I've been learning about nutrition and exercise for seven months now and I'm also nearing the end of my "cut", having set myself a target of 10% bodyfat before "bulking".
I figured it would also be worthwhile putting my money where my mouth is and demonstrating what an average person can achieve within a certain time frame, essentially going from knowing nothing about proper food and exercise and being a little soft around the midsection:
Here's me in April 2008. I pretty much looked like this my entire adult life. I'm guessing ~ 25% body fat. Admittedly, I've never been fat, but I was always a little soft. It seemed that no matter what I did (I was doing some weights casually, some running from time to time, eating what I thought was healthy), I could not change my body from this.
This is me now (August 2010). I'm guessing about 11.5% body fat. Granted, it hasn't taken over two years to reach this stage - it's more like one year because I started losing fat in late 2009 when I changed my diet.
Bear the following in mind - this is not a dramatic transformation (I've simply shed some fat and got stronger) and it has taken 12 months of learning, going to the gym 3 - 4 hours a week and eating right (although it's also important to point out here that it does not need to be perfect! Remember not to worry about every last detail).
Could I have done it more quickly? Sure!
If I had known from the very beginning exactly what I needed to do, I think I could have done this in six months.
But I didn't. I started out like most people - overwhelmed with the misinformation and not knowing which things would be most effective. This is why I want to try to show others what works and what doesn't work. I am deeply cynical of the "diet" industry - I believe they prey on the lack of people's knowledge in order to make a profit. As I've tried to emphasise before, all you need to get the body you want is time (it takes longer than you think and you need to be patient), good food (think vegetables and lean protein sources) and either a gym membership or your own set of weights at home (e.g. kettlebells, dumbbells, barbell, squat rack, bench etc.).
Since the purpose of this blog is simply to give my advice / experience, it's worth pointing out that the three most important sources of information on nutrition and exercise for me have been the three top links in the Health section to the right: Martin Berkhan's LeanGains Blog, Lyle McDonald's Body Recomposition website and Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength wiki. These three people have been instrumental in my learning and I want to thank them for sharing their knowledge. (I don't know them personally, I simply found them via their websites).