Your Physical Transformation – Ten Real World Tips to Get You There in One Piece
Article by Lita Mar
When I first decided that it was time to improve my physique and fitness, I remember experiencing ONE overriding emotion….DESPERATION. I wanted to get it DONE. And I wanted to get it done NOW.
Those were painful days. Feeling bad about the way you look hurts. Knowing you could and should do better, but not knowing HOW is a very frustrating place to be. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you know what I mean.
Luckily I had a lot of time on my hands back then to research and ruminate to my heart’s content. I searched high and low for answers and information about how to get the job done as quickly as possible. Along the way I came across a lot of nonsense, a little straight talk and most everything in between. And through experimentation, observation and (finally) some successful execution, I learned, sometimes the hard way, that while there is no straight line, there ARE a lot of things you can do to make the process easier and more enjoyable along the way.
What I’m about to share with you is my own personal prescription for executing your own successful transformation.
1.0 GET YOUR HEAD STRAIGHT ABOUT YOUR GOALS – We all know the health benefits of regular exercise and proper nutrition, but what seems to motivate most of us more than anything is what we see in the mirror or in a photograph. I think it’s fair to say that most people just want to look better and have more energy and strength for enjoying life.
You don’t have to develop a sudden love for schlepping to the gym. You don’t even have to pretend to love it. You only need remind yourself over and over again that you WILL love the OUTCOME and that will make it all worthwhile. It is okay to admit that you just want to look and feel your best.
Embracing your true goals and then making an honest assessment of what it will take to achieve them are the most valuable steps you can take.
I will do this “work” for you by telling you right now what it takes. You must restrict calories to achieve fat loss, train your body and muscles appropriately for functional strength and aesthetic improvement, and eat foods to support these intentions.
That is ALL it takes.
Okay, I over simplify. But that is your groundwork. You’ve probably heard it said before; changing your physique is simple, but it’s not easy. Let’s take a look at a few of the things you will need to think about now.
2.0 FIND A TRAINING PLAN THAT IS IN HARMONY WITH YOUR GOALS –Once you understand what you need to do, you can begin to shop for a plan that harmonizes with these objectives. Look for a fitness training program that is designed to improve both your aesthetic look and your functional strength.
Don’t fall into the “form follows function” trap. Many trainers love to tell you that you don’t need to worry about “vanity”, that being STRONG will make you look GOOD. But that isn’t necessarily the case because simply training for strength ignores your body’s best potential proportions. If looking good and having a functionally strong body are your goals, then you need to train your body for BOTH of those outcomes. This means that the training plan must be designed to target and grow some muscle groups while tightening and firming others.
There are many excellent online plans available, but the training protocol I recommend is the Venus Factor fat loss and workout program by John Barban. This program includes excellent customizable nutrition information and a 12 week diet protocol designed to optimize your fat loss progress along with an excellent resistance training program that is designed specifically for women. Combining moderate aerobic pacing (to keep your heart rate up) with carefully designed weight lifting combinations, it targets all of the muscle groups that will lead to your best feminine shape, leaving aside those exercises that maximize less feminine muscle groups commonly trained by men. They are designed, well, to make you look like a Goddess. Sounds good to me!
(There is also a program for men called the Adonis Golden Ratio.)
3.0 BELIEVE IN THE MIRACLE OF YOUR BODY – You CAN optimize your body. And a fully optimized body is a BEAUTIFUL body. Yes, I’m talking to YOU. Don’t believe the “hype”. You are NOT “broken”. Nor do you have “special” problems that make it uniquely hard for you to be your best.
The BEST you is the REAL you. Your body is of marvelous design and it performs beautifully what it is instructed to do. Consider that you have been giving it poor instructions.
Your BODY has not been malfunctioning. YOU have been malfunctioning.
I know that might sound harsh, but it really isn’t meant to be. Malfunctioning guidance is much easier to correct than a malfunctioning body. This is great news for you!!!
4.0 TAKE THE TIME TO RUN THE NUMBERS…ALL OF THEM – One of the most important pieces of advice I ever received was “You can’t improve what isn’t measured.” This is true about most everything in life and it is especially true about weight loss, muscle growth and improving your body’s aesthetic appeal.
You must take the time to establish a baseline upon which you can seek to improve. However scary, put on that bikini and take pictures of yourself; front, side and back. Have you ever noticed those people who pridefully strut about, blissfully unaware what they REALLY look like in those jeans? Don’t be one of those people. Take pictures of yourself and find out what YOU need to improve.
Take measurements with a tape measure and write them all down in a blank notebook or make a spreadsheet. Start tracking any and everything that you can think of. You will be so glad you did when you’re done and you can look back over your progress.
Find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate is and start counting your calories.
This is all “no-brainer” stuff, but sometimes the easiest things to do are the scariest ones to start. It is only with courage that greatness can be achieved. Weigh, track and measure absolutely everything about yourself and all that goes into your body. That is the only way to know for sure what you are consuming and if you are making progress.
5.0 TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN WHAT FOODS WORK FOR YOU – You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard or read the constant barrage of nutrition advice…
Eggs are good…no, they’re BAD…no wait, they’re GOOD…
Do eat this…DON’T eat that…
Eat ONLY grapefruit and watch the pounds MELT away!
Some of this advice has value, to the extent that there may be some tiny fraction of an effect or health benefit from following it. Most of it is poorly researched, taken out of context or badly exaggerated. What is MOST important is being sensible and figuring out what works for you.
Experimentation is VITAL to your success. Don’t be afraid to try different things and find out the cause and effect relationship for YOU between what goes in your mouth and how you look and feel just after. Don’t consider it a “failure” if you decide to try something and it doesn’t work. Consider it a success that you now have more information than you had yesterday.
6.0 TAKE THE TIME TO DISCOVER HOW MUCH AND WHEN YOU SHOULD BE EATING – In today’s world of quick fixes, creature comforts and designer pharmaceuticals to take away our slightest grumpy mood, we’ve lost touch with the concept of discomfort. We’ve begun to view discomfort as an evil thing to be eradicated. Sometimes “discomfort” is really just a “sensation”.
In the case of hunger, it is the body signaling that it would be much easier for IT if you just provided it some easy fuel. “Easy” isn’t the same thing as “correct”. This is especially true if you are carrying excess fat that your body can readily use for fuel.
Take the time to get back in touch with hunger. Experiment with your eating patterns. Does skipping breakfast really make you hungrier later in the day? For some of us the answer is “yes” and for others, the answer is “no”. Find out what works for YOU.
How long can you go without eating? How long should you go without eating? What are you capable of? Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out.
Educate yourself about your body’s innermost workings, hormonal functions and the bioavailability of different nutrients. Figure out what works for YOU so you can create a plan and new habits you will be able to maintain for life.
Nutritional strategies like those found in Brad Pilon’sEat Stop Eat are particularly useful for providing calorie restriction controls and encouraging your body to perform all of its metabolic functions more efficiently instead of being constantly fed to quiet its childish rumblings.
7.0 EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AND BE FLEXIBLE – Once you’ve decided when and how you will exercise and what and how much you will eat, you must now prepare yourself to throw your best laid plans right out the window from time to time. Life happens. Party invitations arrive. Children have birthdays. People get married. Friends want to get together. You WILL have to deviate from your plan.
Sometimes you will have your heart absolutely SET on fasting or keeping a certain dietary restriction over the weekend when your spouse or partner suddenly announces that he/she wants to sweep you away on a romantic overnight trip. Be flexible. Don’t torture your loved ones or yourself just because you think your “diet” will be “ruined” by an unexpected eating event.
It took you a long time to drift so far from your body’s ideal. Accept that it might take awhile to get back where you want to be and that there will be challenges along the way. Be sensible and keep your struggles to yourself. Roll with the punches, make sensible choices while away from your plan and ENJOY life already! Your super strict diet and your gym membership will still be there when you get back.
8.0 YOUR BODY IS A WISE CHILD; WORK WITH IT – Your approach must be thoughtful. Your body WILL tell you important things about how to exercise, eat and live. Listen and try to interpret the messages your body sends and then let your BRAIN decide upon the best course of action. You can’t abuse your wise child by driving it into the ground with merciless discipline nor can you indulge its every whim.
The body is a miraculous wonderland of complex interactions and reactions. Everything has its place; rest and sleep are as important as consistent training and pushing yourself hard. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Work SMARTER not HARDER.
Understand deeply that REPAIR and GROWTH happen while you REST, not while you are breaking down your muscles.
Just like you have to roll with life’s punches, you can also ride the tide of your body’s ebbs and flows. When your body is REALLY tired, either rest or do a less intense workout. When your body is vigorous, train it HARD. Just like with your diet, be sensible and do exactly WHAT you are capable of doing at all times. Don’t be lazy and don’t be overly intense.
Your body will sort itself out with your consistent and sensible guidance.
9.0 BE READY FOR THE PLATEAU – There will be times when your fat loss slows down to a crawl or the scale and tape measure just won’t BUDGE. The first thing you should do when this happens is to make an honest assessment of your recent efforts. Have you loosened up too much? Has anything changed? Do you have the extra energy to do a little more or eat a little less?
If the answers to these questions are all HONESTLY “yes”, then reign yourself back in and keep on doing.
If the answers are “no”, then calm yourself down. Plateaus under this circumstance are just your body resting and adjusting. Keep to your plan and give your body the time it needs.
Your honest efforts will always be rewarded with the appropriate returns. But you must accept the reality that progress takes place in fits and starts with occasional stalls along the way.
10.0 USE YOUR “DIET” TO PLAN FOR “MAINTENANCE” – Always keep looking ahead and know that there will be a time in the (hopefully) not so distant future when your days of “transformation” will come to an end. You will breathe a big sigh of relief and you will LOVE what you see in the mirror.
But this “ending” is just a closing of a chapter, not a closing of the book. At this point you will be looking to make small refinements, little improvements and most importantly, you will be looking to keep the beautiful body and excellent level of fitness you’ve achieved.
Thinking about “maintenance” from the very beginning is important for both mental and practical reasons. Envisioning your future self will help keep you on track, give you something to look forward to and spur on your creativity. It will also encourage you to begin thinking about what foods, meals and strategies you will make a part of your life forever.
As you get closer to your desired level of leanness, you will be able to eat more and to cheat more. But if you just go back to your old habits, eventually your body will follow. So start thinking NOW about how you want to change your body and your life FOREVER. The future is beckoning you and your BEST self!
The most important thing to remember while you are working on your plan is that your body is your project, your very own work of art. Keep the process in perspective. Body transformation is a wonderfully rewarding undertaking and it’s important to remember that you are lucky to have a miraculous body to work with and shape.
Live each day of your fitness adventure with joy and gratitude. Not all of it will be fun, but every day you will learn, grow and improve. Don’t be inefficient, but remember that changing your body takes time. Be patient with the process.