Whenever you see a before and after picture showing someone’s amazing progress, your first thought is almost guaranteed to be “what did this person do to get these awesome results?”
- What workout did they use?
- What diet were they on?
- What supplements did they take?
- What approach did they follow?
- What methods did they employ?
You want all of those details and specifics, and you want them NOW!
And once you get that info, there’s usually only one thought that will follow: I need to do this too!
Why? Because this clearly worked well for that person, therefore it will work just as well for you. And just like that, you’ve instantly been persuaded to think this is the new best thing that you must start doing.
Now I’ll admit, the logic to this line of thinking is pretty sound. But, there are two major flaws.
Problem #1: Bullshit
For starters, many of the claimed results and before and after pictures for various diet and fitness products/supplements range anywhere from a bit deceptive to complete and utter bullshit.
Stuff like photo retouching, awesome lighting, improved flexing, better posture, better tan, less body hair and so on can make little to no progress look like super impressive progress.
Add in steroid use, amazing genetics, muscle memory and/or flat out lying about the details, and you can make impossible results look surprisingly possible. And surprisingly easy. And yes, this kind of thing happens all the time.
Hell, I could do an entire article just about the wild and wacky world of before and after pictures. One day, maybe I will. But… not today.
Today I just want to point out what I hope would have been obvious already, and that is that a good number of the amazing transformation pictures you see and stories you hear may not be 100% true and legit. Or even 1% true and legit.
But, let’s ignore all of that for now and move on to what I think is an even bigger problem here.
Problem #2: EVERYTHING WORKS!!!!!
In my opinion, the biggest problem with the mindset of looking at someone else’s impressive progress and thinking “I need to find out what they did so I can start doing it” is the fact that EVERYTHING WORKS!
What I mean is, there are equally impressive before and after transformation pictures for literally every single diet and training method, program, book, supplement or product ever created.
Pick any diet. Pick any workout. Pick any supplement. Pick any product. Pick any method or approach. Now go and look around a little and tell me what you find.
Spoiler alert… they all have amazing testimonials. They all have amazing before and after pictures. They all have amazing success stories and transformations.
Someone… somewhere… is doing amazingly well because of it.
Stop Me If This Sounds Familiar
- So when you see someone who got lean as hell using Martin Berkhan’s approach to intermittent fasting, your first thought might be “That’s it, I’m starting IF Leangains-style today!!”
- This is great… until tomorrow. You see, tomorrow someone will post their equally impressive progress pictures on some diet forum you read, and they’ll mention that they ate 6 small meals per day. “That’s it” you’ll think, “forget IF… frequent meals is the way to go!”
- And then you’ll see someone on the Bodybuilding.com forums showing off the awesome progress they made using Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. “That’s it” you’ll think, “this is the training program I’m going to use!”
- But before you get started, you’ll come across an ad for some popular muscle building ebook, and you’ll notice some impressive before/after pictures and testimonials on its sales page. “That’s it” you’ll think, “this is the training program I’m going to use!”
- Until someone on Reddit posts their awesome progress pics from using some popular 5×5 program. “That’s it” you’ll think… “5×5 is the way to go.”
- At least until you check Facebook and discover that the fat kid you haven’t seen since high school has gotten into great shape as a result of Crossfit style training and a Paleo diet. “That’s it,” you’ll think. “I need to find my nearest Crossfit gym and a list of Paleo-approved foods!”
- But then the newest article will show up on your favorite fitness blog detailing some new and interesting higher rep workout program and diet method that the writer has been using over the last few months along with pictures of their progress. Of course, they’ll look absolutely amazing… exactly as lean and muscular as you hope to soon be. “That’s it” you’ll think, “my new training and diet method has been found!”
- And then you’ll see the HodgeTwins or Matt Ogus or whoever your favorite YouTube fitness person is put up a new training video that lays out the full details of the new workout program or method they’re using while they tell you all about how well it’s been working for them (all kiiiiinds of gains). You’ll of course be taking notes of those details and specifics so you can put that same program into action yourself and get those same awesome results.
- And then you’ll come to this very website and maybe see Bryn’s progress or Tiffany’s progress and think “Wow, I’m going to do what they did!” Or maybe you’ll see my recommendations for the type of diet and workout I’ve seen work best for people with your goals and think “this sounds like exactly what I need to do!”
THAT’S The Problem
And this cycle will repeat itself over and over on an endless loop of you discovering that someone got positive results using some method or program different from what you’re currently doing, followed by you deciding to start doing that instead.
Or just as bad, trying to combine 50 different methods/programs together into one colossal bad idea.
Alright, maybe not everything.
But, everything that is even remotely based on a few fundamental principles (caloric deficit for fat loss, progressive overload and a caloric surplus for muscle growth, etc.) and doesn’t completely screw them up WILL WORK!
Damn near every diet, workout and method on the planet fitting the above description will work to some degree. And due to problem #1, even the stuff that doesn’t work will still appear to work just fine anyway.
That’s why you’ll find people making great progress and getting great results doing EVERYTHING. Even the complete opposite of another thing that also works amazingly well.
That’s why for every person transforming their body with intermittent fasting, you’ll probably find many more people doing it eating small frequent meals. For every person building tons of muscle with 5×5, you’ll find many more doing it with 3×10. For every person getting great results from squats and barbell bench pressing, you’ll find someone else getting great results from leg presses and dumbbell pressing.
For every person doing well with low carbs, you’ll find someone doing equally well with high carbs. For every person doing great eating Paleo and doing Crossfit, you’ll find even more doing just as great if not better eating many non-Paleo foods and doing the complete opposite of Crossfit (which I think technically means “training intelligently” …zing!).
For every successful vegan, you’ll find a successful meat eater. For every successful strict dieter who only eats clean and completely avoids supposed “bad” foods, you’ll find a successful flexible dieter who has adopted an IIFYM approach.
And on and on and on.
The point is, as long as a few proven fundamental principles are in place, there’s a TON of different ways for you to put everything together and still get positive results. That’s why you’ll see people making equally amazing progress doing things 1000 different ways.
But That’s Exactly Why NOTHING WORKS!
The thing is, the fact that everything works is precisely what prevents anything from actually working for you.
Instead of putting 100% of your focus and effort into any ONE of these countless things that work, and doing it long enough and consistently enough to actually allow it to work, you’re too busy switching to something that appears “newer” and “better” every time you see someone doing well with it.
Which is what? Every month? Every week? Every day? Every hour?
However often it is, it’s too often. It’s what instantly prevents EVERYTHING that should work from actually working. Time and consistency are ALWAYS the final required components to diet and training effectiveness. Nothing will work without them.
For many people, this is their problem. It’s not that they can’t figure out what works or what needs to be done… it’s that they can’t stick with it long enough to allow it to work.
The fact that we’re all constantly bombarded with new diets and workouts and methods and often the impressive transformations and success stories that come with them makes us want to constantly do/try those things in the hopes that they’ll work better and faster than what we’re already doing.
And while every single one of these things may be capable of working amazingly well, all of that capability instantly goes out the window for you because the required time and consistency just aren’t there.
So my advice is simple. Find something that works and do it. As long as it is safe, smart, and based on the few fundamental principles that actually matter… it’s really not even going to matter much what it ends up being. Just find something fitting that description and do it.
And then, while you do it, I want you to ignore what everyone else is doing. Ignore how everyone else is doing it. Ignore their progress and results. It’s meaningless to you.
Instead, focus completely on yourself and YOUR progress and YOUR results and working YOUR ass off at doing that “one thing” you’ve chosen to do to make it all happen… and then KEEP doing that until it DOES happen.
You’ll then become the person with the awesome results that makes other people stop what they’re doing so they can switch to what you’re doing.
Not the other way around.