January, 2013.
After six months of coaching, Sharon had lost 10 kilos (about 22 pounds).
By then, the differences in her physique were becoming obvious. As a surgeon’s assistant, she puts on scrubs every day to prepare for work.
One morning, a colleague, noticing the changes, commented on how great she was looking.
Blushing at the compliment, Sharon had an important realization.
“I feel amazing.”
That she could say this with such confidence and authority was in itself a powerful shift. Because in the past, she probably couldn’t have identified how she was really feeling.
At the start of the program, her main concern — like most clients’ — had been with losing fat. With looking good. With how things seemed on the outside.
Now, she realized, her focus had altered. Instead of concentrating on the way she looked, she was more concerned with the way she felt. With her own internal experience.
She was learning to listen to her body’s signals.
“If I ate processed carbs, if I didn’t get enough sleep, if I missed getting exercise, I felt yucky.”
In fact, when she didn’t follow the new, healthier habits she’d learned in PN Coaching, she felt just plain bad.
So most of the time, she followed those habits. And as a result, when her colleague complimented her that day in the change room, she could honestly report:
“I’ve never felt better in my life.”
Ironic words. Because just a couple of weeks later, Sharon noticed the lump in her breast.
Maybe it’s nothing, she thought. After all, she’d had some cysts in the past. And her breasts had been changing as a result of the weight loss. Maybe she was imagining things.
Sensibly, practically, she tried not to panic. Instead, she booked an appointment to see a doctor.
But her visit confirmed her worst fears.
The lump wasn’t “nothing.” It was invasive breast cancer. Sharon needed immediate surgery.
When things like this happen to us, there’s always a temptation to ask ourselves: Why me? What did I do, that the universe is punishing me this way?
So it was natural for Sharon to ask herself that question. Because the truth was, she had zero risk factors for cancer. Not one.
Well, except for being female, that is.
Now, like anyone faced with this diagnosis, she was overcome by emotion. She felt confused. Discouraged.
And frightened: Would she survive the disease? And if she didn’t, what might happen to her husband and their two sons? What would happen to her aging parents?
A part of her was even angry. “I’ve had three months of feeling awesome and that’s it?”
Sharon wouldn’t have been human without those reactions. She was only thinking and feeling what any one of us would feel.
It’s what she did next that sets her apart.
She stuck with PN Coaching.
Another woman might have thought: What’s the point? And dropped out. Given up, with a sense of defeat. Another woman might have blamed herself.
Sharon’s response was just the opposite.
First, she accepted her diagnosis.
And instead of blaming herself or spending a lot of time wondering whether the cancer resulted from something she had or hadn’t done, she decided to put her energy into the future and do whatever she could to preserve and protect her health now.
“I wanted to move forward,” she says.
So she consulted with her coach, who gave her some dietary advice to prepare her for the operation and its aftermath. “My coach was very supportive,” she says. “She was there for me when I needed her. She was just really, really helpful.”
Then she sat down with her surgeon and they discussed the schedule. “I’m a very active person,” Sharon said. “It’s important to me to maintain functionality.”
“When will I be able to get back into the gym?”
Think about it: Until six months earlier, Sharon had rarely exercised at all in her entire 46 years on the planet.
Now, faced with the diagnosis of cancer, her first priority was how she’d maintain her fitness.
It’s probably no coincidence that she sailed through surgery without a hitch.
“I can’t imagine how I’d have got through this experience without the program.”
“It was my saving grace, having that there,” she says now. “I found the lump early but I think it would have been much more advanced if I hadn’t lost the weight and gone down a couple of bra sizes.”
Not only that, but the program’s structure gave her structure.
It helped prevent her days from degenerating into nonstop worry-fests. “I tend to live in my head,” she jokes. “And it’s a busy place.”
PN Coaching’s emphasis on mindfulness helped her to change that.
So instead of indulging in an endless loop of “could have, would have, should have” scenarios, in the days and weeks before and after her operation, she just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
She focused on what she could do.
“I don’t know how I would have coped with the physical and emotional stresses of my diagnosis and treatment if I hadn’t been feeling so amazingly well and strong from the lifestyle changes I had made.”
And one reason she bounced back from her surgery so quickly, she feels, is that she had such a strong foundation of fitness in the first place.
Still, an experience like Sharon’s is bound to shake a person’s confidence.
No matter how positive you are or try to be, no matter how deeply you trust your doctors, no matter how familiar you are with medical language or medical procedures, there’s something about the system itself that’s disempowering.
“Even for someone like me, who knows hospitals so well… being on the receiving end of that tends to undermine your trust in your own body,” she says quietly.
That’s why it was so important to Sharon to get back into the gym following her surgery. Working out gave her a much-needed sense of power and control.
“This program gave me my body back,” she says. “When I’m in the gym, it’s not about the disease or the treatments. It’s about what I can do and how I feel.”
And the day, near the end of the program, where she performed her first unassisted pull-up — a goal from the start — was a day of triumph.
Sharon transformed her body… though not completely the way she expected.
Sharon decided not to get reconstructive surgery. As a formerly large-busted woman, she’s now gone down to what she jokingly calls a “0 cup”.
Despite not ending up where she’d anticipated, she’s found it a much easier adjustment than she’d expected — in large part because she’s focused so much more now on the joy of movement.<
“This is how I’m meant to look, and be,” she says, with a smile. “I never knew it before, but now I do.”
Her goal today is to continue to move, continue to grow, continue to learn, and to pay it forward to others in her situation. As a first step, she’s started a fashion blog for other women who have lost their breasts to cancer.
“I Googled it, and there was surprisingly little out there,” she reports. “So I thought it could be helpful to others, to see how you can maintain your style and flair after major body changes.”
Today, Sharon is lighter than she has ever been. Not just in physical terms — but also in spirit.
She and her husband, Greg, enjoy the kind of active lifestyle that they only dreamed of before.
Partway through Sharon’s journey, Greg joined PN’s Scrawny to Brawny program for men — testimony to the power of word-of-mouth, yet again. The two of them have since signed up for a couple of obstacle races together.
At 46, Sharon has even started learning parkour.
“Growing up, my family was never sporty,” she says. But now she feels sad when she thinks of the wasted potential.
As a result, she’s recently purchased gym memberships for both her young adult sons, so that they can begin to build the habit of regular movement now and set a firm foundation for a healthier future.
“People don’t always understand the impact of their actions over time,” she says. “But working in medicine, I see it.”
Your body is your truth.
That’s the lesson that’s stuck most powerfully with Sharon, as she nears the end of the program.
“Knowing this I will choose to strengthen it with daily movement, nourish it with fresh and healthy foods and protect it with rest and relaxation,” she says.
“I am so, so grateful,” she adds. “I feel as if I’ve been given a second chance.”
I ask Sharon what she most wants people to take away from her story.
Her large eyes glow and her voice rings with the conviction that is born only of deep experience.
“Enjoy your body,” she says.
“Take pleasure in movement. Take pride in what you can do.”
Want to read more great stories like Sharon’s? Then come meet a few other men, women, and couples who lost weight, started eating better, and took control of their health.
Want help finally getting the healthy, energetic body you’re after?
Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.
That’s why we work closely with Precision Nutrition Coaching clients to help them lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health…no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.
It’s also why we work with health and fitness pros (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.
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, July 19th, 2023.
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].