19 Aug How Akash Beat The Bullies And Became The Warrior
Before you try to accomplish anything, you need to establish your ‘why’.
Getting in shape is no different, and what I’ve noticed in those most successful in transforming their bodies is their ‘why’ is usually the strongest.
It could be anything from wanting to look good for an upcoming birthday, holiday or wedding.
Or it could be to regain your health, improve your energy to be a better parent and partner, or to create structure in your day.
Or it could be to improve self-confidence, self-esteem and overall mental health.
The possibilities are endless, and the exact reason doesn’t matter. It’s individual to you, your own life and your own path. The common denominator is that it needs to mean enough to you to keep you on track with your goal at all times.
Every once in a while though, you come across someone who’s depth to their story and ability to portray it just blows you away.
Meet Akash Desai.
Akash’s why was strong. Most importantly, he was crystal clear about it, and knew exactly what he wanted to achieve. Which is why he got the results he did.
But it wasn’t always like that.
In today’s case study, we’re going to take a completely different direction, and take you through Akash’s lifetime journey in making his dreams a reality.
The Early Years
Everyone has scars from growing up that shape much of their behaviour, values and attitude later in life.
Growing up, Akash said he was a wimpy kid and not very popular with the ladies. Diving deeper, he revealed:
I used to get bullied bad when I was a kid, so my self-esteem was extremely low. On top of this, I was below average at school in a system where it was the only skill and attribute that was valued. In addition, my dad was always telling me I wasn’t good enough. His highest life value was education, and mine wasn’t. Mine was health. Because of this, we always clashed and it made things worse.
When you combine the two, I was left with very low self-confidence and self-esteem. And it’s something I’ve always struggled with.
When I speak to many others who’ve been training from a fairly young age, it’s largely driven by similar factors stemming from low confidence, self-esteem issues or insecurity. Training can provide an escape and/or protective mechanism from certain hardships, and serve as the subconscious drive to start and continue.
In Akash’s case, he was doing karate from the age of 3. Once he reached school he started getting himself involved with every sport possible, and also began to find inspiration in 80s movie action heroes.
Stars like Arnold, Sylvester Stallone, Van Damme and Jackie Chan all served as role models for Akash. In particular, it was the self-confidence they exuded that particularly drew him towards them. He saw their incredible physiques as a commonality between them, and wanted the same.
Akash was hooked.
As he entered into his 20s, his training started to get even more serious. He began to train with a multitude of different martial arts including ju jitsu, kick boxing, wing chun and kung fu. He trained with the British gymnastics squad for a period of time, and even featured in a short parkour video!
He tried everything. But despite all of this training, he never achieved the results he wanted.
On reflection, Akash said:
It’s crazy to think that even through all these different martial arts, sports, and training modalities, I still had the body of a typical Indian male. I had a fat stomach and skinny arms, and I just didn’t understand it. I was almost done with it all.
Two things changed:
1. Seeing Hrithik Roshan (a Bollywood actor). I began to make excuses and blame my Indian genetics, but when I saw Hrithik, I had no excuses. He proved me wrong and showed me it can be done.
2. Seeing Akash Vaghela’s transformation with himself, and his clients. When I saw Akash’s bodybuilding prep blog in 2017, along with his track record of transforming clients with body types just like me, I knew I needed to speak to him.
I first spoke to Akash when he was on the verge of giving up on his health and fitness goals. He was almost 40 years old, running two successful property businesses with a beautiful family, but he still hadn’t cracked the code on achieving the 80s action hero physique he so badly wanted.
When he discussed his training history with me, it was clear there were some missing pieces in the puzzle that needed addressing.
Akash won’t mind me sharing this, but when I heard his passion and attitude towards health and fitness, I was expecting an already killer physique underneath just in a need of a little polishing.
When he sent me the following pictures, I knew there was work to be done. He was 75kg at 165cm, with an estimated body fat of around 25-30%.
This was the critical missing piece of the puzzle. Akash’s diet wasn’t anywhere near conducive to his goals, and a typical day of eating looked like this:
Breakfast: Protein shake
Mid Morning: Omelette or in his words, ‘anything he could get his hands on’
Mid Afternoon: Chocolate
Dinner: Whatever the family was eating
We needed to make big changes in this area, so initially we started with a diet on the following macros:
Due to his busy schedule balancing business, family and fitness, he needed the easiest possible diet to plan, prepare and execute.
He wanted a set meal plan whereby all decision fatigue was removed, and so we decided to use this structure:
Breakfast: 3-4 Eggs, 1-2 Slices of Toast, Greens
Mid Morning: Whey & Almond Butter
Lunch: Chicken, Greens, Olive Oil, Rice or Wrap
Mid Afternoon: Whey & Almond Butter
Dinner: Chicken, Greens, Olive Oil, Rice or Wrap
I haven’t written the exact amounts, as this evolved over time with the introduction of carb cycling and reduced fat intake, but this was the general food plan that Akash stuck with.
Initially, Akash only came to us for nutrition advice, and he was adamant about following this particular schedule for training:
Monday: Gymnastics / body weight strength training
Tuesday: Kung fu
Wednesday: Gymnastics / body weight strength training
Friday: Gymnastics / body weight strength training
In order for Akash to continue with his own training set up, the deal was that he had to train hard on a minimum of four days a week, and that he was applying progressive overload with perfect form.
After the first 3-4 months of coaching, while Akash was dropping a little bodyweight (albeit slowly), his physique as a whole wasn’t improving either.
When we booked the photoshoot in, I said to Akash the only way he was going to really achieve his goals was to allow me to take over everything, as his method of bodyweight training wasn’t working.
And so he did.
This isn’t a knock on bodyweight training at all. The problem here was it wasn’t being applied with the proper structure and progressions necessary to create real physique changes.
Instead, we applied a mix of weight training with bodyweight work where progressive overload was the number one focus.
For the next 4-6 weeks, Akash’s bodyweight didn’t move much as he was finally building some muscle mass!
His physique was transforming with every check-in, and he suddenly realised the focus he’d been missing in his training.
Akash’s Comments: Coming from a martial art and gymnastics background, I wanted to stick to my normal bodyweight training in conjunction with Akash’s nutrition advice to help achieve my goals. But it just wasn’t working. So I finally shut the hell up after pretending to know what I was talking about, and just listened to what Akash said. I was stubborn, and if you’re reading this, don’t make the same mistake I did. These guys are the experts!
Prior to joining RNT, Akash was the typical sedentary ‘working from home’ business owner. I know how easy it is to fall into this trap, and if you’re not careful, you can go through a whole day without having moved.
This can play a tremendous role in determining the state of energy balance in the body, so it was important Akash became as active as possible.
Once he saw the benefits of increasing his daily activity, he was sold on it. He began to walk everywhere, and even managed a couple of days where he’d clock in all his steps before 9am!
At the start of the process, we started with just a step goal of 8-10,000 a day. Once we booked the shoot in, we added low intensity steady state cardio (LISS) in, and sprinkled in some high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions too.
Dominating the Morning
The most common question I receive from people who are interested in transforming their body is this:
‘I’m busy, where do I find the time to do all of this?’
It all goes back to gaining clarity behind your why, and then organising your day to enable you to get the work done.
We’re all busy. Akash was no different. He was juggling running two successful businesses with looking after his pregnant wife and his 3 year old daughter, and not once did he ever complain to me about time.
He got it done everyday, and so I asked him what helped him most. He said:
It’s all about the morning. This whole thing was a massive journey for me. I quickly realised that if I left my training or meal prep to later in the day, I was more likely to slip up. Waking up early and getting my training done before the rest of my family woke up was the key to my success. I knew if I got my training done first thing, there was no chance to miss it, and I could get on with my day. Same with food. I knew if I spent an hour or so on Sunday prepping for the whole week, I was going to be on track.
Becoming the Warrior
Growing up watching martial arts and action movies on the big screen, Akash always wanted to embody a physique similar.
This journey for Akash had been a long one, and it was about becoming who he was meant to be: the warrior.
When I spoke to him about what ‘becoming the warrior’ really meant to him, he explained:
I’ve always thought and intrinsically known that the best version of yourself starts with your health. This is where you can most easily see change in your life over other areas such as mindset and spirituality, where the results are not so easily seen.
I’ve lived all my life trying to fit in, having personas for different people in my life as society dictates. The physical transformation has allowed me to be comfortable with who I am, and become the best version of me, rather than a lame copy of someone else. I’m now content and confident in ‘being me’, and I’m done trying to fit in.
Being the warrior means everything to me. It’s an expression of my true self. The best version of myself. It represents my life’s highest value which is growth. It used to be something I kept inside, someone I was embarrassed to express to the world. Even someone I was picked on for. I’m not embarrassed anymore. I embrace it, I live it, and after these all years of walking this journey, I’ve finally become the man and the warrior I always knew I could become.
Not Just The Physical
The more I do this, the more I know that what we do transcends way beyond the aesthetic before and after transformations.
What a physical transformation allows you to do is trigger growth in every aspect of your life. It creates belief that you can achieve similar transformations in your relationships, spirituality, self development, business and finances.
It’s a catalyst for the real growth that allows you to be comfortable in your own skin. It makes you hyper-aware of the different domains in your life, and what needs to be brought up in order to make you a better, more well-rounded person.
The physical, as Akash spoke about earlier, is the easiest to change. But what it does is instil you with the confidence to make similar changes across the board.
Akash agreed, and said the following:
Through my transformation, I’ve been able to achieve to my life’s greatest goal. One I’ve been working towards my whole life. If I died now, I would honestly die fulfilled. Now I have achieved a physical transformation, I know I can achieve similar transformations in all areas of my life.
Remember, I was that wimpy, bullied kid with zero confidence. I now don’t mind walking around with my top off if the weather’s good. While this may be a small thing for many, I couldn’t imagine doing anything like it before. It’s huge. I’m a completely different person. And I’m one step closer to becoming the warrior.
Lessons To Learn
There’s a lot to be taken from Akash’s journey.
As I got to know Akash better throughout our coaching journey, I realised more and more just how much this meant to him.
His why was incredibly strong and powerful, and this was a mental battle just as much as it was a physical battle for him over the years.
Besides the lessons of planning and preparation, establishing your why, dominating your morning, the real lesson is one of being relentless in your pursuit of what you want, and never stopping till you get there.
Just at the point of giving up on his dreams, Akash had one more fight in him. And it was this last one that delivered the result he so badly wanted.
Simply writing this fills me with inspiration, and I have no doubt Akash will continue to inspire those around him on their own journeys.
At a recent local business networking event, Akash surprised us all by delivering one of the most powerful testimonials I’ve seen, and this encapsulates everything this means to him:
Final Bodyweight – 61kg (-14kg)
These were his final comparison pictures:
Akash is only getting started. He now wants his black belt in Kung Fu, and wants to start making small martial arts movies for fun!
On a deeper level, he said to me after his shoot:
I want to now help my daughter conquer life starting with her physical journey as she joins me in training. She’ll learn through her hard work in training that anything in life is possible. She’ll be able to use the lessons taught through training to conquer all aspects of her life. And so the journey continues from one generation to the next…
Here’s what Akash has to say about his overall experience of working with RNT Fitness:
I initially came to RNT when I saw a transformation picture on social media. I thought to myself this is exactly what I’ve been looking for!
I had been training for a very long time in all types of martial arts and gymnastics, but had never achieved the results I wanted. I was about to pack it all in as I was jumping from one regime / sport / martial art to another. I’d already seen Bollywood actor Hritish Roshan prove that us Indians could achieve a great body, but I just didn’t know how to do it.
I contacted Akash from RNT, we talked about my goals, and we jumped right in. I even booked a photoshoot to make it real and hold myself accountable.
Through my transformation, I’ve improved my self-confidence tenfold, have inspired people around me, and I’ve been able to achieve to my life’s greatest goal. One I’ve been working towards my whole life. If I died now, I would honestly die fulfilled. Now I have achieved a physical transformation, I know I can achieve similar transformations in all areas of my life.
If you are serious about getting results and are done spinning your wheels, don’t think too much, sign up and take action!