Peaking for Your Big Day

body-transformation-peakBelow is the last installment of my interview with fasting and nutrition expert, Brad Pilon. If you happened to miss last day’s excerpt where Brad divulged a number of key dietary nutrition tips to catapult your fat loss results, then make sure you go back and read it through.

To finish off the transformation interview series, Brad, based on his own experience, reveals a few key mistakes to avoid if you want to look your best.  He then summarizes the 3 most important areas you should focus on that will ensure you’re peaking for your big day – whether that be a transformation contest, a wedding photo, or just looking good for summertime….

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.  There’s a topic that you brought up at the very start was something that you did in the last couple days before the actual competition.  So why don’t you take us through the last seven days what you heard you were supposed to do, what you did and then what you would do now.

Brad Pilon: Yeah.  All right.  So it was kind of common knowledge in the people I was doing the contest with that certain bodybuilders did certain things before and after a show.  One was for the last two weeks you’re at super LOW calorie and you should feel weak was sort of – everybody kind of talked about how their numbers drop off and my PROBLEM was that they weren’t.

My numbers –the numbers of the weights I was lifting – were doing great.  They just kept going up so I kind of thought uh oh.  I must be doing something wrong.  If everybody else was getting weak maybe I’m eating too much.  So I cut the calories back a little bit and that didn’t really do much.  The numbers stayed the same.

And really looking back at it, it was just because I had a really good workout program.  I wasn’t wasting time on anything I shouldn’t be wasting time on.  It was a very purposeful training program.

So I cut the calories down and then a couple days out it looks like I cut my water and so I wasn’t drinking any water for it lookcut-waters like a day and a half beforehand.  And then I added in rice cakes and I hate rice cakes so that didn’t make a lot of sense.

Again, obviously right now looking at it was COUNTERINTUITIVE but you get into areas where you’re going to see a lot of self-talk and making things look awesome and convincing yourself that things are drastically going to change.

And then after the rice cakes it looks like the day of the contest I was eating a lot of high sugar stuff and that again doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

I happened to overhear that other people were eating jam.  They were drinking maple syrup and some dude ate a cheesecake.  A full cheesecake.  And really I have notes here saying none of them looked any different and I don’t really think I looked any different.  I didn’t see any value to it at all.  I can tell you that my stomach did not feel awesome a couple hours after the contest so that wasn’t much good either.

I think most of that is USELESS.

The one part I will note is that the grooming stuff that bodybuilders do in terms of the tanning and the shaving and making sure your skin is well moisturized has a massive, MASSIVE EFFECT.  But this dieting stuff here over these days just didn’t do much for me at all and if anything was counter productive but I just think it was more not productive than it was counter productive.

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.  And so you wouldn’t cut the water out if you did it again?

Brad Pilon: No.  I don’t think I would.  I don’t think it made a giant difference.  And I have pictures too and when I look at them I don’t really look that much different from four days out as opposed to one day out so why bother?

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.  And then let’s take that down a notch and say let’s say someone has been dieting maybe six, eight, ten, 12 weeks and is just doing this to look great on their wedding day or their daughter’s wedding day or whatever.

What of those grooming techniques can someone use?  Obviously they’re not going to get a fake tan like a body builder.  What are the types of things that someone might be able to do to peak for their big day?

Brad Pilon: I am a solid believer that a good tan, not a crazy dark tan but just a bit more color in the skin, well-moisturized skin, and for guys, I mean I hate doing it as much as anybody else but getting rid of the chest and stomach hair.  You can easily add the look of ten pounds of muscle and dropping five pounds of fat just by having well-moisturized skin, a bit of a tan and trimming down the body hair.

In fact, I will take a shot of me tonight and then in two days I’ll go and grab a couple tans, moisturize the skin a bit, get a workout in to get a pump and I’ll take some other pictures and I’ll throw them up on my blog and I bet you the difference will be noticeable.

It’s hard for a wedding but if it was for a photo shoot or for a day on the beach or whatever, the actual effect of just the PUMP AFTER WORKOUT I think is quite noticeable.  But just tan, trimming the hair and making sure the skin is well moisturized can make a world of difference.

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.  Well, let’s go back to somebody’s going through the transformation and they’ve started to run into problems.  How can they troubleshoot their problems if things aren’t going as well as had been planned?

Brad Pilon: Right.  The key there is if you’re recording everything because you can look back and see what you’ve changed.  The one thing you have to look out for is that if you’re eating a certain amount of calories right now and that’s the amount of calories it takes to maintain the body weight you’re at right now.

Let’s say you cut 500 calories out.  You’re going to lose weight to the point where that new calorie intake you’re eating is the amount it takes to maintain that weight.  So if you just take 500 calories out of your diet right now you’re not going to just continue to lose weight forever and ever and ever.  You’re going to get to a point where you balance out.

So the one point is really tracking your diet and going okay, I’ve been the same weight now for two weeks.  I have an option.  I can either cut the calories down a bit more OR I can look at my workout and maybe restructure my workout to burn a bit more calories.  And those are the two options you have.

But the caveat there is that you really don’t want to second guess yourself.  So if you weighed yourself on Tuesday and weighed yourself on Thursday and the weight’s the same it’s just because it takes time.  It’s a slow process.  But if over the course of two, 2 ½ weeks you’re like hey, you know what?  This is not progressing the way I want.  Then it’s just a simple matter of looking at it and going I’ve got to (a) cut the calories down slightly or (b) up the amount of calories I’m burning slightly.

The other thing you gotta watch for is again FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT is what you originally wrote down with your workout.  If youfollow-your-instinct really start killing yourself on your workout and throwing in the extra two and three workouts in a day, it can become counterproductive because you can just become exhausted and sitting around the house, going to bed at 7:00 every night because you’re just so tired from your workouts actually becomes counterproductive as well.

So you really want to make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to adapt and you will hit slow downs and it will also speed up occasionally but the key is being able to look back at your record in the last couple of weeks and going what was I doing then that I’m not doing now and that’s probably the difference.

Craig Ballantyne:  So you would basically say that if you’re doing a 12-week transformation once you set what you’re going to do for your nutrition and your training for 12 weeks it really doesn’t change too much over those 12 weeks.  You just follow the plan and there’s no magic alterations you make at week 8 or week 4?  It’s just follow the plan.

Brad Pilon: Yeah.  My workout, with the exception where I messed up and second guessed myself and my workouts, they were just basically non-competing supersets the whole way through.  The weights went up the whole way through.  I didn’t even start backing off on the weights.

I like lifting a little heavier than most people so it was always between like four reps and eight to ten reps.  I never was doing that whole 20-rep definition work because we know it’s pointless.

And the diet, like I said it stayed basically the same and then as the diet progressed I cut little bits here and there out.  So I had my base of 1400 calories and I had the free calories that I had for my coffees and I slowly cut my coffees down and then some other of the extras I had, I think with my – like I said for my lunch I eventually got the guys to start measuring it and I think I cut it down a little bit too when I realized how much it was.

So little changes just to keep everything rolling.  But nothing drastic.  There were no swings.  No calorie cycling.  Just nothing crazy.  It was just realizing that the core concept of working out and dieting is going to work.  It has to.

So I just stuck with I knew what I was doing.  I wrote down my plan and second guessing myself is going to probably happen continually as you get closer to the contest.  And it did.  But I just stuck with it.

Craig Ballantyne:  Great.  Now does gender change anything from anything that you’ve talked about in the entire transformation program?gender-fat-loss

Brad Pilon: I think it’s HARDER for women.  I really do.

I mean on paper when you look at it, it probably shouldn’t be but I think it’s harder.  I think that the menstrual cycle makes it harder.  I think their bodies really hold water so I think they see more plateaus and more sort of weight popping up and down than guys do.

So they’re the ones who have to look at instead of the actual numbers of their weight, the trend.  Because while it may go up a pound on a certain week and all of a sudden they have actually not just stalled but gone up one, by the end of a three-week period okay, you’re still down two.  It’s all the trend.

And I think psychologically that makes their battle much harder.  So, for me, I was second guessing myself the whole way through.  I knew exactly what I was doing.  I had a great support group.  I had a fantastic nutrition plan, training program, and I was doing it.  And I saw consistent results the whole way through.

So I can only imagine what my brain would do if on week 7 I’m like huh.  I’m up a pound and a half.  It would probably be utter catastrophe.  And I would probably really gear in for changing something.  And I think that’s where women are going to have to be even more resilient than men and go you know what?  I bet you this will even out in a week or two and just keep plugging through.

Craig Ballantyne:  Great.  And then last but not least, Brad, let’s finish off with a minimalist approach.  If there were only three pieces of advice you would give someone who wanted to transform their body, what would it be?

Brad Pilon: Yep.  It would be eat to lose fat.  I mean I think that’s the No. 1 lesson I can say is “count on nutrition for the fat loss”.  Lift to build muscle.  You may just end up maintaining muscle but the goal should be in your head to lift to build muscle.  And then stay on track.

Don’t start second guessing yourself.  Don’t start doing a program specific to core strengthening when your goal is to change your physique.  Just stay on track with my goal in the gym is preserve muscle mass while I’m dieting.  I’ll work on my 40-yard sprint or my bench press once I’m done with this amazing transformation.  But for now my goal is weight loss.

And those are the three things.  Eat to lose fat.  Lift to build muscle.  Stay on track.

Craig Ballantyne:  Okay.  Great.  And you mentioned before you have a blog, Brad?

Brad Pilon: Yeah.  My blog is  I basically cover all things nutrition.  It’s slanted a fair bit towards fasting obviously because that’s my main area but I do cover just about everything to do about nutrition from different diet books and recipe books to just everything food.

And I think I will take some shots tonight and throw up a picture of a two-day before and after just to show the difference of workouts and tans and some moisturizer.

Craig Ballantyne:  Great.  Thank you very much Brad.

Brad Pilon: No problem.