It’s 2000-and-something; I forget the date. I’m 14 and there’s nothing I want more than to lose fat. 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.
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1b. This is also why you 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 foods or dirty foods, 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 responsibility
A lot of factors may have led you to where you are today–factors that may well have been out of your control–but regardless of whose fault it is, the onus of habit change is on you and the sooner you start to take responsibility for your health and body the sooner you’re going to make a change.
3. It’s 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.
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.
But harder than any of those other things is the fact you’re going to need to exorcise the bad habits that have lead you to this point. This is hard 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 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 may 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”, etc.
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 the way you want (at first)
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.