It’s 2000-and-something; I forget the date. I’m 14 and there’s nothing I want more than fat loss. In order to accomplish this goal, I do what any kid that age would do: buy my first fitness magazine.
So I buy the magazine and saunter out the shop, big grin plastered across my face because, as the magazine promised, in 6 weeks, I, yes little old me, would have a shredded midsection just like the model on the cover.
Fast forward six weeks, and, to borrow from The Fresh Prince: Now this is the part of the story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down, and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there because I’m about to tell you how all that excitement turned to despair.
Six weeks came and went and I didn’t look any different than when I’d started, little did I know that It would take another decade before I even saw my abs. Yes, a decade.
Therein lies the problem. Everything you see and read about fat loss sells you the sexy stuff – how awesome you’re going to look, how effortless it is with this one weird trick, how much sex you’re going to have, etc. and don’t get me wrong, I get it: it catches your attention. It’s the same reason I bought my first fitness magazine; the promise of abs in six weeks. It’s the same reason you clicked this article; what exactly are these unsexy fat loss truths? That’s not the problem. The problem is the lack of information that tells you the other side of fat loss.
The unsexy stuff.
Because the truth is, fat loss – as a process – is not sexy, it’s the least sexiest thing you can do. Sure, when you finally have abs and look amazing, that part is sexy, but that’s only a modicum of the entire process.
Take me for example, ten years worth of frustration, spinning my wheels, and not getting results compared to finally having abs. If I were to draw a pie chart to represent this while simultaneously showcasing how sophisticated I am because pie charts, it would look something like this:
See? The unsexy stuff far outweighs the sexy stuff. And if I had known about this back when I started, it would have made things a bit less stressful.
Oh, and for all those thinking something like, bro, everything in life happens for a reason, all my challenges made me who I am and I wouldn’t want to change anything. Really? I guess you’re also the kind of person who thinks the key to everything is to just think happy thoughts and attend weird spiritual retreats out in the woods with a guy named Spirit Owl so you can avoid the harsh realities of life, one of these realities being that you’re wrong.
Here’s why: humans have a short life-span in the grand scheme of things and a big part of life is not only trying to get from point A to B but getting from A to B as efficiently as possible so that we can move to the next set of A to B’s. And the more time you waste on one set of A to B’s, the less time you have to do other sets of A to B’s. So, my really good looking but naive internet friend, no. If you were able to go back and change things, you would. Because it would’ve made life just that bit easier.
*picks mic back up*
Ok, I’m not done yet. You need to read, understand, and internalise these 7 unsexy fat loss truths because the sooner you do, the better off you’re going to be .
1. You’re Going To Fail
You can read this article, the one after this article, watch a YouTube video, hell, go upload all the nutrition and training knowledge direct to your brain like Neo; but, you’re still going to fuck up because what you may have read in a textbook is not how your body will actually respond in the real world (most of the time). And the only way to realise this is to go out there, put what you learned into action. And fail.
But, Aadam, you said if we read this article we’ll be better off?
Well, I lied. So get over it.
…You’re not going away, are you?
Ok, look. Failure is part of the learning curve, this article will help and will save you years of frustration and misery and all those other things I mentioned in the sophisticated pie chart, but, there are things that are going to happen that you can’t be taught and you just have to…well, fail.
To quote The Buddha: Don’t be a bitch .
1b. This is also why you fail
Gee Aadam, you’re just bursting with positivity today.
Look internet person, this article is about truths, it says it right there in the title. Anytime you hear or read the word ‘truth’, you can be pretty certain you’re about to hear something you might not like or find particularly comfortable. You knew what you were getting into.
Here’s the second reason you’re going to fail: It’s not the last diet, or this diet, or the one you’re going to try after you’re done with this one. It’s not the macros, it’s not clean versus bad, it’s not the calories, or one weird trick, or some magic voodoo nutrient manipulation. Or any of that other stuff. That stuff is important, sure, but only after this fact – you might want to take a seat because this is going to blow you away:
Your fat loss is down to you actually wanting to make a change.
Most people are in love with the idea of losing fat than actually losing fat. And until you don’t make a conscious decision to make a change, and then commit the fuck to it: you’re going to keep failing.
And I know, right now you’re thinking,“but Aadam, I do, I do want to make a change, I do want to lose fat and build muscle and be fit and healthy”, but you’re lying, not intentionally, you don’t know you’re lying, but you are.
Once you accept these first two truths, the rest of these unsexy truths will help. If you’re not ready to accept them, close this article, plug your fingers back into your ears and continue to live in denial.
2. Your Body Is Your Fault
Ever hear the phrase, “People don’t fail diets, diets fail people”?
Well, it’s bullshit. Want to know why it’s bullshit? Because people do fail diets. All the time, in fact. Want to know why that saying is blindly accepted as gospel? Because telling people “it’s your fault” isn’t sexy.
How else is someone supposed to sell you their own super secret diet book if you don’t believe the fault lies in the last diet plan you tried and not with you?
Your body is your fault. If you’re overweight, it’s your fault; If you’re weak and skinny right now and think you can’t build muscle, it’s your fault; decide to go out every weekend and get totally shitfaced instead of staying in and getting sleep, your fault.
This isn’t to be hurtful, but to make you realise that the onus of habit change is on you and not the diet or anybody else: the sooner you start to take responsibility for your health and body the sooner you’re going to make a change.
3. It’s Really Damn Hard
Read any real literature on human psychology and development and you’ll soon notice a common theme: humans thrive on stress and challenges. Of course there’s a limit, and too much is just as bad as not enough. But, the problem is we’re becoming more and more averse to any amount of effort and discomfort.
Which isn’t good because fat loss sucks. It’s damn hard and there is absolutely nothing “effortless” about it.
And not the, “man, I didn’t win the lottery AGAIN” kinda suck, more like, “Mike Tyson just up and punched me in the face and now my jaw’s wired shut and I can only drink through a straw” kinda suck.
You’re going to have to eat less food. You’re going to be a little hungry. You’re going to have to exercise, you’re going to need to eat better which also means having to plan.
And if you’re wanting to get super lean, meaning, step on stage to compete:
- Guys: your sex drive is going to drop.
- Girls: you’re probably going to lose your period.
Wow, we haven’t a sidebar in a while. I want to elaborate on the last point because people tend to interpret things through the spectacles of their own biases. And yes, I just used the word spectacle. Deal with it.
Here are three of my clients showcasing both a ‘lean’ and ‘ripped’ physique.
I show you these not to impress you with my coaching prowess but to make this point salient:
Contrary to what some out of shape personal trainer might tell you, every guy, yes, this includes you reading this: can and should strive to achieve and maintain a lean, good looking body (10-12% body fat).
It’s not unrealistic at all. In fact, it’s very realistic. And maintaining a lean, conditioned physique is not as hard as people make it out to be.
Sure, getting to that point, initially, is tough (evident by the fact I’m writing a whole article on it) and how long it takes will depend on your personal circumstances – also because guys have very unrealistic expectations of both the time and effort required – but, once you do get there it’s not hard to maintain.
Seeing that we’re on the topic, one more thing: it’s not fucking unhealthy. Being lean is very healthy, both physiologically and psychologically.
With a lean physique comes increased testosterone levels and with that increased virility, improved insulin sensitivity, and confidence.
And, women do, in fact, find guys in shape attractive. No, let me rephrase that: CONFIDENT women do. Because you know the women who go around claiming that they “don’t like guys who are in shape and instead prefer the Dadbod”(or any variant of this nonsense)? Yeah, they have insecurity issues, which is their problem, not yours. It’s no different than men who are afraid of strong women.
So let’s stop the propagating of this nonsense because it’s beginning to get pretty boring and really annoying…and now I’m pissed off. Great. Let’s take a break.
Ok. I’m good. So, my point with that whole ridiculously somewhat off topic diatribe was this: most guys can maintain a lean and healthy physique (10-12%) without experiencing the negative sides; while reaping the positives.
But more important than any of those other things, and this is the hardest part – you’re going to need to exorcise the bad habits that have lead you to this point. This is hard exactly because it means taking responsibility, cultivating discipline – a word that has become seemingly taboo in today’s culture – and putting in the effort.
You are going to get frustrated at times; you’re going to feel like you’re busting your ass and nothing’s happening; weeks will go by and you’re not going to see changes; you’re going to think you’re not getting stronger, or gaining muscle, or losing fat and then at that point you’re probably going to give up. But this happens to everyone and it’s going to happen to you.
Being aware that these things are normal and going to happen will mean you’re better able to deal with them when they arise. To reiterate the point I made at the start, don’t be afraid of a little bit of discomfort; learn to suffer well because this shit ain’t easy.
“There is always something for something, never something for nothing”
– Bruce Lee
Basically, Bruce Lee is saying: You can’t have it all.
There are things you’re doing right now that are not conducive to the person you’re wanting to become, and you’re going to have to give these things up if you want to be that person.
Because, really, that’s what this is all about – it’s not the abs or the bigger ass or to be able to fit into your favourite jeans again – sure, on the surface, those things are important and we do want those things, but only because those things make progress tangible. ‘Abs’ are simply a metaphor for the better version of you – yeah, yeah, I know, how cliche, Aadam. But that doesn’t make it any less true. It’s a cliche exactly because of the fact that there’s truth to it.
The you who has abs and is fit and healthy is doing things that you currently aren’t. This hypothetical you in the future has also given up things that at one point he thought he enjoyed but realised they weren’t helping him.
This is called opportunity cost and is one of the cosmic laws of the universe: to get something you have to give up something else. Because you can’t have it all, remember?
Want to lose fat but refuse to eat better because ‘you just love food’; fine. Stay fat. But then don’t complain that you can’t lose weight.
Want to gain muscle but you’d rather go get wasted with your boys every weekend than go to the gym? Fine. Then stay weak and skinny. But then don’t complain that you can’t gain muscle.
The 14 year old me had to sacrifice watching cartoons and eating crap, things the 14 year old me really, really enjoyed so that he could go exercise and eat well.
Was it easy? Hell no. It was damn hard (see point 3 again) but I’d made a choice about what was more important to me and wanting to look like the cover model on that fitness magazine was worth the sacrifice.
You can’t have it all, and you have to come to terms with this. Then, once you do, you’re going to have to decide what you’re willing to sacrifice.
5. The Myth of Balance
You didn’t get to this point because you were being ‘balanced’ – you were doing everything but balance; and you’re not breaking years of bad habits by just employing ‘a bit of balance’.
Show me someone who’s lost a lot of weight, changed their body, health, and mindset for the better and I’ll show you a highly imbalanced, slightly obsessed person. Because losing fat is not an act of balance; it’s the complete opposite of balance: you’re fighting against the body’s proclivity to stay as it is. And you’re not winning that war with ‘balance’.
This is why you promise yourself you’re going to start eating better but when your annoying do-gooder work colleague, who’s clearly trying to sabotage your life, brings in delicious treats, this happens:
Nobody has gained weight or started to have health concerns because they were being balanced.
You do have to become slightly obsessed and imbalanced if changing your body and health is a big goal.
6. You’re Going To Lose ‘Friends’
There are people in your life right now who you think are your friends, but they aren’t, really; and they don’t want you to lose fat or build muscle or be a better person because they like the you who gets wasted all the time, parties all the time, and does a bunch of other things that aren’t exactly the best or helping you. Because it justifies their own fuckedupedness.
These same people, when you start working towards your goals, are going to make comments like, “aww, look, he’s trying to be healthy”, “didn’t you start going to the gym? Why don’t you look any different?”, “you’re getting too skinny”, “you’re getting too muscular”, “you know this is just a phase, right? You’re going to give up eventually”, “guys don’t like strong women”, “girls don’t like abs”.
You have to decide if these people are actually joking as they’ll constantly tell you, or being toxic. And if they’re being toxic; get rid of them because you don’t need people like that in your life.
7. You’re Not Going To Look How You Want (at first, maybe at all. I dunno)
Do me a favour. Close your eyes and imagine the body you’re going to have when you finally hit your fat loss goal.
Got it? Good.
Well, you’re not going to look anything like that because that image isn’t even real – it’s an amalgam of images you’ve seen of your favourite celebrities, fitness models, and actors topped off with a heaping serving of your own imagination. And as I’ve written previously, your imagination blows things way out of proportion which results in some hybrid, demi-god version of you. Also known as not really you.
When you first lose fat, you’re going to realise that you don’t have as much muscle as you thought you did. Then, you’re going to think you did something wrong; panic, freak out and send me a thirty page email lamenting your woes and letting me know you’re freaking out, and even after I email you back telling you exactly what you need to do, you’re not going to listen. You’re then going to go back to ‘bulking’, get fat again, freak out (again), email me (again), I’m going to reply (again, because I’m cool like that), and you’re not going to listen (again).
After that scenario plays out an ungodly number of times, and I’ve smashed my head against a wall also an ungodly number of times, you’re going to quit.
SO. Here’s the final unsexy fat loss truth, because I’m hungry and need to go eat…and smashing my head against the wall is starting to hurt: your physique is going to suck for a long time before you look how you want to look.
And this is why most people quit. So, really you have two choices here.
a) You understand and accept this truth and commit to the process.
b) Get angry because I burst your bubble and not bother.
It’s up to you.
- There’s also the very likely possibility you might not actually be better of. In which case, well, I’m sorry. This is just a goddamn article on the internet and I’m just a guy. You don’t have to listen to me, remember?
- I refuse to believe The Buddha didn’t at least, once in his life, at least think something similar.
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