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One Brick at a Time

Dr. Rick Kattouf II

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That is exactly how a house is built, one brick at a time. And that is exactly how we build the body we are looking to achieve, one brick at a time. The "brick" is simply one small baby step at a time. As much as we would like our new construction house to be completed quickly, it's not going to happen. It takes time, it's a very patient and methodical approach; it's one brick at a time.


Just like with the human body, body fat loss, increase fitness, increase speed, improve performance, etc., is not going to happen overnight. Similar to building a house, it's a very patient and methodical approach; it's one brick at a time. Let's examine both the nutrition and fitness elements and how we can maximize the approach. Before we begin, we have to keep one main factor in mind and that is remaining patient. The process of building lean muscle, losing body fat, increasing speed, increasing strength, increasing endurance, etc., is just that, it's a process. There are many moving parts in this process and we need to be sure all pieces to the puzzle are aligned properly. Remain patient and success will be yours.


Let's start with the workouts. No matter how much or how little you've been working out, it is still a process and it is still one brick at a time. If you are already a great athlete and you're looking to improve performance, it is a process. If you are a beginner and have not worked out for some time, it is a process. Whether your goal is to just get your fitness on track or improve your already great athletic performances, the key is to gradually and progressively build into your daily/weekly workout volume and intensity. If your goal is to drastically change your body composition because you have put on a significant amount of body fat and body weight, you want to ease into your workouts. I realize you are excited and motivated to start this new lifestyle, but one brick at a time. For example, if you have not been working out at all, 1-2 workouts per week, which may not seem like a lot, is a huge increase from not working out at all.


 When it comes to fitness, it may take even more patience the higher your fitness level. Let's use running as an example. And let's say a beginner runner is running 3 miles in 36 minutes. If this individual fuels their body properly and trains smart, they may find themselves quickly shaving off huge chunks of time. In a very short period of time, they may find themselves running 3 miles in 29 minutes; that is shaving off a whopping 7 minutes, that's huge. Now, let's take a runner that has been working out for some time and they can run 3 miles in 18 minutes. There is a very good chance it could take them a lot longer to shave off one minute and get to the 17-minute mark as compared to the beginner runner shaving off 7 minutes. Point being, it takes time, it takes patience; hang in there, the patience will pay off and the payoff is huge.


Trying to increase one's activity and fitness level too much, too quickly can easily lead to injury, illness, fatigue and overtraining. It may feel good at first to "get out of the gates sprinting", but all too often this turns into the one hit wonder. You may end up getting a few good weeks or even months of what you think is good quality workouts because you are absolutely hammering it every single day and then, all too often, the mental and physical fatigue sets, the wheels start to come off and you are completely derailed. This is very similar to the "diet" of nutrition. Individuals start a diet, they seem to be focused but they are not following a patient and methodical, one brick at a time, approach. And as a result, they are quickly frustrated and derailed. In summary, take the patient and methodical, one brick at a time, approach and success will find you.


When it comes to nutrition and body composition change, all too often, individuals try to go from zero to hero as quick as possible and we all know where the story ends up. When individuals have put on additional body fat and body weight, understandably, they want to get this excess weight off and they want to get it off quickly. Let's simply remove the word "quickly" and understand that it is a time intensive, patient and methodical approach, one brick at a time. I realize that may not be as sexy as trying to lose gobs and gobs of weight quickly, but there's only one way to do it and that is the right way if we are looking for meaningful and sustainable results for a lifetime. When we try to go from zero to hero as fast as possible, it leads individuals down a road of drastic measures of diets and food fads.


 According to Michelle May, M.D., "people get so focused on weight loss, they are willing to do unproven and potentially dangerous things that can backfire and cause serious health problems."  It is the willingness of individuals to do these unproven and potentially dangerous things that derail them from the patient and methodical, one brick at a time, approach.


 It is very common for individuals to have the mindset that drastically reducing calories is going to be the key to their body composition goals. On the surface, it almost seems to make sense, right? Just eat as little as possible, slash those calories down to almost nothing and the weight should just "fall off", as so many people feel it will. Individuals looking to lose weight often times gravitate towards fasting, liquid diets, high-protein diets, cleanses, etc.  It is extreme measures like this that we never, ever want to adopt. Dr. May says, "severely slashing calories may lead to weight loss but the lost weight includes precious muscle and lowers metabolism. Drastic calorie restriction also causes a shift toward higher body fat percentage which increases the risk for metabolic syndrome type II diabetes." We have to be very honest with ourselves and if we are, we will quickly realize that drastic measures like this are 180° away from the patient and methodical, one brick at a time, mentality. Simple suggestion, if it's not one brick at a time approach to greatness, turn and run… Fast!


One concept that can be challenging at times for individual to get there head wrapped around is that fueling the body (and not starving the body) will actually lead to body fat loss and weight loss.  It is very common for overweight individuals to look at food as the enemy when it comes to body fat loss. But it is not; food (the right food of course) is our friend. Food is necessary for sustaining life. Fueling the body properly and not starving the body is the key to success. I realize this can cause a Ping-Pong match in the mind for so many individuals because they struggle with the concept. They feel they need to skip meals and starve themselves in order to lose all that excess body weight and body fat. We just have to ask ourselves the question, "Am I using the one brick at a time approach?" Once again, if we are honest with ourselves, skipping a meal because we think this is going to accelerate weight loss is trying to go from zero to hero; it is not the one brick at a time approach. 


 It can be very common for individuals to have the mindset of "skipping meals" or "saving up calories" or "I have a bank of calories to use up today", etc. Diet mentalities like this will burn us every single time. A recent study conducted at the Ohio State University revealed that skipping meals not only leads to abdominal weight gain, but it can also lead to the development of insulin resistance in the liver. According to Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at the Ohio State University, "but you definitely don't want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss."


 In summary, place that chair in front of the mirror and take a seat and have a discussion with that individual staring right back at you. And I mean a very honest, full disclosure conversation. Ask that person staring back at you, "are you using the one brick at a time approach? Are you using a very patient and methodical approach? Or are you trying to skip steps, build the roof before the foundation and are you trying to go from zero to hero quickly?" If you walk away from that conversation ready to use the one brick at a time approach and throw away the zero to hero, skipping steps and diet mentality, you'll soon find yourself on a whole new level of success. Are you ready to build your body one brick at a time?


Dr. Rick Kattouf II

2x Best-Selling Author

Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year




2x Best-Selling Author and Fitness & Nutrition expert Dr. Rick Kattouf has been named one of America’s PremierExperts® and one of the World Fitness Elite™ Trainers of the Year. He has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates around the country as well as in the USA Today, Chicago Tribune and The Independent in the UK. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf, Inc., CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf Nutrition LLC, Creator of TeamKattouf Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, Creator of 5-Round Fury Fitness™ workout app, 9Round Nutrition Coach Sports Nutrition Specialist, ITCA Triathlon Coach, MMA Conditioning Coach, Food Psychology Coach, Wellness and Nutrition Consultant, Sports Nutrition Consultant, Heart Rate Performance Specialist, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker.