I Lost 50 lbs – Client Lisa (Case Study)

Written by Paul Dermody

My client case-studies are to illustrate that every journey is different.

There is no one linear path to success. Everyone’s journey is different.

The principles remain the same, but the obstacles they encounter are unique to each individual.

Having said that, I want to talk about my client Lisa

When I started with Lisa, she was the typical target for the mainstream “quick-fix” diet industry.

She was under the illusion that success lay in the next “diet plan”. Her mood could be dictated by the scales, and thus her actions, making her an easy target for the slimming clubs. These actions are what lead women like Lisa to repeat this vicious cycle into their thirties and beyond.

As a trainer, many clients are surprised when I tell them their weight is none of my business. This is their journey. My obligation to them is professional, but there are no arbitrary expectations from me on what they need to eat or look like. It is up to me to create a healthy pathway between them and the goal, and let them decide from there.

A little knowledge is dangerous, as is repeating the same cycles. Stepping off the weighing scale allowing it to change your mood is debilitating, and doesn’t work, nor does it make sense.

The problems we faced were never going to be solved by another “diet” (which I will get into). They were going to require a little deeper understanding than that.

(Below I will go through the process, with all quotes coming from Lisa herself.)



Lisa was in the mindset of “good vs bad” with no in between. Making decisions on the basis of guilt leads to compensatory behaviour, and fear-driven restrictions. This creates shame, not dietary freedom.

You (and no one) will ever guilt or shame yourself towards success. They are horrible means by which to try to drive achievement. You are never going to adhere perfectly to any plan you set yourself. Embrace it. Don’t fear it.

This was the first thing we covered in our client-coaching relationship.

“Now when I indulge, I enjoy it. I don’t panic. I just move on, and I enjoy that too.”


I wanted to see how Lisa’s relationship with time fed into her thought-process. She had been a member of every slimming club and tried every diet plan ,but nothing ever changed. This is the definition of insanity.

Instead, we set a realistic time frame, deciding to enjoy the process. We discussed how it would never work if she decided to make changes and then decide to be miserable.

“I did random diets on auto-pilot for years, but this was different. I started to question my actions. I was no longer in a rush to lose X weight by day y.”


Lisa was too reliant on the scale, and didn’t put any thought into what she was actually tracking and how. I won’t go in to this here (check out episode 101 of my podcast for more on this).

Her emotions were dictated by scale fluctuations, which was detrimental to the goal. This was not in line with the person she was trying to become and the thought-process that would guide her.

She would begin sentences with “I know what you said about the scale BUT…” and then continue to disregard why we were using it in the first place.

I challenged her to be unfazed by individual scale fluctuations and instead collect them as data points for the long run, if the scales were a tool we were going to continue to use.


I got Lisa to send over her food logs to me for most of our working relationship — certainly until the coaching relationship had unfolded and I knew her better.

I challenged her to be less reliant on me and start to think in the mindset of what the person she strives to be would do in that position.

This was a smooth process as Lisa became more open-minded with time.

As intended, I watched how being more self-reflective, aware and conscious fed into her own decision making — a skill necessary to hone for longevity.

“I thought I wanted someone to give out to me, to tell me what to do but what I needed was someone guiding me the way Paul did.”


Lisa had a false perception of what would be needed to be sacrificed. She thought it would be list of do’s and don’ts, eat this not that!

The sacrifices came in the form of letting go of attachments she had created that limited her, failing to keep small promises daily and then setting unrealistic dietary targets and thinking you could negatively talk your way to a meaningful goal.

She worked relentlessly at this and it showed.

“I used to think I would have to sacrifice my social life when all I needed to do was make changes that almost seemed too simple.”


Like many, Lisa thought that your diet was either something you were either 100% all-in, or not at all. Her old diet mentality meant there was no in-between.

She believed foods were “good and bad”, as opposed to the context in which they fit to the overall lifestyle.

I wanted to make sure I never heard the words “I messed up now so I might as well keep going”.


Woaaahhh! Settle petal!

We can get into that but it’s just not as sexy as you hope.

What Lisa needed was something smart, simple and sustainable.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and the foundation for sustainability and success.

Lisa built her own meals from a set of sound principles and married it with consistency.

I found what Lisa unlearned was as important as what she learned.

I put a lot of pressure on her in a professional standpoint to level up to the person I could see she was capable of being, and it really paid off.

She was always willing to rise to a challenge.

My goal with Lisa (and all clients) has been to empower her.

She is now able to take unsolicited advice, marketing gimmicks, soundbite noises and bad information on the chin and know what will and will never apply to her.



I want to see Lisa put herself in a position where her train of thought is in line with being better and doing better, in this and other aspects of life.

I got the sense that she felt a little trapped before she took on this goal — trapped in a limited mindset with confidence to match.

I have watched her build trust with herself — enough to see she is capable of hitting a big goal she sets for herself.

This has done wonders for her confidence.

Lisa has changed the direction of her life. You can follow her Instagram & Podcast where she regularly updated her journey.

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