JacintaPT – Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach
My name is Jacinta Silva. I have had the pleasure of working with people to achieve their goals as a personal trainer and nutrition coach since 2013. Helping people overcome barriers to better health and, as a result, a better, stronger, fitter, more resilient body, is my passion. Read on to find out more about me.
In order to achieve a goal you need a plan. Together we will develop a strategy based on these two important factors:
Learn what to eat to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy while removing the toxic foods that make your body unable to function and cause disease. In the process you will track your food, challenge your current understanding of what is “healthy” and analyse your diet to make positive changes. Knowledge is power.
You will follow a structured training program that is challenging and focusses on progression above all else – get fitter, stronger, faster, better. If you want your body to change you need to challenge it!
If you read my story below, you’ll learn that in my best efforts to be healthy, I kept making myself sick. With all the conflicting information pushed on us today, it’s easy to latch on to a weight loss method that seems to work for others and is backed by science, but ultimately will do you more harm than good. My hope is to help people avoid making the same mistakes with their health as I did. I have learned a lot from my personal experiences as well as from working with over a hundred clients.
More about me
- Personal Trainer – Certificate III & IV in Fitness, Australian Institute of Fitness.
- Fitness Nutrition Coach – Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics for Personal Trainers, FIAFitnation.
- Clinical Nutritionist (currently studying, completing April 2021) – Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine), Endeavour College of Natural Health.
- Nutrition Psychology: Food Choice and Eating Habits – Cadence Health.
- Psychology, Behaviour Change and Wellbeing Management – Cadence Health.
- Numerous other specialist certificates such as PunchFit and Olympic Weightlifting.
- Jul 2012 to Dec 2013 – contractor for Bootycamps, running female only bootcamps all around Melbourne.
- Feb 2013 to Jan 2015 – ran my PT business from my home based studio in Endeavour Hills.
- Jan 2015 to Jan 2017 – ran my PT business from Chadstone South Pacific Health Clubs, 35+ sessions per week training 100+ people during that time.
- Jan 2017 to current – running my PT business in Oakleigh.
I’ll warn you in advance – this is a long story, but I hope you read on anyway. Here it is…
I was unhealthy and sick
I haven’t always been into fitness – until the age of 25 I was very unhealthy and overweight. I ate mostly fast food because it was cheap and I hated cooking, rarely ate fruit or colourful vegetables, loved salty snacks, drank too much alcohol and was a smoker. I suffered anxiety, was lethargic and tired all the time, had frequent heart palpitations and uncomfortable (which is an understatement) digestive issues. I had all kinds of allergic disorders since childhood that just kept getting worse including asthma, eczema, psoriasis, frequent bouts of sinusitis, and severe heyfever. I also had zero attention span and felt like I had brain-fog all the time. This caused me to fail a few subjects at Uni and, after two attempts at different degrees, eventually gave up.
Even though I was having a lot of “fun” in my early twenties, I was secretly miserable. One day I decided enough was enough and made some major life changes. I stopped smoking, cut back on alcohol, started eating (healthy) frozen meals, tracked my calorie intake, joined a gym and threw myself into a weight loss regime. At first I just did what I thought was right, and I managed to lose a fair amount of weight by hitting the crosstrainer hard and sticking to a very strict low calorie, low fat diet. After 4 months of hard exercise and dieting I’d lost 12kg, but I felt weak, was sick of being hungry all the time and although I’d lost weight my body didn’t have a nice shape.
So then I started working with a personal trainer, and at the same time started the studying fitness. I learnt a lot about weight training and completely changed my focus in the gym. I was lifting weights, doing high intensity interval training, and starting eating much more protein, less carbs and practiced intermittent fasting. This was working wonders for how I looked in the mirror. I was building nice looking, feminine muscles that filled out some of the areas where there was previously a lot of fat.
I was feeling great and loving the results.
Everything was going great but I wanted better results, so I kept stepping up the intensity. I was eating a high protein, low fat and low carb strictly “clean” diet, taking lots of supplements like protein powders, pre-workouts and fat burners, drinking 3-4 litres of water a day and training 6 days per week, sometimes twice a day to get in extra cardio sessions. I was working a full time job and had started running bootcamps early in the morning, so I was running on 5-6 hours sleep a night.
Then my body shut down.
Over the period of a couple of days I went from happy, focussed, strong and energetic to extremely fatigued, weak and emotionally wrecked. I lost about 4kg in those few days and could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t stick to my diet either. I was still adverse to eating processed food, so I was binging on nuts by the bag, dates by the bag, honey by the jar and dark chocolate by the block. All the sugar and fat I had so strictly abstained from eating. I went to the doctor to get blood tests and was ultimately told that the only thing wrong with me was low iron. I was prescribed a supplement and sent on my way.
A month went by and I was still feeling terrible, I had stopped training altogether and was frequently binge eating. On the recommendation of a friend, I went to see a naturopath. He ordered a few more blood tests and concluded that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue, that my hormones were completely out of whack (so much so that I hadn’t menstruated for 4 months), and that my iron was dangerously low, to the point that I should be hospitalised for a transfusion. The naturopath gave me liquid iron, a herbal mixture to help with hormones and prescribed a number of foods that were high in healthy fats to help my body build hormones. Within a couple of weeks I was feeling much better, so I returned to my previous healthy diet.
I still had a passion for training.
I wanted to train but I was worried I would hurt myself again. I thought carefully about what it was that I liked most about training – it was the feeling of accomplishment earned from getting stronger. So I joined a strength gym and was immediately introduced to the world of powerlifting. The focus of powerlifting is to use structured strength training cycles to peak your strength at a point in time for a competition. In competition, you complete against people within your gender and weight class, and have 3 chances to lift the most weight possible for 3 lifts – the squat, bench press and deadlift. My strength increased rapidly and I fell in love with the sport.
The powerlifting world was very much tied in with IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). This is a dieting method where daily targets are set for grams of protein, fat and carbs and all food is tracked in an app. Basically that’s the only rule – you can eat any food you like so long as you hit your targets by the end of the day. In hindsight this was not a good diet method for me. Macro targets could be adjusted depending on whether you wanted to lose, maintain or gain weight, and fats and carbs were somewhat interchangeable. I would increase carbs to help give me more energy for training, at the expense of cutting out more fat. I started eating junk food and chocolate, as I could now eat some crap food instead of healthy food without apparent consequence. I ate a mixture of mostly healthy foods and some unhealthy foods, but all “in moderation”, and with controlled calories.
I completed for just over 2 years, but eventually my less than ideal diet had caught up with me (although I didn’t make the connection at the time). I was now 30 years old, but I felt much older. I had severe lower back pain, tennis elbow, AC joint shoulder pain, and knee pain. I was seeing a physiotherapist, a chiropractor and a message therapist regularly but there was no improvement. My strength started going backwards despite my best efforts, and the pains got worse. So I had to stop powerlifting training. I also started to get tired again, really tired, which just kept getting worse. While I had now been working full-time as a personal trainer for over 2 years in a busy gym, I couldn’t even train myself and started putting on weight quite quickly. After countless trips to the doctor and referral to an endocrinologist, I was told everything looked fine. Eventually my condition was diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, as they couldn’t find anything physically wrong to explain my symptoms.
I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong.
I had tried (and stuck with for considerable periods of time) a low calorie diet, a “clean” diet, an “in moderation” diet, intermittent fasting and always kept my fat intake down, but every single time my body backfired, rejecting my efforts to follow a good diet.
By this time I had also completed a Diploma in Nutrition, which basically taught me to prescribe the Australian Dietary Guidelines to my clients, which is what I dutifully did, within my scope of practice. For some of my clients, following these guidelines was a huge improvement on what they had been previously eating, so reducing processed foods and sugar while eating more vegetables, fruit, lean meat and fish got them good results. But many of my clients already had a relatively healthy, low-fat diet, so we’d adjust it a bit, but restrict calories and increase exercise to force results. Trying to help with people with diet within the Guidelines was frustrating. Many of my clients saw no weight loss results and were physically unwell with high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, joint pain, as so on.
So I took my nutrition education into my own hands
I studied countless books that challenge our current beliefs and practices. With the diet strategies I learned I cured my chronic fatigue, my pains are still slowly decreasing and I feel more emotionally and physically well than I can ever remember. I now have a completely different approach to diet, for myself and for my clients. Since the “low-fat diet revolution” that took place in the 70s and 80s, the health of the human race has declined quickly and severely. The science that lead the “low-fat” upturning of our diets was flawed and the world was deliberately deceived. Humans need to eat fat to be healthy. And it must be the right kind of fat, along with a good range of other nutrients to help the body function. Some foods in our diets, especially vegetable oil and sugar, are poison to our bodies, but are present in every processed food in the supermarket. I aim to share my knowledge through the blog on this website. Please check it out and contact me if you want more information.
The struggle is real! I am finally fit, healthy and happy, but I took a lot of wrong turns on the way. If you are struggling with health issues and/or weight issues, I can help you. Together we will focus on providing your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy while removing the toxic foods that make your body unable to function and cause disease. Exercise is equally as important as diet in improving the health and shape of your body. I’m not about quick fixes, but small changes can have huge effects.