My Fat Loss Truth
Do you want the truth about fat loss?
Its fucking hard.
I know that’s not going to help my ebook sales but it’s the truth. I say that because I am on the tail end of a pretty long fat loss phase. My calories are getting low, workouts seem harder than they should, and I am not sleeping well.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled with how I look. I am in the best shape of my life at 39. I have never been completely (just slightly) uncomfortable taking my shirt off at the beach. But I have never had that “wow” look. Ever since Daniel Craig walked out of the surf in that Bond preview I had my “ideal”. That is where I want to get to.
I want to get to a point that I never believed I could physically or mentally get to. Not for any competitive reason. Not because of vanity. I just want to walk in your shoes.
Getting In Shape Vs Getting RippeD
Maintaining a decent level of fitness has never been that difficult for me. I have been doing this long enough that I intuitively know how much I am eating and where I can have some wriggle room in my diet. Getting to a place where I look “good enough” just takes me some small steps.
I have never been ripped though. Like fitness model ripped. It’s always been too hard for me. Getting to that level, for me, takes some serious work. It requires giving up things that I like, especially at night and on weekends. Those are my weak points.
The struggles that I am encountering are real. I know I am not fighting terrorists in Afghanistan or fighting fires in Corona or fighting AIDS in Africa. I am fighting though. Little, tiny battles that are microcosms of the bigger ones we all face.
Is the choice of eating a bagel with cream cheese vs some egg whites and a salad really going to make that big of a difference in my life? Probably not. But a day full of those choices becomes a week, becomes a month, becomes a year. Suddenly a lifetime of choices is behind you. By putting these small choices on autopilot I can focus my energy on bigger, more important issues. It’s the culmination of those that define who we are.
Having long been able to enjoy foods I like on a relatively regular basis without the fear of gaining excess weight, cutting back on these was definitely a wakeup call. I started having cravings for things that I never really thought twice about before. Donuts, pancakes, waffles started to make me salivate. I don’t even like sweet breakfast foods, yet here I am planning my workouts in a manner so that I could have them as a post-workout meal. It was crazy.
Many people deal with these cravings on a regular basis, just trying to get to a healthy weight, and we dismiss this as a lack of willpower. I can tell you, now from experience, blaming someone’s lack of progress on a lack of willpower is shortsighted at best.
The Real Reason For My Fat Loss Journey
So, as with everything, a big question is why?
For one, I am 39 years old. I see a lot of people my age that think it’s too late. That their best years are behind them physically. I know that is not true. I might not be able to lift as much, run as fast, jump as high, or eat as freely but I can still work hard. And I know so much more now than I did then.
Second, I want to put myself in my client's shoes. I want to know how hard it can be. If that means I have to push a little further than I normally would, even better.
Last, I have dealt with enough negative influences in my life. I have always used fitness as a part of my life but have also lived a life of excess that has counteracted much of my progress. Drugs, alcohol, shitty food choices have been on the menu as long as I can remember. With those things all eliminated, what can I really accomplish?
How I Planned On Looking My Best Ever At 39When I decided to start this, I knew I had to take the approach that I do with my clients. It has proven successful countless times, helping them lose 20, 30, 40 lbs. Surely I could apply that to my own process.
To begin I knew I wanted to take it slow. I already have an all-or-nothing personality and tend to take the attitude that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. That is not the best approach for sustained fat loss.
Phase 1: Build Good Habits (Weeks 1-10)
For the beginning stages I stuck with a habit based approach. My main goal was to clean up my daily consumption of foods by sticking to what I knew to be true: food composition does matter. I know that in the grand scheme of things it is possible to get ripped on Cinnamon Toast Crunch and protein shakes but it is not ideal. So I did what my clients all do at first: made better choices. I also changed up some stuff with my training and recovery, but those weren’t just limited to Phase 1, they stayed the same throughout. Nonetheless, I included them in my Phase 1 Plan.
My initial habits looked like this:
Phase 2: Weighing, measuring, macros, oh my (Weeks 11-18)
This is where shit got serious. I had started to shed a decent amount of fat but it was starting to plateau. I looked much better and would have been happy with the progress I was making but I knew that in order to get where I wanted I would need to be very exact with my tracking.
Phase 3: What the fuck did I just get myself into (Weeks 19-20)
I was in the best shape of my life by this point. I knew I wanted pics for my website, my ebook, and for social media files. I still wanted to dial in a little bit more detail but was not sure how to do it. I asked around to a few friends and my buddy Jonny P and his fiancee Vanessa offered to help me out. I was thinking it was going to be a “eat this many calories and quit drinking water the day before the shoot.
Boy was I wrong.
They had me meet them at Vanessa’s spot, Eva’s Supplements in the West Village. Eva’s is a restaurant up front, supplement store in the back (pretty much the nutritional equivalent of a mullet).Top notch, high quality stuff. Vanessa starts by running me through the ringer on diet, training, poop schedule, and anything else she can think of.
She shits on my diet a few times and tells me to lay off the bread, dairy, deli ham and to eat like a fuckin bro. Chicken and rice and potatoes and broccoli.
Next, I strip down to my shorts in the middle of the store and she can take a look at my physique. She tells me to spread my lats and I did some kind of weird chicken pose which really sent her off.
“Jesus Fuckin Christ, what is that? Wait, there’s one lat. You suck. You should probably just kill yourself and save the world from the misery it will have to endure by enduring another minute of your existence. Let’s try a side pose” (I may be exaggerating her exact word choice but that is how it sounded at the time)
Eventually she found an angle which accentuated the positive aspects of my physique and she taught me what the mechanics of it were. My homework was to practice that pose every day.
I’m very coachable. If I trust someone to coach me, I’m doing everything they tell me. This was a level of nutrition that I had no expertise in. In the past, if any of my clients were interested in physique or bodybuilding prep I would refer them out. This is why.
Phase 4: Goodbye Cruel World (3 days prior to the shoot)
This is when shit got a little wacky. I have done plenty of weight cuts for strongman so am used to doing a water manipulation where we cut water and you just start to dry up. Instead, Vanessa had me playing with glycogen. The other difference was that instead of manipulating water and weight she had me manipulating things based on visuals. It messed with my head a bit and I had to remind myself that this is her area of expertise not mine.
Part of being a great coach is knowing your weaknesses. Part of being great at being coached is not thinking, just doing. Well, one of my weaknesses in both areas is my tendency to overthink things. It took some work but I shut my brain off and just did as I was told.
The Big Day: Photo Shoot
Here it was, the culmination of all of my work. I woke up and ate according to a weird protocol that Vanessa has developed. I won’t disclose it as it is her personal system, but it worked. I arrived at the gym where I was meeting my photographer friend Adam. I went through a quick workout to get good and pumped, sent Vanessa the pics and waited on her direction.
The best part of this whole process? My next instruction was to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It is understatement to say I was elated.
From here it was just hitting locations around North Brooklyn and posing and getting pictures. I was kind of in a fog at this point. I’m not used to that kind of hunger over multiple days and it definitely fucked with me a bit. It was also hot as shit that day which made everything more difficult.
This process taught me a lot about myself, my clients, and my responsibilities as a Coach. I came away with a renewed passion for my own process and hopefully a better perspective for my clients process as well.
Bodybuilding is seen as vanity. Something for narcissists who want to get all oiled up in their underwear and walk around on stage at the highest levels. Something for douchey guys with gelled up hair and too much cologne at the amatuer levels. But to me it is so much more. (Mainly because I am bald and my natural musk outshines any manmade cologne).
In all seriousness, I started this challenge to myself on the day I stepped out of a detox facility in New Jersey. I knew that if I wanted to change my ways, if I wanted to be the man I see myself as, I needed to commit fully to life. I needed to commit fully to myself. Alcohol was such a big part of my daily existence that living without it meant that a huge part of me was missing.
I have always loved training, but never before have I needed it. At that moment, I needed it. I needed something to fill the void that getting sober had left in me. You read right, getting sober doesn’t fill a void, it creates one. At least initially.
That’s what no one ever tells you. Getting sober will leave you feeling empty. It is like losing your best friend and worst enemy all at once. Its why Batman needs the Joker. Superman needs Lex Luthor. The person that they hate the most is the only one that can truly understand them.
Guys like me need the struggle. I don’t feel alive unless I am in the fight. Training gives me that fight. Training like a bodybuilder lets me do it without getting hurt.
The last 6 months have been challenging as I learn my new place in the world. My training, my diet, and my dedication to the craft of coaching have all grown as a result. I am in a better place to understand the difficulties that others go through in their quest for strength, fat loss, fitness, or just improved health. No one has it easy.
I encourage everyone to embrace the struggle. The truth about all of this stuff is that it is hard. The real secret is that you will have to sacrifice if you want to see real change. You don’t, however, have to do it alone. Find a coach, talk to a friend, join a group challenge or a fitness class.
The point is you have to take action. Only you can start the process but if you want to be successful you need to have support. That support is all around, just reach out and grab it.
If you need that extra hand to help reach your goals, hit me up here.