What I Learned From Dieting for 12 Weeks


Recently I finished a 12-week cut diet.  I designed a program for myself that normally somebody would implement in preparation for a physique competition.  Unfortunately for me, there was not a competition lined up at the end of my 12 weeks.  There are a few reasons why I decided to go on this nutrition and training protocol:

  1. I had 2 photo shoots at the end of the 12 weeks so I wanted to look my best and cut off as much fat as I could to look as lean and muscular as possible.

  2. I’ve never done a cut for myself before, it’s always just been bulk bulk bulk and get as big as possible. I wanted to take a step back and shift my focus temporarily so when it was time to bulk again I could surpass my plateau and make some positive gains.

  1. I wanted to practice what a 12-week cut would be like so next time there was a physique competition I would be better prepared having had the practice and experience with my own body to see how it reacts to changes in food type, calorie changes, training variance, and so on.

  1. I always enjoyed learning more about health and fitness so I knew that if I practiced a fat loss diet on myself I would be better able to help out my clients with similar goals.

  2. I wanted to start modeling so I needed some good quality professional photos taken so I could set up a comp card (my first photoshoot).

dude photo shoot

6. I wanted to get shredded up and have a nice set of abs for my fitness photo shoot (my second photoshoot).

Smiling sweaty abs
model abs

7. I wanted some good pictures for my website coachkylefitness.com and for my Instagram.  I also used one of my pictures for the cover of my free eBook, “7 Steps to a Healthy & Fit New Year.”

So with having said all of the reasons WHY I dieted for 12 weeks… Here is what I learned from it all…

I learned a lot from having had this experience; information that I can take with me and apply when helping and coaching others.  Before implementing this diet I was already familiar with a lot of the things that I knew I would be doing while following this plan such as:

  • Meal Prep

  • Calorie and macronutrient tracking

  • Weight training

  • High-intensity interval training

And I was already eating clean foods about 80% of the time.

Some things I was not use to and had to acclimate myself to:

  • More frequent cardio

  • Fasted cardio

  • Water depletion during the last days of the photoshoots

  • Carb cycling

  • 100% clean eating minus a few cheat meals/refeeds

With this diet came a lot of changes and challenges but that was expected going into this. Here are some things I learned while on this journey:

Self-Discipline and Making Sacrifices

Self-discipline is one thing you must have in order to succeed and stick with any nutrition or training program.

If you don’t have the willpower to say no when your friends ask you to come have a drink or skip on the cheesecake, then you are going to have a hard time with sticking to a diet.

I kept having to tell myself that this is only temporary and it will all be worth it in the end.

You have to be able to be hard on yourself, make sacrifices, and not give into temptations.

This is the same in anything you want in life.

If you want to be an investor, you have to be smart with your money, save an appropriate amount, and spend your investments wisely and strategically when you come across something worthwhile.

If you want to be a skilled violinist you must practice daily and make that a priority over other things in your life.

The truth is, self-discipline takes sacrifices and it is about following through on what you told yourself you were going to do.


Organized Planning

I had to constantly plan ahead in order to get all of my meals and workouts in.

I was already familiar with meal prepping but I had to kick it up a notch.

I was carb cycling between high carb and low carb days. I was eating all of the same foods every day but I would reduce calories every other week.

So every day I knew what and how much I needed to eat, it was just a matter of preparing food ahead of time.

I needed to make sure every day that I had chicken, turkey, sweet potatoes, cod, eggs, etc… and if I didn’t, I would need to shop and cook up food ahead of time so when it was time to eat I had food prepared or I had enough time to prepare it fresh.

Too many times before I was dieting I would glare into my fridge with hunger hoping that a prepared food would be there staring back at me ready to be eaten. Before my organized planning, I would have to come up with something to eat last minute and this is where bad food choices would arise.

If you fail to plan and prepare meals ahead of time it makes it a lot easier to make bad nutritional choices.

I was already used to scheduling my workouts in each day and going in there with a plan knowing exactly what I was doing, but some days I had to force myself to get up in the morning and do my fasted cardio… for those of you that don’t know, this is going to the gym first thing in the morning before eating and doing 20-30 minutes of high-intensity interval training.

You know how it goes…

If you fail to plan then you are planning to fail.


The hardest part of consistency for me has always been the eating; I rarely have an issue going to the gym, a lot of times it’s the highlight of my day,  but it’s harder for me to stay on track with eating what I’m supposed to be eating.

I’ll be honest, if someone is offering me pizza or a sugary treat it is hard for me to say no.

One slice of pizza here and there or one small piece of cake every once in awhile isn’t the worst thing in the world, but if you want to see real progress in your physique and health then think long term and remember that everything adds up.

You need to be eating well consistently in order to make progress and to deserve a cheat meal every few weeks or so.

A story on consistency…

Chinese bamboo tree

The Chinese bamboo tree is a unique and beautiful plant.  It takes 5 years to fully grow and mature.

In the process of its growth, it requires water, soil, and sunlight CONSISTENTLY EVERY SINGLE DAY.

For the first 4 years of its life, it does not even break the surface of the ground.  In perspective, it looks like there has been no growth at all.

Then on the 5th year, it grows 80 feet tall in 6 weeks.

The question is… Did it grow 80 feet in 6 weeks or in 5 years?

For the bamboo tree to grow it takes 5 years of CONSISTENT effort and if on any single day it did not receive its water, soil, and sunlight, it would be unable to grow.

Relate this to your health and fitness journey, how can you be more consistent?

Stop stopping and starting over and stay the course.

You do not have to be perfect, but you must be CONSISTENT.  More on this in my eBook.

We Are All Stronger Than We Think

I wanted to put my body to the test and see what it could handle.

While on this diet I never had to starve myself, do hours of cardio a day, and I still got to eat foods I liked.

While in the process of losing weight I lost some strength and stamina, but that was expected going in.

I was surprised at what my body could handle while in a depleted state.

You see, while on a fat loss diet you should be in a caloric deficit, burning off more than you are taking in.

Since there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, your body needs to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound.  If you want to lose 5 pounds you need to burn off 17,500 calories over a period of time.

So assuming you want to lose 5 pounds of fat and you are used to consuming 2,000 calories a day, you can take in 500 calories less of food a day or burn off an additional 500 calories.

Since food consumption is easier to measure let’s say you will start eating 1,500 calories a day then it will take you 35 days to burn off 5 pounds of fat.

It is not always this cut and dry but this is the science.  There is always some variance either way.

You could lose much more than 5 pounds in 35 days doing this but along with fat may come water and muscle.

And while being in a caloric deficit is how your body will burn off excess calories, it is not healthy to be in this state all of the time.

While on this diet every few weeks I would give myself a refeed meal.  This gives your body a chance to restabilize and get an excess of calories to make sure you are not burning off too much muscle.

Being in a depleted state may make you feel weaker and more tired but your body is programmed to handle this and your mental strength can trump over this.

Sometimes when we are challenged and feel our weakest, we can see how strong we really are.


The truth is, whatever you want to accomplish takes sacrifices and hard work, we all know that.

This 12-week diet wasn’t easy and I had to be self-disciplined, make sacrifices, plan ahead, be consistent, and I found out I was much stronger than I thought.

But I had a clear goal of what I wanted to accomplish, I didn’t hold back, and I FREAKIN’ DID IT!

Your body can change dramatically in 12 weeks if you want it bad enough and are committed to the protocol.

Yes, there were times that I didn’t want to eat my chicken and veggies, there were times where I didn’t want to go to the gym, there were times when I wanted to curl up in a blanket and watch movies and eat pizza and donuts all day…

but I didn’t let any of these temptations derail me from my success.

If you are just starting to work on your health and fitness goals you absolutely don’t need to be as extreme as I was; I wanted to reach a specific goal at a specific time so that’s what I did.

Whether you want to lose a few pounds, lose 100 pounds, cut down for a photo shoot like I did, or anything in between, you are going to need to implement these principles.

I am happy with the progress I have made and I love helping others do the same.

before and after 12 week diet
diet transformation

If you would like a personalized nutrition and exercise plan built just for you that you can complete on your own time and from anywhere in the world, then consider applying for my online coaching.

To your best health,

Coach Kyle

Kyle Wilkinson