Most people agree about the importance of goals, but many are skeptical about the power of affirmations. They wonder how you could achieve a fat loss transformation or change your life simply by making positive statements and declarations.

The fact is, affirmations are everything. What you speak out loud as well as what you say to yourself in your thoughts have the power to program your subconscious mind.

fat loss body transformation

There is nothing mystical about it. We’re not talking about some “secret” law of attraction where a great body manifests out of thin air just because you visualize and think about that body.

It’s simple. When you change your self-talk, you change your mental programming. When you change your mental programming, your behavior changes. When your behavior changes, your results change. Your whole life can change.

There aren’t many better examples of the power of affirmation than Jonathan Barnard. Just six months before Jonathan entered the Burn the Fat body transformation challenge he weighed over 250 pounds, an unhealthy weight he’d been stuck at for five years.

On a bet, he succeeded at getting his weight down to 211, but he still hadn’t reached his long term goal yet. He wanted a source of motivation again to help spur him on to his final long term weight goal. When he heard about the Burn the Fat challenge, he knew that was it.

He had some struggles, some of them purely mental, but he pushed through and completed the challenge with amazing results.

These are Jonathan’s stats from the first quarter of 2023 during the 12 week Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Body transformation challenge:

Age: 46
Starting Weight: 210.7 lbs
Ending Weight: 184.9
Lost: 25.80 lbs

Starting Body Fat%: 29.3%*
Ending Body Fat % : 23.5%
Down: 5.8%

* Jonathan did not think the “smart” scale (that uses bioelectric impedance analysis to measure body fat) was accurate, but he kept using it as per the contest rules. However, his photos and his 26 pound weight loss in 12 weeks tell the tale.

How did he get results like these? How did he continue onward, without relapsing, to drop 26 pounds after having just months earlier dropping 40 pounds?

Below you can read Jonathan’s challenge-winning essay where he shares, in his own words, what he did to achieve his fat loss transformation. One thing is clear. His challenge essay reads like one giant affirmation. We suspect his entire 12 weeks were filled with constant affirmation, even through some setbacks and discouragements.

We hope you find this inspiring, and that maybe you will join us for the next challenge (link for details at bottom of page).

– Tom Venuto, Inner Circle Founder



In Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle, Tom Venuto writes about how a pilot sets the course of a plane, but the plane never actually follows the course in a straight line. The plane continually goes off the flight path. The pilot has to correct the course of the plane many times during the flight. Even a slight deviation from the intended flight path, if not corrected quickly, can take the plane miles off course.

Ten years ago, my wife and I sold our house, moved in with my parents and started a nonprofit. Our dream was to fulfill my parent’s dream of establishing a camp and ranch for families and kids in the area that I grew up in. Thankfully we have been able to accomplish this dream but it has been very hard and the stress took its toll. We started with a great flight plan, but in September of last year I realized I was far off the path and big corrections needed to be made.

I had been over 250 pounds for the last five years. That’s 80+ pounds overweight. In September 2022, a friend challenged me to lose 45 pounds by January 1st and he promised me $1,000. With this motivation, I began eating better and exercising (weights and cardio). It was tough work and took a lot of discipline but I saw consistent results. By mid-December I had lost the 45 pounds and on December 28, 2022 I weighed 211.6 and my body fat was 29.5% down from 37.1%.

I had lost weight two other times in the last 15 years. I worked really hard and got down to a weight of 210. Unfortunately I gained it back and I was scared it would happen again.

I decided I could not let this happen and I looked for a weight loss competition to keep me motivated. I found the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle New Years Challenge.

The Goal And The Plan

I bought the Burn the Fat audiobook and began listening to it. This book gave me hope. Hope that I could do even more than just maintain my weight loss. It gave me practical steps to go places with this fitness journey that I never thought I could go.

When I weighed in at my heaviest I felt trapped. I remember that moment vividly. 268 was shocking to me, I told myself I had to change but a year later I hadn’t changed much. I was hopeless. Just getting back to 210 felt impossible, but I did it. From September to January I achieved so much and now this book was encouraging me to set new goals beyond what I ever dreamed possible. So that’s what I did…

For the contest, I set out to lose 25 pounds and reduce my body fat percentage by 10%. A target weight of 185 and 19% body fat.

In my journal I wrote:

I will be in the best shape of my life In 2023. I will have abs that I can see. In 2023, I have a physique I am proud of.

In Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle, Tom Venuto talks about writing out your emotional reason and your motivation for getting healthy. About 5 years ago, my wife started a fitness journey of her own. As she began to change, instead of being completely supportive, I became insecure. As a guy who was 80+ lbs overweight, it was hard for me to celebrate her progress.

On day three of my fitness journal I wrote:

I had become out of balance, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I caused problems in my marriage and my family. I now have hope that I can make changes physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to set things right. To bring healing and strength to my body and in the other areas. I want to make things right and take care of myself so that I can properly care for those I love.”

My first two weeks were challenging but good. We went on a trip but I stayed disciplined. I was motivated by the contest to work out with my wife and her brother, in the past I would have chosen to sleep in instead.

By then end of the third week I had lost 6.2 pounds and I felt like I was on track BUT I did not realize I had made a huge mistake, a mistake that could derail everything.

The Feedback Loop

In the book, Tom talks about the importance of setting up a feedback loop. This is a way of measuring your progress, usually every week, so you can continue to customize your nutrition and workouts based on your current results and whether you are on course for reaching your goals as planned.

He talked about not only focusing on scale weight, but on body composition and body fat percentage. He emphasized the importance of retaining muscle during weight loss and listed many ways that you could track your muscle growth and body fat percentage. Unfortunately, I did not understand how important the accuracy of my feedback loop was.

The mistake I made was trusting a $20 “smart scale” (bioelectric impedance analysis) to provide accurate measurements of my lean body mass and body fat percentage. Tom listed many accurate measurements that could be used, I picked the worst. My scale told me I lost 6.2 lbs but also said I lost 1.5 pounds of muscle. In my mind, if this was true then I needed to make a big adjustment, because I didn’t want to lose muscle, I wanted to gain it.

For the next two weeks, I worked hard. I ate right, I exercised, I worked out with my son, I went on a bike ride with my wife. I should have seen great results. Instead I went backward. I gained back two pounds. At the end of week five I had only lost 4.2 pounds and according to my stupid $20 smart scale, 1.2 lbs of that loss was muscle. I was completely demoralized.

I wanted to give up but instead, I listened to the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle book again and I changed my mindset.

Mindset And Affirmations

On February 14th, I posted this entry in my journal:

No matter what the results are today, I am winning this contest. I am lifting more weight than ever. My clothes are fitting looser. I look better in the mirror. I am learning so many new things. This contest has helped me connect with my wife and son as they have helped me with my workouts and cardio. I am eating healthier than I have ever in my life. I am in the best shape of my life. I can run long distances without dying. I ran a total of 2.5 miles yesterday at less than a 14 minute pace! I am winning this contest!!!”

I wanted to quit because I felt so far behind all of the other competitors, but I was missing the point of the challenge. The point of the challenge was to reach my goals. My most important goal is to be healthy so I can be the man I want to be for my family. I was winning the contest no matter what the numbers told me.

As Tom Venuto explained in his book, “There is no such thing as failure, only feedback, only results.”

The numbers are only a progress-tracking feedback tool, not the final measurement of success or failure.

“I am winning this contest” became my affirmation.

After my post, ZeppoYoung (another member of the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle community) responded to it. He encouraged me that I was in it for the right reasons. His encouraging message meant a lot to me.

I had hit a very tough plateau, and as I listened to the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle book again, I realized the first thing I needed to change was my mindset. I posted again in my journal:

I have won this contest because I am working through a lot of negative self-talk.”

Making Adjustments

The next thing I needed to do was refine my feedback loop. One of Tom’s recommendations for overcoming a plateau was being more disciplined in recording my food intake. This helped me see the hidden calories I didn’t realize I was consuming.

I was drinking too many calories in protein shakes and still using heavy cream in my coffee. I switched to whole foods instead of drinking my calories. I was also consuming a lot of pecans, which may be healthy, but I didn’t realize the calorie density. These were two of several little things undermining my progress.

I also listened again to the part in the book about body types and realized that my body type is endomorph. This means I have a natural tendency to gain weight if I’m not vigilant and I don’t stay active enough. I listened carefully to Tom’s advice about the importance of activity and cardio for the endomorph.

A friend had warned me to do less cardio because I could lose muscle. I realized that my goal was fat loss and cardio was important for my body type. I continued to lift weights but added longer and more intense cardio sessions. I also upped my step count each day by choosing to walk even if I could drive a cart.

I started to celebrate every little victory and I began gaining momentum. I started to stack up winning weeks where I continued to stay consistent with everything and finally saw results.

The only thing that continued to discourage me was my stupid “smart” scale. It continued to show muscle loss which I could not understand because I was growing in strength and I was not starving myself.

I decided to go get an In Body scan that is much more accurate. It was very encouraging! The scan showed a much lower body fat percentage and I compared it to a scan from four years ago and the results were incredible. According to the more accurate In Body reading, I had lost 48.8 lbs while gaining 8.6 lbs of lean body mass. My body fat percentage had dropped from 43.2% to 25.3%. This was a four year span, but most of the improvement happened in the last six months.

The scan demonstrated to me how important an accurate feedback loop is. Not having one is like flying a plane without any instruments. It’s easy to get discouraged in a weight loss journey in many ways, but inaccurate feedback is the worst kind of sabotage. Every time I got discouraged, I went back to the book and back to trying to refine my feedback loop.

I continued to see progress and gain momentum and felt great going into my week 10 weigh-in. I had worked hard that week and was disciplined in my eating. We were on a trip, but I still worked out in the hotel gym several times with intensity. When my wife and I went to dinner that Saturday night I looked and felt great in my clothes.

Sunday morning I went to the hotel gym and I weighed in. The scale said 191. I was so excited, I was within 6 pounds of my goal with two weeks to go. I was on top of the world! That day we stopped at a breakfast place and split two Omelettes. Then as we drove I needed some caffeine so I bought a large gas station cup and filled it with Diet Coke. We also snacked on nuts. Monday morning I woke up and weighed in on my stupid “smart” scale and it said 195.5.

I thought I had learned not to get discouraged by the numbers but it is so hard when you’re trying to reach a goal and you feel like you’re going backward even though you’re working so hard. I was so discouraged that I posted this in my journal, and I meant it:

“This is so demoralizing! I weighed in this morning and I didn’t even want to post it.

I just wanted to quit and just stop posting and no one would even notice.

My wife has been my number one source of support and she encouraged me to keep moving forward. Then I received a message of encouragement from another member of the Burn the Fat community, Dylan. When he said, “I’m looking forward to seeing you finish, his timing could not have been better. It was just what I needed to hear and just the right moment.

The last two weeks were the best of the entire contest. As I listened to Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle yet again, I heard where Tom talked about the effect of Sodium and Water on scale weight. He said your weight could fluctuate by four pounds from water weight. Looking back I think that is what happened to me.

The shrimp omelet had a salty sauce, diet coke is high in sodium, add in nuts that were salted, and all of the extra water I drank, and BOOM, my scale weight went up 4.5 pounds. I almost quit over some water. I am so glad I didn’t, because I finished this contest so well. I walked 50,000 steps and then the next day I went to the beach with my wife and walked around without my shirt on.

The black belt I’m wearing in my photos was given to me by my daughter several Christmases ago. Amazon had sent it to her as a fluke. When I opened it and tried to put the belt around my waist, we all laughed for a good ten minutes. It was like a baby belt compared to me. She apologized, but I told her it was a great gift because it gave me a goal.

Physical Training Plus Mental Training Pays Off

Today in my after photos, the belt is latched on the final hole. I am wearing shorts with a 32-inch waist. I haven’t worn a 32 in waist since early high school!

I am most proud of losing these last 25.8 pounds because they were the hardest and this final phase took me places in my fitness journey I had never been.

I am winning this contest because I overcame:

  • Discouragement
  • Negative Self Talk
  • Painful Heel Bursitis in both feet
  • A major wrist injury that limited me all of March
  • A very emotional family situation
  • Having to travel for 20 of my 84 days

I am winning this contest because:

  • My wife and I hiked, rode bikes, worked out, walked on the beach, and ate healthily together.
  • My son Joel and I worked out and talked about nutrition and fitness together.
  • I shared my progress with my daughter Hope and son Noah as they are away to college.
  • I walked 50,000 steps in one day.
  • My Fitbit says I averaged 1hr 15min per day of exercise during this contest- 6,314 minutes of exercise.
  • I have more endurance with cardio and more strength in all of my lifting.
  • I am eating nutritious and satisfying meals that I will continue to eat.
  • I have a physique I am proud of.
  • I am aging backward. My favorite stat of my stupid smart scale is my metabolic age. It shows that I gained 4 years during these 12 weeks!
  • I am winning this contest because I learned so many important and valuable lessons that
  • I will continue to apply to my fitness journey and my life.
  • I won this contest because I learned to fly my plane. I stayed on course and accomplished my goals!


Resources mentioned in this article:

Fat Loss Transformation Book
Burn the Fat Feed The Muscle (Official Guide To The Burn the Fat Challenge) CLICK HERE

Audio Book
Burn the Fat Feed The Muscle (Official Guide To The Burn the Fat Challenge) CLICK HERE

Burn the Fat 12-week body transformation challenge
For details about upcoming Burn the Fat Challenge events that you can enter, CLICK HERE

Burn the Fat Inner Circle
Social Support Community For Natural Fat Loss Transformation CLICK HERE

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