As a girl you’ve probably taken one of two main routes in life.

You’re a high achiever, you were the girl at school who got good grades, did well at sport and won various awards.

You’ve spent the years since then desperately protecting this identity and feeling like unless you win at everything, you’re no longer good enough.

You train hard, partly because you like to test yourself and partly because you’re shit scared of the other girls being fitter, hotter and having a better looking butt in a pair of skinny jeans.

You may have hit various goals you set yourself, but after all the commitment and effort, the fleeting high of getting there disappears and it’s exhausting to think about doing it all again.

Alternatively, you feel like life has been a constant treadmill of never ‘being picked’ by teams or guys, never being good enough and if you’re reading this, you’ve had enough because it’s all getting a bit unbearable.

Maybe you’ve already tried a few times but reaching your goals feels like trying to catch a £20 note blowing in a hurricane.

This is made worse by Jilly Jubblyboobs on Instagram and all her ‘fit fam’ looking hot in every photo they take, apparently achieved by drinking a shake, and doing some ‘glute builders’ with an elastic band.

I’ve worked with a lot of girls and continue to from all walks of life – different ages, exercise history, ability, body shapes and levels of self-esteem. 

This article covers some of the deeper topics that have come up as well as the ‘mechanics’ of getting in great shape and the mistakes that are made because of rubbish information.

I say this from a position as a coach, friend and red-blooded male so you get all the hard truths and realities of it all!

There are of course exceptions to some of what I am going to say, but following the exceptions works for very few people.

Inspiration is great but, in this day and age of photo filters, incomplete stories on social media and drugs in female sport/modelling, many girls have more chance of landing on the moon than replicating the results.

You’re life is not meant to be years of staring longingly at other girls.

You’re not meant to cry every night because you just want to be lovable.

You’re not meant to see your 20’s and 30’s as a battle to reach some ‘level’ where someone will want to spend most of their time with you.

I hope this article will give you some ideas about what’s tripping you up but more importantly, I hope it gives you hope.

I believe every girl (and guy) deserves to be happy and enjoy what they do with their days, just because they enjoy doing it, not because they feel they have to in order to qualify for some imaginary competition or standard.

In no particular order here are some big mistakes girls make…

NEEDING TO BE PERFECT

It’s great to have challenging goals and wanting to be your best, but here’s what I’ve learned from the girls you obsess about looking like having seen them on Instagram/Facebook or the cross trainer at the gym.

Many of the fitness models of this world are neurotic, have channelled their eating disorders into a different form of obsession and suffer from a desperate, desperate need to be loved.

That’s not a judgement or even an observation in many cases – this is what those I’ve got close to bring up in coaching and conversations as friends because they can’t bear it anymore.

The obsession takes them further from what they really want deep down in terms of close relationships and more fun in their life, yet the modelling world and ‘fitspirations’ peddle it as a way of life.

It’s like a shitty multi-level marketing scheme where only the ones at the top achieve the happiness promised!

Even when they achieve that love on a ‘followers’ level or on an intimate level, it’s rarely enough leading to cycles of broken relationships as they fail to engage with what they thought they wanted all along and destroy it thinking they aren’t enough to keep that person.

Hard work is attractive.

Self-confidence is attractive.

An independent mind is attractive.

The ability and willingness to break fitness rules on occasion, do silly stuff and laugh so hard that your imperfectly formed abs hurt is attractive.

The bizarre thing is that many girls chase perfection, yet the perfect girls intimidate most guys and get less attention and dates than the slightly less hot, imperfect fun ones who don’t take themselves too seriously!

This is one reason you shouldn’t fear ‘men’ in the weights room.

Sure some will grunt and some may Facebook stalk you, but that’s life wherever you go!

If you have a quality program from a good coach and just go about your business you’ll actually find the ones who know what they’re doing in there will respect your effort.

Believe in yourself and understand that big men who lift big weights are often the kindest and most respectful ones.

Often you are just making up stories about what you think will happen in there!

NOT UNDERSTANDING YOU ARE A WOMAN

A woman should be full of energy and full of love for the pretty damn amazing gifts you have been given in terms of child birth.

This obviously comes with the many ‘joys’ of your monthly cycle!

Without getting too deep into the hormonal fluctuations that occur over the month, each phase (typically broken into the follicular and leutenizing phases) bring different levels of the key hormones.

In a nutshell this will effect when heavy strength training is more productive, when more cardio based/circuit style/fat loss training will be more productive and, if you’re into this type of thing, when you are most likely to hit a record on your personal lifts.

If you can learn to accept what is a key part of who and what you are, you become more able to work with it, instead of getting frustrated and trying to force changes that aren’t going to happen just because you want it to.

This also affects your body weight, water retention and energy levels.

Judging your progress on one particular day (or every day!) is a big, big mistake.

Psychologically you would be best to weigh yourself, measure body fat, take photos and test strength at the same day once PER MONTH at the start of your cycle.

This way you make your fitness journey about YOU, avoiding being dragged down thinking you’ve gained weight, lost strength or fallen behind the other girls in your class when you’ve simply been you on the cycle you’ve been given.

BASING YOUR ACTIONS ON OTHER GIRLS

Trying harder just to beat the girl you don’t like in the class.

Hurting yourself trying to lift more than everyone else so you don’t feel inferior.

Doing training that you’ve seen at the elite level such as the Crossfit games without knowing the nutrition, recovery and stress management processes (and drugs in more cases than you would think), is a recipe for disaster, regression or at best, stalled results and frustration.

These are all things that happen way too often.

By all means use people who have built from where you are as inspiration, but understand that some girls are just naturally lean, with long legs and flat stomachs.

Being jealous of this, or trying to achieve this in a week will get you nowhere and likely damage you physically and psychologically.

I often see a girl showing off her ass on Instagram and scroll back 4025 photos to see what they used to look like.

Exactly the same!

They got lucky genetically and look good despite their methods, not because of them.

Maybe you didn’t.

Sorry, that’s life.

Listen to those who understand the process of changing habits and installing personal growth as a lifestyle, not changing camera angles and photo filters.

Set performance goals such as weights lifted, times to complete fitness challenges/400m runs etc and eat to drive that performance (lowering body fat will help of course) and you are MUCH more likely to succeed long term.

There is a great saying “What is gained quickly, is lost quickly.”

When you try to lose as much weight as possible as fast as possible to be like ‘her’, your brain can’t adapt as quickly and so everything seems like deprivation and a battle of wills.

Training performance and strength takes a long time to accumulate to the point that you get noticed, both for the performances and the aesthetics that come as a matter of process rather than desperation.

THINKING MORE IS BETTER

When you start training and get results, it’s obviously tempting to think if 1+1=2 then 3+3=6.

In training terms, doing more will lead to a U-turn in progress at some point.

Your body will not get a chance to recover and you will drive your cortisol (a stress hormone) so high that you STOP the fat burning processes.

You may lose weight at first which might seem encouraging.

However, if you are losing muscle as well as fat, then you will hit a point of stalled results.

It is then very tempting to think you’re not trying hard enough and need to do more!

And so the cycle continues.

I once made a girl cut from 10 gym classes per week to 4 with two yoga/breathing sessions to bring her stress levels down.

She lost 5lbs of body fat in the first two weeks having been stuck whilst doing more training.

The same applies with nutrition where a calorie deficit is needed to lose body fat but too much of a deficit (either from too much exercise or not enough calories) will lead to stalled progress.

If you can create a calorie deficit of about 500 calories per day you will create an environment inside your body that enables fat loss without causing panic or crazy hormones!

For most girls, 3-4 sessions per week combining heavy lifting and circuit based training with a sensible diet based on a calorie deficit of about 500 calories will produce steady and recurring results.

NOT UNDERSTANDING YOUR PERSONALITY TYPE

This is another big topic based on psychobiological factors.

In English, that means that most of us have a dominant psychological profile which gives accurate indications of neurotransmitters in our brain.

These determine how we feel, what motivates us and how we will react to certain training and nutrition protocols.

The three key profiles are Novelty Seeking, Harm Avoidance and Reward Dependent.

If you are a Harm Avoidance type you will naturally shy away from anything you think may hurt too much and also training that involves too much variety.

You are likely to struggle to get results following CrossFit programming which works when people are willing to push themselves through any level of pain (quite often going way too far).

You will hold back and therefore not engage with the process properly.

You would get better results from carefully designed programs with more repetition of the same exercises so your brain feels comfortable with the learning process.

Chasing PR’s all the time will likely put you off training whereas adjusting lifting tempo and rest breaks on a weekly basis will make you feel more comfortable,  increasing your willingness to engage with working out.

This is just one example of how I work with my online clients to find what their brain will love to do and increase consistency which is the key to results.

EXPECTING TOO MUCH IN 12 WEEKS

There is a strange phenomenon in fitness where we feel like because we’ve made a decision to get fit, spent some money and started hitting the gym, the magic we see on social media will happen in a few weeks, like we now deserve it just because we made the choice!

The reality is that many girls grossly over-estimate what will happen in 12 weeks (especially if coming from a history of diets) BUT they also under-estimate what could happen in 12 months if they just engage in consistent, progressive training and sensible eating.

Hormone imbalances can take months to correct and requires consistency and belief in the process. 

Other girls may not have been through that so you’re making impossible comparisons.

Buy into the lifestyle, surround yourself with people who live that lifestyle and let go of those who don’t or at least those who try to drag you back.

You will amazed what happens simply by way of absorbing new attitudes and just enjoying the process.

Let go of lofty goals with hideously strict deadlines.

LOW CARBING TOO MUCH

Ketogenic and fasting diets seem to have taken over the world like a virus.

Some people sell them like nobody ever lost fat before whilst eating carbs.

The reality is that a ketogenic diet or a fasting diet MAY work for you if it helps switch your body from a carb craving monster to a fat burning machine.

However, not only is it socially very difficult to maintain for long (see earlier points about being hot but miserable and no fun to be around) but it can actually lead to getting fatter for some people.

The reason is that our Harm Avoidance personality profiles have naturally high cortisol levels.

As carbs help increase serotonin levels (reducing reactions to stress and cortisol) your stress hormone profile is likely to get worse with strict dieting and fasting.

I can help you find out your profile or you need to try these things and be honest about the results.

A ketogenic diet will likely help you lose fat at first, but beyond 4-6 weeks at a time, I have found them to cause more trouble than they are worth for most people.

Better to lose fat consistently (if a little more slowly) for a year and beyond, than lose lots of scale weight over 6 weeks but put it all back on through a binge at the end and return to old habits.

My clients have had great success and stayed happier with these kinds of eating strategies:

  • 5:2 diet with low carbs in the week and good quality carbs at weekends
  • 3 days low carbs, 1 day higher carbs, 1 day fasting. Repeat.
  • Warrior diet style of eating (light protein and raw veg in the day with larger meals and carbs in the evening)
  • Eating carbs around training (typically before or after workouts only)

NOT LOVING THAT HIPS ARE HIPS

If you have wide hips (typical in those with higher oestrogen levels), you have wide hips.

Learn to work the curves!

Trust me MANY guys prefer it over a skinny ass!

You can certainly lose fat but if you have a wide pelvis, learn to love the gifts you got!

FEARING THE THINGS THAT WILL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT

So you want your butt and waist to look thinner?

Build a good back and shoulders and they will look thinner!

This requires adding a little muscle whilst you eat to bring your body fat down.

Most fitness model coaches will tell you that a good set of deltoids and a good back will create an aesthetically pleasing frame!

To do this you will need to let go of your fear of building muscle!

Get good at pull ups, all rowing movements, overhead pressing and add in some focussed deltoid work such as lateral raises and reverse flyes.

NOT LOVING MUSCLE

Muscle drives your metabolism, keeps you burning more energy (including fat) and gives you a shape that stands out.

This doesn’t mean you will bulk up and look huge.

Millions of guys chase muscle and eat 5000 calories per day AND lift heavy all the time and still take time to build lots of muscle.

You won’t do it!

If you train to build muscle and eat to lose fat, you’ll look VERY different in a few months and won’t just look like a plank of wood with no ass, shoulders or aces in the right places!

Most girls STILL won’t listen to this.

Those who do…welcome to standing out and getting that second look of admiration and potentially uncontrollable lust from guys (if that’s what you’re after)!

DOING THINGS THAT REDUCE METABOLISM

Stressing about your diet.

Long cardio sessions every day.

Permanently low calorie diets.

Avoiding heavy weights.

All these things reduce your metabolism or at least stop you increasing it’s potential.

If you spent 80% of your workout time lifting weights that you can only handle safely for 6-12 reps and then 20% hitting hard intervals/circuits, you will see almost instant changes (if your nutrition is on point).

NOT USING ‘BODYBUILDING’ SUPPLEMENTS

Post-workout protein shakes will help you build lean muscle and recover so you can train hard more often.

Pre-workout amino acids before any cardio will reduce muscle breakdown.

Fish oils will help increase insulin sensitivity and fatty acid metabolisation.

Girls often avoid these supplements because “it’s what bodybuilders do”, fearing the extreme muscle gain that guys wished they produced!

Get educated on them so you can get some good quality ones in and you’ll add a new dimension to your recovery, workout intensity and results.

PUTTING HAPPINESS ON A FUTURE NUMBER

15% body fat.

Size 8.

X inches off my body.

These are all goals that have been presented to me by girls in the past.

Are they good goals?

Maybe – you will probably look better.

The problem is that many, many times, when these goals are achieved after strict dieting, religious training and shutting down their social life, these girls find that actually, not much has changed in life.

The theory is often that when they reach some arbitrary number, they will be able to get a hot guy, have lots of self-confidence at work and generally be much happier.

This can certainly be part of the journey but unless the WAY you are getting there is through a lifestyle you love for what it is, you’re going to be pretty miserable and not be able to sustain it after, often meaning the results slip away, causing panic and often catastrophic collapses.

If you need to be in the gym 10 times a week, never touch a carb or have a glass of wine and have to be in bed at 8pm every night and you hate that life, where do you see this going?

How are you going to meet guys who want to workout hard but also want days off, meals out and some fun in life?

Think very carefully about the approach you take.

Fast results might seem attractive but the reality is you don’t reach a point in fitness and stay there.

You can’t glue your results in place but have to keep working at them – that’s fitness.

If you are happy to train twice a day and eat clean and don’t want to go out drinking ever because you don’t enjoy it then that’s totally fine and you can expect amazing results.

The takeaway here is that most girls set up 1-3 month torture chamber lifestyles in the belief that they will reach some Promised Land of hot guys, self-confidence and jealous friends.

Even if they get there they realise it’s not a lifestyle they can or want to sustain and they may have even alienated the people who loved them for who they were not what they looked like.

There’s no right or wrong answer just a balance that you are happy to live with.

Happiness is a belief not a weight, date or number.

NOT UNDERSTANDING BODY TYPES

Some girls are built with more powerful bodies with a higher proportion of ‘fast twitch’ fibres.

These girls make good strength, power and speed athletes and will respond well to heavy weights and sprinting.

Others have more slow twitch fibres and will probably get more of a reaction from their body by engaging in more moderate to high rep training.

Again, just copying or buying a plan from someone with a different body type just because it worked for them, may bring a lot of frustration.

You will not turn a shorter, more powerful frame into a beanpole, lean fitness model.

That’s just a hard truth many uneducated trainers or Instagram experts will fail to tell you (deliberately or not).

Don’t waste valuable time trying!

NOT MANAGING STRESS AS A PRIORITY OF FAT LOSS

Unchecked stress leads to increased cortisol which indirectly leads to increased fat storage and an inability to build lean muscle tissue.

Unchecked stress leads to water retention (meaning more weight on the scales and less muscular definition).

Those girls looking lean and defined in bikini contests?

Many amongst them have taken a long time to realise that simply dropping calories through the floor before a show brings so much stress that they retain water and can’t glycogen load and a stage-ready appearance (this is what gives a muscular pump and better definition).

Oh yeah…they don’t just wake up, do their make up and get on stage looking hot.

Don’t be fooled about what some of them go through, learning the hard way about dieting.

All in all, stress will stop you sculpting a lean, defined figure.

Read that sentence 100 times until it is engrained on your brain.

If you don’t believe me and continue to just do 10 classes a week, triple headers of spinning, body pump and circuits and eat 4 lettuces leaves and a square of organic air every day, you will never get the body you could have and deserve for the effort you put in!

NOT LEARNING HOW TO LIFT

Getting results from weight training is not just about doing heavier weights and getting ‘the burn’ and it’s certainly not about just sweating your face off in classes.

Get a qualified coach who can write you weight training programs based around moderate to heavy exercises covering various rep ranges (typically 6-12) and help you understand ‘tempos’.

It is not simply a case of grab some light dumbbells and do the reps.

How you do the reps counts.

Adding more ‘tension’ to your repetitions will stress the muscles and cause them to adapt (as well as spending more energy).

Try this if you don’t believe me…

Instead of bouncing in and out of a set of lunges, take 4 seconds to lower yourself (don’t get to the bottom of the range of motion before 4 seconds is up) pause at the bottom for a second then take one second to return to the start.

Do 10 reps like that on one leg, then change, all the time really connecting your mind to your gluten and hamstrings rather than watching what’s on the gym TV.

How different does that feel?

Do the same with shoulder presses, push ups, squats, chin ups (assisted if required) and most other exercises and the very same workouts you’ve done before will take on a whole new look and feel!

More explosive exercise like kettlebell swings and jumps are still very valuable, as are fast paced circuits for fat loss, but more tension in your training will bring about a much hotter figure over time!

GO GET IT!

I hope that gives you a brief insight into some of the main physical and psychological tripwires I’ve encountered as a coach and friend to girls who desperately want to look better.

Please take some time to digest them.

Print this out and read it two or three times so you don’t just read it and carry on doing the same stuff that hasn’t worked before.

I you want some detailed help and support, I’m starting a new 3 month Turbo Transformation: Second Look program on Monday 5th June.

I’d love you to get involved with the other girls.

I’ll give you all the workouts, exercises, lifting tempo’s and nutrition options you need as well as all the support, videos, and ‘secret’ knowledge to move you forward as the individual you are!

Click on the image of some of the girls I worked with in my old gym to find out more!