If I told you that one of my clients, Steve, lost only 8 lbs in 9 months, you might consider that a poor result.
But look at the difference!
Clearly, there was more than just 8 lbs of fat loss. But how much? How can we tell? What are the lessons here?
His stomach measurements showed a 9-10 cm drop. This suggests 16-18 lbs of fat loss.
👉 As a rough heuristic, 2–2.5 cm of losses in two or more places on the stomach equates to 4–5 lbs of fat loss.
He didn’t lose a chunk of weight initially. Nor was his glycogen replenished in the second photo. So the scale weight numbers at the start (197.0) and end (189.1) are comparable.
This means that he gained approximately 8–10 lbs of muscle while losing 16-18 lbs of fat.
This is an atypical result that I’m using to illustrate a point. But it is common for clients to gain some muscle as they lean out.
If we had relied only on the scale weight, the results would likely have been too slow for Steve to stay motivated. He would have quit.
👉 So make sure you take body measurements!
HOW WE ACHIEVED THIS
Steve hadn’t been training for a while, so a recomp effect (muscle gain while leaning out) was likely on the table.
Here’s how we did that:
1. We set a modest calorie deficit 🌮
We aimed for 0.5–0.75 lbs of weight loss per week. But we fell short of that due to adherence issues. Average adherence was ~5% over.
👉 Training days — 2170 kcal, P:200 C:230 F:50
👉 Rest days — 1825 kcal, P:200 C:110 F:65
I don’t think the calorie and macro cycling made a difference. So if he hadn’t enjoyed the variety, we would have used averages: 2020 kcal, P:200 C:180 F:55.
2. We strength trained 4 days per week 🏋🏻♂️
We alternated upper and lower-body days. The plan was similar to the novice bodybuilding program but with mods for equipment availability and preferences.
This is a template I often build programs from, including for myself, and it works fucking great.
People always ask, so here’s his exact program:
3. He stayed consistent 🎖
Despite everything that life threw at him over this period, he stayed consistent.
”Consistent” from my coaching perspective doesn’t mean to always nail adherence. It means to avoid the “all-or-nothing” attitude when things don’t go to plan and always check in to tell me what’s been going on.
(When the diet was off, he still trained. When he couldn’t get to the gym, he still did home workouts and looked after his diet.)
“I feel like I’m finally starting to really understand and ‘own’ what it takes to reach my fitness/physique goals.
The most valuable lesson so far is that this really is a marathon. You aren’t going to lose or gain 5 pounds of *fat* in one day, regardless of what the scale says. It is the process of consistently and repeatably doing what you know works.
It is also not all or nothing.
When you screw up a meal, the next meal is an opportunity to make the right choice.
I used to mess up and then write the whole day off and use it as an excuse to just blow my plan. So I’ve learned to give myself a little grace and realize that one meal won’t make or break your diet, but 5, 10, 20 or 100 of them strung together certainly will.
You have been patient and encouraging and at the same time firm. I started in July of 2021 and while I made progress up the end of the year, I think I really hit my stride from Dec onward.
It just took time to figure out what really moves the needle for me and how to consistently and routinely do those things so they become habitual.
I think this quote sums it up as it does with everything in life: ‘Thoughts Become Words, Words Become Actions, Actions Become Habits, Habits Become Character, Character Becomes Your Destiny’”
I hope this was useful. Let me know if you’d like to see more like this.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. ✌🏻