I must admit I am a FFB (Former Fat Boy). I am willing to bet many of the guys reading this were FFB’s. As a FFB I know we tend to think our metabolisms are subpar or we can’t build muscle efficiently due to our endomorphic proportions. This is what’s known as the FFBS (former fat boy syndrome). I say this is bullhonkey (nice attempt at swearing I know). The sad truth is being a former fat boy may even be worse on the psyche than starting out as a skinny bastard (as Joe DeFranco would say). My goal today is to reach out to all the FFB’s and offer some encouragement, hope and a swift kick in the ass.
What is a Former Fat Boy?
A FFB is what the name implies: someone who used to be fat or they could still be slightly on the chubby side (think of the big powerlifter who eats a bit too much). This is not a blanket statement as there are always exceptions but in my experience many of the bigger, younger guys in the gym have a history of being a part of the FFB club. Then again I see guys that are still chubby and lack any muscular development whatsoever.
I grew up eating bologna and cheese sammiches (I meant to do that) and this is what turned me into a fat boy. Once I got into athletics I turned into a husky boy and eventually graduated to a FFB. It was an interesting experience to say the least and I learned a lot from being the fat kid growing up.
Now that we know what a FFB is, let’s get into the darker corners of the minds of these unique souls.
A Mess of Mental Hang-ups
Since you are here, I would argue that you are likely interested in changing your body composition for the better (or maybe you’re here for some lame humor?). You are likely interested in looking great naked and thus being proud of what you have accomplished aesthetically. One of the biggest issues I face when dealing with clients or when helping out on the forums are FFB’s who long for a bigger, stronger, leaner physique who are not willing to do what it takes to achieve it. Now this is not because they are uneducated, stupid or unwilling. It’s because they have this innate fear of returning to their former fatty self.
These are usually the guys who have worked really hard on a fat loss diet with lots of cardio for many months to drop a ton of weight. They are so excited about losing the extra fluff and now want to build their physique but their own fear sabotages them from taking the necessary steps to achieve their lofty goals. They first learn they must EAT MORE and GAIN WEIGHT to build muscle. They are so scared of ballooning up that they end up spinning their wheels for months and years before seeing the light or just giving up altogether.
The Dreadful Origins
A FFB gets on a popular bodybuilding forum, spends lot of time lurking and learning the fundamentals of building a killer physique. He is equipped with more than enough knowledge to propel him for the time being. He knows he must train sensibly; he even picked up a copy of Starting Strength. He has taken his time to learn about how important adequate protein intake is and ensures he is eating a healthy dose of fruits and veggies daily. He has mapped out his plan and proceeds to track his progress along the way. His plan is bulletproof and he cannot wait to start.
The first few weeks are underway and he’s getting a feel for the movements. He starts to develop a love/hate relationship with DOMS and is enjoying the consistent strength gains. He is reluctant to meet his caloric goals daily because he knows eating over maintenance will cause weight gain but he is committed to remain faithful to his goals.
After the fourth week has passed he is up about 5-6lbs and he is bloated from an outing with friends the night before. He decided to drink a few beers and have some bar food high in sodium(responsible for the bloat). He hates what he sees in the mirror that morning and he starts to really second guess his previous weeks efforts. He has this dreaded fear of becoming who he used to be. Later that day, a decision is made to go on a short diet consisting of only two weeks max and then he will go back to his regular training and over feeding.
The Cycle Begins
So now that he’s been on a diet for the last two weeks, the water has dropped and the end result is only about a net gain of 1-2lbs. He actually kind of likes what he sees in the mirror again and decides to immediately go back to his previous muscle building plan. However this time, he decides to cut his surplus calories in half and utilize a slower approach this time around. Subconsciously, he doesn’t want to repeat his last mistake of gaining too quickly so he starts to increase his activity outside of training. He now walks to the store instead of driving. He parks further away from campus to get some extra walking in. Guess what happens; his supposed caloric surplus has now become his maintenance intake.
Eight more weeks go by and progress is slowing down. He is worn out, depressed and experiencing the general shitty feelings that come along as a result of not eating enough coupled with too much activity. In the name of progress he decides to increase his calories again but reverts back to a fat loss diet after another water retention mishap. He woke up bloated from eating too much birthday cake and decided he hates life. Time to diet.
As you might imagine this cycle goes on and on and on. It seems that it will never end. I have concluded this is likely one of the number one reasons most guys quit and give up. They just decide their goals are impossible to reach; therefore it’s easier to just pick another hobby.
Is There A Solution?
Sure there is. There’s always a solution; however that solution may not always be the one you want.
The solution is time + consistent effort towards one goal = success.
There’s really not much more to it. The only reason my previous FFB example did not succeed is because he wasn’t objective enough to set a goal and work towards it with 100% focus and effort. He kept swaying back and forth because his emotions about how he viewed himself were stronger than what he wanted for the long term.
The truth is when you want to build your ideal physique you must have clear goals and be willing to do what it takes to achieve them. You must realize you can’t stay super lean all the time and build serious mass at the same time. Either you accept some fat gain and get to work or you keep going back and forth between bulking and dieting cycles only to spin your wheels for years.
Something you must realize is when you constantly switch between hypercaloric and hypocaloric states your body is never really primed to gain much mass. The hormonal environment is never stable enough to make any appreciable gains. This is why so many guys remain skinny-fat because they never make a decision to train and gain weight consistently (for at least 12 weeks at a time). Instead they spin their wheels into oblivion.
Now before any assumptions are made, I am not suggesting you make a whale out of yourself in the name of building the most mass. It’s not fun to be super fat and dieting it all off takes a long time. Don’t let your body fat get out of hand but don’t let a little water retention and temporary loss of your abs deter you from working toward your ultimate goals.
A Few Tips for all the FFB’s
If you follow this criteria, remain objective and work aggressively toward your goals you are sure to succeed.
- Decide you are going to gain weight and strength consistently – no excuses.
- Give yourself a time frame (12+ weeks) to make specific gains in strength and performance.
- Forget about maintaining a full row of abs. Fat can always be lost and you will always look much better with more muscle anyway.
- Girls aren’t as interested as we are about being lean. They really don’t care that much as long as you don’t become a slob. Charm is more important in this regard.
- Hire a coach if you cannot be objective and hold yourself accountable to your goals.
- DON’T MAKE ANY EXCUSES.
There you go, now you know my no-BS approach when it comes to all the mental hang-ups us FFB’s deal with.