“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.” — Bo Bennett
When people haven’t seen me for a week, they are a little surprised.
When I tell them I lost 22 pounds in 3 weeks, they are a lot surprised.
Immediately, they want to know how I lost the weight so fast.
I tell them it really comes down to deep desire, vision, and strategy.
It started when a girl on my team poked my chest and arms and said, “Wow, you got muscles!”
My manager quickly said, “Yeah, but no six pack.”
I said, “Oh yeah, give me 4 weeks.”
I felt a fire I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I love the idea of doing the seemingly impossible. Doing the possible or the highly probable doesn’t excite me, but doing the impossible makes me feel unstoppable.
I needed a simple picture in my mind of how I would reshape my body.
If I can see it in my mind, it’s easier for me to believe it and achieve it.
Or, to put it another way, if I can’t see it, it won’t happen. Without a clear picture of the end in mind, I would gradually get lost in the process.
I tried multiple metaphors to capture the idea. For example, one metaphor was “Like a Navy Seal.” I like the idea of lean, strong, and fit for any challenge.
I also like the metaphors that Greg O’Gallagher of Kinobody uses:
- Warrior (Brad Pitt in Fight Club)
- Greek God (Daniel Craig in Casino Royale)
- Superhero (Chris Evans in Captain America).
I figured Superhero would be a good metaphor, given the challenge before me, plus it seemed like an outcome that could inspire me out of bed in the morning.
With a compelling vision in mind and deep desire under my belt, I knew the next thing to do would be to check my strategy.
The last thing I wanted to do was go down a path that wouldn’t work. I wanted real results.
The first thing I did was find a routine that would work out my abs. I was already doing Beach Body’s 22-Minute Hard Core, but added Ab Ripper to the mix.
Next, I signed up for a one-time coaching session to check my strategy. I really didn’t want to spend 4 weeks going for a six pack only to find out my approach was wrong.
My coach told me three key things:
- Work out 4 muscle groups in the core to build the abs (you can’t just target the abs)
- Get to 10% body fat so the abs will show
- Eat enough protein so that as you lose weight, you don’t lose muscle
Point #2 hit home. It really woke me up. I didn’t know what my body fat was, but it sure wasn’t 10%.
But I didn’t want to count calories. I didn’t want to follow a strict regimen. I wanted to actually rely on how I feel, or my precisely, how my body feels when I eat food.
A Simple Goal + Intuitive Eating
I set a simple goal. I decided that I would lose a pound a day. I would intuitively eat and move to where I felt like I would lose a pound.
I let my body choose what it wanted or needed to eat and drink to feel stronger and leaner. I wanted to wake up in the morning and actually feel hungry again. And if I didn’t feel hungry, I would wait until I did (rather than just eat because it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.)
I knew how things like sugar, salt, caffeine, and starchy carbs impact me, so I cut them out. Or, more precisely, I simply chose better foods that my body wanted, instead of feed my feelings or fill my cravings.
I was surprised by how long it took before I could actually feel hungry again. I hadn’t felt hungry in so long. I think I had been on auto-pilot and the pilot was off course.
I varied my eating times and what I ate, but roughly I would have an egg sandwich in the morning, with a few fresh vegetable juices, and salad and burger for lunch, or smoothies and juices. For dinner, I would have smoothies and vegetable juices, or a burger, if I didn’t already have one for lunch. I tried to get almond butter, avocados, and coconut water to get some good fats in me.
Little Feedback Loops
Each morning, I weighed myself. I knew that I needed feedback loops, more than just what I see and feel. I used a digital scale so I could easily see changes, such as going from 185.7 to 185.0.
Each day, I would watch another pound come off.
It’s like my body knew what to do better than my brain did. I knew it in my gut and I knew it intuitively. I just had to listen, really listen and pay attention to how my body was responding. Some days I needed to walk more, other days, I needed to choose a different combination of foods so that I would feel fueled and, at the same time, easily digest.
I really wanted to be clean and clear in my digestion. I didn’t want a backlog of previous meals bloating me or bogging me down.
I wanted to feel the immediate impact of my last meal on how I felt and how I performed.
I learned to look forward to actually feeling hungry again.
Missing My Goal, but Reaching Others
Henry David Thoreau said it best:
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
While I didn’t get my full six-pack abs, I got my starter set, with a two-pack, over the four week period.
While I didn’t get to 10% body fat, I did lose 22 pounds in three weeks, and then another few pounds in the last week.
Over six weeks, I lost a total of 30 pounds, and more of my abs are starting to poke through.
Overall, I can’t complain. It was a pretty extreme transformation.
Even people that didn’t see me week to week were surprised, and the change was both rapid and radical.
Fixing the Obstacles in the Way
I ended up going to Nancy Joeckel to try the RIO Method. RIO stands for Reciprocal Inhibition Optimization.
She helps elite athletes recover from injuries and tune their body for better performance.
Or, as she might put it, “Help your brain make better decisions about how to move your body.”
I figured I would try to fix old pole vaulting, wrestling, and Muy Thai kickboxing injuries.
Anyway, she found my psoas muscles weren’t engaging properly, and neither were my abs.
In other words, with all the ab training I was doing, I wasn’t building muscle because I wasn’t engaging my abs properly.
She corrected my ab and psoas muscles and within the next week I could feel the difference, and more abs started to show, along with a v-cut.
I could also feel a huge difference in how my abs were working when I would do Boda Crunch Twists.
Finally, I was making progress again.
My Biggest Ah-Ha
Here’s what surprised me…I’ve set goals before to get in shape. But in the past, I’ve taken the long view.
I tried to lose weight slowly and build strength over time. I tried to slowly hack away at my eating patterns.
It didn’t work.
It was like a long and slow slippery slope. Actually, it was more like a frog in the boiling pot, where the changes were so slow that I didn’t realize they weren’t going in the right direction.
By focusing on a very small window of time, and accelerating my results, I really felt the impact of my daily choices around what to eat, how hard to exercise, and how much to move.
Gamification helped. Each day, I asked myself, “How can I lose a pound today?” I would then try to figure out whether to eat less, eat something different, move more, exercise harder, or fast through a meal.
The most important thing I learned is how to really pay attention to what my body seems to know in terms of what it needs and especially what it does not need.
I already knew this intellectually, but really stepping in and experiencing how my body responded to my choices made all the difference.
Finally, I’ve internalized what feeling better, feeling strong, and living lean is really like for me.
The Keys That Worked for Me
Here’s a quick rundown of the keys that worked for me to transform my body:
- I weighed myself each morning with a digital scale (this helped me see little changes in weight and stay motivated)
- I focused on feeling strong
- I tried to wake up hungry vs. full
- I made it a game to lose a pound each day
- I had a compelling vision of a superhero body that I thought was worth fighting for
- I didn’t get hung up on setbacks
- I really paid attention to how my muscles felt during my workouts
- I really paid attention to how I felt after I ate my meals
- I kept things very simple (for example, I didn’t count calories)
- I did my best when I didn’t eat past 6 PM
If I think about what was common on my best days is that I had lunch earlier in the day and I didn’t eat past 6 PM. On days that I missed lunch or ate too late, it was easy for me to get off track and eat the wrong things.
Overall, I’m happy with the changes and the progress, though I still have more work to do.
Hopefully, some of my insights help you on your personal journey of transformation.