The Reason You May Not be Getting Results & What to do about It

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“If you want to lose body fat, you have to eat this way and you have to workout this way.”

“If you want to build muscle, you have to eat this way and you have to train this way.”

The fitness and nutrition world is an interesting place. The latest and greatest fad surfaces on a frequent basis with high promises of allowing you to “finally lose the weight”, or “build muscle”, or whatever desire you have when it comes to your body composition.

Many methods (fad, or not) can be portrayed in a way that people think they absolutely have to follow that nutrition method, or training program, if they want results. Oftentimes this leads people to apply a certain method that may not be appropriate for them because other people are experiencing great results.

You don’t have to do what’s popular or what other experts swear by if that method doesn’t fit your lifestyle and personality.

Here’s my primary rule when it comes to working out and nutrition – the approach you use shouldn’t put too much stress on you, nor should it require you to revolve your life around it. Now, there may be a time when you want to get strict and accomplish a goal, but these should be for predetermined periods of time; it should not go on for months and years.

When it comes to strength training and nutrition, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-approach that will work for everyone.

Working Out

When it comes to strength training, I’ll admit that I’m bias in regards to strength training methods. I like lifting heavy and use primarily barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight exercises. I love to deadlift, squat, press weight overhead, perform chin-ups, handstand push-ups and other bodyweight exercises.

Even though lifting heavy while focusing on big compound movements works incredibly well for building strength and a strong, healthy body, does that mean it’s the only way you can build a body you’re proud of?

Absolutely not.

Maybe you like to train exclusively with kettlebells. Perhaps you want to get into Olympic lifting or train with strongman tools.

Or, maybe you love conditioning and metabolic focused training programs. Maybe you love crazy Workout Finishers or want to have the ability to workout anytime and anywhere so you use bodyweight workouts.

Furthermore, you don’t have to squat, bench press, and deadlift if you don’t enjoy those lifts, or especially if you have mobility issues or previous injuries that prevent you from doing them safely. In that case you should perform variations of those exercises that work for you.

I don’t care how you choose to engage in resistance training – find what works for you and do what you enjoy.

Nutrition & Eating Patterns

There’s plenty of controversy in the wonderful world of strength training, but nutrition is perhaps plagued with the most pervasive dogmatic views and opinions. Nutrition and diet is definitely the area where people usually experience the most confusion.

There are numerous nutrition plans and methods that have produced incredible results – various methods of intermittent fasting, Paleo, and some people still prefer to eat multiple smaller meals throughout the day.

Some people prefer strict guidelines that require them to eat a set number of calories and macronutrients at certain times of the day. Other people, such as myself, prefer to have simple, flexible guidelines. An example is simply being aware of healthier food choices which is generally a very easy way for people to lose body fat and see positive changes to their physique.

I remember many months ago two of my fellow fitness friends, Jen Keck and Ben Bruno, were discussing nutrition habits on Twitter. Jen asked Ben if he typically followed an intermittent fasting protocol. His response was, “No, quite the opposite actually. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Usually eat most of my carbs earlier in the day . . . been doing it for years. I’ve tried some other stuff but I always go back to it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?”

Bottom line with nutrition — don’t be afraid to experiment and discover what works for you.

Experiment & Discover What Works for You

I’ve tried numerous nutrition methods and diets throughout my career. For example, the first eating style I attempted was the standard “5-6 small meals” throughout the day. For over a year I followed this template every day, even though I didn’t like it. I never felt full, it was a chore to prepare and clean up after so many meals, and it made events like family dinners or going out to eat stressful.

Eating that way caused me to constantly stress out and think about my diet. But, I kept on doing it because it was the “best way” to get results.

Thankfully I later discovered that simply isn’t true. Intermittent fasting turned out to be a much better method for me to use long-term. I’ve been following intermittent fasting, in one way or another, for over five years now. It’s what works for me.

Even though I’m a proponent of IF and use it with myself and many of my clients, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. In fact, I still have some clients who prefer to eat 4-5 smaller meals each day and hate any form of intermittent fasting.

(Please bear in mind, however, that sometimes you won’t know if there’s a better nutrition approach for you unless you give it a try).

Here are some simple questions to ask yourself if you’re unsure of the direction to go with your nutrition habits.

Do you prefer a set plan that tells you everything you can and can’t eat?

Do you like detailed guidelines for how many calories and/or macronutrients to eat, or do you prefer basic, flexible principles?

Different strokes for different folks. Find what works for you!

Don’t Force a Square Peg in a Round Hole

Bottom line – if a particular method doesn’t fit your personality or mesh with your lifestyle, then don’t force it.

As I stated, intermittent fasting works well for me. I can achieve my body composition and performance goals with ease and it’s virtually stress free in application and practice. However, some of my clients, in addition to other people I’ve communicated with, don’t like intermittent fasting. Some people get headaches, feel like they’re starving, or just don’t feel well when they fast.

I don’t bark at them saying, “Intermittent fasting is the best way to get results, so suck it up,” or anything like that. Instead, I give them simple guidelines such as eat natural, unprocessed foods and eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, but not stuffed.

This is why I have flexible guidelines within the Beautiful Badass Manual and Workout Programs. This way you can adjust you eating patterns and workouts as necessary to suite your needs, preferences, and lifestyle. That’s why Beautiful Badass provides options to workout two, three, or four days per week in addition to various eating patterns that fit your personality. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.


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  • “I freaking LOVE this info! I'm determined to be a Beautiful Badass!” -Tina V
  • Krista

    I needed to read this today. I’ve been struggling with nutrition lately. I’ve been eating paleo for about a year now and in the past several weeks I’ve really been feeling like it’s no longer for me. But it’s hard to break out of the habit and not feel like a bowl of oatmeal is some forbidden food. It’s definitely time to experiment.

    • Nia Shanks

      I know exactly what you mean. I tried the whole “primal/paleo” thing and sometimes I just wanted to enjoy a dang sandwich without feeling guilty. In my opinion, as long as a food doesn’t make you feel terrible, then enjoy it.

  • Saskia Schijf

    Good to read this as I just for few monts do not follow any theory anymore. All these different ideas of today, all sounding so plausibly but no working for me. All day hungry and kranky with no result. I just eat healthy and try to work out more. What works best for me is a big lunch and than I make it to dinner, otherwise I would struggle not to go and hit the candy cabinet. Although my meals do contain more proteins then carbs I have too say. ( just changed one slice of bread into protein shake)

  • winetoweights

    I love this.. it’s so hard to find a plan that works best so it’s easy to fall into seeing what is perfect for someone else. I’m still trying to figure it all out!

    • Nia Shanks

      Yep, I know what you mean! Just take the time to find what works for you, and then block out the rest of the noise.

  • TrailGrrl

    Finding what works for you is key. I lost a lot of weight doing paleo/primal low carb approach then realized I was doing better on days when I worked all morning and didn’t eat lunch until like 1:00 or 2:00 pm, which was really a style of IF. Then I would eat dinner later and could pretty much include anything including beer and dessert, or if I ate a heavier lunch I could just split something small with the hubby. I am super alert on days when I IF like Leangains style, and crank out a lot of work. This works well if I am doing heavy lifts, 3 days per week. Lately I’ve been swimming too, and considering triathlon training. I’m pretty sure IF isn’t going to work well with that, so on days when I swim I might have a small thing for breakfast like a little cup of rice pudding or a small protein drink. Low-carb and paleo/primal was not fitting with my lifestyle, and I may have trashed my thyroid because I am on synthroid now. I’ve been reading your site and JC Deen and finally sat down and calculated my maintenance calories and they are WAY higher than I thought (1960), and I wasn’t even breaking 100g on carbs. So now I’ve been shoveling in food and trying to hit the macros and it’s hard for me to do without more than 2 meals a day. So I’ve been spreading it out and trying to load the protein so that I get enough, but I am still having a hard time getting up to over 200g of carbs (except on beer nights, of course!). So back with the sandwiches and some strategic cereal placement, and doubling up on rice instead of just a little bit. I must say that I feel better, and I think this is mostly from the carb intake. Some foods were novelties for a while because I hadn’t had them very often… popcorn, bread, cereal, rice pudding. I also started drinking whole milk with my dinner and usually another glass during the day or at night. My stomach was bloating before this and now it is flat when I get up in the morning. Not sure that IF was the culprit so much as consciously or unconsciously restricting carbs. When it looks like I’m not hitting the macros that day, I fix a peanut butter sandwich and have a glass of milk with it, or eat a greek yogurt with honey and some cereal for crunch. What works for me has evolved a bit over time. It’s nice to know that you can have pizza and still balance for the day.

  • Vicki

    I think your advice is spot on. I have worked in a weight lose centre and have seen so many people fail because the diet just doesn’t fit in with their lifestyle. KISS is the answer. Cut out the proceeded foods and sugar and its as simple as that. Eat when hungry and watch your portion sizes. Keep up the good work,,, I too have done the paleo thing but my body does not do well without some form of carbs like rice. I just don’t have enough energy for heavy lifting without them.