Successfully changing one’s body composition is certainly no easy venture. If it were, everyone would have clearly defined abs.
Throughout my time as a coach, I’ve come to realize that many of my preconceived notions about diet and exercise were either wrong or not exactly as I believed them to be. Truth be told, I wish I’d have had someone around to inform me of all my misconceptions.
For this reason I decided to compile a list of points that I wish I had known long ago, before starting my own body transformation.
In this article, I’ll touch on 6 things that I wish I had known about fitness before embarking on a body transformation quest. It’s my hope that these tips can help save you some time and put you on the path to success.
Changes Take A Long Time
One of the most important pieces of information that you need to keep in mind is that body changes take time; sometimes a very long time.
In our society with easy access to almost any piece of information, most people have adopted the mentality of having instant gratification or getting the things they desire almost immediately.
Unfortunately, major body changes take a really long time. Unless you’re already in tremendous shape, achieving the status of a fitness model can take upwards of a decade, in order to attain the pinnacle of body composition.
Throughout my time working with literally hundreds of clients, this is one of the biggest points of contention. People decide to sign up for training and many times, they are confused as to why they haven’t reached their goals in a month’s time.
It’s always important to remember that drastic changes to body composition via increasing muscle and decreasing body fat can take a very, very long time, even with total dedication and consistency.
Just understand that real changes don’t come overnight.
You’ll Have Weight Fluctuations
A major issue I’ve observed over the years is that people panic when they see weight fluctuations. It’s important to understand that almost any factor could influence how your weight increases or decreases.
Truth is that small fluctuations of weight can happen suddenly and overnight. There have been many times where just overnight I gain a few pounds, which often feels almost impossible. Many times this is simply excess water retention, but it could be due to any number of reasons.
Perhaps you ate extra carbohydrate, which stores water. Maybe your muscles are swollen from your last workout, leading to water retention. Perhaps it’s just that time of the month where you end up gaining a few pounds.
It’s important to recognize when this occurs and to not panic. Weight fluctuations of 5 or fewer pounds in the matter of a day is likely not because you’re “gaining weight” but rather that any number of variables could be causing a fluctuation of your weight.
Remember that your weight can fluctuate from one day to the next. Most times, this unwelcome shock from the scales is nothing to be concerned about.
You Get Out What You Put In
Expanding a bit further on from the first point, many people attempt to look for the “secret” or an easy way around the essentials of dieting.
In fact, some of the most common questions I deal with concern how one can lose weight without tracking macros and calories and whether or not one needs a gym to get in better shape.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that losing weight and improving muscle definition can certainly occur without tracking calories or even going to the gym. However, doing so will actually be much harder than if the person tracked calories and went to the gym.
It’s funny how ironic that is, but it’s the truth.
First, if you aren’t tracking calories, you’re essentially just guessing that you’re reducing the calories you’re eating. This means that you need to drastically limit your food options, otherwise you can never be sure.
Second, if you can’t go to the gym, you’ll be forced to either use the little equipment you have or alternatively, attempt to have great workouts using only body weight, which can prove to be incredibly difficult.
Based on my experience, some want to avoid putting in the necessary work of tracking calories and using a sound exercise program at a gym, but ironically end up working harder than if they had just taken the correct steps to create a successful body transformation plan.
Essentially, don’t try to cut corners because, chances are, you’ll make things more difficult for yourself overall.
There Aren’t “Quick Fixes”
One of the biggest issues currently facing the fitness world is the emergence of “quick fix” products. In fact, some even tell consumers they can “fix” their problem in just 21 days! Sounds pretty great, right?
The problem is, they don’t fix anything, and in fact they make things worse than before.
With quick fix programs, these are typically built out of fast diet tips that do work short term, but can leave you in a terrible position once the “quick fix” is over.
The issue with many of these programs is that they promote either extreme reductions of calories or they promote the use of bogus supplements like detoxes and cleanses.
Additionally, since most of these quick fix plans are so restrictive, they often lead to bingeing once the program is over. When this occurs, it can lead to what is known as body fat overshooting – an issue where people gain back all weight lost, and then some more besides (1).
Rather than opting for quick fixes, recognize that real body changes take time with very few available shortcuts.
Other People’s Physiques Are Irrelevant
Most of us have idols in some form or another, in essence, someone whom we strive to be more like.
Unfortunately, when we start to compare our progress to that of people who are already in great shape, it can begin to ruin progress and often essentially your entire mental state.
The truth is we’re all individuals with individual experiences, which have brought us to our current state. Fitness models that we look up to have also had the same happen to them. Thus, we can’t expect to end up having the same physique.
This pressure that many of us place upon ourselves, to look more like those we idolize, often results in depression, guilt and frustration, and it’s so unnecessary. Not to mention, no amount of yearning to emulate someone else’s body will give you the body changes you desire.
While having goals and an ideal physique can be beneficial, ensure that doing so doesn’t come with a price of frustration, jealousy and sadness. Be your own person and focus on your own body changes rather than others.
It’s All Trial & Error
As a coach and mentor, I have the obligation to always use scientific evidence to drive the prescriptions I provide to clients. However, it’s very important to remember that what works for one may not work for another.
For instance, simply placing one person on an exercise program may lead to extensive weight loss while for another person, placing them on a diet and exercise program may yield no results at all.
It’s always best to consider the most optimal routes for exercise and nutrition, but it’s essential to realize that, what works for some or is the best scientific principle, may not work for you.
Successfully changing your body composition is literally about trial and error in order to find the best possible solution or direction for you as an individual. Just because one thing doesn’t work great for you doesn’t mean that something else won’t either.
6 Things You Need To Know About Your Fitness Journey
While achieving peak fitness can be difficult, I’d rather save you some time, providing information about how some of your preconceived notions may be a bit off kilter.
By using these tips, you should be able to avoid many of the common mistakes that so many fall victim to. In doing so, you should put yourself on the fast track to success.
- Dulloo, A. G., Jacquet, J., & Girardier, L. (1997). Poststarvation hyperphagia and body fat overshooting in humans: a role for feedback signals from lean and fat tissues. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 65(3), 717-723.