For some people, the New Year's resolution is just another fitness cliché. But not for you. This year, you achieved what others only dream of. Throughout 12 long weeks, you committed every bit of willpower to training hard, eating right, making tough choices, and not being afraid to say "no."
And you have results to show for it. You look better, feel better, and maybe there's even an "after" picture that you'll treasure until you're old and grey. But none of that answers the big question: What comes next?
Thankfully, the athletes and coaches from Dymatize's Transformed fitness plan are here to help. Former competitive powerlifter and current NPC bodybuilder Geremy Satcher, NPC physique competitor and personal trainer Mike Hildebrandt, and actress and nutrition specialist Alicia Ziegler have advice for anyone who's just finished a dedicated transformation plan and wants to keep their best-ever body for the long haul.
Meet Your Trainers
Meet Your Trainers
Alicia Ziegler is a professional actress and fitness model with a master's degree in nutrition education.
Weight: 120 lbs.
Current Residence: Los Angeles
Occupation: Actress and Dymatize athlete
Geremy Satcher is a competitive bodybuilder, former powerlifter, and a US Air Force meteorologist.
Weight: 225 lbs.
Current Residence: Melbourne, FL
Occupation: USAF meteorologist
What should someone consider doing training-wise and cardio-wise after completing a 12-week challenge like Transformed?
Satcher: Generally, my take is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If your body is directly responding to something in a positive way, I believe you should continue to do what's working. If Transformed worked for you, there's nothing wrong with turning around and starting Transformed again. The second time around, you'll probably be able to tackle more of the challenge workouts and achieve even greater results.
On the other hand, if you don't want or need to trim as much weight anymore, just turn down the cardio a bit so you can focus on muscle. You can also make your training regimen more difficult—which makes it more effective—by adding volume (sets and reps), intensity (more weight), or different movements that challenge you in unique ways.
Try These New Workouts!
Follow actress Alicia Ziegler's training tips and implement her workout routines, and you'll have a set of awesome arms and abs of your own!
Looking for a technique to finish any workout with a bang? Look no further. It's called 60-40-20, and it adds up to 120 seconds of pure hell followed by a massive pump and epic growth.
Doing 10 sets of a single exercise for 10 reps is a time-tested, deceptively simple formula for serious muscle gains. If you're ready to build serious mass, try German volume training on for size!
Hildebrandt: The choices you make after a successful transformation challenge are crucial to your ongoing success. Although I know where Geremy is coming from, my advice to clients is a bit different. I always recommend they find a different mode of exercise after having been on a long-term program, at least for a while, to switch things up and keep fitness interesting.
For example, if you've been in the gym smashing weights six or seven times per week, consider dialing back for a few weeks and spending more time outdoors doing more recreational activities to keep your exercise fresh. Don't worry—your body won't forget how to be fit, or instantly regress. Just 2-3 full-body workouts a week are enough to keep you where you're at if you'd like to cruise into maintenance mode.
It's unlikely that most people will keep the same level of intensity after completing a big transformation challenge, and that's OK. Back off your frequency for a few weeks, and let your body heal while you physically and mentally prepare for your next intense training cycle.
Ziegler: When I've overcome one challenge, I immediately want to set my next goal. After having worked so hard for three months, you should have a more complete perspective on yourself and your abilities. So ask yourself honestly: How strong are you? How agile? How lean? How fit? The answer should be different than it was a few months ago.
Now ask those questions again. Which of those words excites you down to your soul? You've earned the right to chase getting strong, athletic, or whatever else resonates with you.
As human beings, we are capable of excelling in so many ways, so don't put limitations on yourself or mosey along just to maintain what you just arrived at. Find your next goal—it doesn't have to be physique-oriented—and chase it with everything you've got.
How would you suggest setting that goal?
Ziegler: Visualize what it is you want to achieve. Deep down, what is it you want to feel like, look like, or do that you can't do now, or that you've never tried? What challenging or fun endeavor would you like to tackle? Think hard about these questions.
By putting a plan behind your answer, you can cement a new motivation for yourself and ensure that your next level is on the horizon. Sign up for something you never thought possible before you started the 12-week transformation, and start training your behind off for it!
What's next after you've transformed?
Go on an adventure:
- Obstacle race
- Mud run
- Climb a mountain
- Go on a long hike
- Enter a triathon, marathon, or 5K
Dig deeper into fitness:
Do a nutrition 180:
How should someone stay on track with their new eating habits after a transformation challenge has ended?
Hildebrandt: I really like a flexible approach to stay on track. If you've been super strict with your food, it is time to loosen things up and enjoy some of the foods that you may have restricted.
I recommend a structured increase in calories from 10-20 percent per week, with the ultimate percentage based on changes in your own weight. Make sure you track your food, and add in more nutrient-rich calories to help keep your metabolism healthy.
Satcher: I suggest maintaining your current diet while simply adding some "normal" meals here and there. I actually do this often, because I feel like I can't function without my clean diet and I don't want to get off track. I also don't want to go crazy by staying on a diet forever, so adding regular, everyday meals to my eating routine helps tremendously.
It doesn't have to be complicated. Think of it like an equation: Clean diet + 1 regular meal = happiness!
Ziegler: Don't fret. Don't panic. Don't go hog-wild, but don't be ridiculously restrictive. Of course you can still eat Grandma's apple pie if you want! My main concern is that people adopt a healthy view of food overall. It's why I'm not an advocate of cheat meals or cheat days. Food is fuel, period.
The old adage "you are what you eat" has stood the test of time for a reason. So why be fast, cheap, or easy? Every time you open your mouth to get your grub on, you decide how it is you want to look and feel.
So you're saying to eat consciously, but not severely?
Ziegler: Yes! With a 12-week transformation under your belt, you know you can do anything if you commit to it. So don't let food drive you. Instead, remember, you are the sole decision maker in how efficiently you want your engine to run based upon what you put inside your body.
With that said, only you can decide what works for you. Each diet—a word I loathe, by the way—is only as effective as you want it to be. Don't undermine your efforts by overeating, not chewing, or inhaling vast amounts of sugar.
Rather, opt for balance and mindfulness, being cognizant of what you're buying, how you're prepping, and how you're eating. We're human, we err, and that's OK. Give yourself room to experiment and be patient with the process.
Do you have any tips to help when cravings hit?
Hildebrandt: Satisfy them! That's right—you've worked very hard for the past 12 weeks, and now it's time to learn how to satisfy your cravings and still stay within your caloric budget. Once you have established your new, slightly higher calorie goal, you can start making some of those foods you've been craving fit into your plan.
Satcher: I'm all about making small adjustments when I'm struggling. If I need some type of sugar, then I'll make something sweet with real honey as a sugar substitute. For salt, I do something as simple as grinding sea salt lightly onto a meal.
Ziegler: Cravings are no joke. When they come up for me, I handle them in a systematic way. First, I ask myself these questions:
- What and when was my last meal?
- Am I bored?
- Am I just tired and looking to food as a pick-me-up?
- Am I truly hungry, or do I just need water?
More often than not, a lack of hydration can ring that buzzer that makes me lurch for food.
After I run down my checklist, I consider what the craving is and weigh the pros and cons of eating it. The cons usually win, and more often that not, I immediately turn to a healthier version of my craving. However, if I am desperately craving something, or it's been on my mind for quite some time, I nip that in the bud by just eating the darned thing.
You have to know yourself. If you can eat a small piece of dark chocolate and be satisfied, awesome. Cravings usually strike when we're lacking something in our daily diet, so consider what your nutrition looks like and if you're eating good foods that satisfy you, or if you need to alter your meal plan.
What steps can someone take to ensure they don't fall back into bad habits?
Ziegler: Build a support network of like-minded individuals. (If you don't have anyone in your personal life, start a free BodySpace account for online fitness accountability.) Invest in yourself, and stay constantly on the search for the inspiration you need to keep you on track. Every single person that steps into the gym can potentially derail. But they make a choice.
No, it won't be easy, but after 12 weeks, hopefully you know your fitness pursuit will be worth it. It always is! Besides, you never know who is watching you, and who you are inspiring. Fitness has a ripple effect, and it's contagious, so don't let bad habits be the reason you gave up on you. You're worth it.
Satcher: Continue to set new goals for yourself. Set bold goals! Believe in yourself, because that faith will keep you driving forward.
Not everyone is pulling for you, but just remember that you are the determining factor in whether you keep pushing or give up.
Hildebrandt: Remember that it's much easier to fall out of shape than it is to get in shape! Don't ruin all your hard work by slipping into blatant disregard for your health and fitness. Look back on how far you have come, and remember that you're now a new person who has developed new, healthy habits.