What Nobody Tells You About Body Transformations

Let me start off by saying that I do really enjoy seeing impressive transformation photos – I think that any example of the human body being pushed to its limits can be a very inspiring thing.  However, thanks to social media, this notion that anybody can lose 25, 50, maybe even 100 pounds in a matter of months has permeated our senses to the degree that it’s expected by many uneducated observers to be the rule, rather than the exception.

In reality, just like Kim and Kanye’s wedding, there is more hype than substance behind most before and after shots.  Let’s not even get into the prevalence of illegal drugs, Photoshop alterations, and even using two completely different people in the before and after shots.  As a hilarious side note, I have actually seen real transformations called out as fake by internet trolls because “hey, that tattoo switched sides between the before and after picture – it’s obviously not even the same person!”  Yes, it’s either that… or you don’t know how mirrors work.  Anyway, where were we?  Oh yes…

The Actions Don’t Match the Words

This is a very common one in, shall we say, less than ethical marketing – you’ll see something like “lose 15 pounds in 30 days with this miracle pill!  No diet and exercise needed,” plastered over a woman standing inside her now-oversized pants.  The picture might be real, but sad to say, if you ever see the words “without diet and exercise,” what you are being fed rhymes  quite well with “morse pit.”  Pills alone have never, and probably will never, produce dramatic results.  And if you see a weight loss drug or pill that notes that in the fine print “results not typical” (i.e., EVERY ad ever), that’s the company’s way of saying to you, “well, we never promised that YOU could do it.  So we’ll just keep your money, thanks!”

Stop looking for the miracle pill, people.  It doesn’t exist.

They’re Not Always Healthy

Look at any of the advertising for some of these “nutrition systems” that have flooded the market in the last few years – Herbalife, Body by Vi, Isagenix, Whey Awesome (okay, that last one isn’t real… but give it a month).  They all follow the same M.O. – take away real food for 3 months, and live off of shakes and questionable supplements.


See that?  That’s the “Transformation Kit” for Body by Vi.  What do you get?  2 shakes a day, some fish oil, some “Flavor Mix-Ins” with artificial sweeteners, fat burners, energy drinks, and appetite suppressants.

So how does it work?  Do I just drink the shakes?  Do I get to eat real food?  Hell if I know.  I looked over all of the information provided with the kit on their website, and not a single mention was made of what to eat outside of the crap they send you.  I don’t even actually know if you’re SUPPOSED to eat other than what they send you.  So I imagine a lot of people see the photos, order the kit, eat twice a day and load up on energy drinks and fat burners for 3 months… and then stop, and go back to real food…

and then what?


Their shake has 90 calories.  NINETY.  GODDAMN.  CALORIES.  No wonder they load you up on fat burners and energy drinks – 90 calories would barely get a normally functioning adult through their morning bowel movement.  Which you probably won’t have.  Because you’re only getting 180 calories a day.

But what if I can’t live off of 180 calories a day?  Never fear, dear reader, we have more bullshit in a bag to sell you.  Let’s take a look at the rest of their product page.  We have some artificially colored, artificially sweetened pseudo-healthy Cocoa Puffs ripoff, we have a low fat protein cereal, and we have whatever the hell a “Nutra-Cookie” is.

There it is, folks, pack it in.  Body by Vi has it figured out – the key to weight loss is shakes, cereals, and cookies.  But hey, at least it’s really expensive!  And now that you’ve gotten used to maintaining your “health” off of cereals and cookies, what do you think you’ll eat lots of when you inevitably blow your diet from being literally starved to death?  If you said cereals and cookies, high-five yourself before the bone loss sets in and you fracture your own hand.

They’re Hard Work… Really… Really Hard Work

But what about some of the authentic, legit transformations that do exist that achieved their results with good old-fashioned hard training, real food, and maybe some moderate supplementation?  It can be done, right?

Yes, it can.  And it can be done in an impressively short period of time.  Here is the problem – most people don’t want to disclose how much work goes into it simply because it makes it harder to sell your system than if you make it sound effortless.  Nobody wants to hear the sacrifices that you will inevitably have to make to get there.  We try to be pretty authentic with what we put our clients through to get some of the results we advertise, and here are some examples of what to expect:

  • You will limit your food intake and your calories.  This cannot be avoided.  It doesn’t mean you’re eating 600 calories a day from powders and pills, but it does mean you will eat things you don’t want to, and that you will have to say no to things you crave at times.
  • You will train hard, and train often.  You want to look like that guy on the cover of Muscle & Fitness?  He probably dieted for 6-12 weeks for that shoot, and he was probably already in pretty damn good shape.  He still probably trained 4-5 days per week on average, and probably did some supplemental cardio or conditioning to boot.  So no, we can’t make you look like him in two months if you’re only going to work out twice a week, and not break a sweat while you do it.
  • You will probably have to say no to nights out, to ordering take-out on the way home from work, to a beer before bedtime “to help you unwind.”  Sorry.
  • You might have to bust out a food scale every now and then.  Not always, but don’t rule it out – it’s a tool to use and it works.
  • You will probably feel like giving up at least once.  It’s normal, it’s tiring.  It may be worth it, or it may not be.  It’s a decision for you to make, not anybody else.  There’s nothing wrong with being realistic and choosing the slow and steady pursuit over the “gotta have it now” one, and vice versa, but that brings me to my last point…
  • You cannot bullshit yourself.  Not having a firm grasp on what is needed to achieve the look you want in the timetable you have set for yourself is one of the biggest mistakes people make.  It’s why so many New Year’s diets fail miserably in a matter of days, weeks at best.  You can’t go from doing a kegstand out of a horse trough one minute, to no booze, no sugar, no starch, training 6 days a week and making all of your meals from scratch in the span of a day.  “I’ll start tomorrow” is the death knell of “challenge” type transformations.

But know that for those who are willing and able to put the work in, big things can happen.  And if you aren’t able to, don’t be ashamed, don’t look for excuses on why the person you see has it easier than you… just… be more patient.  It’ll take longer to get there and that’s okay, but you need to be okay with it and understand that there is nothing wrong with continually honing your body over weeks, months, and years.

12 weeks of real, hard work.
12 weeks of real, hard work.

It Can Be Rewarding

Don’t misunderstand me – there is nothing wrong with undertaking a transformation project on yourself.  But I feel obligated to make sure that you go into it loaded with the right information, because the truth is… it’s not the norm to drop 50 pounds in 90 days.  I wish it was.  But it isn’t.  It took you 10 years to gain it, it isn’t coming off in 10 weeks.  At least, not without a fight, and maybe still not even then.  But just know that whatever success you do achieve, is your own, and you will have a right to be proud of it when it is all said and done.

So give yourself a high five when you’re done.  I just hope you don’t break anything.