The Keys to a Successful Transformation.
Over the last 8 years, I have transformed my physique from skinny fat to lean, strong and athletic. It wasn’t easy and I made a lot of mistakes along the way.
I listened to a lot of the wrong people. Used a lot of poor training programs and threw thousands of dollars away on useless supplements. But I learned one thing from all of this.
I know what doesn’t work.
But after enough mistakes, I finally found what really does work. First I figured out how to change my own body, then I learned how to help others change their bodies. I found a way to help people get the body they desire without having to sacrifice all of the things that I love. I realized that the keys to all of this transformation stuff really come down to 3 key factors.
These are the 3 biggest things that hold people back. Most of the time people want fast results and they don’t want to make sustainable changes. There is space to have certain foods you enjoy, but you must be willing to make changes and sacrifices in your life to reach your goals.
One big thing that I learned in the process was:
There is no perfect diet.
Every diet is flawed and will eventually fail you. Or you will give up on it or quit following it.
Everyone needs a nutrition plan that is customized to their lifestyle. We all have parts of our life that we don’t want to give up. Whether it’s date night with your spouse or Friday afternoon beers with your co-workers. You should never have to give these things up and restrict your lifestyle.
There is a better way.
The first thing I do when I sit down with a new client is asking them about their life. What their hobbies, activities, and career are like. Then I ask the big question.
What are your non-negotiables? What things in your life that are not necessarily healthy, are you not willing to give up, or you can’t give up? Drinks after work, business lunches, pizza and ice cream with your kids, or date night with your significant other. Whatever “it” is we can make it work in your nutrition plan, I guarantee you of that.
We then go back and look at the 3 keys I mentioned above.
Say you want to go for beers 2x a week after work. If you are trying to lose fat, or build muscle, drinking alcohol is going to be a major limiting factor in your progress. It will definitely slow things down. But it is still doable. It will just take time(patience) and effort(consistency).
We will have to make modifications to your diet that allow you to stay close to a calorie deficit. You can still lose fat and drink alcohol but when you drink you can’t eat crappy foods, you also have to have a lot of self-control when it comes to how much you are consuming. This is a give and take scenario. I can set up a plan for you to be successful but if you want to consume alcohol regularly, the rest of your diet and training needs to be almost perfect all the time or you will fail.
You can do anything you want in this world you just have to have to do it consistently.
Think of anything in your life that you have started. Whether it be sports, school, hobbies, or a career. You started out at the bottom, learned, grew and got better. This is where the mindset aspect comes into play. You have to know that you are going to succeed. There can be no doubt. When you have a solid plan and you execute that plan every day, you will gain confidence and your mindset will shift. Shifting your mindset is something that you must focus on to be successful.
When we consistently do the same things every day for years and years these things become habits. This is why you use getting through a tough work week as an excuse to go overboard with alcohol and low-quality food every weekend or have unhealthy late night snacks.
Anything we do consistently changes our brain chemistry. Our brains become wired to do that thing or feel that thought, anytime we are in certain situations or even at certain times of the day. To stop this and rewire our minds we need to focus on being consistent with our new good habits. We need to be patient because it takes time to create new habits. These things together create a new mindset. Once the shift starts to take place, you will feel empowered to continue to be consistent with your new habits.
Another big factor in people’s progress is patience. Patience is a virtue, isn’t that what your grandma used to tell you when you were a kid? Being patient while you are going through this process is key. I had a client start working with me almost a year ago who wanted to lose around 20 lbs. When we were going through his assessment he sized me up and said: “ I want to look like you, how long is that going to take?” Honestly, my answer was probably at least 2-3 years based on your schedule, your career responsibilities, and the non-negotiables in your life.
Now I am not saying this to sound cocky but just to explain further how the process works. I started training seriously 8 years ago. Just before my second child was born. I was 200 lb at 6’2”. I am guessing I was around 25% body fat. I spent a good chunk of those 8 years trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. But once I found a system that worked for me, I would say it was still at least 3 years of consistent hard work that got my body to where I want it to be. I now walk around at 185 lb at around 12% body fat. This is easy for me to maintain. I can periodize my nutrition and training around my lifestyle and not worry about gaining body fat or losing muscle. It took a ton of patience to get myself to this point.
You can not rush a physical transformation. You must be patient and continue to work hard. When you get to where you want to be it will be that much easier to maintain for the rest of your life. Large calorie deficits and crash diets don’t change your body’s set point. They just force you to lose weight. But the weight comes back on afterward because you aren’t really changing your body composition. It’s similar to a fighter going through a weight cut. He can lose upwards of 20 lb in a week for a fight and then gain almost all of it back in 24 hr. Because he isn’t changing his body’s set point just forcing his body to drop weight.
If you really want permanent change, you have to be patient. You must let your body actually change. You have to find the right way to train that suits your body type and your neurotype.
What is your neuro type?
Neurotyping is the key neurotransmitters in your brain that affect your personality, your stress management, what motivates you, and how you interact with other people. This is key to unlocking your optimal training style, your optimal training volume, and your nutritional habits. I am not going to go too deep into this in this post. Your neurotype is a huge blog post all on its own. Just know that it is important and if you want to know more about it let me know and I can help you figure it out.
There is so much more to having a successful lifetime transformation than just an 8-week crash diet. For you to be really successful, you must have loads of patience. Trust the process. Love the process. Because when you can learn to love the process of change, your progress will never end.
Learning how to make a nutrition/fitness plan fit into your life takes time, effort and a lot of hard work. One size fits all doesn’t work when it comes to nutrition. Just because it worked for some celebrity (it probably didn’t) in a Facebook ad, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.
Get your head in the game. Strength training properly is all mental. If you want to get anything out of the gym, you must be 100% focused on the work at hand.
Have you heard of the mind-muscle connection?
This is the first step in getting stronger. You have to get strong to get lean. You have to get strong to build muscle. Being able to feel the muscle you are working stretch and contract, is a must if you want success. If you are doing an exercise and you are not feeling the right muscles working you are doing something wrong. When you first start training the goal is slow and smooth. You must master the movement patterns to build strength. Once you can do the movement perfectly then you can start upping the weight. This is a small part of having the right mindset.
Another key factor in having the right mindset is that you have to make training and nutrition a priority in your life. You have to find a way to love the process of transforming your body. I feel as though a lot of people train as a punishment to themselves for other poor bad habits. This is not a sustainable practice. You will eventually get sick of punishing yourself and give up. You need to have a positive mindset in everything you do. Not just in training. I see a lot of people who always look at things negatively. They always think about the bad things and what could go wrong. This leads you down a path of anger, depression and eventually loneliness. Proper mindset can completely change your life. It really can. It is probably the most beneficial thing I have ever undertaken in my entire life. I say that because I was the negative person who always looked at things the wrong way. I would always react, instead of respond. I was on the verge of losing a lot of things very important to me. I am still working on this shift but I can honestly feel a difference in myself. I feel myself not reacting as much anymore.
Proper Mindset should be something we are taught in school. We need to learn how to have a positive mindset in all things we do. When you are constantly in a negative mindset, it messes up your entire life. You see our brains work on habits. All of our emotions start as a thought in our head. If you dwell on that thought for too long it takes hold of you and you become that thought. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is they all work the same. Let’s use anger as an example. When you are constantly getting upset about things that you can’t control. Your brain starts to remember these patterns and your natural response to problems is to get mad or frustrated. Learn to control your mind. You can feel however you want to feel.
I know you are probably thinking “what the hell does this have to do with me getting in great shape?
The wrong mindset will cause you to stress, it will make you angry. This is when people usually skip workouts, go on food binges, or resort to alcohol and drugs. Stress management is more important than your training, coping with stress the right way is more important than your nutrition plan.
Stress is the number one killer of progress. The only thing that may be more important is sleep. This is where your mindset really comes into play. Where is your stress coming from? What causes you to get upset? Do you find if you get mad about something you stay mad for awhile and let it ruin your day? You need to understand that you control your emotions. You control your reactions and your responses. There is always a silver lining to everything that happens.
I hate the word diet. I try my hardest not to use it. A periodized nutrition plan is what will make you successful long term. If this is something you want to become a long-term habit, you must not diet. We can not live in a calorie deficit all the time. This is unhealthy, even if you have body fat to lose, we must give our bodies the nutrients it needs to function properly and to recover from stress. We need to implement a periodized approach to our nutrition.
There are 3 parts to this.
- Maintenance calorie level. This is the number of calories your body needs to go through your day, to exercise, and recover from stress. You will maintain your bodyweight at this level.
- Calorie deficit. This is where you cut calories to lower than your maintenance level, this is how you burn fat. Your body will adapt to this so you can’t stay here for very long. There are different strategies we can implement to do this without hurting your body.
- Calorie surplus. This is where you are eating more calories than your body needs to build muscle or recover from stressors.
The tough part about a periodized nutrition approach is, it takes time to figure out your maintenance calories. If you came from a very poor diet of fast food and processed carbs, the first step is getting you to eat whole food meals. Once you become accustomed to these dietary changes we can look at making adjustments and starting to track macros.
Tracking macros is a phase of a periodized nutrition plan. You have to go through the first phase of learning how to eat right first, then we may move on to track. Some people may never move on to tracking their macros. That is a goal dependent step. Tracking macros are only necessary if you want to really focus in on losing fat, or build muscle. For a person just looking to maintain their physique or just slowly make strength gains.
There are many discrepancies in how many macro and micronutrients we actually absorb from our food.
There is up to a 20% window for food label accuracy. That means if a serving says 200 calories, it could be up to 240 calories or as little as 160 calories. That is a big window, and why we don’t need to stress about macros down to the gram. Try to hit your numbers within +/- 10-15g.
How our bodies absorb the nutrients can be a limiting factor as well. If you have digestive issues and you are not absorbing your food properly you can adjust your macros all you want and it won’t make a difference.
Your digestion needs to be on point. The easiest way to determine how well you are digesting your food is what your poops are like. They shouldn’t be uncomfortable, they should be almost enjoyable. Seriously, when you have healthy digestion, sitting down on the toilet should be an enjoyable experience. There should be no struggle, or pain, or obviously diarrhea. Bloating, gas and heartburn are just a few signs of poor digestion and even gut permeability.
The research coming out recently about the relationship between our guts and our brain are awesome and scary at the same time. Everything we eat affects not only our fat loss or muscle gain but our mental state, energy levels, and our thought processes. What we eat ate is very important to think about too. How the animal was raised, and what it was fed drastically affects the quality of the meat and the micro and macronutrients in the meat.
Optimizing our digestion is a huge factor in your overall health not to mention getting lean and ripped. Focusing on eating high quality prebiotic and probiotic foods will make a massive difference in fat loss, muscle gain, and your everyday quality of life. Most people I work with think they feel fine, but once they optimize their digestion they feel better then they have ever felt before.
Consistency, patience, mindset, who you are, and how your body works.
If you want to get lean, strong and jacked you have to follow the above steps. Develop a periodized nutrition plan that works for you. Do not live in a calorie deficit, you will only hurt yourself in the long run. Focus on short fat loss phases where you cut calories for a short period of time. Then have maintenance phases and even a phase where you eat in a calorie surplus. Your body is a complicated machine that will adapt to anything you throw at it. Learn when it is time to make dietary changes.
The biggest key to success is learning your body. Pay close attention to how you feel after you eat. If you feel sleepy, or groggy after eating certain foods. Just because a food is considered healthy it may not be ideal for you. Food intolerances can manifest themselves in many ways. A runny nose, congestion, brain fog, and sleepiness are a few symptoms.
Focus a lot of attention on your stress levels. Eliminating all of our stress is impossible, but learning how to manage your stress levels will help you immensely in your pursuit of whatever physical goals you have. Just learning how to not react poorly to a stressful situation can be a gamechanger for you. There is an amazing feeling that comes over you when you don’t react poorly to stress.
This is usually where I go into my coaching programs, why working with me would be the best decision you ever made and how developing a proper periodized plan for you would make your life exponentially easier. I have been down all the wrong roads. I know where they lead to. Go here if you want to find the right road for you.