Article last updated: November 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
Unfortunately transforming your body consists of a lot of ups and downs but you have to keep going if you want to reach your goal.
When I went through my transformation, my results were cyclical in the sense that I would have periods where I was consistently getting progress and periods where I kept pushing hard but didn’t see any results.
The worst period for me was the first 2 years of training where I barely got any results:
There’s nothing more frustrating than putting in hard work for months and months and not seeing any results from it.
For example, the last 1 year I have been at my most muscular ever (100 KG/225 LBS at 15-18% body-fat) but I’ve also carried the most body-fat… and really struggled to lose that last bit of fat around the sides of the stomach.
This had never been an issue before as long as I stuck to my training and diet plan but this time around, it seems like the love handles could only go away temporarily only to return a few days later.
Part of the reason is out of my control because I had a lung blood clot at age 26 and nearly died 5 months ago. Leading up to the clot my body felt weaker and slower than usual for many months.
But that’s not the whole part.
The other part is that I tried to force it too much by being too strict.
I would train full body nearly everyday and diet very hard with just a few cheat meals per month, then lose around 3 KG of body-fat over 2 weeks and start looking leaner without any love handles, then regain all of it within 2 days.
This cycle continued for nearly 1 year and I almost gave up on losing fat.
My weight would always stay between 99-102 KG and never get lower. (My target weight is around 94-95 KG to be lean).
As a result I lost motivation to train hard since I don’t want to get any bigger and I was not losing any fat despite tracking food intake, sticking to a solid Caloric deficit and being slightly hungry throughout the day.
Then recently I thought to myself: What am I doing differently now compared to all the times in my life where I maintained a great shape?
Then I made a list of all the basics I did differently before (when I was listening more to my body — something I always advised on my blog).
And implemented small tweaks such as:
- Waiting a few hours after training with eating since I’m not super hungry post-workout and always feel a good burn on my stomach. I now believe that waiting a few hours to eat post-workout is an easy hack to get leaner and maintain your fat loss results.
- Being more disciplined about implementing cheat meals. When I implement my cheat meals once per week I always end up leaner 48 hours after the cheat meal. I have previously had a psychological tendency to crave more cheat meals because of sugar and carb cravings that were a result of years of overeating. However after years of dieting I rarely crave unhealthy foods, therefore now I tend to even forget about my cheat meals and only do them once or twice per month when I force myself.
- Eating lots of meat with saturated fats. These always made up the bulk of my diet when I felt my best and was in my best shape. I know there’s a lot of data about meat being bad for cardiovascular health, however the data is based on averages and everyone is different. I perform and look much better with a mostly fatty meat based diet.
- Putting almost all my carbs pre-workout then burn them off right after.
By putting in these small tweaks I have been able to get leaner over the last month and my friends have noticed the improvement.
Face, stomach and upper body all look leaner and my fat has not come back this time.
I’m not working any harder than before. I’m having more cheat meals, more carbs and more energy for my training sessions. And getting better results.
I just implemented the right tweaks to get back on track.
Quite often it’s those kind of tweaks that make a huge difference.
Unfortunately, this is not something you can just read your way to in a book or training guide.
It’s often the type of tweaks that can only be made after getting experience.
And if you’re going at it alone without someone experienced guiding you, it can be hard to know which tweaks to implement and at what time.
To give you some perspective, the body is so complex that even the best health practitioners in the world don’t understand more than 1-2% of it.
Just following the simple formula of tracking Calories and implementing progressive overload won’t cut it for lasting results.
Transforming your physique is not as simple as eating the right amount of Calories and getting stronger on a few exercises.
Making sure your training and diet routine is optimized to your psychological and physical preferences and pre-dispositions is likely much more important than any number tracking.
This is partly why it’s so rare to see someone with below average genetics build an impressive physique — and maintain it long-term.
It’s incredibly difficult to know what changes to make and when.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer