Recommended: Click to hear audio version of blog
Written by: Al Smith, Jr. The Fitness Specialist
Read by: Amazon Andrew
- Who this Post Is and Is NOT For
- Are You Really Ready to Start a Physical Transformation?
- Getting Through the Grueling Process
Things You Should Know Before Starting Your Next Weight Loss and Fitness Transformation
What I’ve Learned from 30 Years of Training and 6 Fitness Transformations
The video at the top of the web page was shot in 2004 when I was 30. The BEFORE and AFTER picture was taken October 12, 2019 at the age of 45, during my 6th fitness transformation.
This is my Fitness Journey Journal.
How bad do you really want to achieve your fitness goal? Honest answer on a scale from 1 to 10, rate your level of commitment toward achieving it. Whatever your number is, hold that thought, write it down, and continually reassess it along the way as you read this. We’ll come back to it throughout the post.
In the interest of time let me take a moment to inform you as to who wil benefit the most from this post, and those who may not; along with and an example as to why it’s not for everyone.
As an illustration, if I worked as a traditional executive talent recruiter and my profession was to help candidates find executive jobs in traditional companies and a prospective executive candidate came into the office with over 10 years of experience in a given profession I’d be able to quickly, and easily, get them on track to getting where they wanted to go in their career. However, if that candidate had tattoos all over their face, I’d not be able to help them and would politely refer them to a specialized recruiter that could. Turning them away wouldn’t be driven by anything personal, a dislike or prejudice against them or their tattoos; in fact, I’m rather indifferent and pretty much say do what makes you happy in life (proudly glancing down at my own right of passage Army tattoo). It’s simply that working with clients that do not fall within my area of expertise would be doing a disservice for both, and more than likely result in a poor overall experience. No different than if someone came to me with a problem and I identify they’d need a screwdriver to solve their problem, but I specialize in selling hammers. I simply couldn’t properly help them, regardless of our desire.
So as it relates to fitness, this post is NOT applicable for you if:
1. You are a competitive athlete with a primary goal of developing strength or training performance, not losing weight
2. You are a genetically lean person (Google ectomorph if you’re not sure)
3. Use any type of performance enhancing drugs or growth hormones
4. Aren’t at least already training 2 days a week consistently
Each of those demographics have there own set of information requirements and face unique challenges. I’d be doing them a disservice (and adding more confusion) by not informing them of this upfront.
While this may sound incredibly harsh, how many times have you ended a relationship, wishing the other person had simply provided this type of personal disclosure upfront, instead of having you waste the time and energy on a fruitless pursuit? (Can I get an amen?!)
Like many of the topics we’re about to cover, taking this front-load, problem solving approach requires discipline. If you aren’t ready for this level of structure, then prepare for disappointment to become a normal part of your decision making process. But some point, continually investing time and effort into wasteful activities because you avoid red flags–which you created for yourself or were adequately warned against–has got to get old! Because as always, once things have gone awry, you sit there saying to yourself, again, “Wish I would’ve known earlier so I wouldn’t have wasted my time”. And yet, rarely do we not see the warning signs about the paths we shouldn’t go down. However, for one reason or another we decide to avoid those signs, walk down that path, hoping it will be different this time, then surprised when it’s not. Well, you’re about to receive red flag smoke signals about some of the most common fitness mistakes and obstacles. What you do with those warnings, obviously, is entirely up to you. But just know, after reading this, you’ll have to hold yourself accountable.
On the bright side, this type of knowledge is normally acquired through experience, age, and of course failures. Some might just call it maturity. In our case, we’ll refer to it as fitness maturity.
A key take away from this post is that you’ll learn how to see the repetitive warning signs and red flags that will be littered along your transformation journey, and instead of ignoring them, PRO-ACTIVELY take action to get in front of the complications BEFORE they arise.
For those that don’t fall into any of those categories, as you read further along and learn more about the complications of long-term fitness and weight loss, you’ll understand why these pre-requisites are important and how they will play into your own long-term fitness strategy. Moreover, the purpose of this information isn’t to advocate how to achieve rapid weight loss through silly diet gimmicks or fitness products. It’s meant to help you quickly hit your weight loss and fitness goals by removing WASTED ACTIVITY [time, to be precise] from your current fitness routines. Then, reintroducing what was once wasted time into a completely transformed utilization of it, so they you end up getting more out of your effort, than the amount of effort you put in. A compounding effect to be exact.
All in all, the purpose is to introduce you to the concept of building a lifelong fitness foundation that’ll allow you to MANAGE your weight, using scalable and sustainable fitness techniques. Because in full disclosure, even though designing innovative equipment that’s meant to make incorporating daily exercise into your lifestyle is a passion of mine, personally, when it’s time to go on vacation I don’t want to feel the need to pack resistance bands with me. That said, if travel is a reality of your life, or you can’t consistently get into a gym or have access to one, resistance bands are a great alternative. The point is how will you ever enjoy vacationing if you have a constant anxiety of gaining weight and needing to workout, when a Damocles dieting sword is constantly hanging over your head? I mean isn’t the purpose of a vacation or holiday to be about enjoying the rewards of a normally disciplined life?! Heed this advice, if you’re currently following a fitness program that doesn’t allow you to strategically take a week off from your normal dieting and exercise routine at least every 8 to 12 weeks, without having the confidence in knowing that you won’t lose your progress, please listen to this warning from years of fitness maturity…. you’re doing it WRONG!
You’ll immediately notice that this is an incredibly long blog.
Some will automatically be turned off by its length because…it’s too long(?). Let that sink in, then let’s translate it. In other words, they don’t want to take time to invest in themselves…because it takes too long. Right off the bat, that’s what it all comes down to. Underneath all the excuses as to why to we struggle with losing weight, people simply don’t want to put in the time that’s required to hit their goal. Like it or not, feelings hurt or not, at the core of all the most common fitness problems is a fundamental lacking of commitment to…CONTINUOUS… self-improvement. And after all these years, it’s no longer even surprising. It’s exactly why I front load all the ugliness of what’s required at the beginning of every fitness consultation, so that people will self-filter, and weed themselves out. It’s called “Learn Fast Fail Fast” and we’ll elaborate on it more later. People aren’t accustomed to this level of honesty in the realm of fitness because more often than not, whether it’s purchasing things like easy pre-packaged meals that’ll be delivered to your door, fitness equipment guaranteed to help you build your booty, or just purchasing a gym membership, they are used to having their emotional strings being pulled so they’ll buy the latest shiny fitness product they’ve expressed interest in. And of course, there’s always a Slick Willy salesperson promising that all their fitness and weight loss expectations will come true if they just purchase their newest and amazing fitness product. Some people need that type of wooing to take action. If that’s what you’re used to and what you need to get motivated about improving yourself, I’m not your guy and this probably isn’t going to be the correct fitness solution for you right now. It’s critical to success for you to realize that fitness is a very emotive endeavor that will involve a lot of ups and downs on an emotional roller coaster.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest requirements, if not the biggest, to achieve fitness success is CONSISTENCY, which is a simple an easily digestible way of saying self-discipline because no one likes to admit when they’re lacking in the area of self-discipline. Helping people reach their fitness goals is what I enjoy doing, and using a straightforward, science based, logical approach is hard enough, let alone having to carry the additional responsibility of maintaining a bunch of over promised expectations just to keep YOU motivated, to improve YOURSELF. Get that, your. Self. Before going any further, ask the question again: how committed are you to achieving your goal? Are you at a 10? At least a 8? Do you have the mental bandwidth right now to undertake this additional challenge or are you doing it as an impulsive reaction to something else that’s going on in your life? There’s nothing wrong with not being at a perfect 10, the problem is that just as with any emotionally driven transformation, you are likely going to feel worse before you feel better because you’re going to be required to deal with life obstacles that you’ve likely been avoiding. Quite often, avoiding with food, or other substitutes. And while the current physical state of your body may be contributing to your blue funk, if you don’t have the mental bandwidth right now for any more “stressors” and possible setbacks, starting a grueling transformation may not be the best thing to add onto your plate–at this particular time in your life.
Notice I didn’t ask your level of “desire” to reach your fitness goal. That’s because everyone has the desire. But few have the actual commitment required. Indeed…I came out swinging.
A simple fact to know upfront is that when it comes to learning how to reach your fitness goals, I’ll always tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.
For the sake of time, let’s clear the air and let me ask you once again, with that new information, reevaluate and ask yourself again, how committed are you to reaching your fitness goal? We’ve already established that the majority of people have the desire, but look, let’s be honest, what makes your desire any greater than other people that are also struggling to lose weight? You know the ones, the purple faced folks sucking gas at the gym, while probably putting their best effort toward working on the “dread-mil”, or some other self-induced man made cardio torture equipment. Or, maybe the ones you see each afternoon, sacrificing their lunch break so they can go for a brisk little fitness walk to burn some cute little midday calories. Look, you want the honest truth? There’s probably not much difference at all between you and everyone else that has a desire to lose weight. (That is unless you’re already at an advanced level of training and are adding this information to your arsenal of self-improvement tools. If that is you, hold on for 30 more seconds while I hit everyone else with the mental pre-requisite for this class so we can all smoothly move along. But just know, you “hardcores” are going to get your own call outs soon after). Now, back to it. The reality is everyone wants to enjoy the benefit of getting in shape, BUT only select few are willing to go above and beyond a 3 – 6 week New Year resolution workout; or, the my boyfriend/girlfriend dumped me so I’m going to show them how hot I can look workout; and of course, the ever popular, my wedding or reunion is coming up so I need to look my best in front of everyone workout. You get the idea, fill in whatever short term goal you need to associate with a fleeting desire to get in shape, quickly, at any cost, workout.
All the same, there are the “hardcores” who are more than willing to grind, and grind, and grind. Their grinding is now done more out of a zombie’sk habit of trying to attain an elusive fitness goal that seems to be just barely out of finger tips reach, because at one point they were making progress then, then suddenly, their progress stopped. The people at this end of the fitness spectrum are stuck in rut and are usually too afraid to change their routine or try something for fear of losing their remaining results. Often times they are even harder to work with because they have seen results, in the past, and are now fixated on those past results not realizing that their body has adapted to their training routine and simply stopped responding, regardless of how hard or how many hours they’re putting in each week. Unfortunately, we can’t even go into how this type of grind often becomes a release of anxiety or substitute from another obsessive addiction. But when that happens, realize that, instead of you being on a laser focused strategic path to the top of the mountain, there is a high likelihood that you’ve just substituted one destructive compulsion for another. The difference with this one, however, is that your gym squad and usually society in general, will eagerly cheer you along this destructive path. But just know there is a difference between using exercise to work toward a positive fitness goal verses using exercise as a destructive means to hide from other emotions, or things you don’t want to deal with.
So there you have it, a lack of focused-commitment is what tends to hold back newbies at the front end of our fitness training spectrum, while hubris (with a possible touch of obsessive compulsion) tends to hold back their counter parts at the other end. Truth be told, there are only a handful of individuals actually willing to put everything in that’s required to solve the fitness puzzle. And an even smaller percentage that are willing to consistently reach out for new [intelligent] pieces of information to see what works and see if it fits, what at the same time being able to throw away what doesn’t fit, then return to sifting through the masses of information on the internet floor, until they complete their puzzle and hit their goal. Well, something along those lines.
The point is is that a lot of folks want the results and amazing benefits of getting in shape, but they don’t want to put in the work needed to achieve those results. Look, putting in work isn’t just exercising and counting macros–that’s the easy part. The real work that’s required means dedicating yourself to learning about YOUR BODY, your unique body, then applying what you’ve learned to make the journey. Quite simply, applying a consistent, focused discipline toward your goal.
With all of that out of the way, lets get started.
Imagine a new scenario. Climbing a mountain. Making the decision to get into shape is like making the choice to climb a huge mountain. And I mean huge, Mt. Everest huge. It’s not a requirement that you climb this mountain, but if you do, you know you’ll be better off in life for accomplishing it. Moreover, the earlier in life you learn how to make the climb the easier it will be to accomplish later. On the bright side, unlike the real Mt. Everest, the fitness mountain can be climbed at any point in your life, should you choose to do so. Nonetheless, many will decide to simply stay at the bottom of the mountain and just live out their life. Others, for one reason or another decide to climb it. Climbing the mountain means different things to different people as well. For some, climbing means doing all of the necessary pre-work before starting the climb, researching what needs to be done in advance, what to pack, what not to pack, what to plan for, etc,. Oh,…and of course, let’s not forget…what snacks to bring! Other aimlessly meander around the bottom, never really trying to make the hike but the act of simply meandering makes them feel like they’re making progress. “Oh, and they get to make lots of friends and socialize with other meandering fitness nomads.” Then, there are those to which making the climb simply means getting to the top, by any means necessary, like being airlifted and dropped off at the top through the use of crash diets and silly fitness products. These quick air lifts will evolve and resurface every few years in the form of fad diets and fat melting sweat suits, seductively appealing to the unwitting, tempting them to hop on board in place of going through the enduring climbing process. Those people will undoubtedly get to the top of the mountain faster…well, they’ll get somewhere faster…than those that decide to go through the arduous process of manually grinding it out. The problem that they’ll face however is that once they’re airlifted to their promise land, there’s no guarantee they’ll get to stay there. More than likely they’ll lose their footing at some point and gradually begin to slide back down. So if you’re thinking about taking a quick liposuction flight to the top, do your research first. Studies show that more often than not, the fat comes back, just in different areas. The fact is that since these types of rapid weight loss options rarely provide tourists with the required SKILLS and BEHAVIORAL ADJUSTMENTS required to keep the weight off on their own, they aren’t prepared for long-term weight loss success. That’s because these are the skills and behavioral adjustments that are acquired during the grueling, interpersonal journey, that takes place during the climb. So once they start to slide….and slide they will….they aren’t able to put a stop to it. How to regain their footing, course correct and get back to scaling the mounting. Instead, once again doing only what they know….hopping onto the next shiny flight, they see advertised.
I bring this up because achieving weight loss is an incredibly grueling process. Grueling. Yes, I’ve said that 3 times already for a reason. It’s to begin a subliminal “deprogramming” of how easy it is to achieve a fitness goal has been blazed and marketed into our brains. Constantly being sold on ideas like rapid weight loss products, quick fix diets, miracle fitness equipment, drugs, surgeries, etc. that if they just purchase one (more) of those magic bullet airlifts they too can reach the top! Only to realize that even when those quick approaches work, the results are often short lived. Look, there is nothing easy about losing weight. Deal with it, and move on.
On the bright side there are those that have successfully accomplished the climb, are at the top of the mountain and have learned how to maintain their position.
There is no way around it, getting to the top of your fitness mountain is going to be one of the most challenging, and potentially rewarding experiences you’ll ever undergo. Many times it will hurt, push you to your limits…and beyond…making you want to just quit. During those difficult times you may be tempted to give into one of the quick fixes that you logically know will not work, but you just want the agonizing process to be over. It’s human, there’s no problem with that feeling. Instead of going that route, I’m offering you an opportunity to prepare for the climb in advance. Some of you have already started the climb, ill prepared, and now are simply seeking better tools, not because you aren’t making progress, but because you know there’s always room to learn how to become more efficient at making ANY climb. Many of you were eager to get started but forgot to pack the right climbing supplies. Well, this post was written specifically for those that are committed to making the climb, and know you can do it if only you had the right assistance, and a Sherpa (wearing Nikes).
Any health or fitness professional worth their salt will tell you that before you can get your body right, you have to get your mind right.
This was created to help you start getting your mind right to then allow you to get your body right. By the time you finish reading this you’re guarantee to be on the best possible path to accomplishing your climb with the best knowledge on how to access the tools you need, and then, use them. It will save you at least 7 years of trial and error by sharing personal experiences from others that have already made the climb. Their successes, and most importantly, their failures. It was written because I normally do not give out fitness advice when people randomly approach me. Most times when an approach takes place the interaction goes down something like, “Can I ask you a QUICK fitness question?” to which I reply, “Only if it can be answered in 30 seconds or less.” It’s not to be mean, but because if you want a genuinely honest answer that’s going to produce results, there is no such thing as a QUICK ANSWER any more than there is a QUICK FIX. So years ago I stopped giving out this type of valuable information, for free. Even to family and friends. People rarely value, things that are free. But the desire to help those that are genuinely in need of assistance is still there. Just not those that only are interested in a quick day trip or momentary need of wanting to feel like they are working on improving themselves. Time and assistance will only be provided to those that are committed to seeing it through to the top.
#Truth. Look, at this point in life, I only have the time and resources to help those that are serious about getting to the top and are reaching out for a new set of tools and assistance. For those people I am eager to reach back and help you any way I can. So if you’re ready, grab your backpack, strap on your boots and let’s get ready to kick this mountain’s ass!
TrainChange: A Unique, Step-by-Step Analytical Approach to Fat Loss
2012 2nd Edition
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