Re: reality check
Well it depends on your goals. Personally I'm not into the whole bulk and gain a stone of fat for a couple of pounds of muscle appraoch before 'cutting'. I tend to stay lean year round and make small lean gains over time.
Just eat a clean sensible diet in slight caloric surplus, train hard in any given rep scheme you choose, train with progression and then monitor and make small adjustments over time to refine your apporach.
Make sure you're not over training or doing silly amounts of volume and are perfomring exercises with correct form, this should ensure your health and longevity for the future.