Everyone is chasing a leaner, stronger body.
Very few achieve this goal. What's the issue here?
Where's the disconnect between wanting and getting?
A few of the main culprits:
Poorly designed training programs - Think: programs designed just to get you sweating and focused strictly on calories burned.
Even the most intense 30-minute workout will only burn a relatively small amount of calories. If you're ONLY training like this, you're not really effectively burning fat, OR building muscle. Workouts like these are a great way to workout for months and never actually change your body composition.
Supplements. The supplement industry is AMAZING at convincing us that there's a magic pill out there that will give us overnight results. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. (If you're anything like me, you've spent thousands on supplements before having this realization.)
Failure to take ownership. I have a slow metabolism... poor genetics... I'm tired... I shouldn't have to weigh my food in order to lose weight... I'm busy... THIS is the biggest culprit of all.
^ Speaking from personal experience, because I was this guy for years. In 2015, I hurt my shoulder snowboarding.
This significantly altered my ability to train going forward. Instead of accepting the reality that was my situation, and working to make the best of it, I spent the next year feeling sorry for myself, pissed off about my situation.
I literally remember multiple times hours spent daydreaming about what my life would be like if I could somehow go back in time, and NOT wreck my snowboard. I'd be able to bench so much by now. I'd be so jacked. ...
I'd probably still have small calves. We don't yet have a way to time-travel, or alter your poor calf genetics. All you can do in the real world is accept your situation, and work your ass off to make the most of it. Enough of that - let's get into the six biggest keys to building your leanest, strongest body ever.
1. Find A Diet Structure That Fits Your Lifestyle
People fail at diets. A lot. The problem here isn't you haven't found the perfect macro-ratio for your body type yet. It's not that you need to go keto. Or vegan. The truth is, all diets that allow you to... Create a calorie deficit Consume adequate protein Consume adequate nutrients (.3g/fat per lb of body weight + meet your various micronutrient needs) ...will give you VERY similar fat loss results. Basically, as long as you create a calorie deficit, get your protein, and eat mostly quality foods - you'll lose fat and get healthier - regardless of what diet camp you fall in to. The problem is, people try to follow diets that they can't ADHERE to. Truly, the most important factor of your diet isn't the specific structure, but your ability to stick to it super consistently. If you can't see yourself giving up carbs, you're going to have a bad time. You'll likely have frequent "f it" moments where you fall off the wagon - leading to no results. For some, this means NOT tracking macros. When I first started coaching, I prescribed EVERYONE macros. The results? Uhhh not great. For many online clients who simply want to look better, feel better, and build better habits - I've found that macros AREN'T always the way to go. I'm saying this with the caveat that I do think macros are a great tool. If you want a super specific result (e.g. being ready for a photoshoot in 8 weeks), being able to get super specific with your food intake helps. Macros best allow us to do this. That said, if you DON'T want to track your food, I get it, and I'm willing to meet you where you're at. My go to here is typically The Handful Diet - a diet structure that simply gets you focused on eating whole foods, in appropriate portion sizes.
Seems too simple to work - but really simplicity is WHY this diet works so well. Everyone's hands seem to scale super conveniently to what their portion sizes should be. Plus, when you're eating this many whole foods, you're going to have a MUCH harder time overeating. So naturally, you'll lean out. And, you're probably eating more protein than before. A few examples of clients who have absolutely crushed it following this diet structure: My man Spencer made this INSANE transformation in 3 months following The Handful Diet:
My online client Kassidy. Check out these changes she's made since January! She accomplished all of this simply by being SUPER CONSISTENT with The Handful Diet Structure, lifting 3x/week, and walking 7-8k steps/day.
Point is, there are TONS of different ways that you can go about creating a calorie deficit.
Will dieting always be hard? YES. Which is exactly why it's even more crucial to find a diet you can adhere to.
A few other common diet structures I implement with online coaching clients:
Tracking calories only - A great place to start if you want to track calories, but are brand new to it. Simply focus on eating whole food, and hitting your daily calorie goal.
Tracking calories + protein - The typical next step up from calories only. Calories + protein are the two most important nutritional factors for your body composition. A lot of online clients with more lifestyle-focused goals never have to progress past this point. Given you have calories and protein on point, the ratio of carbs - fat you consume just doesn't make that much difference for most.
Dietary displacement - This is a great strategy for anyone super new to the fitness nutrition game. The goal here is not to eliminate unhealthy foods - but rather to add in more quality foods. Naturally, this leads to you displacing lower quality foods with higher quality ones, and typically losing fat as a result.
2. Follow A Structured Training Routine
Imagine this. After YEARS of consideration, you quit your job and start your own business. You have BIG GOALS for this business. You're going to make millions, buy a yacht, and hire all the homies. It's going to be Wolf Of Wall Street-esque. Now, to acheive these big goals with your business, would you go into every day of work without a plan - just doing things at random - and then expect AMAZING results? Absolutely not. You would be organized as hell, with a very clear attack plan to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be. The same concept applies to your body. Doing things at random is NEVER going to get you a specific result. Just like with your nutrition, your program doesn't have to be perfect - it just needs to be one that's well-designed for your goals, and that you can stick to for a long time. For more on finding the optimal training program for your goals and lifestyle, check out THIS ARTICLE.
3. Quit Trying To Be Motivated
Motivation is always a very fickle thing. If you only workout and follow your nutrition protocol when you're motivated (what most of us do currently), you're NEVER going to get the results you want. This is one of the biggest thing I focus on talking with online clients about right away. Let go of the belief that you need to feel "motivated" to go to the gym. Instead of wasting time trying to get motivated, do your best to shut your brain off entirely, and just go. Two of the biggest keys to successfully bypassing motivation (which I'll detail shortly): Getting more organized. Leveraging other people
Tell me if this sounds familiar... You really want to be lean and strong... but for some reason you never have time to eat healthy or hit the gym, despite your best intentions?⠀ ^We've all been here. I know I have. Really for most of us it's not an issue of "want to", it's a time-management problem. Here's some things I hold my online coaching clients accountable to prevent "running out of time": Schedule your week ahead of time - Only made it to the gym once this week, because things kept coming up? I promise you, next week won't be less busy. Really, things are ALWAYS going to come up - your life isn't going to get less hectic. Planning specific time blocks for your workouts, meal prep, etc. keeps you from pushing them back until later. This is a GAME-CHANGER for most people, and exactly why I have many of my clients send me a picture of their weekly schedule at the start of the week. Weekly meal-prep day - No matter how much you intend to eat healthy this week, you'll inevitably run out of time (or willpower) to cook at some point. Having prepped meals means you're ready for this situation, and stay on track for your goals. Macro-plan - If you're going into the day just hoping to fit whatever you eat into your macros, you're setting yourself (and your diet) up for failure. Most any time an online client isn't hitting the intake goals, it's an issue with planning. Plan your next day of food out in MyFitnessPal the night before. Leave your phone out of reach from your bed - Struggling to get up in time for your early morning workouts? Set your phone alarm ACROSS the room before you go to bed, on top of tomorrow's workout clothes and pre-workout drink. Now you have to get up, and will be ready to be out the door within minutes.
I know this sounds messed up... but bear with me. The worst feeling in the world is telling yourself you’re going to do something - and then failing to follow through. Letting yourself down over and over again saps your confidence like nothing else. For most of us, fitness is a glaring example of this...⠀ “This is the week/month/year I get in shape.”⠀ ...and then we do nothing.⠀ ^I think we’ve all been stuck in this cycle in some area of our life. I know I have. This is also why getting in great shape creates drastic mental shifts in people.⠀It’s really not because you LOOK lean and strong. It’s that nothing builds confidence like knowing that you WILL do the things you tell yourself you will. You’re not that person that lets yourself down anymore.⠀ The key here is figuring out how to break the cycle. If you’re stuck in this cycle, don’t just hope you’ll try harder this week (you won’t) - DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.⠀ Get an accountability partner. Put your plans to change out there on social media. Tell all your friends, family, and people you respect about the action you'll be taking. When we commit to something public, and are now faced with the fear of letting other people down, we're 100x more likely to finally take action. This is exactly why having a coach is so powerful. When you tell your coach you're going to do something (and know they're holding you accountable to said action) - NOT ACTING becomes the less painful option, as opposed to continuously letting someone else down. Think of leveraging other people as a way to FORCE yourself to act.
6. Understand That Everything Else In Life Follows Your Physical Health
“Everything else follows your physical health.”
^I’ve said this A TON lately in conversations with online clients.
You can basically break your life up into four key areas:
If any one of these is off, the rest of your life is thrown out of whack. So we need to devote ample time to developing each of these areas. Thing is, neglecting your body seems to have a MASSIVE negative impact on all the other areas. No matter how much you meditate, if you don’t take care of your body, you’ll feel like shit - physically AND mentally. No matter how much money you make, you’ll still feel terrible physically. You get it. When you don’t feel good physically, you bring a much worse version of yourself to ALL other areas of your life: your mindset, your relationships, and your work suffer. Funny thing is, we tend to push taking care of ourselves physically to the back burner, that should really be our #1 priority. Seeing yourself turn into the disciplined, hard-working person it takes to get in great shape will make you more confident, more organized, and better able to experience life outside of the gym. You feel strong. You feel GOOD. You have more energy. You feel more self-belief. More capable. ⠀ Taking care of yourself physically has a carryover effect to EVERY other area of your life.
About The Author
Jeremiah Bair is the biggest Taylor Swift Fan in Lincoln, NE. He's also a certified nutrition coach, strength coach, and owner of the Online Coaching Business Bairfit. His Instagram is noticeably missing any calf pictures.