When Dhilen first came to me, it's fair to say that he wasn’t in the best place.
After an extensive consultation period, it was clear there were a few goals that needed to be established before we thought about getting ripped, putting on muscle and looking like a brown Clark Kent.
Whilst on the surface he was holding things together, underneath there was a man struggling with confidence, feeling low in energy and mood and he desperately wanted to change that.
Dhilen was also constantly suffering from bloating and digestive distress. Of course, he tried a million dietary approaches to fix this but he still hadn’t found one that suited him.
He was doing what most people do to change their bodies, he was going to the gym, training hard and praying to the gods of gains that things would pan out.
By which I mean he wasn’t training with structure, intention or a clear understanding of what to look out for when it came to progress!
Can you guess what my first focus with him was?
Do you think I whipped up a concoction of mysterious ingredients and threw the kitchen sink at him to see if it would make his digestion better?
Or do you think I took a more measured and focused approach to understand why his body was reacting the way it was to his current training and nutrition?
You guessed right, no prize for that one!
Oh yes I was meant to tell you the answer to the weight difference between the pics!
But firstly, let me give you an outline of how Dhilen started like this.
We established with Dhilen that the digestive issues he had wasn’t caused by some allergy to food, it wasn’t caused by gluten or dairy or meat. He didn’t need a vegan, keto, gluten free, dairy free, taste free diet to support him with his goals.
What we did need to establish was how well dhilen was dealing with everything life was throwing at him.
Let me talk you through a quick analogy that helps our clients understand why this is so important to consider when it comes to achieving success and maintaining results in the long term.
Here is a cup.
Imagine that your alarm goes off in the morning, you are exhausted, so you hit snooze 3-4 times. Eventually you roll out of bed through necessity because you managed to get yourself late for work. You rush around, gobble a breakfast bar and gulp down a coffee and drive to work. Then you are faced with stand still traffic so you need to call your first meeting and rearrange, your boss answers the call and tells you what he thinks of the situation.
We haven't hit 9am yet and you have already had 3 pretty major stressors-- 1st relates to you being late, 2st you missed an opportunity to properly nourish yourself and 3rdly your livelihood just got threatened.
Lets fill up the cup based on those few things.
Imagine adding to this high pressure days at work, to do lists the size of mount everest, unhappy working environments, constant self doubt, rubbish food choices, low levels of activity, at home you have bills to pay, people to please, a social diary that doesn’t give you a break, non stop chores to do and then you may have children in that equation too, if you have kids, you know they tend to play up from time to time and that things take twice as long to do. Look you get the picture, I just listed a few things off the top of my head.
That cup just got fuller, in fact its at the brim.
You look at yourself in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, so you think better add the gym to the equation.
So you smash yourself about in the gym and after a month, in your head you are thinking, this is a great way to relieve the stress, you still look the same, but unfortunately you feel even more exhausted than before and despite you trying to eat “cleaner” you are getting horrible digestion issues, struggling with sleep and feeling pretty rubbish about things.
So on top of all the other stressors in your life, you added this new one unwittingly, thinking it was the right thing to do, and it was, but maybe you chose the wrong modality.
This new training you are doing is a physical stressor and it just causes your cup to overspill.
When it's over spilling, that is you struggling with all the symptoms Dhilen was experiencing.
So, we either need to know how to make this cup bigger, lower some of those stresses or get a reserve cup to flow things into.
Stress has a profound impact on our goals and unfortunately, you may hear the phrase stress, but only link it to work or emotions, you don’t like it to your physiology, your sleep, digestion, recovery time from training and if you are a man, you probably don’t want to admit that you are stressed at all.
With Dhilen, we were able to use a few simple health metrics that we teach our clients to use and understand. The more empowered our clients are with these tools, the more sustainable their results will be.
When he saw what we saw with these data points he knew it was time to change the approach and take note of what we were saying.
Within a few weeks, we laid out some simple practices of guided breathing, meditation, changing his eating environment to improve his digestive health and getting better sleep quality by actually following some basic sleep hygiene tips, like reading a book, using blue light filters on his phones and avoiding tense conversations before bed!
We stopped him beasting himself for a short period in the gym and focused on building his aerobic health with some lower intensity training.
We didn’t cut a single macronutrient from his diet and we simply taught him how to adapt his nutritional intake according to his needs.
Initially, we did pull his calories down but now this man can consume 500g carbs each day with no issues whatsoever he has learned to integrate his family occasions into his approach so nothing can hold him back from enjoying a few beers, samosas or date nights with his wife.
All these seemingly small changes stopped his cup overflowing and finally after struggling with digestive issues for years he was back to normal and thriving instead of merely surviving!
Now, this man has dropped the tag of being low in confidence, he is feeling healthy, happy and ultimately growing as an individual psychologically and physically. He is an inspiration to his family and community and no doubt will motivate you with the knowledge that no matter how difficult things seem, there is always a solution.