Former Fat Boy Syndrome Hangups

By JC Deen



This article is a follow up from last weeks article, From Fat to Fit.  Both are written by Bryan Barletta.  This also is a nice expansion to my original article, The Former Fat Boy Syndrome.

As I write this, I question the former part of the title, and that’s bad but progress doesn’t happen over night. See it’s more than just physical with being a fat boy. You’re mentally fat too. Take it from someone who was called Fatletta most of his life.

As you progress through your diet and exercise plan and away from your old life, if you were ever fat or even chubby, there’s a lot you’ll have to let go of. I searched forums and websites for someone to commiserate with and I never found someone who went through the exact same experience as I did. No one will. But I’m sure that I can shed some light on some of the common problems or thought’s you’ll hit in your journey.

Eat Up, Fatty

It’s hard to convince a FFB (former fat boy) or FB (fat boy) to eat what they’re told. Forget about clearing the broccoli from your plate, I’m talking about the Macros. When JC first put next to the fat grams on my macros “lower fat to minimize fat loss” I undercut his 33g/50g of fat down to nearly 10g per day. Boy did I stall my progress. Your body needs fat and needs calories or it stops listening to your subtle suggestions. Because that’s what dieting is, subtle suggestions. If you go extreme, you stall. You’re your own worst enemy.

Document Your Before and After

I kick myself for throwing away all the “before” pictures I took and my measurements. I fell back more than a few times and got disgusted. Take them, lock them away, look at them every 3-6 months, no sooner. I’m sure you’ve already thought of recording this, but make sure you back it up or give it to someone you trust. The road ain’t easy, but it’s amazing when you look at the whole journey.

Also, man (or woman) up and take full body pictures. If you don’t feel comfortable with showing them to your trainer, just send what they request, but personally more than half my progress has been in legs and ass and my lack of documenting that is even more disappointing than deleting the pictures I took before I got started.

Posture and the Fine Art of Sucking it In

I use to be so impressed that I could run a mile with my gut sucked in during High school gym class. To this day, I still catch myself doing it. The trick is to stop. It’s not doing you any good and it’s actually hiding some of your progress. There are a few things to get over in regard to this though.

The first is that your body is different than everyone else. I wanted that rock hard flat stomach that you see on those skinny muscular models, but that’s not how my body is built. As I continue to gain size, I’m realizing that my lower stomach muscles will be sticking out. This is how my body is. It’s hard to get over it at first because if the muscles are pushing out, the fat is being pushed by the muscles, but the fat will go away as you’re dieting or even better will get dispersed as you become ripped and the muscles push out more. It’s easier than it sounds, but keep it in mind.

The other thing is posture. Mine sucked. It sucked while doing lifts at first and it sucked while I sat at work. I practically hunch over my desk. Once I started to fix that, though, I realized that fat didn’t clump the way it use to. Relax your body and stand up straight, it makes a huge difference.

Changes Don’t Happen Over Night

If you’re a fat boy or a former fat boy, you’ve tried keto or Atkins or whatever. It was awesome when you lost 10lbs in the first week, right? That’s not how this works long term. Changes are slow. I was unhappy for three months, pretty much until the LAST DAY of those three months, before I saw the progress. Everyone else saw it but I was blind to it. You have to be patient, especially when you start. This stuff is all easy; it just takes some time to understand it. Stop looking at the mirror daily and definitely only weigh yourself once a week. I say this as someone who lifted up his shirt every time he went to the bathroom just to check himself out in the mirror. Every. Single. Time. My wife was not amused.

Ignore Everyone

Everyone has an opinion. They are all wrong. Except of course the person you paid. I mean, they could be wrong, but in this scenario they are not. Because if you allow for them to be possibly be wrong in your mind, you will doubt them and doubt yourself. Submit yourself to their actions and decisions. Trust them fully and completely. It is the only way you’ll get anywhere. Give it three months, really three months, and if you haven’t made progress, well maybe they do suck after all, but that’s why you always make sure they have good recommendations and are an “authority.”  Shoot, my trainer has been in Forbes, where has your trainer been? (Just kidding. Kind of. Not really, JC is awesome).

But back to everyone else. They are useless and will get in your way. Do not work out with friends. Do not let anyone question you. Just tell them a doctor told you what to do if you don’t want to listen to them. Save yourself the headache and don’t tell them your trainer is from the interwebz, because that’s a huge battle in it’s own. The world isn’t ready for all of this, even when you have the amazing results they were looking for and they’re still doing cardio. They’re just not there yet and you have to give up on them and be selfish. It’s how it goes.

Find Your Weak Point

Mine is my belly. So when I take pictures of myself, I cut that area out and look at how sweet my ass and legs look and how great my upper body and arms look. Is that two abs? Why yes it is. Ignore your weak point. You’re the only one focusing on it and it will only bring you down.

At Some Point, You Have to Gain

A few weeks ago we switched from dieting down to bulking and it was scary. This past weekend, the fun of eating all those calories hit me, my weight was going up. The truth is, I freaked out. When you take a step back and think on it though, it’s not the same as pigging out on junk food and just getting fat. When it’s a structured bulk, it’s more like pigging out on junk food and gaining muscle. Or if you eat clean, it’s a lot of chicken and rice. Either way, it’s going to be a shock mentally. Don’t back pedal, stick with it. You’ve already proven you can lose the weight, so it’ll be no sweat to lean back down again, but this time you’ll have more muscle.


Get use to not having any clothes that fit well or owning every size and being broke. You’ll want to keep some of the clothes that you had from your fatty days as a reminder. One of the best mental breaks I experienced was when I threw on a pair of my old skinny jeans (size 33, completely stretched out) and they basically fell off. But for the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and saw a skinny guy in baggy clothing, not just the baggy clothing.

You’ll also want a pair of “goal” pants/shirt. It’s good to aim for something even if it doesn’t have a lot of value and you could never fit in it. But when you put on that small shirt and your chest is visibly pressed out, or you fit into those tight jeans and you don’t muffin top, it’s very rewarding.

If It Fits Your Macros

One of the scariest phrases ever to a fatty. You mean I can eat whatever I want if it’s in my macros? Yea, kinda. Glutton out for a bit. See what it’s like to kill a pizza and then eat the rest of your protein through a low carb no fat protein shake. Find the trade-offs that work for you and work with them. The best advice I can give is learn to love greek yogurt and cottage cheese. You can play around with these and hit a large amount of your protein goal without impacting fat or carbs too much, allowing you to eat whatever junk you want. But be prepared to not feel great if you push yourself too much in the junk direction. You’ll find your own balance, just remember that it’s ok to focus just on macros sometimes, just not all the time. A good base of animal fat, animal protein, and grains, potatoes, and fruits should guide your diet, but candy and Cinnabons have their place.

So that’s my $.02 in going from FB to FFB. We’re all out there and we all need to stick together and support each other, because the initial hill isn’t easy. But once you get over it, it’s amazing.

10 thoughts on “Former Fat Boy Syndrome Hangups”

  1. I’m super grateful you wrote this, because now I know I’m not the only one absolutely terrified of bulking. I went down from 180 to 130lbs (so I went from chubby to a little skinny-fat since I didn’t have much muscle), and convinced myself FINALLY to start lifting weights last fall. Over three months I put on about 10lbs of muscle with lots of fluxuation in between. Why did it take me that long? Because I would intermittently freak out and only eat 1000-1500 calories for a few days in the middle of it and convince myself “I’m not hungry.”

    I’m getting ready to start gearing up for another bulk after my half-marathon in early May. Do you have any recommendations in terms of foods to eat for someone scared of eating?

  2. Dear Bryan-
    It has been a crazy year with the dieting and exercise, but, I’m so proud of my husband. Great job sexypants <3

    Let's get married or whatever.

  3. Nice one Bryan. Really inspiring to the rest of us that are going through the same experiences. Especially the section about looking in the mirror at the abs, every day – lol. Thanks for sharing this and the advice from JC – which is always spot on. It’s all about sticking with it long term, keeping focus and still being real! Thank You.

  4. Awesome work Bryan!
    don’t really know what more to say than thank you, thank you for sharing your journey and these two articles wich for me has been two serious eye openers.
    You bring up so many things that speak to me and wich i can relate to (FFB) and i recognize so many of the struggles and thoughts that you write about.
    Am definitely going to take a lesson from you and start thinking more about “When you stop thinking about being fat you stop being fat” (thats print on a T-shirt good btw!) and most important for me i think is to also stop thinking, obsessing and changing things all the time. Realized i have an great opportunity here, on my 6th week now of my program and i think it’s time i tell myself i know nothing and just start listening and doing what im told.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

    • It’s all easier said than done, but so was hitting your last milestone on deadlift/squats/bench, right? It takes time, you just have to talk yourself out of it. It’s a mental hang-up and technically a disorder, so don’t beat yourself up over it if you struggle to overcome it. Just remember to treat it like your lifts, with the goal of getting better every time.

  5. Thanks for this! While I still struggle with this, your original article definitely helped me since reading it. Nowadays I focus on consistency and stop making those endless little “smart” refinements that just led me to being obsessive and taking over everything. I hit my protein and calorie target, go to the gym trying to lift a little more than last time — and that’s it, get on with my life as quickly as possible.

    • I like how you put “smart” in quotes. I’m glad I could help. I wanted to let you know that your comments help me too. I see the finish line, my goals, what I need to do and get over, but that doesn’t stop me from freaking out when I look in the mirror and see my pudge grow a bit. Reading your comment that you’re doing the same thing helps remind me that every FFB goes through this and I’m not alone.

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JC Deen is a nationally published fitness coach and writer from Nashville, TN. Currently living in the blistering Northeast. Follow me on X/Twitter