How to start a fitness transformation: a step-by-step instruction guide

A lot of you guys out there want to get a 6 pack, or you want to be a “fit guy” but you just don’t know where to start.

No matter where you are starting from, here is a straightforward blueprint for getting started, taking action and making progress. Use this guide as a step-by-step instruction manual…

Now, there’s two ways to go about getting shredded…

  1. The Right Way
  2. The Wrong Way

I’m going to lay out both ways for you. Unfortunately, the vast majority of you are going to read this and then you’re going to go with option number 2.

Sounds crazy right? But honestly, that’s likely what you’ll do.

After training with hundreds of young men and advising many, many friends and clients over the last 10 years, this is a frustrating reality that I’ve learned to accept.

For the wise few who go with option number 1: you’ll lose weight, get fit, transform the way you look and transform the quality of the life you live.

Save this blog post to your favorites tab and refer back to it over the coming weeks as you embark on your mission…

1. The Right Way

  1. Hire a personal trainer/coach
    • There are many options here. You can go to your local “big box” gym or a smaller local gym and ask to be assigned to a trainer it employs.
    • These trainers will typically meet with you to do an initial fitness assessment, learn about your past training experience, discuss your goals, talk about your budget and finally put in place a plan with you.
      • If you do not get this kind of personalized treatment, get out of there! If a trainer doesn’t take the time to understand your body and your goals then they are either negligent or incompetent. They won’t get you results and they don’t deserve your business. Pick another gym.
    • Alternatively, there are hundreds of excellent “virtual trainers” or “online coaches” nowadays who can give you the same level of personal attention and customized training plans as an “in person” trainer, but at a lower cost.
      • The trade off with a virtual coach is that you will speak to them via phone, email, text or video calls. They will not be standing beside you when you hit the gym.
      • This works fine for independent types or self-motivated types who can get the work done on their own. But this may not work for people who lack self-motivation or who need hands-on assistance.
      • Same as the “in person” trainer, this coach should take an interest in your history, your goals and they should make you feel comfortable. If you don’t enjoy your initial interactions with this person or you get the sense that they do not care about you and your needs, find another coach!
      • Equally, if the coach demonstrates poor communication habits or skills, find another coach! They may be inexperienced or worse, unqualified.
      • An online coach must be able to explain clearly why they’re the best coach for you.
      • I’ve found many fantastic online personal training businesses created by knowledgable coaches, however the internet is also full of “less experienced” and “less knowledgable” coaches who are not worth your money.
      • Just because some kid has 200k instagram followers and low body fat does not mean he understands your body, your schedule, your psychology, your goals and what’s best for you in the long term. Be cautious who you work with.
    • Educate yourself as much as possible about different exercise styles and try a few different things out if you want to.
      • There are millions of different free online sources: blogs online (use google to answer any questions you have), social media accounts and influencers dishing out great advice, Fitness Magazines, Ebooks on Amazon, etc… to help you learn about your body, how it responds to training stimulus and different sorts of training protocols athletes use.
      • If you learn about a particular sport or exercise which interests you, bring it up to your coach and tell them you want to try it. Your coach should be willing to work with you to make your physical exercise program as fun and enjoyable as possible for you!
      • However, don’t expect your coach to let you do more, more, more… sometimes a coach will (rightfully) ask you to rest. You must be willing to do what your coach asks, or your results will suffer.
  2. Develop a comprehensive nutrition strategy
    • If you wish to outsource your diet planning, seek out a reputable nutritionist in your city (use google, yelp, etc… and be sure to check reviews before giving anyone your money)
    • Alternatively, hire an online coach to help you develop a strategy and hold you accountable each week. Again the virtual coach will likely save you money.
    • If you work with an online fitness coach like myself, you will be probably paying for a “training + diet” plan which incorporates both of these elements into your program. This is ideal as there is no disconnect between the training and the diet progression.
    • Before you pay someone to assist you with your diet, educate yourself as much as possible about core diet principles. Read about the many different diet approaches and talk to as many fit people in your network about their eating habits.
    • Read about each the following concepts: Calories, BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), TEF (Thermic Effect of Food), TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure), DCI (Daily Caloric Intake), IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), BMI (Body Mass Index). When you understand each of these, you will be in a stronger position to understand your diet and it’s relationship to your bodyweight.
    • Use free online BMR and TDEE calculators to estimate how many calories you need to eat each day to remain the same weight and then calculate a modest deficit so you can understand roughly what your target daily caloric intake should be. (You can find a ton of these using google.)
      • These online tools are not perfectly accurate and every human body is slightly different. Many people will defy these online calculators, by needing more calories than the calculators recommend and others will need less.
      • Nevertheless, this is still a helpful exercise to learn about your body and estimate whether or not you are in close range of achieving your daily “calorie in vs. calories out” goal.
    • There are a lot of disagreements about which diet approach is best and it can be extremely confusing for a beginner to make sense of all the different opinions
    • Take everything you ever read about nutrition with a grain of salt. Don’t buy into any of it. Nutrition is one topic where scientists and experts, despite hundreds of years of research and experimentation, have reached very little consensus.
    • Instead of trusting one particular source of information and ignoring others, look for common threads amongst all the different sources.
    • As a rule of thumb, where there is common ground between many different opinions, there is truth.
      • For example, if you have a person who uses “time restricted eating”, a person who eats “high carb, low fat”, a person who eats “paleo”, a person who eats”vegan”,  a person who eats “keto” all in a room together, these four people might all disagree on what to eat, when to eat, and what not to eat.
      • However, they would all agree that a person should moderate their caloric intake if they seek to lose weight. They would all agree that processed foods are generally less beneficial than whole foods like fruits and vegetables. They would all agree that consistent hydration is key to optimizing your health/wellness.
      • Trust the information they all agree on. Don’t trust anything else.
      • You can decide which of these different approaches works for you (if any) by trying them out and discovering for yourself what works and what doesn’t work.
        • A great example of this is me and my diet. I use intermittent fasting as a tool to limit my caloric intake each day. I do not eat anything until 4pm every day and this works for me.
        • It doesn’t mean it will work for you, but it definitely works for me.
        • I discovered this through trial and error and I encourage people to try different things until they find what works for them, so long as there is a clear purpose behind your self experimentation and it is not reckless.
  3. Begin to execute on your plan, track progress and then constantly reassess and reconfigure your plan
    • Tracking your inputs (diet, training) and outputs (fitness progress, body composition) is the single most important thing you will do in your quest to achieve a better body.
    • You must track what you’re eating and recording what you’re doing for exercise each week. If you fail to do this one week and you gain weight that week, you will not be able to make any informed determination about what went wrong or why you put on weight. It will be a week of wasted time.
    • Similarly, if you track your diet and exercise but you do not track your weight after a couple weeks, then you may not know whether or not you have lost weight. You may not even know if your plan is working at all.
    • Making a plan and beginning to execute on it is only the first step towards reaching your goal. You must constantly work with your designated coach to monitor progress and adjust your plan accordingly. This is what you’re paying your personal trainer and your nutritionist for.
    • [Your ability to execute on your coach’s plan] x [your coach’s ability to adjust your training/nutrition protocol appropriately] = [your success and the length of time it takes to achieve it]
    • A qualified coach will understand when/how you should weigh yourself, when/how to test your fitness, as well as what the outputs of these recurrent measurements actually signal about your body and what changes to make the next week. Again, this is what you’re paying them for. 
  4. Accept where you are right now, set realistic goals and begin to actively work on your mindset (ie. “train your mind”)
    • Ok, so you’re fat. Or you’re “not as lean as you wish to be”. Whatever you want to call it. You aren’t happy with where you are right now physically. No big deal mate, it happens to ALL of us. (I’ve had my fair share of struggles with weight gain, that’s for sure!)
    • It honestly doesn’t matter how “out of shape” you are. What matters is that you’re here now, reading this. You’re taking action. And like millions of guys before you, you will get what you seek if you do things the right way.
    • No matter how far you are from getting a 6 pack, you can bet that there have been plenty of guys in much worse shape than you are right now, who have made the necessary changes to their lifestyle and achieved a lean body. A lot of them have even gotten insanely shredded. It happens all the time.
    • I’ve seen crazy transformations guys in their 50s and even their 60s have made! If they can do it, so can you. No more excuses. No more negative thoughts. You can do it. By following these instructions and taking it one day at a time, you are already doing it.
    • Getting lean and getting fit takes time. It takes several months for most people to make a transformation. My last transformation took me 6 months. And if I was bigger than I was, it would have taken longer. That’s just how our bodies work – it takes a long time to make huge changes.
    • By accepting where you’re at right now, you can stop beating yourself up about it. Stop resisting the reality of your situation. You cannot change reality by resisting it in your head. There is no point in stressing or freaking out about it. No point in even being upset about it. It is what it is, for now. There is nothing more futile or pointless than resisting something that “is“.
    • You cannot will yourself 6 months into the future and just blink your eyes and suddenly be 25 pounds lighter. That will not happen. So you have got to learn how to sit with yourself in your current state and just accept where you are right now. This is a baby step but it’s worth highlighting here because it’s such an important mental shift.

    • By accepting that fitness takes time, you can set more modest goals and manage your own expectations – which you can then meet or exceed each week.

    • As an example: instead of trying to lose two pounds each week, try to lose one half of a pound each week. So one pound every two weeks. Eat according to your plan and then if/when you lose a whole pound in a week, great! You smashed your goal! 

    • Now try to lose another half pound the next week, and so on…
    • Achieving small goals each week is far, far more rewarding than hitting big ambitious goals sometimes and then falling short sometimes.
    • If you set a goal to lose 2 lbs per week and you hit your goal for three weeks in a row, then on the fourth week you fall short, you will inevitably beat yourself up for missing your goal.
    • Even though you’ve lose 9 pounds in a month you’ll feel upset and dejected. That is absurd. You should be rejoicing at the amazing progress you’ve made! But you won’t. Because “expectations” are the killer of happiness. And if you don’t feel happy along the way as you lose weight, you will eventually lose motivation and stop trying.
    • This is an important caveat. Your goal is to remain happy and positive throughout your journey. You achieve this by constantly hitting small goals along the way. You do this by setting easy and manageable goals. Sounds simple, but this is where many young guys, enthusiastic on day one but less and less enthusiastic with each missed goal, will fail.
    • Set much lower goals and be sure you hit your goals each week. I can’t say how powerful this is. The feeling of achievement that comes with exceeding a goal is a powerful motivator.
    • If you stop striving for perfection and instead you start striving for progress – it may surprise you how rewarding and enjoyable your “fitness journey” can be.

    • These are the sort of mental games we must play with ourselves to stay on track over a 6-8 month transformation.
    • Also worth your time: read up on meditation and try an app like “Headspace” to practice mindfulness, to practice being present and to form empowering habits like disassociating from your emotions. Learning to pause before being reactive and learning to manage your reactive state with tools such as breathing exercises can help to improve your self control.
    • Mental fitness will improve everything about your life, the same way physical fitness will improve everything about your life. Your transformation can and should involve building both.

 

2. The Wrong Way

  1. Start training without a qualified coach or a well thought out plan
    • You’ve played team sports, you’ve lifted weights before, you know what you’re doing and don’t need help in the gym. It’s a waste of your money, right?
    • Lift weights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday… spin class on Tuesday, Thursday… Hot Yoga on Saturdays and Hiking on Sunday mornings.  Plus pickup basketball a few nights a week and sometimes you like to trail run but only when you feel like it. You have a perfect “plan”, right?
    • You watch fitness Youtubers and you follow a bunch of body builders and ripped guys on IG. You know what they all do when they lift… so you can just copy them and get the same results, right?
    • You may not have an “exact” plan per se for what exercises you’re going to do each week in the gym or what your sessions are going to look like as you close in on your goal, but you know you’re highly motivated and you’re just going to keep training harder and longer for as long as it takes until you get ripped, right?
  2. Start dieting hardcore
    • You need to eat lots of protein and veggies and basically not many carbs at all, right?
    • You should eat small portions throughout the day and cut out anything that’s enjoyable, right?
    • You’re a little hungry at bedtime, sure… but you’re seeing great results in your first month so you should just stick with it, right?
    • Your sleep last night sucked, you’re losing strength in the gym and maybe you’re a bit dizzy now and again at work but that’s fine because you’re just going to get to your goal faster and then you can ease off your diet once you’re shredded, right?
    • You read that Keto is the best way to burn fat fast and your buddy lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks doing Keto so it must be true. You should definitely go Keto too, right?
    • You should kickstart your diet with a 7 day juice cleanse, right?
  3. Weigh yourself on day 1. Write your initial diet plan, then check back in on it sporadically whenever you feel like it
    • You know your starting weight and you know your target weight. You know you want to get there in 8 weeks or less so all you have to do is make sure you look leaner each week and you can weigh yourself now and then whenever you feel like it to be sure you’re on track, right?
    • You have your diet dialed in and you lost 7 pounds the first week so it’s definitely working. Now you should just keep eating and drinking the same thing as week one…every week until you reach your goal, right?
    • You smashed some huge training this week and you ate really light but you mysteriously gained weight this week. You must not be training quite intensely enough, right?
    • You ate really clean this whole month and you felt amazing in your training. You look visibly leaner and you were stronger in the gym this week than ever before. But the scale says you gained weight so you must have messed up and it was a bad week, right?
  4. Set super ambitious goals because even if you miss the target you’ll still get great results
    • Shoot for the moon, even if you fail you’ll land amongst the stars, right?
    •  You read on a weight loss forum that the human body can safely drop 2-2.5 pounds per week with a solid diet and workout plan. You’re super stoked and you’re positive that this time you’re going to stick to your program until you reach your goal. So you’re definitely going to be able to lose 24 pounds in 12 weeks, right?
    • You don’t need any of that woo-woo meditation bullshit and there’s nothing wrong with your psychological approach to goal setting/tracking. And what’s “managing expectations?” …Fuck all that noise, right?
    • Yeah, you have tried and failed a few times to get your six pack but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with how you’re going about it. You have a great approach, you just didn’t have the discipline and the willpower to make it happen last time. This time it’ll be different, right?

…You get the point…

…right?…

I want you to get ripped. I started my business because I realized there were millions of young men like you around the world who want to be fit, who want to be ripped and who want to look and feel incredible every day. But most of you are doing it all wrong!

As young men, we are moronic when it comes to fitness and diet. We set foolish goals, we attempt ridiculous stunts like crash diets and a lot of the time we put our health and wellbeing at risk.

I am not casting judgement – I have made every single mistake in the book over the years, despite the council of many wise coaches, nutritionists, peers and a loving family.

I’ve lost weight and put on weight more times than I care to recount. I’ve reached a level of fitness few people would ever bother or care to reach and I’ve also been through the lowest lows which few of you will ever have to experience.

I’ve overcome many different challenges in my pursuit of health, fitness and happiness during my late teens and early 20s …and I have learned a lot along the way.

Learn from my mistakes and you may just save yourself 10 years of ups and downs! Follow my advice to see what kind of incredible results you can achieve, while building sustainable habits that will lead to a more enjoyable and higher quality of life.

Like I said at the beginning there’s two ways to go about this. The right way or the wrong way. Whichever way you choose to go, I’m here to help you figure it out.

Hit me up with any any all questions, diet or training related 🙂

Gotta go train!

-Eddy

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