5 Essential Tips to Help You Smoke a Body Transformation
Another new year is upon us, and people all over are waking up out of their party haze, feeling trashed and resolving this will be the year to make a change. January is the month everybody wants to make a total transformation. Hapless hopefuls fill the gym in droves, having no idea what they are doing – only knowing that they want to be jacked and shredded …in a matter of weeks.
The quick-fix side of the fitness industry gives the impression that losing double digit weight and packing on pounds of muscle is simply a matter of sweating it out for a month or two, while using a few strategic products.
Nothing sets someone up for failure faster than this Band-Aid mentality.
If you want to be a lifer and not another New Year statistic, you need to keep these things in mind.
How to Transform Your Body
#1 – Temper Your Expectations
One of the first reasons people quit is because they aren’t seeing results right away. With all of the quick-fix scams out there, promising to shed 10 pounds in 10 days or chisel six-pack abs in a matter of weeks, it’s no wonder that many newcomers get discouraged when they still look the same after a few weeks. Even worse – sometimes the scale goes up!
If I had a nickel for every time I saw a person on a forum say, “I’ve been exercising and eating right, but for some reason, I gained three pounds,” I could afford a new power rack for my garage.
Sadly, the next sentence is usually “I give up.”
Don’t give up. Understand that your new body will take time. It takes months and years to gain weight and grow soft, so don’t expect the extra weight to come off so easily.
The scale may resist in the beginning and you may feel like you are going nowhere. This happens for many reasons, like water retention and metabolic adjustment, as your body re-calibrates itself to your new lifestyle. Remember, things have to change on a cellular level. Your body is a living organism, not a calculator. It doesn’t dump x amount of fat every 24 hours, it gradually breaks down and excretes fat, until it reaches equilibrium again.
Hard bodies take years, not months. If you look at your new body as a longer-term goal and a sexy side effect to a fit and healthy lifestyle, it can be easier to weather the initial discouragement you feel when you come home from a hard workout, only to find you look exactly the same as you did the day before. One day you are going to realize you look different. The scale will move. Don’t be that person who gives up just before this happens.
#2 – Consistency Beats Speed
Many people decide to jump into the deep end of a transformation without a swimming lesson. They choose high-intensity interval training or six-day splits with accelerated cardio tucked in between sets and pick strict low-calorie diets of chicken breast and broccoli measured to the gram.
They want bulging muscles and single-digit body fat, yesterday. You’ll find them in forums saying things like “DAY TWO WENT BEASTMODE AGAIN!” Or, “DROPPED TO 1100 CALORIES AND I FEEL SO ENERGETIC!”
The thing about those people is, they crash by week three. Everything feels great for the first few days, even the first week or two. They’re riding high on the excitement of getting lean and the idea of getting their life on track.
But then, reality sets in. The workouts are too much, there is no rest and not enough calories to sustain it all. These weekend warriors are inevitably left stalled out by the side of the road and back to their old ways long before the first warm breeze of springtime.
Don’t be that guy – or girl.
Start with a basic, full-body workout or an upper body/lower body split before jumping into the latest program designed for advanced athletes, and try to simply clean up your diet before you micromanage calories and macros. Work first on making fitness a part of your day, and later on you will have time for things like “beastmode” and “macros on point.” Habit is the absolute key to a successful transformation and should come first.
#3 – Avoid Fads
This is the time of year where every fitness celebrity is pushing a diet that claims to not only help you lose weight, but cures all of your diseases and cleans your body from the inside out, as well. They make extraordinary promises of losing ten to twenty pounds in a matter of weeks. Wraps, herbs, strange shakes and ten-minute workout DVDs pop up into your social media feeds with vigor, as many of your friends fall victim to multi-level marketing sales scams and promises of a new life in 21 days or less.
The truth is nothing comes that easily. There is no such thing as a diet that cleanses your body or flushes your “toxins.” Many of the liquid diets end up zapping your energy in the long run and stealing your gains. If you drop too much weight in too short of a time, you run the risk of falling off track, bingeing and getting caught up in an endless cycle of self-abuse and punishment.
Instead, make manageable dietary changes you can stick with. Meal-prepping whole foods that you enjoy in proper portions will go a longer way than deprivation. Remember there are no miracle foods, or magic supplements that will do all the work for you.
#4 – Recruit Family and Friends
Nothing is more defeating to a healthy lifestyle than having the people closest to you not being on board. You try to steer your ship towards a healthy future, while your family and friends are lobbing molten lava cake bombs at you off of the deck of the SS Gluttony. It is really hard to stay the course when everyone is going out for beers and hot wings, there are doughnuts at the office, and you come home to people who don’t want to do anything but eat takeout in their sweats in front of the TV.
So, how do you get them to leave the comfort of their cushy cruise ship? Make a wager. Cash and prizes are great motivators. Have everyone chip in and the person with the most improved bodyfat ratio at the end of three months gets the winnings. Or, in the case of a family, have the kid with the most improved mile run get a prize. A little good-natured competition can help unite everyone towards a common goal.
#5 – Find Support
If your family and friends don’t want anything to do with your newfound desire to get fit, find communal support through a local fitness group or online. Meeting people who share your goals will help to keep you on track.
A funny thing happens when you are the lone fit freak. The people around you start saying things like “you are overdoing it,” and “stop depriving yourself.” They may make jokes about your little compartmentalized lunches and the lack of “fun” in your diet. They will mistake your initial soreness and stiff-legged gait for overtraining or hurting yourself. They may even sabotage you with food and cues to take it easy.
But having a fit family (aka “fitfam”) will help you weather the criticism. They get you. They have tips for meal prep and what to do when your shoulder acts up. They know how to hack the gym equipment and take the perfect flex Friday selfie. Most of all, they are your lifeline during the times you need to keep going and everyone else around you is eating fried bread and imploring you to relax.
By This Time Next Year
Do you want to be where you are now, better off, or worse? Those are your only choices. Don’t expect immediate results, remain consistent, stay away from fads and scams, get your family and friends on board, make it fun and find a fitfam to inspire you and encourage you.
Know that some days will be a grind, but in the end, you will succeed. Next January, they won’t be making fun of your lunches, they’ll be asking you how you did it.