Welcome to part 1 of the 6-part Erik Ledin interview. With a booming online consulting company providing some of the most sought after training and nutritional advice, Erik was generous enough to spend an evening with me sharing some of his best tips for fat loss AND strategies for body transformation contests. So, without further ado, let’s get started with “Tips To Follow When Starting A Body Transformation Contest”…
Erik Ledin: Hi. How are you?
Craig Ballantyne: Good. Why don’t you give us a bit of just a quick background about what you do and how you help people?
Erik Ledin: I basically run an online consulting company where I do the program design from a training and nutritional standpoint for clients all over the world from locally here in Canada all the way to Australia.
Craig Ballantyne: Okay. Great. And so before we get into a bit more background on your training history, why don’t you tell us maybe one or two of your client success stories and what you’ve been able to help them achieve?
Erik Ledin: Okay. I have one client of mine that is one of these types of people that have been probably struggling with weight for most of their adult life.
So she is about 5’2”. She started weighing in at 240 so she’s quite a big woman. And right now she’s sitting in the high 170s. So this is the first time in her life actually that she’s had this kind of success. She’s down about almost 70 pounds now.
Craig Ballantyne: Great.
Erik Ledin: That’s something at one end of the spectrum with your average, run-of-the-mill, everyday female and at the other end of the spectrum I work with a lot of competitors. Figure competitors. Fitness competitors. Not as many bodybuilders as I used to but mostly female competitors as well.
Craig Ballantyne: Okay. So you’re helping people that we might consider both ADVANCED and BEGINNER and INTERMEDIATE and basically the whole range?
Erik Ledin: Yep. Definitely.
Craig Ballantyne: Okay. So how did you get started in this and what’s your expertise now?
Erik Ledin: Actually while I was at the university I had a couple friends that were just good friends of mine that competed at a local bodybuilding stage and I’ve always had this passion for understanding nutrition and fat loss, more so than I do training and the contest prep stuff I just kind of helped a couple people locally. I had a friend of mine who just kept competing and I kept refining and whatnot and then that was my first dip into this.
And then I kind of got involved in the online community with various message boards and I had a friend of mine who I was preparing for a contest and she documented it on a board. Like a pictorial journey. She’d update her photos and her progress and whatnot all the way into this contest which she ended up winning.
She was a rather prolific poster and it was basically free advertising for me. Everyone saw the photos. The next thing you know I started getting a lot more inquiries into doing the same thing and it basically just started off from there. All word of mouth.
Craig Ballantyne: Okay. And you mentioned you’re more interested in the nutrition component than you are in the training. A lot of people like to ask the question well what’s more important for my results? Is it 80 percent nutrition, 20 percent training? What do you say when people ask you that question for fat loss?
Erik Ledin: When it’s fat loss obviously you can’t really put a concrete number on it but I would say it’s all nutrition. I think the training components make a bigger difference when it comes to like gaining muscle. But when it comes to fat loss the training is really, if it’s set up properly there to at the very least maintain your muscle.
I think for fat loss, 90 plus percent of it is nutrition. You can’t out exercise a bad diet.
Craig Ballantyne: Yeah. So as long as somebody’s training with weights they’re going to keep their muscle and then the rest is just nutrition to get rid of the body fat?
Erik Ledin: Yeah. I believe that. Training doesn’t need to be complicated when it comes to fat loss.
Craig Ballantyne: Okay. Great. So say someone wants to start a transformation. What do you tell them to do first in terms of getting prepared? Foods to buy or foods to throw out or work out info to get? Gym memberships? Workout equipment? Someone’s kind of starting from scratch. What do you tell them to do?
Erik Ledin: I think that one of the first things someone has to do is kind of GET PREPARED MENTALLY for some changes.
There are a lot of people that set out to try to get in shape and lose fat and with the New Year coming and whatnot but there’s a reason why more people aren’t walking around with enviable physiques. It’s not easy.
So I think the first and foremost thing is people have to realize why they’re doing things.
Have a reason for trying to get in shape.
We all do, but you have to remember what your source of motivation is. Being prepared to pass on some bad habits. Putting your goals on paper. Carrying it around with you if you have to. But making sure that you remember why you’re doing it. There obviously has to be a reason.
I also think that telling somebody that you’re doing it or documenting it or having some kind of accountability makes a big difference with people.
That’s one of the reasons why I think that people do so well with – whether it be me or some kind of trainer is they have someone to report into so it could be a friend. It could be a trainer. It could be you could be blogging. Putting it on the Internet.
In terms of planning, though, food wise, if you’re the type of person whose willpower is not strong enough to say no to foods that are in your house then you basically have to get rid of them. If you have kids it’s a lot more difficult to do it that way but –
Craig Ballantyne: What do some of your clients – I mean obviously you’ve worked with people who have kids. Have they found any tricks or tips to get around avoiding eating their kids’ treats?
Erik Ledin: Yeah. I think the biggest thing is to make sure you don’t ever get TOO hungry.
So which again comes back to the whole PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.
If you end up going far too long between meals, I’m sure you’ve been there too where at that point it’s pretty hard to say no to something. You’re just starving and you grab whatever’s there.
So I think the biggest thing is actually sticking to your plan and actually not allowing yourself to get overly hungry so that comes back to not missing meals and there has to be some kind of self-control exercised regardless.
There’s a cost to getting in shape. You have to pay some kind of price.
Whether that be with the sacrifice of time or extra self-control or discipline when it comes to eating but the biggest thing is actually not getting too hungry. Or overly hungry which comes back to missing meals. You’re supposed to eat – let’s say you’re supposed to eat at 2:00 and next thing you know you miss it and it’s 7:00 at night. You’re going to raid your fridge.
Craig Ballantyne: Okay. Now, this is a little less nutrition or even fitness but I want to ask you about documenting the process properly. What do you tell clients to do? From photos to measurements to clothing, lighting? Everything in between. I mean you’ve helped so many people do this before. What are some advanced photo and measurement tips for people doing this? Even for contests and competitions or even magazine ads?
Erik Ledin: For photographs I think that you need to make sure that it remains an objective comparison.
So you want to remove the variables of light and background and bathing suit. You’re going to be consistent with a spot that you’re going to take pictures. You’re going to be consistent with the lighting that you choose. You’re going to be consistent with what you’re going to wear.
You see a lot of the transformations in some of the magazines. They’re in one outfit in the before and they’re all hairy and they have bad posture and then in the after photo they have this great tan and they’re shaven. It’s not an objective comparison.
So with photos, just being consistent.
I like to say for someone to pick something to wear in their befores that they’re going to want to wear in their afters. The befores, they’re not really pictures that show off how good you look. So pick something that you’re going to be consistent with all the way through. It’s probably not going to fit the whole way through of course.
With measurements I suggest taking a lot of measurements and making sure you can be consistent with where you measure. I usually do about seven or eight. I think seven actually is what I have people do. I do:
- An arm measurement
- a thigh measurement
- a hip measurement
- a navel measurement
- a waist measurement (one being around the belly button and one being at the smallest part of your waist)
- A chest measurement
And the reason why I do a lot – if you did three measurements versus seven or versus even ten, you’re going to lose fat at more places than just the exact spots you’re measuring. So if I were just to measure waist, hips and arms, I might have a two-week period where maybe those measurements don’t really change a lot. But the other measurements would have shown change.
It’s motivating to see improved numbers. With body weight this is a tricky one. Obviously you want to again allow it to be an objective comparison so A.M. weights before food and water is probably the easiest way to control that but if a person has scale issues … I wrote a blog post a long time ago.
It was called, “Beware! Rant About the Scale” and basically it was the fact that you have people that are – the measurements are falling. Their clothes are fitting better. They’re feeling better. Everyone around them is noticing their progress but they gain a pound. And they all of a sudden are so dejected. They’re discouraged. They’re not making progress. Yet every other sign of progress is there. Right?
So for these people I think that they should probably weigh less often but also recognizing that the scale’s not going to tell a full picture. It tells you what you weigh. It doesn’t tell you about composition.
We’re after fat loss. Not necessarily weight loss.
And if your measurements are falling, your clothes are fitting better, you’re looking better, it’s obvious in pictures, regardless of what the scale says you’re moving in the right direction.
There’s also – people also have to be aware of the fact that there’s going to be day-to-day fluctuations in water that are going to affect body weight so with women they have their time of the month which it seems that I have a lot of people that submit progress reports right around that time which obviously skews your weight, skews your numbers. It throws things off.
So in some respects I could say well, some people can track weight daily just to get a trend but for most people, women in particular, I would really discourage that because more often than not women have issues with the scale. And I’d keep it maybe once every two weeks and drive home that point that if everything else is looking good then the scale doesn’t matter.
It’s the same thing with body fat measurements.
There are so many errors in whether the tester is proficient with calipers. All these methods have errors. So again you have people that have all these objective signs of progress.
Measurements don’t lie. Clothes don’t lie. You’re subjective interpretation of what you look like in the mirror probably lies because you see yourself every day but things like body fat tests and scales they lie.
Craig Ballantyne: Right. So my question was for some people who are doing this all themselves, they’re either at home with no social support or they’re in an isolated part of town or something. So what can they do to take as many measurements as possible without relying on someone like yourself or even a friend to be there to take the circumference measures. Can they still take quite a few measurements by themselves?
Erik Ledin: For sure. I don’t see why there is need for someone else to do them. You can basically identify your own landmarks.
If you’re doing an arm measurement, flex your arm and measure the biggest part. If you’re doing a hip measurement, look to the side and basically measure the biggest part of your butt. If you’re using a navel measurement, your belly button is a landmark. Your waist measurement, it’s the smallest part. You can do all this stuff yourself. The body part percentage part of it I think is completely IRRELEVANT.