6 Lessons For Permanent Body Transformation In 2016

Beautiful fitness athlete woman resting drinking water after work out exercising on beach summer evening in sunny sunshine outdoor portrait

Cathy was keen. Super keen.


We met on January 2, when her New Years Resolutions were fresh in her mind from the previous day.

[Like 99% of people – she had waited until January 1 to take action on her goals.]

Cathy told me how she was going to completely overhaul her life. She planned to:

– Eat 5 meals per day

– Cut out carbohydrates 6 days per week

– Give up all up caffeine and alcohol

– Sleep 8-hours or more every day

– Read motivational books every morning

– Workout 5 times per week

– Perform yoga in her bedroom every night

– And lose 10kg in the next four weeks

She was excited. I wasn’t.

You see, I’d seen this problem before. I used to get excited when clients came to me with big goals and the sparkle in their eye about their new lifestyle.

Instead I was worried she was breaking the ‘6 rules’ that are vital for lasting change. Cathy was setting herself up for failure before she even begun.

These 6 rules can be applied to anybody, at any stage of their training.

If you’re like me then I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds of amazing physical transformation photos that leave you speechless.  The powerful question is: what really occurs in the months between the before and after photos? How do they look younger, lose body fat, gain muscle and look more vibrant?

Well, in this article I’ll show you how. And no, it’s more than just photo editing and good lighting.

Here are the 6 lessons I shared with Cathy. They will apply to your goals, too.

Lesson 1: Apply daily habits

Renowned strength coach Dan John is known to say, “If something is important, do it every day; if it’s not important, don’t do it at all.”


Building habits and making progress has a lot to do with momentum. This is two fold; first, it builds small “wins” in your mind that help you feel like you are progressing and moving forward.


It also builds physical momentum, where your flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness levels can improve day to day.


Sadly most people fall victim to the “New Year’s Resolution crisis” and find out the hard way. This was Cathy’s problem. It wasn’t the first time she had made this goals, either. Every year she made a valiant effort to change every single area of her life. She would try to change her eating habits, sleeping times, stretching routine, and would give up every vice. She would say that ‘this is the year’ to make a change.

This all-in approach may work for a few weeks, if you’re lucky… However pretty soon you’re guaranteed to crash and burn and be right back to where you were.

This is exactly why it’s more important to practice one small change at a time, and then execute it daily, instead of trying to change too many things at once.

Try not to attack your goals with an all-or-nothing approach. Instead, think of today. What is one healthy habit you can follow today and every day this month that will move you closer to your goal?

These small, daily habits slowly stack on top of each other until eventually our clients have a healthy set of eating and exercise habits they practice consistently.

We broke Cathy’s goal into a singular daily focus, and then we made sure she would execute it daily.

Hot tip: Like using apps? This app is perfect for applying small daily habits, and then tracking adherence. It’s called Way of Life. Here’s a screen shot:



Takeaway: Turn your big goal into a single, daily habit that you can track and measure. Once it’s a habit, rinse and repeat and move on to the next habit.


Lesson 2: Nutrition is king


Working out is the easy part of the equation! It is nutrition that is king when it comes to change.


My first job in the industry was working the reception of a busy commercial gym. I would see the same clients day in day out for months, sometimes years. Sadly, many of them did not change their appearance at all. They didn’t lose any fat, they didn’t appear to be more muscular, and they didn’t look any more vibrant than when they first joined.


Sure, they may have become healthier and increased their fitness. But that probably wasn’t their goal.


In fact I’d argue that 90% of people exercise regularly to look better, opposed to the health benefits.


So what was the reason they didn’t change their body shape? They neglected to take care of their nutrition.


Science has shown that with exercise alone you can expect to lose only about 0.25-0.5kg per month. That’s pretty sad, and it’s hardly an inspiring number.


So if the above is true and exercise on its own gets minimal results, what does work for body transformation?


Simple – By focusing on nutrition habits.


You need to be following a program that combines both nutrition coaching and working out.


This way, you can expect to lose much more body fat in the same period.


This is why I focus on nutrition so much with my in-person clients and those on my fitness retreats. You can exercise until the cows come home, but if your nutrition habits are not aligned with your goals, you will see pitiful results.


Of course you can’t ignore working out. Don’t get rid of your gym membership and then blame this article for becoming sedentary.


However the point is you need to combine the two whilst focusing primarily on nutrition.


Takeaway: Yes, you should move daily.  But you must put nutrition first.


Lesson 3: Be Accountable

You are more likely to succeed if you have a coach to keep you accountable and pick you back up when your motivation wanes.

When you know you are being held accountable, you’re more likely to do the little things that matter: the meal preparation, getting adequate sleep, and saying no to the things that move you away from your goal.

This is why I hire a trainer. Yep, after ten years in the industry I pay for somebody to hold me accountable to my goals.

A lot of the reasons gym goers don’t get results has nothing to do with the specifics of the workout program. What matters more is having a plan to follow, and then being held accountable to execute the plan.


Takeaway: Hire somebody to put some good pressure on you.


Lesson 4: Fail small


Something I’ve noticed from working with clients is that they struggle to fail on a small scale.


Cathy admitted she struggled with this. When she failed to stick to the plan, she would lose it. In her head, she would think she has messed everything up just by making one small mistake. So she kept digging a hole.


Her impulse was to eat everything “bad” in sight. You can probably relate. We often tend to make one small mistake and then think, “I may as well eat and drink whatever I want for the rest of the day and start clean tomorrow!”


Which of course, can then turn into a week or three or bad eating.


Stupid, right?


Yet so many people do this with their diet. It makes zero sense in another area of life.


Here’s some equivalent to this scenario to gain some perspective. Ask yourself which of these you would do:


Would you throw out a new iPhone with one small scratch?

Would you trade in your car if there were one minor dent on the bonnet?

Would you replace a new shirt after you spilt some water on it?


The answer is of course, no.


However people start thinking that one bad meal choice will ruin their day.


I’ve done this many times before, where I would have a bite of dessert and feel incredibly guilty. I’d then tell myself ‘I’ll start fresh in the morning!” and eat myself into a food coma by eating everything in sight, and then driving to 7/11 for more.


People need to learn to fail small. Mastering this skill requires people to drop the guilt or shame that may come from a bad decision.


Not all of us are perfect. Eating a mouthful of cake at work isn’t a sin that ruins your entire week or devalues any goal you’ve been working toward.


We all slip up, especially with dietary adherence. The key is to acknowledge the slip up whilst it’s still small, and move on without any guilt or shame.


Takeaway: Learn the skill of failing small, and don’t be so hard on yourself.


Lesson 5: Get help


You’re more likely to reach your goal is you have somebody to monitor your progress and make adjustments if needed. This is where a coach or trainer can come in handy.


During your transformation there are different requirements of a coach.


After working with Cathy for 8-months, my requirements as a coach evolved. There are times when she wanted to quit. There are times when she felt lost. And there are times when things were going great.I was needed during all of these times and would help her stay on track and would readjust the plan where necessary.


A good coach should closely monitor your progress, review regular photos, and check dietary compliance to see if their actions and behaviors match their goals.


If they do, great. Celebrate the milestone and keep going. But if the coach sees something that needs tweaking, they can make an educated decision to change one small thing to help steer the client back on the right path.


Takeaway: Find a coach to save you the guesswork and to monitor your progress.


Lesson 6: Track actions, not outcomes


Most people set outcome goals.


Lose 5kg.

Run 10km in one hour.

Drop 4% body fat.


We can’t directly control outcomes. What we can control are our actions that may lead to those outcomes.


In other words, you can’t focus on losing 5kg’s since it’s an outcome that’s out of your control. Every day you step on the scale, you’re focusing on what you don’t have.


“I still have 4 KG to go. I’m not even close to there yet. This is so frustrating!”


Sound familiar?


Instead of focusing on the action, switch the focus to outcomes that will lead to the outcome.


This relates back to the first lesson of applying daily habits. Instead of “lose 5kg” you should focus on:


“I’m going to do my session today.”

“I’m going to add 5kg to my squat sets.”

“I’m going to eat 3 serves of greens today.”


Takeaway: Stop tracking outcomes. Focus on the one thing you can control instead, your actions.

There you have it – 6 lessons for an easier and more successful body transformation:

  1. Apply daily habits
  2. Nutrition is king
  3. Be accountable
  4. Fail small
  5. Get help
  6. Track actions, not outcomes


So what now?


Cathy went on to achieve her goals, and I’m happy to say she has maintained them for 3 years now.

So what do you do with all of this? By trying to apply all six you are violating most of the lessons already!

Pick one, and start there. Start small, make it a habit, and build from there.