Posted by on Oct 29, 2014

Ben Hessel graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s of Science while earning his personal training certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). In 2011, he began his own personal training business. Want to train with Ben? Check out his Fitocracy Team: Bodyweight Fat Loss.

What if I told you that weight loss had more to do with your approach to fitness than with your plan itself?

Below is a weight loss graph that I’ve drawn this on napkins, index cards, papers, etc. for clients, my girlfriend, and anyone else who it can apply to.  A few years ago, someone drew the same graph for me.

reality v expectations

We all aspire to be that tiny green stick figure.

This chart represents an honest look at how we progress.

In transforming our body we all imagine going on a linear path (the blue line). We imagine we will hit our goals for a few months or a few years and deny the possibility that things may not be perfect every week or each month.

Too often, I see clients beat themselves up over “mistakes.” But as Dick wisely wrote the other day, that’s a word you should ban from your vocabulary.

See, in weight loss, muscle building, strength training, business, career paths, or really any valuable skill, the path to success is never going to be linear.

In fitness, you’ll have your weeks where you eat well, work out hard, get good sleep and feel like a champion.

You’ll also have weeks where you miss a meal and replace it with candy, feel like crap, go out to happy hour with co-workers, have a few drinks, have some salty high calorie foods with it, and be bummmmmmmed out.

So much work down the drain … right?


As long as your end goal never changes, these are only zigzags on the way to your final destination.

The orange line represents reality. It represents Steve Jobs getting fired from his own company, just to be brought back years later. The orange line represents the emergency flight you have to take because a family member got sick. It represents your car breaking down and having to reschedule your entire day. It represents any injury that may sideline you for a week and prevent you from working.

It also represents the day you PR’d unexpectedly, the promotion you were not expecting, and the time you just got really lucky.

reality graph

Ah, the highs and lows.

Understanding the nature of reality (your orange line) also means that you simply accept those situations for what they are and don’t lose sight of the end goal.

Our goal is never to force zigzags to happen – we want to stay as close to the blue as possible – but to accept that they will happen.

With all my clients, including those in my newest program – Gym Free Fitness for Fat Loss – the goal is to keep as close to the blue line as possible. One part of “hacking” to ensure success is learning to focus on the factors that you have direct control over each day:

  • Working out and giving great effort
  • Eating well
  • Getting a quality night of sleep

But just as important is taking unexpected drawbacks as they come, and recognizing them as nothing more than zigs and zags on that orange line.


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