Every month in our Normal Person’s Fitness Guide, we get personal trainer Lalo Fuentes to give advice to an ordinary Joe — not a would-be Mr. Universe, but someone with an achievable aim, like dropping a few pounds, or working through an injury. As we hit the end of the year (and enter the season of health-based resolutions), we asked everyone we’ve featured in the column what they did with Lalo’s advice. Here’s what those not too busy getting swole told us — and what Lalo thinks of their progress.
Goal: To get a six-pack
His Excuse: “Here’s the thing: I want to have a six-pack but I don’t want to put in the work,” Andrew admits. “Which is why I never did the sit-ups or the push-ups and why I certainly didn’t eat three hard-boiled eggs everyday for breakfast. Sorry.”
Lalo’s Response: “Andrew, that would be like me saying: I want a Ferrari, but I don’t want to work hard enough for the money to buy it. Sorry.”
Goal: To drop 20 pounds
Status: Halfway there!
What Worked for Him: “I’m down 10 pounds! If I could lose another 10, that would be awesome,” says Matt. “Some of Lalo’s advice I was able to do and others I just didn’t do. His suggestions regarding portion control and limiting the amount of unhealthy snacks around the house, I’ve been pretty good about. But I honestly didn’t stick to the breakfast plan — I’ve been trying to eat more in the first couple hours of the day, but I don’t find myself hungry at all. So usually my portion size still increases as the day goes by.”
Lalo’s Response: “That’s a good start, and at least you know what needs to be changed. Use those 10 pounds you lost as motivation to take it to the next level. And eat your breakfast!”
Goal: To drop 15 pounds and stop seeing his chiropractor
His Excuse: “To be honest, I haven’t put any effort into it, due to all sorts of reasons,” admits Ronald. “This weekend we’ll hopefully finish unpacking after moving, though. After that, I swear that it’s high on my to-do list.”
Lalo’s Response: “And when Monday comes, we’ll start eating healthy. The day to start is right now.”
Goal: Getting his old body back
His Excuse: “I’m not permanently losing any weight,” says Jason. “I go back and forth — lose it and gain it, lose it and gain it. This is probably due to smoking pot at night and getting the munchies, then not eating full meals during the day. Lack of time to devote exclusively to exercise is a big problem, too — something always interrupts the consistency. I have a three-hour window three days a week while my son is in preschool, so I hike up in the Topatopa Mountains, in the heat with a steady incline. I’m sure I’m losing a little weight doing that, but I fuck it up regularly at night. Lack of discipline I suppose.”
Lalo’s Response: “You know what you need to do. You just need to commit.”
Goal: To look less like “a half-squished lump of raw chicken”
What Worked for Him: “I was genuinely excited about Lalo’s workout advice (not the diet advice, so much — the thought of a cinnamon smoothie makes me want to die), and started following it to the letter,” says Mick. “Sadly, a month in, I managed to fracture a bone in the ball of my foot while doing it. I went to a podiatrist who told me I had the flattest feet he’d ever seen. The good news? Since I’ve been wearing custom orthotics in all my shoes, walking has been much more comfortable than I knew it could be. So, while the injury has kept me out of the gym for months, it has had a positive result in the sense that it led to my fixing a different problem I didn’t even know I had.
“I ended up dropping the 10 or 12 pounds I wanted to lose, too: I just cut my calorie count drastically by eating next to nothing during the day and having a sensible dinner. The exact opposite of what I’m supposed to do, basically, but it worked and now I’m much happier about the way I look. If I ever get back to the gym, maybe I’ll finally feel like I’m really getting somewhere.”
Lalo’s Response: “A lot of people would’ve given up after the injury, but you didn’t let that put you down. Good job, Mick! I’m happy for you. Keep up the excellent work.”
Goal: To survive his first ever sprint triathlon
His Excuse: “I have an admission to make — to myself, to everyone around me, to the world: I couldn’t hack it in the water,” says Josh. “I think I knew the moment I first dove in that I was fucked. I made it maybe half a lap before I realized that this wouldn’t be like how I taught myself to run long distances and that I needed some professional assistance. Shortly thereafter, I made another realization: Eight weeks of swim lessons — even with the help of a professional — weren’t gonna be enough to get me capable of swimming roughly a half-mile. Maybe if I devoted all of my time to it, but then I would fall apart on my running and biking.
“I did give it a good go, showing up at the pool at 5 a.m. three times a week and forcing myself to swim the 35 or so laps — via pathetic breaststroke — in order to see if somehow I’d magically get better. I did not. It was clear everyone else in the pool didn’t want me there — mostly their looks said it, but sometimes they outright said it, too. They weren’t wrong: I had no idea what I was doing, and I should definitely have made room for someone who did.
“And so, alas, I never did run the triathlon. To make myself feel better, I ran close to 30 5ks and 10ks this year, and I hope to make it 50 next year as well as running 1,000 training miles. That, I’m positive I can do.
“I’m also gonna devote myself to Lalo’s diet and believe it or not, I’m gonna try to get more sleep to, as he suggested, because when I’m rested before I race, I can cut sometimes more than a minute per mile off of my time.
“Eventually, I’m gonna get back into the pool, too. But only in the guppies beginner class with my children (or a private instructor) and far from the harsh judgments of the lap swimmers at my local YMCA.”
Lalo’s Response: “Kudos to you for at least giving it a go — most people wouldn’t even try it. My suggestion is to learn how to swim this year with the guidance of a private instructor, while focusing only on runs. By the following year, you should be able to give a triathlon another go. With your determination, I’m sure you’re going to do great!”
Goal: To look hot in both his tux and his honeymoon swimsuit
What Worked for Him: “I didn’t lose 25 pounds,” says Simon. “But I lost 10! And I was actually pretty happy with that and felt more confident on my wedding day, which is what this was all about, so, yeah, all good. I still had to suck the gut in a bit on our honeymoon, but being a little more careful with what I ate in the run-up to the ceremony, and doing all the running Lalo recommended made a big difference. I’m going to keep going and see if I can lose the rest of it.”
Lalo’s Response: “Good job, Simon! We get out of shape faster than we get into shape, so it’s going to take a while, but you’re on the right track. Don’t let that momentum go and set another small goal to get you going.”
Goal: To hit middle age in the shape of his life
Status: Almost ongoing
What Worked for Him: “So, I didn’t follow all of it,” confesses Winston. “Specifically, a) I haven’t joined the gym yet, but I go for walks three to four times per week; and b) I haven’t incorporated any strength training yet. My aim right now is build up consistency, then I can start adding more stuff. I have lost some pounds, but not a whole lot. To be honest, I’m still in the process of implementing the advice.”
Lalo’s Response: “Seventy-year-old people go for walks Winston, not a middle-aged man. Act your age and put in the work.”
Goal: To have a six-pack just once before middle age.
Status: Nearly there!
What Worked for Him: “I cut back on my red meat and switched to a mix of chicken, tofu and more quinoa,” says Brendan. “Lentils just make me too gassy to eat on the regular. But I’ve lost more fat while I’ve continued to slowly gain muscle, so that’s neat. I made a huge batch of falafel and stuck it the freezer so I can just heat up some healthy snacks.
“I’m continuing on track, though progress sometimes seems absurdly slow given my exercise and diet practices. So I’m learning to enjoy doing it for its own sake and not worrying about changes. My shoulder subluxated (or whatever you’d call it) again while I was about to do a military press at the gym, and that’s made me a little gun-shy on that exercise and the bench press. But the strengthening exercises make me feel better and more confident. Hopefully they’re being preventative as well.”
Lalo’s Response: “Brendan, good job on losing fat, gaining muscle and learning how to look at fitness as a lifestyle as opposed to a way of merely getting a six-pack. Now, the real talk: I said stay away from bench presses or overhead presses — did you forget to read that part…?”