Health and Fitness Is Not A
12 Week Fitness ProgramBy
Venuto - author of Burn
The Fat, Feed The Muscle
Not long ago, one of the members of my
health club poked her head in my office for some advice and assistance. Linda
was a 46 year old mother of two, and she had been a member for over a year. She
had been working out sporadically, with (not surprisingly) sporadic results. On
that particular day, she seemed to have enthusiasm and a twinkle in her eye
that I hadnt seen before.
I want to enter a before and after
fitness contest called the 12 week body transformation challenge. I
could win money and prizes and even get my picture in a magazine."
I want to lose THIS, she
continued, as she grabbed the body fat on her stomach. Do you think
its a good idea?
Linda was not obese by any
means, she just had the typical moderate roll of abdominal body fat
and a little bit of thigh/hip fat that many forty-something females struggle
I think its a great idea I
reassured her. Competitions are great for motivation. When you have a
deadline and you dangle a carrot like that prize money in front of
you, it can keep you focused and more motivated than ever.
Linda was eager and rarin to go.
Will you help me? I have this enrollment kit and I need my body fat
No problem, I said as I pulled
out my Skyndex fat caliper, which is used to measure body fat percentage with a
pinch an inch test.
When I finished, I read the results to her
from the caliper display: Twenty-seven percent. Room for improvement, but
not bad; its about average for your age group.
She wasnt overjoyed at being
average. Yeah, but it's not good either. Look at THIS,
she complained as again she grabbed a handful of stomach fat. I want to
get my body fat down to 19%, I heard that was a good body fat level.
I agreed that 19% was a great goal, but it
would take a lot of work because average fat loss is usually about a half a
percent a week, or six percent in twelve weeks. Her goal, to lose eight percent
in twelve weeks was ambitious.
She smiled and insisted, Im a
hard worker. I can do it
Indeed she was and indeed she did. She was a
machine! Not only did she never miss a day in the gym, she trained HARD.
Whenever I left my office and took a stroll through the gym, she was up there
pumping away with everything she had. She told me her diet was the strictest it
had ever been in her life and she didn't cheat at all. I believed her. And it
started to show, quickly.
Each week she popped into my office to have
her body fat measured again, and each week it went down, down, down.
Consistently she lost three quarters of a percent per week well above
the average rate of fat loss and on two separate occasions, I recall her
losing a full one percent body fat in just seven days.
Someone conservative might have said she was
overtraining, but when we weighed her and calculated her lean body mass, we saw
that she hadnt lost ANY muscle only fat. Her results were simply
She was ecstatic, and needless to say, her
success bred more success and she kept after it like a hungry tiger for the
full twelve weeks.
On week twelve, day seven, she showed up in
my office for her final weigh-in and body fat measurement. She was wearing a
pair of formerly tight blue jeans and they were FALLING OFF HER! Look,
look, look, she repeated giddily as she tugged at her waistband, which
was now several inches too large.
As I took her body fat, I have to say, I was
impressed. She hadnt just lost a little fat, she was RIPPED!
During week twelve she dropped from 18% to
17% body fat, for a grand total of 10% body fat lost. She surpassed her goal of
19% by two percent. I was now even more impressed, because I had only seen a
handful of people lose that much body fat in three months.
You should have seen her! She started
hopping up and down for joy like she was on a pogo stick! She was beaming
grinning from ear to ear! She practically knocked me over as she jumped up and
gave me a hug Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Dont thank me, I said,
You did it, I just measured your body fat.
She thanked me again anyway and then said
she had to go have her after pictures taken.
Then something very, very strange happened.
She stopped coming to the gym. Her "disappearance" was so abrupt, I was worried
and I called her. She never picked up, so I just left messages. No return phone
It was about four months later when I
finally saw Linda again. The giddy smile was gone, replaced with a sullen face,
a droopy posture and a big sigh when I said hello and asked where shed
I stopped working out after the
contest... and I didnt even win.
You looked like a winner to me, no
matter what place you came in I insisted, but why did you stop, you
were doing so well!
I dont know, I blew my diet and
then just completely lost my motivation. Now look at me, my weight is right
back where I started and I dont even want to know my body fat.
Well, I'm glad to see you back in here
again. Write down some new goals for yourself and remember to think long term
too. Fitness isnt a just 12 week program you know, its a lifestyle
- you have to do it every day - like... forever.
She nodded her head and finished her
workout, still with that defeated look on her face. Unfortunately, she never
again come anywhere near the condition she achieved for that competition, and
for the rest of the time she was a member at our club, she slipped right back
into the sporadic on and off workout pattern.
Linda was not an isolated case. Ive
seen the same thing happen with countless men and women of all ages and fitness
levels from beginners to competitive bodybuilders. In fact, it happens to
millions of people who go on diets, lose a lot of weight, then
quickly go off the diet and gain the weight right back.
What causes people to burn so brightly with
enthusiasm and motivation and then burn out just as quickly? Why do so many
people succeed brilliantly in the short term but fail 95 out of 100 times in
the long term? Why do so many people reach their fitness goals but struggle to
The answer is simple: Health and fitness is
for life, not for "12 weeks."
Unfortunately, most people dont give
the idea of permanently changing their lifestyle much thought because they lack
a long term perspective and their only concern is for today. They're also so
busy looking for the ">
You can avoid the on and off, yo-yo cycle of
fitness ups and downs. You can get in great shape and stay in great shape. You
can even get in shape and keep getting in better and better shape year after
year, but it's going to take a very different philosophy than most people
subscribe to. The seven tips below will guide you.
These guidelines are quite contrary to the
quick fix philosophies prevailing in the weight loss and fitness world today.
Applying them will take patience, discipline and dedication. Just remember, the
only thing worse than getting no results is getting great results and losing
1) Dont go on
diets. When you go on a diet, the underlying assumption is that at some
point you have to go off it. This isnt just semantics, its the primary reason
most diets fail. By definition, a diet is a temporary and often drastic change
in your eating behaviors and/or a severe restriction of calories or food, which
is ultimately, not maintainable. If you reach your goal, the diet is officially
over and then you "go off" (returning to the way you used to eat). Health and
fitness is not temporary; its not a diet. Its something you do every day of
your life. Unless you approach nutrtion from a lifestyle perspective, youre
doomed from the start.
2) Eat the same foods all year round.
Permanent fat loss is best achieved by eating mostly the same types of foods
all year round. Naturally, you should include a wide variety of healthy foods
so you get the full spectrum of nutrients you need, but there should be
consistency, month in, month out. When you want to lose body fat, theres no
dramatic change necessary - you dont need to eat totally different foods - its
a simple matter of eating less of those same healthy foods and exercising
3) Have a plan for easing into
maintenance. Lets face it sometimes a nutrition program needs to be more
strict than usual. For example, peaking for a bodybuilding or fitness contest
requires an extremely strict regimen thats different than the rest of the year.
As a rule, the stricter your nutrition program, the more you must plan ahead
and the more time you must allow for a slow, disciplined transition into
maintenance. Failure to plan for a gradual transition will almost always result
in bingeing and a very rapid, hard fall "off the wagon."
4) Focus on changing daily behaviors and
habits one or two at a time. Rather than making huge, multiple changes all
at once, focus on changing one or two habits/behaviors at a time. Most
psychologists agree that it takes about 21 days of consistent effort to replace
an old bad habit with a new positive one. As you master each habit, and it
becomes as ingrained into your daily life as brushing your teeth, then you
simply move on to the next one. That would be at least 17 new habits per year.
Can you imagine the impact that would have on your health and your life? This
approach requires a lot of patience, but the results are a lot more permanent
than if you try to change everything in one fell swoop. This is also the least
intimidating way for a beginner to start making some health-improving changes
to their lifestyle.
5) Make goal setting a lifelong
habit. Goal setting is not a one-time event, its a process that never ends.
For example, if you have a 12 week goal to lose 6% bodyfat, what are you going
to do after you achieve it? Lose even more fat? Gain muscle? Maintain? What's
next? On week 13, day 1, if you have no direction and nothing to keep you
going, youll have nothing to keep you from slipping back into old patterns.
Every time you achieve a goal, you must set another one. Having daily and
weekly short term goals means that you are literally setting goals continuously
and never stopping.
6) Allow a reasonable time frame to reach
your goal. It's important to set deadlines for your fitness and weight loss
goals. It's also important to set ambitious goals, but you must allow a
reasonable time frame for achieving them. Time pressure is often the motivating
force that helps people get in the best shape of their lives. But when the
deadline is unrealistic for a particular goal (like 30 pounds in 30 days), then
crash dieting or other extreme measures are often taken to get there before the
bell. The more rapidly you lose weight, the more likely you are to lose muscle
and the faster the weight will come right back on afterwards. Start sooner.
Don't wait until mid-May to think about looking good for summer.
7) Extend your time perspective.
Successful people in every field always share one common character trait: Long
term time perspective. Some of the most successful Japanese technology and
manufacturing companies have 100 year and even 250-year business plans. If you
want to be successful in maintaining high levels of fitness, you must set long
term goals: One year, Ten years, Even fifty years! You also must consider what
the long term consequences might be as a result of using any "radical" diet,
training method or ergogenic aid. The people who had it but lost it are usually
the ones who failed to think long term or acknowledge future consequences. It's
easy for a 21 year old to live only for today, and it may even seem ridiculous
to set 25 year goals, but consider this: I've never met a 40 or 60 year old who
didn't care about his or her health and appearance, but I have met 40 or 60
year olds who regretted not caring 25 years ago.
Warmly, your friend and coach,
| Author Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner,
freelance writer, success coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle"
(BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness
Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN
magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for
Men and Mens Exercise. Tom's inspiring and informative articles on
bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured regularly on dozens of
websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" book,
For more great articles like this one, go to
Global Health &