Monday, 3 October 2011

Trouble shooting for fat loss... Project Xmas

Hi all,

*Today marks (another) new dawn in my attitude and renewed attempts to change EVERY single person i train, not just the ones who are good at turning up and 'into it'.

*This is not the first day i have thought this, im just re-energising my efforts for the coming 3 months.

Before i go on, have a read of my older blog post (and one of my best ones) related to this on "habits of effective PT clients". How many of you/your clients share the same traits?

Ok, so im targeting all my gym people here and all my Facebook/blog readers', their people and the people they know with this post. Lets all make a change to our physiques in the next 3 months? Lets call it Project Xmas... sound good? Im challeneging everyone to start to get in their best shape ever by Xmas 2011 and start 2012 as a brand new you.

Interested? Read on. If you don't fancy reading on see point 1 below.

There are several important factors when considering 'why aren't my clients/I getting into better shape, here are my top 8 factors (in order of importance), let me know if you agree/disagree or have more to add:

1. Attitude

You have to ask yourself why you do it? Why are you spending time in the gym? why have you paid for a PT? If you have definite answers for this then i congratulate you and hope you are moving closer to your individual goals. If not then im afraid you may be 'spinning your wheels' and wasting time.

I know a few people who (i believe) are lost in their fitness goals. There is no energy or enthusiasm from them in the gym. No training plan or direction - no goals or targets. If you have a poor attitude towards the gym and bad work ethic then no PT/training program in the world can help you. Training and changing shape begins with YOU and ends with YOU. 

How much does changing shape/getting fit mean to you? 

Make your transformation one of the most important things in your life and do something daily to get you closer to it. I say one of the most important because there are other important things in life like family, friends and social life that dont need to suffer while on your mission to get fit and lean.
You have to change your attitude towards training

2. Nutrition

(For the purposes of this blog im talking exclusively about weight/fat loss for; building muscle would need a different nutritional guidelines).

How good is your nutrition? Are you eating an optimum diet for weight/fat loss?  Its no good saying "i eat really well" then explain how you eat 2 rounds of toast and fruit juice for breakfast. Everybody needs to wake up to proper fat loss nutrition. Cereals, bread and fruit juices are not part if it! Not even for kids. Focus on Protein, Vegetables and fruits at all meal times and only choose wholefoods that will assist your body during exercise. Think of the word THRIVE. when eating ask yourself:

"Will this food help my body THRIVE? or will it hinder and make sluggish?"

You always have choices - choose to eat good foods instead of bad.

Do you know your body-type? Ectomorph, Endomorph or Mesomorph. If your primary goal is weight/fat loss then i'm guessing your probably near the endomorph type. 

Carbohydrate tolerance will be lower on Endomorphs and higher on Ectomorphs

You need to understand that this body type (Endomorph) does not handle Carbohydrates well - if you have ever analysed how you perform/feel after big carb-based meals, you should have realized that by now. This is what is keeping you the way you are. Carbohydrate intake for Endomorph body-types (when fat loss is the main goal) should be limited to post workout only. So If your going to the gym once a week and not cutting back on carbohydrates... you can see where people let themselves down regarding fat loss. It will be almost impossible.

"Working for your carbs (post workout only) really works for fat loss"

If you don't adopt a nutritional plan that is designed for fat loss, forget about fat loss!

3. Frequency of training

Lets say you use the gym or see a trainer once a week.

"Honestly, what do you expect to happen?"

Lets get real here and say that it certainly will not be fat loss. Im certainly not saying use a PT 5 times a week, far from that - but (for fat loss) you really need to be training in some form for 5+ hours a week. That could involve any activity of your choice. Going to Malls and eating/drinking does not qualify for activity but unfortunately makes up the bulk of 'social' time in todays society.

If you are the type of person who wishes they are lighter when they jump on the weighing scale daily and dont exercise daily and eat properly, im afraid you may have some form of mental disease, no kidding! You WILL NOT suddenly drop those 10 lbs you want off by hoping and praying. Makle some solid changes - be consistent for about 3 weeks - then (if you have to) weigh yourself, or better still buy some bodyfat calipers and measure once a month.

Use the scales to confirm a weight loss result, not hope for one

Real example: One gym member comes in the same time every week and demands a bodyfat test, if its me that is near by i always ask him "what have you done this week that will make you think anything has changed?". Why bother measuring progress when you do nothing to attain it? 

But i digress...

So how important do you think training frequency is when you have average genetics and an average diet? Answer: VERY. You really need to be training more often to see better results.

Exercise or perform pulse-raising activities for more than 5 hours per week before expecting any shift in weight/fat loss.

4. Consistency

Whatever you do, you must be consistent to see results.

'Rome wasn't built in a day"

I used to tell friends and clients that they would get great results in 10-12 weeks, what a fool i was! Believe that the first 10-12 weeks (for some people) is just the beginning, the real progress starts when you/your clients begin to adopt and live new habits over the long term - not just for that month before summer holidays.

Get all the fat-loss ingredients in place and go on a 3-6 month run of healthy living. I challenge you.

5. Type of training

As a trainer, i try to match people's behaviour to their goals. I see too many overweight gym members sitting on isolation machines for 2-3 minute breaks between sets - absolutely the wrong thing to do. the workouts should be dynamic, fast-paced and more metabolically demanding.

"You shouldn't cares how big your biceps are when your 30% bodyfat, concentrate on getting them visible by burning some fat"

If you are looking to lose weight/fat, there are several rules i like to have when considering training type:

1) You must get your heart-rate up
2) *Choose something you are not good at
3) If you can wear the same gym clothes day after day - you are NOT fat loss training

*Fat loss is about inefficiency. Find something that puts you in trouble and watch the heart rate go up and the body fat mely away! Personally - i can skip as long as i want, its not tough for me. But when i run long distance or swim im really not comfortable. Therefore i always choose these 2 forms of exercise when i want to drop weight/fat (because i hate them).

Although she isn't working hard, Im feeling she deserves a mention in my blog!

6. Daily habits

I think a lot can be explained about different body-fat levels on people whern you look at the family's habits. How do your parents eat? What did your grandparents do for social activity? Over the past few years i have noticed that the very lean people i have come across have all had some form of good family habit which involves physical activity

Example: Lets say 2 families live nextdoor to each other. The parents of family A spend weekends camping, trekking, cycling and generally all outdoors activities. Their kids play games/sports in the field and with other families' kids. Family B have obese parents who watch gameshows on tv, they are dpressed with their jobs and eat take-away food as they have no energy to be creative in the kitchen. Their kids lock themselves in the bedroom playing videogames and chatting online to other non-active kids around the world. The parents are just happy that they are not maikg too much noise.

Forward a decade of the pattern...

I guess you see what the difference between Family A and B's kids are right? Family B's kids and parents will complain of slow metabolisms, thyroid function issues and all the other easy-to-blame things that under-active people can call on as excuses. The truth may be that decades of low activity levels and poor nutrition from the family have created that slow metabolism?

Life-long family habits will effect a childs future behaviour, attitude and appearance 

Just some food for thought? Does anyone agree or disagree with this theory?

Increase you NEPA (non-exercise physical activity) levels every day. Get outside more and become involved with fun/social activities that involve physical movement.

7. Supplements

When you have checked off the above 6 factors, then i think you should decide on supplementing your diet to acheive better results. Supplements are really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to egtting in great shape - yes they help but buying a supplement and thinking it'll change your physique is just plain dumb.

I would definately recommend meal replacement shakes to those people who are too busy that they skip meals, i am currently using herbalife meal replacements and i'm really enjoying the quick meals that you can create - more on that in future blogs.

In my opinion, products like fat burning supplements can assist fat loss **only if you follow a fat loss diet and training regime. They wont work if you eat normal and train as you've always done.

8. Support group

This factor is often under-looked but very destructive to people's goals. Make sure that your immediate social group (partners, spouses, friends, gym partners, trainer, etc) are all 100% supportive of your efforts. If you have a partner who eats terribly at night time and tries to encourage you to be the same - it will be hard for you to get results.

It happens more often than you think, men and women in relationships instead of appreciating the better form/physique of their partner can very often become jealous at any new-found attention! I will leave it there but it does happen and can cause problems. Create a strong support system with friends/family who will encourage you not try to de-rail any progress.

Real-life story: one of my best ever results was with a client in Bahrain called Nancy. To cut a long story short Nancy had an amazing (i mean amazing!) support group in her husband Shaun and her 2 young boys Ryan and David. Nancy made a change and the whole family made the change too - everything from training to diet. I think some of her brilliant success was due to that support group. Dont underestimate the power in someone encouraging and complimenting you every day


1. Change your attitude to a positive one. Set a weight/fat loss goal and go after it
2. Adopt a nutritonal strategy that will acheive weight/fat loss
3. Commit to 5 hours of training/activity per week
4. Go on a 3-6 month run of healthy and active living
5. Adopt a training program that will assist weight/fat loss
6. Increase your daily NEPA with fun/social activities
7. Purchase supplements to help fat loss or (meal replacement drinks) to fill in gaps in your diet
8. Choose your support group carefully, distance yourself from any negative influences

- If you can honestly put a tick next to the points above then i personally believe you will get great results.

- If you are missing a few points, spend the next week or so to work on those areas.

- If you are not doing any? You need to wake up to the fact that you may never acheive what you first stepped in the gym to do - that was to get in better shape.

Thanks all, please comment and share with facebook friends :)


  1. I will try to work more on weights if that's the case because i do a lot of cardio. I do sweat and i am out of breath and tired after my work out but weights really kills me. Even though i'm doing alot of cardio like Swimming, Running, and Cycling i'm still bulking up. I'm not eating more i promise why is that my arms look like i've been lifting weights like crazy!

  2. Great article Nathan! Spot on and easy to absorb for any person - serious gym bunny or not.

  3. hi guys, can u leave your names when you post - so i can acknowledge and send better replies, thanks :)


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