I’ve been at this whole fitness thing for over 11 years now so I’ve got to tell you a few fitness and nutrition strategies for a successful fitness journey.
Beware that I don’t remember many details of my own fitness journey because a ridiculous amount of alcohol has been consumed during it (no, it hasn’t, I’m just trying to make an article funny so that you don’t vomit due to boredom) so every tip will be short and straight to the point.
Okay, let’s take our short drive through these 15 fitness and nutrition tips.
1. Nobody cares
I once had a self-confidence Bootcamp in Berlin. One of the exercises I had to do was to talk for two minutes nonstop with my partner. Maybe you’re thinking: That’s it? What’s the big fucking deal?
Well, I was standing at the bottom of the escalator and my partner was at the top and this was in the busiest shopping mall in the fucking Berlin — the most populated city in Germany. It means that I was talking about Michael Jordan or some equally stupid shit for two minutes straight while heaps of random people were going up and down the escalator.
Guess, what? Nobody gave a flying fuck about me. People would glance at me for a few seconds and then get back into their own little bubbles worrying about their own problems.
Nobody in the gym is judging you. Nobody cares if you train with an empty barbell or pink dumbbells. Everyone is too focused on themselves.
So if you’re intimidated by those smelly muscular dudes in the gym, don’t be. Nobody cares. Everyone’s too busy living their miserable lives.
2. Results don’t happen overnight
One of my clients sent me the graph of her weight changes from 2013 to 2020. She gained 51 pounds during that time. Here’s what I replied to her:
Stop looking for shortcuts. There are no. Whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle take the time to lay a proper foundation for long-term success.
Alan Aragon Research Review had an article written by Amber Evangeline Rogers called “Lessons from losing 80 pounds: a case for moderation.” Here’s the part that stuck with me:
“I think many of us in the fitness industry fall into the trap of dismissing moderation, because our clients are looking for dramatic and rapid results, and because we don’t see many examples of its effectiveness. We perceive that moderation doesn’t work, because so many people get frustrated with the slow pace of the changes moderation produces, and quit.”
She then continued:
“I am here to provide an example of what moderation can do. I applied moderation to my own diet and fitness routine, and while the results were not rapid, they were both dramatic and lasting. That last bit is what the fad diets don’t offer: sustainable, lasting results.”
So stop thinking about what you can accomplish in a week. Instead, think about what you can accomplish in a year.
3. Take progress photos
Don’t be embarrassed to take progress photos — not only they’ll remind you just how far you’ve come but also help track long-term progress.
Often my clients will complain the scale weight has been going down too slowly (results don’t happen overnight, remember?). That’s until I show them a side-by-side comparison of their starting photos versus current photos which makes them go “Oh, I see what you mean, Egis.”
I recommend taking pictures every 4-5 weeks under the same conditions. The more data you have the more objectively you’ll see your progress.
4. Strength training is the best thing you can do for fat loss
Many people who want to lose weight don’t realize that what they really want is to lose fat and build muscle. Muscle creates the shape of your body. You can’t build a perkier, rounder, or sexier anything without building muscle.
For that reason, whether your goal is to build muscle or lose fat, you need to be lifting weights (and putting them down!).
Oh, another teeny tiny reason to resistance train — it’s one of the main indicators of whether or not you’ll regain the weight.
P.S. When I say “resistance training” I don’t mean “pink dumbbells for 25 reps” nonsense. Those who train this way ought to be placed in mental institutions.
5. What you see in the mirror is not what everyone else sees
Often people fail to see themselves accurately. Some level of body dysmorphia may occur during your fitness journey so don’t scrutinize your body too much.
You’re by far your own worst critic so when people compliment your body changes, take it. Celebrate it. Or get a coach who’d review your progress photos every four weeks and give you an unbiased opinion.
6. Train with the correct form
If you’re not training with the correct form, you’re not training the target muscle. I mean, if you do a lat pulldown and you don’t feel the tension in lats, you’re doing it wrong. You’re wasting your time.
When you get under the bar, you should be thinking: Quality, technique, and mind-muscle connection. Master these three first before adding load to the bar — quality before quantity. File this advice under “something unimportant Egis warned me about” and you’ll have dogshit workouts resulting in dogshit results.
7. Tracking calories is a great tool but it’s not necessary
Tracking calories is probably the best thing you can do for your nutrition knowledge. If you’ve never tracked your calories before, it will be an eye-opening experience. Tracking makes you more accountable for what goes into your mouth. But…
It’s not necessary for most people. Calorie deficit is the only thing that’s necessary for weight loss to occur. But it can be achieved without tracking a single calorie. For the majority of the general population, focusing on the right behaviors and habits can do wonders:
- Creating a consistent day-to-day diet structure — eat the same number of meals around the same time. Every day.
- Eating protein at most, if not all, meals.
- Eating fibrous veggies at most, if not all, meals.
- Eating mindfully. When you eat you do nothing but eat — no Netflix and IG scrolling.
- Eating several servings of fruit per day.
- Prioritizing whole, minimally processed foods and having “fun” foods in moderation. The 80/20 rule, remember?
- Staying sufficiently hydrated.
Nail these big rocks and you should start losing weight without tracking calories. If you’re highly analytical, knock yourself out and try tracking calories. Here’s how to do it without making it too complicated, stressful, and time-consuming.
8. 3 kick-ass workouts are infinitely better than 6 half-ass fuckarounds
More days trained don’t always translate to more muscle gained and fat lost. If exercise doesn’t enhance your life, you’re doing too much. That’s where all those whiny people come from saying “I tried working out but I never enjoyed a single moment in the gym so it can fuck all the way off.”
Instead of doing 5-6 half-assed workouts per week (which you’d stop doing 3-4 weeks later anyway because it’s unsustainable), prove that you can do 3 kick-ass workouts every week. What you’ll find is that you never needed to train more in the first place. In fact, most beginners can train 3x/week for like two years and progress just fine.
Not everything in life follows the “more = better” formula.
9. What you do during the bad days matter more than the good days
What separates people who achieve their fitness goals from those who start and reset every few months? I believe it’s how they respond to the bad days.
Successful weight losers understand that overeating, binge eating, missed workouts, low daily step count will happen. But they don’t let one crappy day of eating turn into the month-long food stuffing into the mouth competition. Instead, they get right back on track with the next meal or workout. This begets consistency which then leads to long-term progress.
So the next time you feel seven different kinds of shitty, try to get down to two or three. Just don’t give up. Keep going. Everyone has bad days and no one likes them. But very few people manage them well.
10. You can’t have it all — you’ll have to make sacrifices
You know Thomas Jefferson? Sure you do. The dude was famous. He once said:
“The worst day of a man’s life is when he sits down and begins thinking about how he can get something for nothing.”
People want weight loss without managing their calorie intake, “toned” body without lifting weights, health while eating all the planetary resources, and drinking until the floor-licking drunk state kicks in.
If you want to get fitter and healthier, you must be willing to give up some things you value. If eating out is ruining your progress, then you need to reduce it to 1-2 meals out per week and prepare more meals at home. If you enjoy going out and drinking semi-heavy on a weekly basis, then you need to reduce it to 1-3 drinks max.
John C. Maxwell, an author, and speaker, once said:
“The difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to make in our lives.”
If you want to lose weight and build muscle, be ready to make trade-offs.
11. Fuck social media (except my IG account)
Don’t get me wrong — killing brain cells watching cute kittens on Instagram is enjoyable but it’s a double-edged sword. Social media is not just cute puppies and kittens. It’s also photoshopped photos and fitness influencers posting photos only at their leanest to make it seem like they look this way year-round.
There’s this one bikini fitness athlete in my gym who placed third in the IFBB World Championships a few months ago. She has been posting a hill of IG photos of her shredded abs during the competition period but now her account is fucking dead. Not just dead, the peak level DEAD. There are no photos of her off-season body.
Things like that contribute to an unhealthy body image because people are comparing themselves to people who are only showing a small part of their life — when they’re stage-lean.
Seeing real, full stories of people on social media can have a positive effect on your body, health, and mindset. But it can also be a slippery slope that makes you feel like you’re a piece of shit. Beware of what you choose to follow.
12. Create a supportive food environment
The Law of Least Effort states that when deciding between two similar options, people will choose the option that requires the least amount of work. A raw chicken breast is sitting in the fridge? Fuck that, I’m not gonna cook it. Gimme that pizza.
Modify your food environment so that eating low-calorie, nutritious foods would be easier to do and eating hyper-palatable, calorie-dense crap harder to do:
- Chop up fruits and vegetables and pack them in containers so you have healthy, ready-to-eat options to eat during the week (a pro tip — to prolong their freshness, store them in water).
- Pack your fridge with low-fat, high-protein yogurt and cottage cheese.
- Keep less nutritious food — cookies, sugary cereal, etc. — out of sight, or even better, remove them from your home and save for special occasions.
- Keep your fridge stocked with potatoes, rice, and protein-rich foods cooked in bulk.
Once you’ve made the right changes to your eating environment, you’ll start eating better without thinking about it. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’d have to fight temptations.
13. Celebrate small wins
I try not to compliment my clients on their weight loss because it sends the wrong message — we are here to lose weight and nothing more. It’s the wrong message because it also means that if they didn’t lose weight last week, they failed.
Instead, I compliment them on hitting their protein target, getting at least 8,000 steps every day, improving the bench press technique, training with a fuller range of motion, etc. Here’s what I said in one of my client’s progress tracker:
“I’m so happy with your consistency in getting the workouts in! Not only that but also your form — it’s getting better workout after workout. Your strength is increasing too. Oh, also, your effort to take sets closer to failure. You’re getting closer to your goal every week.”
By acknowledging these small wins, we build momentum in the right direction:
Find a way to keep the positive momentum going. No matter how small the wins.
14. There’s more to life than training and dieting
Adherence to your nutrition and training is important but so is having a nourishing relationship with people around you. If you can’t celebrate a loved one’s birthday without worrying about calories and macros, you’re taking things too seriously.
Listen, you might not have enough protein and fiber with that cake you bought (and told everyone you’ve made it yourself) for your mom’s birthday but that’s fine. It still serves the positive purpose — a life-lasting memory with the person you love so damn much.
It’s OKAY to sometimes go over your calorie budget or skip a workout because when you look back on the holiday/birthday/vacation, it’s not calories, macros, or vitamins you’re going to remember. When you’re on your fitness journey, don’t lose sight of what’s truly important.
15. You’re in my world so…
…please keep in mind that at any time the list of fitness and nutrition tips can be abruptly suspended. Now you know. Bye.
Originally published by me on Medium on March 7, 2022