Training and eating for aesthetics have also been the route to success for professional wrestler and fitness coach EC3, who has the kind of Herculean physique rarely seen outside of comic books and Saturday morning cartoons. His Project Narrative workout app advocates for total personal ownership over your day-to-day habits, using nutrition and exercise as an extension of creating your ideal life. It’s led to some of the most impressive body transformations for people in his industry.
“You always have time to do the work, it’s just how you choose to use that time. Maybe that’s waking up an hour earlier or going to bed an hour later. Maybe it’s putting off certain types of foods for other foods. But you’re going to get what you put into it for the time you put into it,” he said.
“I’m a psycho loner to get the results I have. It takes a lot. But the people I’ve seen get the best results have used time management and accountability to get there, without neglecting what’s most important to them. Whether it’s family or work. That is what impresses me the most.”
I have tried and failed rapid transformation programs on at least a dozen occasions. It can feel sort of embarrassing. As a wellness writer, I have more information and resources than the average person. I set my own hours and live alone. Objectively, I am in a better position to achieve my fitness goals than almost anyone else out there. But despite having a heavy deadlift and respectable bench, abs have remained my white whale.
In the past, December meant planning something extreme to kickstart another attempt at a washboard stomach, worrying that any results less than a six-pack and plummeting scale number somehow marked a weakness in character. This year I’ve been trying to reshape that mentality while I create my next programs.
With proper planning and realistic expectations, suffering is completely unnecessary to achieving fitness goals. In fact, for most people, suffering is actually going to stop you from getting the results you want at all. Geoff Girvitz, a personal trainer and host of The Dad Strength podcast, advocates for choosing a program that is sustainable and appropriate for your experience. Even still, exercise is only one component of the whole process.
“If someone hasn’t jogged around the block before we wouldn’t ask them to run a marathon on their first try. Many celebrity fitness programs or fitness challenges aren’t designed for a person’s capabilities or experience. When they don’t find success with those programs they think it’s a moral failing. But they weren’t setting themselves up for success in the first place,” said Girvitz. “When starting out, ask what are the easy wins you can accomplish inside and outside the gym. Master those first before putting things on hard mode.”
So keep it simple. Any program which puts you at a caloric deficit and ups your movement is going to work for weight loss, at least in the short term, but there’s still so much we don’t understand about losing weight. But you know what we do know? A moderate amounts of exercise is linked overwhelmingly to better overall health. It will improve your moods. It literally makes you live longer. If you could put it in a pill and prescribe it, we’d all be taking it.
All it takes is consistently follow an exercise and nutrition plan you’ll actually do. (Even better if it’s something you’ll enjoy doing.) So follow whatever seems fun and exciting: maybe that’s Couch to 5k or Starting Strength. Maybe there’s a run club near you, or a weekly class at your gym. Casey Johnston’s new Liftoff plan looks great. Whatever it is, find a way to make it sustainable: In the big picture, consistency is so much more important than any crash diet or heroic three-month stretch.
Pushing people on the idea of consistent training and diet, forever, is a harder sell than promising a six-pack in sixty days, but it’s a better plan than betting it all on some kind of quick fix. There is no reason to let ideas of perfection stop you from doing something good. This probably won’t be the year you get abs. But it could be the year you get in the best shape of your life.