The One About How You Can’t Copy Some Random Fitness Model’s Diet & Training Plan

To my long lost trainer Zvez,

Hey lady! New York misses you!  I have a question. I remember when I trained with you, you always told me to keep my calories at about 1700, and you were adamant that I needed to eat “enough”. I got great results and felt like I learned a lot about how to eat healthy and live a balanced lifestyle, but now I’m confused.

Lately, I’ve been reading all these fitness magazines and the sample diets these girls provide has their calories at about 1200, 1300 or 1400 max?!! Some of these girls carry a lot of muscle too and do tons of cardio. I don’t get it. A lot of the things I’m reading are exactly what you told me NOT to do. 1200 calorie diets, double cardio sessions (you always said no more than an hour max!). I’m in great shape now, but not ripped. Is this what I have to do to get ripped and look like a fitness model? You know I always wanted to look like that Zuzanna chick from the youtube videos! I miss my kick ass Aussie trainer, xxx.

– Bethany, New York City, NY.

Hi Bethany! I miss you too! Come to Sydney for a workout, hehe. I’m not kidding!

You know I will always tell you the cold hard truth and the cold hard truth is that eating 1200 calories comprised of nothing but chicken and broccoli and double cardio sessions might be one way to look like a fitness model. Temporarily.

What inevitably happens to people who try to starve themselves lean is that they hit a wall. Hours of cardio a day and eating nothing but chicken and broccoli will make you a neurotic, batty mess with no social life. Even if in theory you could grit your teeth and push through  a protocol like this, day in and day out for the rest of your life (which is called an eating disorder), eventually you will get sick, you will get injured and your metabolism, which is designed to keep you healthy, alive and thriving – will shut down. Because you’re starving your body and beating it to a pulp. Your body thinks it’s dying. Having your metabolism shut down on your because you exercise too much and don’t eat enough is not cute. You will be very, very sick if this happens to you. And you won’t look lean and cute with ripped abs if you get to this point, trust me. I’m not scaremongering, this is a very real outcome and consequence and you can find yourself fatter than you ever imagined and on a cocktail of thyroid meds for the rest of your life if you insist upon this road.

When these cookie cutter diet and workout plans are provided in magazines and online (!), you can never, ever take those things on face value. Everyone is different, we each have different genetics, different body chemistry, different activity history and different assets and challenges to getting into the best shape of our lives. So even if we assume that the diet and exercise plans provided actually ARE what your favourite celebrity/competitor/fitness model follows, it’s probably NOT going to work for you the same way that it works for them. This is for a variety of reasons, but primarily:

1) You have to look at each individual’s personal stats… if your favourite fitness model is 118lbs (53.6kg) and eating about 1300 – 1400 cals to drop a few body fat percentage points? That’s not too low for someone of her size as long as her diet is balanced, meaning, carbohydrates ARE included. FYI, using Bethany as an example, she is a tall drink of water at 5’11 and weights about 150lbs (68kg). 1300 calories would be way too low for her.

2) Her goals are different to yours. A fitness model who stays in shape year round and may need to diet for a few weeks to tighten up for a photoshoot is very different to someone who is sedentary and needs to lose 20kg and just get active each day. You can’t take her diet and apply to yourself and then wonder why you don’t look like her or why you aren’t getting any result at all. And whatever you do, it has to be sustainable and something you can do long-term. If it’s so restrictive that you won’t be able to do it for more than a month before you quit your plan in frustration and can’t look at another piece of broccoli again in your life, then you were just spinning your wheels and may have just set yourself way back. It has to be something sustainable for great results you will keep.

Sadly for people who look up to them and follow them, some fitness models and celebrities and people in general with enviable physiques have such great bodies in SPITE of what they do, NOT because of what they do!

Read that again! It is so important!

Some people have great results in spite of what they do, not because of what they do!

What that means is that they hit the genetic jackpot and they would look amazing no matter what. Some of these people look even better with a tiny fraction of the effort that you or I put in. Sometimes they do the goofiest things that make no scientific sense whatsoever, but everyone jumps on the bandwagon because they all want to look like this person. Then articles get written and printed about what their diet plan is and what it is they do for those great abs or great ass or great legs or whatever it is they’re famous for, but the protocol doesn’t work for you or me, because we didn’t have that exceptional base to begin with!

So this is why it is crucial to take everything you read in the fitness magazines with a huge grain of salt. We haven’t even touched on the topics of pharmaceutical help to achieve certain looks and also, cosmetic surgery. The fitness industry is just as bad as the fashion industry in providing unattainable and unrealistic images for us normal people to aspire to, often in extraordinary frustration.

This is why it’s so important to educate ourselves, ask questions and to always be discerning when choosing who our role models will be and who we will choose to listen to. Sometimes the plethora of information available can be overwhelming. I suggest you apply the principles of critical thinking and common sense to all that you do, but especially where your health and your body are involved.

You can achieve a fitness model’s physique in a healthy manner. However, it means making health and fitness a lifestyle, not just dieting and training and racing to achieve “a look” in the shortest possible amount of time.

It’s not a look, it’s a lifestyle.

We can all make great changes by being consistent for 3 – 6 months (note: consistent, NOT extreme). But it also has to be said that, jackpot genetics aside, it takes YEARS to build an extraordinary, eye-popping physique. It takes YEARS to really, fundamentally CHANGE and develop your body. A lot of these fitness models are lifelong athletes. They haven’t been at it for 6 months or a year, but over many, many years of sports and performance based training. That is not said to discourage anybody, no, in fact I hope it inspires you. This is the kind of stuff that inspires me. This is one of the main reasons I push performance based goals on my clients and on this blog. When your body adapts to stimuli and gets faster, stronger, more agile… it changes. It looks different. It looks better. It looks more and more awesome every day! That’s the stuff results are made of!

Again, it’s not a look, it’s a lifestyle.

You have to look at the long term view.