I know exactly what to do! (So why am I still not in shape?)

March 12, 2017

Here’s the setting: You are active and knowledgeable about health, fitness & nutrition, but can’t quite get into the shape you want to be…. sound familiar?

You are most likely missing 1 or 2 crucial pieces of the puzzle. In this post, I’ll let you know what those missing pieces are — and share a couple of strategies for getting you on the right track.


One client in particular, has come to me very recently with the exact issues we see above.


He admits;

  • That when things get busy, it’s hard for him to be consistent. He frequently gets off track with eating and often skips workouts.

  • He has tried a bunch of different workout programs and diets and he knew what to do. But he is missing something important, something that could help make a difference.

  • He is frustrated and a little embarrassed. He feels like he should have a better body to show for the knowledge he has acquired and his hard work. He has reached out to me for a magic solution that could turn everything around.

And as it turned out in his case, I knew exactly what he needed. 


Before I dive right into that, let me share a little back story as to why I knew what he needed, and why I am the right man to be sharing my strategies and experience with you.


I have an honours degree in Sports Science and 10,000 hours experience…. BLAH BLAH BLAH, no one cares!

That’s how I would have started a blog post 4 years ago, but now I know that people want to know about my experiences, both personally and with clients that I have worked with.

So, I will share my most recent personal adventure with you as it’s applicable to a lot of my clients also;


From October 2016 to February 2017 I have had the busiest few months of my life, the most stress, the most adventure and…. THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME!


I was in the middle of;

  1. Opening a new gym

  2. Hiring new staff

  3. Hosting a huge scale charity event

  4. Somewhere in the middle I spent three weeks traveling through New Zealand and got engaged!


What respective challenges did these events pose for me;

  1. Huge constraints on my time, having to be in two places at once, both physically and mentally, non-stop moving between locations and trying to jump from ‘coaching mode’ to ‘running a business mode’

  2. Accountability to a new group of people (staff & clients), increased stress, increased pressure to perform and set standards

  3. External stress’ to host a successful event and internal pressure to raise a huge amount of money for charity

Joyous time with lots of celebrating, not a lot of ‘structured’ exercise and very little ‘structured’ eating.


I’m a guy that knows how to eat well and how to exercise (and I enjoy both of those) but it very quickly became a negative cycle of guilt, lack of will power and even an element of shame as I felt I was setting a bad example for my staff, family and clients. Even more importantly I just wasn’t happy with the shape I was in because I knew I could do better.  


My clients at FFS come to me with the same issues all the time. Some of my clients are complete novice trainers and others have years of experience at training and eating well. The one thing that they (and me) all have in common is that WE weren’t / are not facing up to a few harsh truths:


  1. Not being as consistent with exercise and eating as we would like to be and are having a difficult time sticking to things

  2. Not getting the results we should considering how much we know about working out and eating healthy


The strategies I will share with you below have helped me to get back on track (the process is ongoing and always will be) and will help me in the future when that “I’m just crazy busy right now” period comes around again, and trust me it always does! 



The “missing link” to having your best body





Once you have reached a certain level of knowledge and practical experience, the missing link is no longer a new exercise program, the perfect nutrition plan, or new supplements.

The one thing that you are almost certainly missing is: being accountable—to someone or something—for your training and nutrition.


“Accountability is the acknowledgment of responsibility for your actions with the obligation to report, explain, and be responsible for the resulting consequences.”


Simply put, accountability keeps you consistent because you have got to report back what you’re doing—or not doing—in the gym and in the kitchen to someone else.

With the majority of my clients, accountability is more important than personal motivation for this simple reason:


No one always feels motivated to go to the gym or eat healthy.


But, what if we had someone who’s checking up on us to see how things are going, we’ll get our act together very quickly won’t we? Even on those mornings where you didn’t have the perfect night’s sleep or the weather isn’t perfect and your lucky tank top is in the wash!


We will get out of bed and actually do the exercise—and eat the food—that we need to look and feel great. And we will do it over and over again, even when the going gets tough. Just ask anyone that trains at FFS, getting that “Late Cancel” email from Mike is not something that you want at 7am on a Monday morning, it’s a terrible start to your week!


Because we can’t always be super motivated, this is why: we can know exactly what to do, and we can even do it—exercise, eat good food, get eight hours of sleep—but only for short bursts and then we still end up struggling.


Simply put: if you can’t be consistent, you can’t make progress.



And that’s why accountability—not the perfect exercise or eating program—is the link in the chain that turns everything around. (Maybe it can even turn things around for you!?)


So, here’s the big question? How do you get accountability?


Here are two strategies you can use right now.


Accountability strategy #1:

Commit to more… and/or less.

To be consistent, you need to commit to more, and/or less. Sounds confusing but, let me explain.

Every lent we all make half-hearted promises to give up this or that, only to get frustrated and break them soon after. And that’s fine (and understandable). But for a different result, a long-term result, we need a different sort of commitment.


Option 1: Commit to more.

The idea is to commit to something bigger than yourself. Try to make it fun and engaging.


At FFS last year, all the coaches took part in a contest to see who could drop the most body fat whilst increasing their muscle mass. We all threw in €200 each. The winner took half and other half went to the winners chosen charity.

Every single coach was in the “best shape of their lives” at the end of the 16 weeks and it’s because the purpose was greater than the sum of its parts and most importantly, it was fun.


Your contest with friends could be even more simple than this. One of my clients set up a whatsapp group with his friends and the challenge was so simple; Who can go the longest without skipping an exercise day?

Notice that this contest is not about achievement (who lost the most body fat, etc.). It’s about doing.

Focus on and reward yourself for what you do (going to the gym, cooking a meal), not what you achieve, at least initially. Why you ask? Because that’s the only variable that you have control over right now!


Option 2: Commit to less.

“Wow this will be simple” …. I can hear those words ringing around your head as you read this…. BUT despite what you might think, this is the tough one. Our natural tendency is to overpromise and under deliver, especially when it comes to ourselves. 


One of the easiest ways to stay consistent is to do the opposite:

Underpromise and over deliver.


Consider every promise you’re about to make to yourself a rough, first draft.

Before truly committing, ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10, how confident am I that I could do this every day for the next 30 days?”

If your gut reaction is anything other than “9” or “10”, find a way to make that promise smaller or easier.

In my case, working with Rudds AKA ‘Coach Ciaran’ (yes that’s right, even a coach has a coach to help keep him accountable) we used this strategy very recently. I wanted to increase my daily activity and particularly my mobility before I play Rugby or Golf. I suggested a 10-minute band and bodyweight warm up in the changing rooms before either event. This instantly became difficult as there are distractions in the changing rooms, people talking to you, space restrictions etc. So Rudds asked me for my gut reaction to completing only 2 MINUTES, of mobility with just my bodyweight before I start either Rugby training or play a round of Golf. Of course, I can do this, heck some days I can even do 5 minutes. This seems so small and simple but the point is, I am taking control of my routine, completing my daily habits and as a by-product feeling bloody awesome for not letting myself down.


Here’s another few generic examples;



Turn “I’m off chocolate for the next 4 weeks” into:

  • “I’ll stop eating each meal when I’m 80% full.”

  • Eat what you’re already eating, just slightly less.

  • “I’ll eat one (more) home-made meal a day.

  • Focus on mindfully creating a single meal.

  • “I’ll eat one big salad a day.”

  • Focus on eating one more well-chosen meal, even if you have to buy it. Even fast food chains have salads with chicken these days.

And turn “I’ll go to the gym every morning at 6AM” into:

  • “I’ll do 20 push ups at home, every morning when I wake up.”

  • Do something with no travel, booking or equipment required.

  • “I’ll schedule two workouts per week in my calendar, make them appointments that are treated with the same respect as meeting a client and go from there.”

Reduce the commitment to something you can always stick to; do more only if you can, making it entirely optional.


The above are just generic examples, of course. You’ll find one that works for you.

Keep reducing the commitment until it feels too easy for you. 

Until you can answer “9” or “10” without even thinking about it. Those are the things that you can actually do consistently. Right now! This way, you turn predictable disappointment into daily, pleasant surprise.


This can be a humbling and liberating experience for a lot of our clients, especially those who are well educated about health and fitness.


Humbling, because we often kid ourselves into thinking we can do much more than we actually can. (And that’s both normal and entirely okay.) This is something that Rudds and I have identified as a weakness for me and something that we are working on daily.


Liberating, because when we realize that the only way to make a big change is to make a series of small ones like these, “consistency” and all that it brings finally become possible. We no longer have to wait for that series of perfect events to align and that 6 month period where Christmas, or a holiday or your 7th cousins christening doesn’t get in the way and ruin all of your plans!


The question that most people have for the team at FFS with this strategy though, is: will that actually work? Will such small changes actually do anything?


The answer is yes, when done in sequence. 

Once the first one is done, the second one is even easier, and so on. It’s amazing how powerful “making things easier” actually is.

In fact, it’s exactly how we coach our own clients at FFS. Which leads us to the third option.


Option 3: Commit to both more and less.

Commit to something big and external (like the friendly bet with your friends or co-workers).

But while doing so, commit to tackling only one part of that larger personal commitment at a time. Reduce the size of each mini-commitment until you feel instinctively that you are 100% confident you can actually do it for 30 days.


In our FFS Nutrition Coaching, we combine both methods: the small daily process’ and habits but also the big, group commitment:

*Teaser* For the big commitment, later this year at FFS we will be launching our biggest ever competition, but I can’t talk about that too much right now, keep your eyes on our social media for the big announcement.  


Accountability Strategy #2:

Get some help from at least one other person.


I have eluded to my own personal situation and the road that I was going down.

I was missing workouts, I was not eating in line with my goals and my mood was suffering / stress increasing as a result.


Why? Because I was “busy.”


Missing a session here or there wasn’t a problem but when I looked back over the month of February and realised that I only attend 1/3 of my scheduled lifts it did not make for pleasant reading. In fact, it made me a little sick. Not a good place to be mentally when I have staff relying on me at the biggest time in our business lives, stress’ of filling new gym and huge life events happening all around me.

And it was showing in the mirror. I looked a little less “in-shape” than I would have liked. Plus, I just felt like crap and a guilty.

Obviously, my problem wasn’t a program one. No special workout routine, new diet plan, or magical supplement could fix this.


What I had was an accountability problem. No one was checking to see if I was doing my workouts. And because of that, I was slacking. That’s why I enlisted Rudds and utilised his expert nutrition and lifestyle skill set.

Even though I know how to work out and eat healthy (and love both), I asked if him if he could sign me up to the FFS nutrition coaching system under his watchful eye and on top of that give me hassle every time I missed a coaches workout I had scheduled.

I made myself accountable to him.

Of course I could still skip my workouts if I wanted to. But that would involve actually having to explain myself to someone.

Not surprisingly, ever since I became accountable to one of my best friends / expert, I haven’t missed a single workout and the time of writing this I have cooked 21/24 meals at home this week. And I feel incredible.


What can you learn from this?

First, know that we all sometimes struggle with staying in shape. (Yes, even fitness professionals like me.) It’s no big deal and doesn’t mean you’re deficient in any way. It just means you’re human.

Second, know that if you’re struggling to get in shape the best thing you can do is hire someone to keep you accountable. It could be a coach you pay money to or a friend who will meet you at the gym.

When your car is not running as smoothly as it should, you go and pay a mechanic to have a look, assess the damage and let you know what needs to be done. Your body is your vehicle for life and everything that you could possibly ever want to achieve! Invest in it and treat it well. You can buy a new car but you can’t buy a new body. 


Do 2 things:

1. Commit differently

2. Become accountable


In the end, the message I needed to understand and the client who came to me recently needs to understand is:

It’s completely possible to know exactly what you’re doing… but still struggle to improve your body. And that’s absolutely OK. In fact, it happens to a lot of people and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.


But there’s a simple fix, and it has nothing to do with a new workout or diet plan. All you have to do is commit a little differently and make yourself accountable to at least one other person.

So, if you’re reading this and thinking about how you’ve struggled with fitness in the past, or are struggling with it right now, I encourage you to do the same: change the way you commit and become accountable to someone else.

You may have tried a gym buddy in the past or training partner and that’s great, BUT was this just a casual thing, were you guys or girls actually fully accountable for your actions (or lack of) to each other. Think about it. 


Want us to help keep you accountable and consistent?

If you’d like some help staying consistent with your exercise and nutrition, we’d be happy to help. In fact, we’ll soon be taking new FFS Nutrition Coaching clients on board.

You see, we accept new clients every 1-3 months, and coaching spots typically sell out in hours. However, those motivated enough to put themselves on the presale list get to register 24 hours before everyone else. Plus, they receive a big discount at registration.

So put your name on the list below—because, as always, spots are first come, first served, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.


Get on the FFS Nutrition Coaching presale list today


If you're interested in FFS Nutrition Coaching, we strongly recommend you put your name on the presale list. We'll send you more about the program and give you the chance to speak to one of our expert coaches should you need more information.  


Many thanks for reading guys and girls. If you have any nutrition, training or lifestyle questions please mail them to info@ffs.ie and we would love to help in any way we can. 





Rory is the Founder and Managing Director at Fitter Faster Stronger. A holder of a BSc. in Health and Performance Science from University College Dublin and fully certified PT with 10,000+ hours of S&C coaching.

Rory's philosophy is simple;




"Anything worthwhile in life, never comes easy".




If you would like to learn more about Rory, you can check out his profile here:

Team FFS - Rory

or follow him on Instagram @rorymcffs















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