In a world where most of fitness is over-sexed, over-oiled and oversold, you’d be forgiven for thinking that looking good naked was just about eating #epic meals and destroying the latest HIIT workout.
Chances are no one would blame you for thinking that fitness was a series of instantaneous changes;
*By the way, these are actual titles from popular fitness magazines.
If social media and fitness mags are your guide to fitness you might even think getting fit is a walk in the park.
Better yet a shortcut through the park.
A sexy shortcut where everyone is oiled up, leaned down and ripped AF.
The reality is somewhat less sexy than you’ve been led to believe. In fact, the reality of looking good naked is boring a lot of the time.
It’s a process concerned with consistency, habits and choice.
You could say, looking good naked is the habit of consistently making the choices you need to, not the ones you want to.
Why this disparity?
Partly because a lot of what you see on social media are half truths or even outright lies.
But mostly because no one really wants to believe that getting fit might require more effort than they’re willing to put in.
Everyone wants a shortcut,and no one wants to wait.
*Bubble bursting time*
If you really want to change your body, you need to get real.
Real about what it requires from you, namely commitment and hard work.
It takes unsexy habits to get you looking good naked. There is no way under, over or around this fact.
So, buckle up, knuckle down and get ready to learn what you really need to do to get the body you want.
The rest of this article is dedicated to the 5 simple but important unsexy habits.
These habits will be the difference between changing your body or treading water.
More than this, these habits will allow you to maintain and improve upon the changes you make for as long as you want or need to.
Counting calories, also known as, CICO or calories in calories out, energy balance, “why are you being so strict?”, “what do you mean you can’t have another biscuit?” and “you need to relax a bit” is the cornerstone of any change you’ll make.
Regardless of what you hear or think you know, calories are important.
Sure, they may not be perfect, and food packaging guidelines and companies certainly don’t help, but they are your baseline and will be the decider of the rest of your success.
You see, thanks to something called the energy balance equation, the number of calories you eat in relation to the amount you use for energy directly influences whether you lose or gain weight.
This, in turn, impacts your overall body composition, you know, muscle, fat, etc. The bottom line is, if you’re serious about changing your body, whether it’s to lose fat or build muscle, calories matter.
They matter so much that you need to know how many you’re eating every day. You also need to know (at least roughly) how many you’re using for energy every day too.
To help you figure this out the following calculations can give you a pretty accurate starting point for your daily calorie needs based on your goal;
Once you know this you need to offset it against how many calories, you’re eating to either gain or lose weight. For example, if your goal is fat loss then you need to make sure the number of calories you eat per day is less than the number of calories you use for energy.
Counting calories makes this possible.
The simple scale is often seen in one of two ways;
Believe the first and you’ll fumble your way through weight change, maybe seeing some results but probably not. Believe the second and you gain an invaluable tool on your fitness journey that can encourage and inform you when used properly.
That last bit was important…when used properly.
I agree that the scale is not absolute. Nor can it always show you the whole picture. However, it is an important tool for understanding what’s happening overtime and whether you need to make a change.
How do you know if you need to make a change? Good question.
When eating and training to look good naked there are guidelines for the speed at which you should lose or gain weight. These guidelines help you lose fat and maintain muscle OR build muscle and minimise fat gain. Both are important.
Adhere to this and you’ll be on the right track. However, this comes with a warning.
Weight change is not linear. This means even when you’re doing everything right and on track to lose or gain weight you might not see it in the day to day.
This is because your weight can and will fluctuate (water, food, stress, sleep, clothing) on a regular basis. However, this doesn’t mean the scale is unfit for purpose.
A scale is a tool, an informational tool. Which means when you weight yourself daily in the same conditions and take a weekly average it will show how your weight is changing over time
You can then use this information to adjust your calorie intake, exercise regime or even leave everything exactly how it is if you’re on track.
Related: How to Track Your Progress
This is perhaps the height of un-sexiness in many people’s eyes.
Eating the same thing every day, a week at a time.
When I suggest to people that they should structure their diet this way, or better yet tell them this is how I eat, they recoil in shock, surprise and even disgust.
Their voices shake, their knees buckle and they break out in shouts of “why, how could you?”
At which point I respond by telling them that I know variety is the spice of life, but if variety is making you miserable with your body what do you have to lose from trying something different.
Before gently encouraging them to get up off the floor and seriously ask themselves “is it worth it?”
If the way you’re currently doing things isn’t working, is it still worth doing?
Hint: it’s not.
Trust me, all it brings is stress and disappointment.
Maybe you need to find this out for yourself, if you do then no worries, I get it and you can move on to the next unsexy habit.
It’s ok, go…I’ll see you there.
If you’re still here then that means you’re ready to try something new, something different.
On that note, welcome to the unsexy club, here’s your membership card and access to all the secrets the other members already know;
Or in other words…
If you want to stick to your diet on a regular basis, eating the same thing every day is the easiest, way to do this and reduces the number of decisions you need to make about food and calories
Essentially it boils your decisions down to ‘what do I want to eat?’ and you’ll make this decision once a week.
After that, you eat the food you’ve decided on (and cooked in advance) when you want to eat it, you hit your calorie goal and see gradual but substantial changes in your body over time.
For me, this means after I’ve decided what to eat at the weekend, made a shopping list and bought the food I no longer need to think about my diet.
I know that I’m going to hit my calories goals.
Besides who can be bothered with making a different, new meal every night…?!
If you want to make this fitness thing work for you and look good naked with the lights on (lights off doesn’t count) then you’ve got to get on board.
As an added bonus you’ll save money, time and effort which can then be used for your training.
Did you see that transition?
Ok, never mind.
Before we talk training, we first need to look at all the things that do not count as training consistently;
Note: training here relates to regular strength training in pursuit of building a better body, looking good naked or any other aesthetic goal you have
Another note: staring at yourself in the mirror, going topless in public gyms or any other kind of stupidity does not make you sexy. Keeping your head down, working hard and getting results does.
Are we on the same page?
Onward we go.
It really doesn’t matter if your goal is to strip off fat or pack on lean muscle, training consistently is important for both;
Once your diet is in check, training becomes the next most important step to achieving this.
This is primarily because of a little something that has a big impact.
Progressive overload is the steady increase of stimulus you place on your body over time to give it a reason to either get or stay strong and muscular
You can do this by increasing the weight you lift every time you hit your set and rep goal.
Think of progressive overload as the reason your body will maintain or build muscle in the presence of a suitable diet.
Pretty great stuff, right?!
Here’s the problem – you can’t apply progressive overload if you don’t train consistently.
If you’re only doing workouts every other week, you’ll find it difficult to add weight to the bar, maintain your strength and make any kind of meaningful progress.
However, if you train 2 – 4 times a week consistently then you’ll be able to regularly add weight to the bar and get significantly stronger over time.
With this new strength comes muscle.
Now, training consistently whilst simple in theory can present problems in reality for some people.
To make things easier let me be clear with how to train consistently.
To train consistently you need to train even when you’re;
Basically, you need to train as many times as you’ve committed to and if you can’t then you need to reduce the number of times you train per week.
There’s no point in having your diet in order if your training is a mess. Embrace the unsexy, sort your training out and get really sexy.
The word no is a fundamental part of our vocab.
Small children say it all the time, drug campaigns encourage you to use it and the entirety of the UK population are either screaming “no deal Brexit” or “no Brexit”.
In short, it’s used all the time.
I’ve used it 9 times in this article so far.
Yet when you need to tell yourself no (10 times) it suddenly becomes impossible.
You’re out with a friend or two for dinner and a good catch up.
You’ve already allocated a generous number of calories to this dinner in anticipation of eating more than normal. A smart idea as you’ll be able to enjoy your pizza guilt and worry-free and still be within your calorie goal for the day.
*You have dinner, it’s great – blah, blah, blah*
The plates have been cleared and you’re feeling stuffed, your mate (who isn’t counting calories or dieting or particularly caring about fitness and his body) suggests getting dessert.
What do you say?
No, right? <– (11 times)
You said yes, didn’t you…
Look, ok, sometimes you can say yes and maybe you’ll be closer to maintenance calories or even go over your calories a bit and in the long run, it won’t matter, at all.
However, most of the time you should practise saying no (12 times).
Because I’m sadistic and don’t want you to enjoy yourself?…
No (13 times but who’s even counting anymore)
But because being able to say no (yeah seriously I’m not counting anymore) at the right time is the difference between occasionally overindulging and blowing the damn lid off every time you break routine.
It’s the difference between standing at the top of a cliff enjoying the view and tumbling down head over heels to get a better look.
It’s the difference between looking good naked and being dissatisfied with your body.
You get it… don’t you?
Either way, it’s a big difference.
You know, it’s the whole reason you decided to read this 2,500+ word article in the first place.
The problem is it’s not sexy to say no.
It’s not sexy to be disciplined, to stick to your guns and your goals.
It’s sexy to stuff your face, still, have abs and present it all in a stupid freaking filter (Instagram much).
Expect the truth is, lots of those guys showing off insane meals, don’t actually eat them. Instead, they say no;
Instead, they embrace the unsexy.
They count their calories, weigh themselves daily, eat the same meals, train consistently and say no, a lot.
Pretty shitty right.
Don’t worry though because now you know, you know it all, every single unsexy truth has been laid bare.
From here it’s simple.
You have a choice, blue pill or red pill style, you can either;
It’s time to make a decision…
I hope you’ve made your decision; it should be pretty damn easy.
But if for whatever reason you’re still deciding then let’s talk about something else whilst you do that.
Let’s talk about the problem with un-sexiness.
In particular, the social, internal and even familial pressure you might face when you start following unsexy habits.
You see when you try to better yourself or set yourself apart from the norm, people notice.
Often, they notice big time.
However, this doesn’t always translate into support.
In fact, it often manifests itself in negative ways; opposition, resistance and doubt.
It’s not uncommon for your change to make others feel uncomfortable, they might even make you feel uncomfortable.
The end result is usually sabotage, self and otherwise.
In short, you need to be strong to be unsexy, but where do you draw this strength from…?
I’m glad you asked.
This strength can come from;
Look, I hope I haven’t put you off.
It wasn’t my intention.
The truth is, every time you find something worth doing there will be layers of difficulty attached.
It’s these layers that make following through even more worth it.
Yeah, that’s right, no segue this time.
I wanted to make sure you’re still awake, you’re nearly 3,000 words deep and we’re not quite done yet.
As you pick up these unsexy habits and begin to make real change, you’ll have questions.
I wasn’t expecting you to ask that last question.
It’s ok, I’m not offended.
Here’s my take;
If what that ‘other dude’ says resonates with you and he has the physique you want to achieve then go for it.
There’ll be no hard feelings here.
However, be aware of your behaviour.
If so, this is classic ’looking busy but going nowhere syndrome’.
You know… doing lots of different things for short periods of time without actually doing much of anything or seeing any results…AKA fitness no man’s land.
Anyway, it’s just something to think about.
Now, back to the other questions.
I think I can kind of answer them all together as they all follow a single theme; time.
More to the point, time and experience.
Look, I know it may not always seem like what you’re doing is working but real change is accumulative, not instantaneous.
This means it takes time (often more than you think or would like).
With that time comes experience.
This means you get better at;
All of these things feedback into your progress making it easier and easier as time passes.
But it all starts with adopting unsexy habits.
I don’t feel like you need me to do this, but it feels weird to end without it, so here we go.
Unsexy habits are the key to actually looking good naked and all ‘sexy’ methodsare distractions from your goal.
This means you need to focus on;
As you begin to adopt these unsexy habits and see results it’s only normal to meet resistance. When this happens, look for support in other like-minded people, yourself and your results to overcome this.
Realise that real change takes time but as this time passes, you’ll gain invaluable experience that will teach and guide you.
Most importantly realise that the sooner you accept these unsexy habits the sooner you’ll begin seeing results.