Five steps to a life-changing fat loss transformation
You know those epic “before and after” transformation photos you see everywhere online? You see them and think, “How is that possible? What are they doing that I can’t seem to do?”
In truth, nothing they are doing is magical. Your life-changing fat loss transformation is much more achievable than you realise! I will give you the critical essential tips for you doing this!
Do you know that feeling that others are progressing all around you while you seem to be getting nowhere? It is watching other people make huge strides toward their goals. In contrast, I need to make more progress. You desperately want to improve but don’t seem to, no matter what. In contrast, everyone around you continues to. This feeling is familiar when it comes to fat loss transformations especially.
You are seeing your friend lose 10kg in 12 weeks. Or your social media is filled with others making remarkable changes, and you are sitting there thinking, “Why is that not me?”.
Truth is. A world-class fat loss transformation should not be about hidden secrets. I want to help you transform. I want to show you how easy it is to lose body fat, build muscle and feel like an absolute boss.
The key? To nail these five steps!
You get these five steps correct. You then finally begin your life-changing transformation. The fitness industry is filled with smoke and mirrors marketing. Let’s fix that.
Here’s how you begin to transform finally! It starts with mastering these basic steps.
What I will cover
In this blog, I will cover the five essential steps to transforming. That’s it! I use five steps repeatedly when people use my Coach Mark Carroll training programs. I have helped thousands of people transform. I know first-hand that anyone can do it when they break down that goal into smaller actionable steps.
So often, we want to make massive changes. We are motivated; we are ready to be dedicated. We will outwork the competition. But the problem is?
We need to figure out where to place our efforts!
Just because you are ready to work hard does not instantly mean you will put your efforts where they are most effective. Let me fix this!
In the blog, I am going to cover five steps.
We will begin with setting specific goals! Why does this matter? We need to know where we want to go.
I will then move you to the big one, nutrition! This step is the foundation of fat loss! Get this right, and get incredible results. Get this wrong. Zero results.
Thirdly, training. In this step, people often need to do more or underdo it. The answer is often just like the truth, somewhere in the middle.
The 4th step is cardio and steps. Another step in which people struggle to find the correct balance too. Let me change this.
Then finally. Mindset! As much as we don’t want it to be, a physical fat loss transformation works hand in hand with a mental transformation. You can be your biggest fan or your own worst enemy. Let me teach you how to keep focus and mentally support your physical transformation.
Step 1 – Setting goals using “When? And how much?”
Why this matters?
“I want a fat loss result”… ok, what is a result in your eyes?
Commonly, people have yet to learn the honest answer to this. The problem? It then becomes hard to measure progress and set a plan off a very vague goal.
Set goals! Be specific!
The more you dial in your goal, the more you can create a super-targeted plan of attack.
Setting goals allows you to assess your progress! This goal-setting is crucial!
Measuring progression means you can make changes when needed or keep running things if they work. It takes a lot of the stress away!
If your goal is a fat loss transformation? Try and break that goal down. A strategy I love to use is asking myself.
“When? And how much?”
When do you want to achieve this result? Eight weeks? 8 months? These are drastically different time frames, which alters things.
How much weight do you want to or feel you need to lose? 6 kilograms? Or 26 kilograms?
Again, huge differences.
Why does this matter? Because it impacts your goal time frame and strategy.
Try and nail down exactly when you want to achieve your goal, and try and be specific for a weight loss goal.
If you have 8 kilograms to lose, then 8-10 weeks is reasonable. Suppose you have 28 kilograms to lose. Then, we need to establish when this is achievable.
Realistically, a weight loss of 0.5kg – 1kg a week on average is something you could shoot for.
When setting your goals, be realistic.
Now, just because you have 26kg to lose as your big-picture goal, you can still create an 8-12 week goal. Break the big goal down. Setting small 6-12 week goals can make losing significant weight less daunting.
Many goals will fail due to needing to be a realistic fat loss goal.
If you have 20kg to lose, it will take less than 5-6 weeks. The more weight you have to lose, the longer it will take. That’s fine! But account for this!
Set realistic goals. Set big goals, but realistic. Make it achievable.
Big goals are exciting. But the week-to-week success of hitting goals drives those mini self-esteem wins. Be realistic, and use the momentum of initial small wins to drive your bigger and heftier goals.
Step 2 – Nutrition – Create your calorie deficit
Why this matters?
When it comes to fat loss, despite what the fitness industry wants you to believe. It is simple. You do not need fancy gimmicky diets or extremely restrictive meal plans.
And there are no magic foods for fat loss you must either avoid or need to have!
What you do, however, need is a calorie deficit!
What is a calorie deficit? It is when our bodies consume fewer calories than we expend. The calorie deficit is what leads to body fat loss!
Why does this matter? Because if our goal is fat loss. Should we do everything we can to ensure we are doing the one absolute key to actual fat loss?
Yes! This is everything.
Here’s the thing, you can eat “clean” and not lose body fat. Why? Because you were not in a calorie deficit just by eating clean necessarily. Yes, healthy food has calories!
You can cut carbs (which I don’t recommend nor is needed for fat loss) and still not lose any body fat! Why? You guessed it! You were not in a calorie deficit. Cutting carbs does not mean you have decreased your calories from your fats and proteins. You can still have too many calories without eating carbs.
Everything for fat loss begins with the actual creation of a calorie deficit. It’s so simple, so why do fitness people hate this? As it’s hard to sell a gimmicky diet plan if you make people realise fat loss is about something other than smoke and mirrors. It comes down to calorie intake, first and foremost.
This is the big step of your life-changing transformation, so read on!
Our first step to creating a calorie deficit is understanding what our calories need to be specific to our needs. We all differ.
The more we weigh, the more muscle mass we have, and the more active we are, all influence how many calories we expend each day.
To first work out your deficit, we must measure your maintenance calories. We do this through what is called a “TDEE Calculator”.
TDEE stands for our total daily energy expenditure. Your TDEE accounts for your daily energy expenditure. How much energy does being alive, moving, training, and everything cost you?
This number will generate the calorie range you need to be in to maintain your weight. This is important!
Once we have our maintenance, we can then create our calorie deficit.
Lots of websites make you pay to use their TDEE calculator. But let me help make the process even easier for you.
Click here for my FREE TDEE calculator. Once you enter your specific data, the calculator will give you your maintenance calories.
This is key! Understand your TDEE. To then know how to create your deficit.
Use the free calculator! It is life-changing when you start to eat a calorie target specific to you and not just generic numbers you see people push on social media!
We create our calorie deficit!
How do we do this?
To lose body fat at a weekly rate which will allow progress to occur, we want the deficit to be enough to lead to fat loss while also not too low that it becomes impossible to stick to.
The more aggressive the calorie deficit, the faster fat loss will be. However, the lower the calorie intake, the harder it is for most people to stick to!
I use three different calorie intake goals.
- Conservative – a 20% calorie deficit
- Moderate – a 25% calorie deficit
- Aggressive – a 30% calorie deficit
Let’s say your TDEE is 2000 calories. You should maintain your weight on 2000 calories a day. We need to eat less than this to lose body fat, i.e., create a deficit.
The conservative deficit of 20% would mean you are eating 1600 calories daily. Four hundred calories = a 20% calorie deficit from the 2000 TDEE amount.
25% deficit = a 1500 calorie-a-day target
30% deficit = a 1400-calorie daily target.
Once you have your calorie deficit number, you are well on your way to generating actual fat loss! We have taken care of the absolute number 1 essential of nutrition to losing weight, the calorie deficit.
Let’s keep this simple! Why do people not lose body fat when in a calorie deficit? Because they are NOT in an actual calorie deficit.
This is not a diet. There are basic fat loss principles.
If you are in an actual deficit, it is impossible not to lose body fat.
The common mistake? Not sticking to your calorie deficit.
I have trained clients for 16 years. I can tell you this first-hand, the clients who achieve just insane progress do this one simple step; they stick to the plan!
Fat loss will come if you put yourself in the place for it to occur. Where does it come from? By being consistent in that deficit. Is it easy? No. Will you always want to be consistent? No.
But this is where the winning will be done!
You now have your nutrition essential tool for losing body fat to begin your transformation, knowing your calorie needs. Now, you just need to stick at it!
Step 3 – Resistance training
Why this matters?
Think of resistance training as the base building of your future physique. A life-changing transformation will not be about being as skinny as possible.
Strong chance if you are here reading this. You are like my audience who want to have muscle. Have shape to their physique. Feel strong, or better yet, feel and be muscular.
Weights, aka resistance training, does this!
Think of your nutrition as the portion of the transformation which leads to less body fat.
Think of resistance training as the transformation portion that adds shape, size and strength to your body.
Nutrition, to lose fat. Weights to give your body more curves in the right places.
You may be thinking, though. “What if I don’t care about having big glutes or jacked shoulders and arms”?
But resistance training should still be your training foundation as it has a world of positive health attributes.
Research has shown that muscle strength and size aids longevity in life. Weights help improve bone density, which is crucial as we age.
Then being stronger tends to have a considerable carryover effect on mental health for people. Being in the gym and accomplishing weekly improvements is a self-esteem builder.
Weights should set the foundation of your training. I like building clients’ plans around resistance training and setting their cardio and step requirements.
How much should you train? This is where it depends.
Are you aiming to be a bodybuilder and get on stage? Most likely not. Then you certainly do not need to train 5-6 days a week.
If you are newer to the gym, or time is not on your side? Three weight sessions a week will do a world of positives for you.
Less is more initially. Resistance training is not just about the training sessions but also allowing us to recover, which means days off from the gym.
Beginning with three days a week for someone new to the gym can be more than enough.
Four days a week for Intermediate lifters tends to be the gold standard. It’s enough days to crush progress in the gym, with three full days out of the gym for recovery and allowing you a life outside your training.
If you want to take your physique to another level, begin with four days, and if time permits and recovery is going well, sure go up to 5 days a week.
But start with less. Prove you can do that, then build on it.
Have they ever heard of the saying? The devil is in the dosage? Well, too much of a good thing begins not to be good.
You do not need to lift every single day. Too often, people get some momentum, feel great, and think more and more is the answer. Most of the time, it’s not.
Instead, aim to crush training three days a week with high-quality sessions that you look forward to and stick to. Rather than aim to go 6-7 days a week for 4-5 weeks, then find you cannot stick to this frantic pace and give up. Then quit.
More is only sometimes better! The right amount is best.
For weight training, 3-5 days a week will be the place for most people to achieve their life-changing transformation!
Step 4 – Cardio and steps
Why this matters
Remember how I said a calorie deficit was the key to fat loss? I hope you do!
Yes! That comes primarily from your nutrition! But, we can also help to create a calorie deficit by increasing our calorie expenditure.
Think of your nutrition as your “calories in” and your daily movement as your “calories out” portion of the calories in verses calories out equation.
The more we move, the more calories we expend to fuel this movement.
If we eat less, then move more! You guessed it! We create a more significant calorie deficit!
Now, cardio and steps I use as tools to assist your calories out over resistance training. The reason is that weights should be seen as where you build muscle and strength. It is not a high-calorie expenditure activity for the time in the gym.
Think of weights, as I said, as your training foundation. Think of cardio and steps as your bonus contributors to helping your life-changing transformation.
Cardio and daily steps are a tool! They are not absolute must-haves. You can lose body fat without focusing on them, but they help!
With your cardio, we have two training options.
HIIT – high-intensity interval training or LISS – low-intensity steady-state cardio.
Intervals will be when we push hard for a short, intense sprint, e.g., a 30-second effort on the treadmill, followed by a slower and longer active recovery, e.g., 90 seconds of walking.
A steady state will be a lower level of intensity, e.g. walking on a treadmill with an incline with which we stay at a consistent pace for generally a longer time frame.
Which one is better? Neither. Both work.
Think of intervals as superior for burning more calories in a shorter period. But it also means you will need to work harder. Think of a steady state that is less time efficient for burning as many calories but does not require the same intensity level.
For this reason, clients generally begin with steady-state cardio to build an excellent initial fitness base. Then, as this improves, we can work up to interval work.
An excellent 12-week cardio progression can be simply utilising session duration as your form of progression.
For instance, we can use a steady-state cardio approach with the treadmill in an incline setting:
- Weeks 1-4 – 20 minutes 2 x a week
- Weeks 5-8 – 25 minutes 2 x a week
- Weeks 9-12 – 30 minutes 2 x a week
Here I show you a simple linear cardio progression for your fat loss transformation. We start with a lower volume of work; then, over the 12 weeks, we increase our session duration to increase the calories expended over the 12 weeks!
When to do your cardio? Ideally, on a non-weights training day or AFTER you have completed your weights session. NOT before you lift. Save it for after.
Now what about these “steps” I keep mentioning?
Think of steps as your daily movement. Most of your daily steps will be just walking around the house or at the office. All these daily steps accumulate.
These days, step targets are all the rage. What is a step target? It is when you give someone a specific step goal for them to aim to achieve each day.
For instance, the famous “10,000 steps a day target”. This means, over the day, your goal is to achieve 10k steps. This should be done not just in 1 long walk; instead, it’s the accumulation throughout the day. It all adds up!
Why does a step target matter?
Because the longer we diet, the more our bodies want to conserve energy! We move less! Sadly, our bodies are not thrilled about us wanting to lose lots of body fat for summer and tend to do things to make the process harder.
One of these is the body’s natural defense mechanism to weight loss by moving less! It does this to conserve energy from things like periods of famine. Naturally, nowadays, we only have this issue a little. But our bodies still think this way.
This is why dieting, often fat loss, slows down the longer we diet due to this defense mechanism.
By having a strategic target for your daily steps. It forces your daily movement to become consistent. This means your daily calories expended stay elevated! These steps are our friend when we diet! Remember, a calorie deficit is the key! We want our movement to stay up to keep that consistent calorie expenditure.
Then how many steps a day should you do?
As generic as it sounds, the 10k step target a day works well for most.
But if you are, say, at 3k steps a day now. Try adding 3000 more in first. Then build as you go.
A good strategy I like to use is to increase steps 2000 every four weeks.
For example, for your transformation, it may look like this.
- Weeks 1-4 – 8000 steps
- Weeks 5-8 – 10k steps
- Weeks 9-12 – 12k steps
This linear progression I use to account for your fitness improving, and also you weigh less the longer you diet.
The whole “devil is in the dosage” again comes into play with cardio. Remember! Cardio and steps are a tool.
Our base is nutrition first and foremost. Then resistance training improves our muscle mass and strength.
Cardio is what comes after. Get the first ones correct. Then add in cardio. But too much is not the answer.
Too much cardio can mean high levels of fatigue and difficulty with recovery. Please do not overdo it.
2 x a week of cardio on top of 3-4 days a week of weights is a fantastic starting point towards your life-changing transformation!
Step 5 – Mindset
Why this matters?
I am not a “woosh” kind of person. The previous steps are absolute winning formulas to epic success. But when it comes to really epic changes and growth. It needs to be a partnership between physical growth as well as mental.
A strong mindset is like adding fuel to the fire. It just exponentially grows things.
All of these steps are all well and good if you follow them. But, if these steps are so simple, then why do people not consistently all over the world achieve their dream results?
A lot of it comes from people getting in their way.
Negative self-talk. Low self-belief. You name it.
Often, people are making significant progress, and their head space gets in the way, leading to them falling off.
I am going to let you in on a secret. The majority of world-class results with physiques come from something other than them doing any special training or nutrition. It just comes from their ability to keep consistent and stay on track.
It’s not always like a ROCKY movie training montage. It’s pretty simple; only some of that is motivational to watch. It’s a repetition of doing the little basics well.
What stops people from achieving their results is, in fact, their mindset.
Mindset can be broken down into endless blogs, but the simplest way to give you some final actionable points is for you all to understand this.
The best physiques in the world often do not want to be in the gym, despite what people often think about people with amazing bodies. The truth is, they too often hate training. They undoubtedly only sometimes enjoy sticking to their calories and dieting.
But they stick at it.
A huge part of success with long-term results with your physique will come down to the ability to train when you don’t want to be in the gym.
Somedays, you will love the gym. Enjoy those days!
On other days, motivation will be low. A strong mindset keeps you turning up and helps to take over when you feel down. Have those thoughts reminding you of your goals. Why did you start?
Get yourself in the car and into the gym. Will it always be a world-class session? No. But it doesn’t need to be. As unsexy as it sounds. Life-changing fat loss results or muscle building. Tend to come from the unique ability to train or eat according to your goals when motivation is low.
Short term, I will feel crap being in the gym. Long term? Your future self will thank you over and over.
The biggest strength you can have to take steps to change your body begins with the mental strength to stick at it when it’s not always a lot of fun.
You are not a bad person for not wanting to be in the gym daily. You are certainly not someone who does not “want it bad enough” if you feel like going over your calories. You are human! But have the mental strength to hold yourself accountable to your goals.
It might not feel like it at the time, but you are getting one step closer to your goal!
Your mindset to training should be that of positive thoughts. Try not to let that mean inner voice in your head dominate.
Mindset can be powerful. It can make you want to believe in yourself and not want to give up.
But, it can also be damaging and come from a place of anger. Use previous negative experiences as a positive tool to drive you to success.
Don’t use negative self-talk to remind yourself of previous failures. Forget about what went wrong previously. Focus on what will be different this time!
A positive mindset is as much a winning step to your fat loss goals as any!
There is so much absolute crap in the fitness industry, sadly. People are selling endless weight loss pills, skinny teas and waist trainers. There is more and more misinformation than ever before.
It sells, unfortunately!
But the truth is. Incredible transformations before and after the fat loss are not from some hidden magical secret.
By focusing on these critical steps, anyone can achieve incredible success with their fat loss. None of this stuff is all that complicated.
In truth, it is far easier than the fitness industry wants you to believe.
Segments of the fitness industry often want you to feel confused because it makes their gimmicky product seem like the answer if you need clarification.
It’s not. Your life-changing transformation is about taking care of the basic principles of nutrition and training. Do the basics well and consistently, and you will experience results that are life-changing and lasting.
Now is your time to implement these critical steps. These steps are yours to use to get off the sidelines and begin your transformation.
Before getting started, set a specific goal. How much weight do you want to lose? It does not need to be the perfect answer but give yourself a realistic number. Then, set a time frame. When? And how much! This is where you begin.
Next? Your calorie deficit. Use my free TDEE calculator to work out your maintenance calories. Then, create a calorie deficit off this number in the 20-30% cal deficit range.
Now nutrition is set up, weights training. Lifting 3-4 days a week will be your perfect base to lower body fat and create a physique with muscle, shape and strength.
Remember your cardio and your steps to add tools to your transformation further. Cardio begins with two sessions a week. Less is more at the start. A steady state is perfect for building a base fitness level and a daily step target to hold you accountable.
Then finally, mindset. A strong mindset, a positive mindset. Mindset is what will keep you coming back. The best plan in the world is only helpful if you stick to it. It takes time to achieve a fantastic result. Use your mindset to help support your physical progress.
Be kind to yourself and be your biggest supporter along this journey.
Good luck! Follow these five steps to achieve your life-changing transformation!
READ MY OTHER EDUCATIONAL FITNESS BLOGS:
- Struggling with Hunger in your Deficit? My Top Tips to Fat Loss Adherence
- 7 Reasons your Fat Loss has Plateaued
- Keys to Maintaining Muscle in a Deficit
- Refeeds & Diet Breaks: Do They Really Work?
- My Top 6 Best Glute Building Exercises
Yours in health & fitness,