The Art Of Saying No

The Art Of Saying No


Expectations of others.

Social influences.

Impressing others.

Craving recognition.

Making others happy.

‘Fitting in’.

How many times have you said yes to something when you’ve really wanted to say no to it?

When was the last time you said no?

Isn’t it crazy just how often we’ll sacrifice our own checkpoints, priorities, standards, rules and well-being, for the benefits of others.

And for what?

A short-term, fleeting ‘high’ of feeling like you’re part of the clan, when in many cases, you’d rather not even be there, or partake in the said activities?

I get it. It’s not easy. But this article will be geared to those of you who want to master the art of saying no. Taking back control. Being a leader.

While this may start in the context of body transformation, you’ll quickly see how this transcends into all that you do.

The Problem With Buffering 

At the start of 2019 we introduced the art of the buffer (read more here) as a strategy for the tail end of fat loss diets to help people navigate around social occasions while staying on track with their goals. It was introduced as a sweet spot between achieving the first Transformation Checkpoint, and being able to ‘take part’ in the social activity, typically revolving around food or drink.

However, too much of a good thing never ends well. And what we’re seeing is that the same strategies used to reach the Checkpoint are being utilised in later phases of the journey as a way of hiding a lack of control, or the inability to say no.

When you’re transitioning into Consolidation, and especially as you go into Investment, you have to shift away from buffering.

If you’re buffering for three days to pig out on a Friday night, you’re not in control.

If you’re walking 25,000 steps to indulge on Saturday afternoon, you’re not in control.

If you have to rely on the extremes to keep you in the middle, you’re not in control.

What needs to happen is a shift away from these strategies, and a move towards the art of saying no.

The Art Of Saying No 

If you want to be in the shape of your life, for life, you have to fundamentally rewire your behaviour, identity and mindset. You have to think different, and your actions need to align with a person who feels and looks as you wish to. This is a paradigm shift many aren’t ready for. But if you want to be in the shape of your life, for life, you will have to start saying no more often than yes when you’re presented with the opportunity.

This isn’t easy to come to terms with, nor is it comfortable at the beginning. You’re going to be constantly surrounded by people in your family, friend and social circles who are eating and drinking more, and in most cases, a mindless fashion. On the surface, it can feel like ‘FOMO’. Why shouldn’t I partake in the fun too? Why shouldn’t I have everything on the menu and drink till I drop? That’s the fun of being out, no?

The reality is, there’s more than meets the eye. In many cases, what you’re witnessing is a loss of control. A void being filled. Food and drink being used as a social crutch to make up for a lack of fulfilment in others areas.

If you were to speak to these people at the event on a deep level. And I mean, sit them down one to one separately, and ask them questions such as:

  • Do you really want to be here?
  • What would be your ideal evening here?
  • Are you enjoying the food and drink?
  • How do you typically feel after these events?

The answers may just surprise you. The amount of times I’ve asked these questions, only to receive answers such as (in order of the above):

  • I’d rather have a chilled evening with just the people who actually matter.
  • The ideal evening certainly wouldn’t be getting smashed, eating a ton and feel like a wreck the next day.
  • I didn’t really pay attention to the taste of the food and drink.
  • I feel crap; low mood, unproductive and usually regret doing it.

Imagine if you said no?

To have a long-term lifestyle solution to be in the shape of your life, for life, you need to take control of your decisions and actions. You need be a leader.

Saying no can be one of the hardest but most liberating feeling you can feel when going through this journey towards self-mastery.

It’s part of the secret sauce to becoming resilient, and the one stop shop for realigning with your priorities and checkpoints whilst faced with competing and conflicting choice and opportunities.

Being able to say no means becoming an essentialist. It means understanding your flow, what fills you, and when you feel at your best. It means understanding your why, and your why behind your why. It requires connecting to these in times of choice.

It’s asking yourself, will this serve me? Or am I just saying yes to live mindlessly, fit in and avoid any awkwardness?

The first time you’ll experience this on the journey will be in the Grind. That’s why this stage of the Process phase can be so powerful. In order to achieve a life changing transformation, you have to say no. Or you’ll fail the Grind. During the Grind is when you learn to become an essentialist, you understand your flow and you connect to your deeper why. But in order to experience these benefits for life, you have to carry these learnings forward. There’s no use in embracing the Grind, and forgetting it all once you’re on the other side. That’s where relapse kicks in. Rebounds. Yo-yo’ing. The vicious cycle. What you have to do instead is bottle up all your findings in the Grind, and use it as your strategic filter as you move into building your long-term lifestyle solution.

The First Time I Said No 

I remember it vividly. It was 2009, and my aunt was getting married. The build up to the big day was all being hosted at my house. It was going to be a week of festivities, food and drink. A lot of it.

I’d caught the iron bug, and was beginning to take my training and nutrition very seriously. I’d started to see how the physical was the vehicle for my life. I was gaining confidence, focus and control in all areas, and I was transforming the skinny fat kid with ‘moobs and a pot belly’.

As the week began, all I could see was fried food, sweets, curries, takeaways, beers, you name it. I thought to myself. There’s no way I’m eating that for a week. I’ll eat it maybe once or twice around the wedding day, but for a whole week? No way.

So I said no. I said no to family members attempting to force food on my plate. Said no to what over 50 people a day were eating. Said no to their ideals. And I took control. I brought my own food. I even cooked some of it in front of others. I woke up early to train before events began. I enjoyed the week for what it was – a celebration of my aunt getting married. Not a 7 day indulgence of food and drink. Different perspective, right?

I was ridiculed by some.

‘Is everything okay?’

‘Are you ill?’

‘What’s wrong with you?’

‘Why don’t you just be normal?’

‘What is Akash doing?’

To say it didn’t get to me at this time would be a lie. The first few times are always hard. But I knew what I wanted, how I wanted to feel, and what my priorities were.

As the week progressed, I felt liberated. The week after felt like a big victory.

But it gets better. A few years later, the same people who ridiculed me started asking for advice. The same people who questioned my behaviours said they ‘wished they could do what I did’. To this day, some of the very people who were there that week are now on the RNT Transformation Journey.

It all came full circle.

A Few Home Truths When Saying No 

You might be reading and thinking how to even begin with your ‘first no’, and what the reaction will be. Here’s what really happens:

  • You don’t lose friends because you took the responsibility to say no to something you don’t want. The ‘friends’ who ridicule you and make an issue of you saying no aren’t really your friends, and are only thinking of themselves. More likely in fact, they’re defecting their own insecurities onto you.
  • Food, drink and experiences will always come and go; there will always be another time to try ‘X’ – especially if your goal is to live a lifestyle solution.
  • Your first no will feel like the world has stopped, and everyone has their eyes on you. But that’s your head and perception playing tricks on you.
  • Nobody has ever lived a lifestyle solution trying to fit into other people’s perceptions, rules and ways of living.
  • The more you say no to the things you don’t want, the more times you can say yes to the real things you want to do.

‘No F*cks Given’? 

It’s important to distinguish here that the art of saying no is not a case of being awkward, annoying or saying you don’t care. It’s far from that. It’s not about ‘no f*cks given’. It’s about rules, and living in alignment with what you want to do. It’s not becoming a recluse and avoiding all events. Far from it. It’s going to the events and being in control. It’s doing everything you want, the way you want. It’s going out to eat with your best friends, but not finishing the meal kneeled over and off your face. It’s finishing the meal after a few hours of stimulating conversation and former deeper connections.

Saying no makes way for all the yes’s you want in your life. This physical journey can only be the long-term vehicle in your life if you say no.

When To Say No 

So how do you know if you should say yes or no?

Ask yourself:

  • Does it align with my highest priorities and values?
  • Does it make me feel good?
  • Does it link to my why, and my why behind my why?
  • Will I really enjoy it?
  • Will I regret it after?
  • Is it truly worth it?

Nathan’s FOMO 

After spending the best part of 14 months as a digital NOMAD, I asked Nathan his thoughts on saying no.

“I was living in a consistent state of FOMO when travelling. All the local food cuisines, the changing routines, the time zones, etc. It looked glamorous on the outside, but the truth is, I was fighting the yes/no game every day, and it was mentally draining. I had to change, and turn my yes’s into no’s. So I picked up the art of saying no.

I said no to changing my routine in different places and letting others work around me. I said no to moving my training and meal timings, regardless if I was going to miss the hotel breakfast.  I said no to ‘getting my money’s worth’ of local cuisine and ‘experiencing it all’, and said yes to only one meal per city/country I was visiting. I said no to mindless social media, no to evenings wasted watching TV, and no to boring socials. Instead, I said yes to new skills, new hobbies, and ‘me time’.

Ultimately, some of the best things I’ve achieved personally and professionally have had lots of no’s during the journey. Saying no has been very hard in many cases, and I felt like I could always ‘persuade myself’ to say yes and do something else. But obstacle is always the way, and you will always have to come back and tackle it at some point.”

It’s Either Hell Yes Or No 

I always liked Derek Sivers quote, “If I’m not saying ‘Hell Yeah!’ to something, then I say no.”

His context was business, but it applies across the board, as does many of the principles discussed in this article.

Remember, you are in control.

You have the power to make the choices that align with your highest priorities in every situation.

Be a leader, say no, and start living your lifestyle solution.

Take The Test 

To score yourself against our 3 Transformation Keys, and discover whether you’re ready to begin your journey, take the test today! It’s 100% free of charge, asks 30 yes/no questions, and you’ll find out your score with a personalised report on how to improve within 10 minutes.


Related Articles

How Sanjeeta Regained Control Of Her Day 

The Art Of The Buffer

Stay Updated

For any questions, topic requests or if you just want to get in touch, please feel free to email us on To make sure you never miss an article, video or podcast, subscribe to our newsletter here. As a bonus, you’ll also receive a copy of our RNT 25 Day Extreme Fat Loss Plan! For day-to-day updates and tips, follow us on: IG @rnt_fitness @akashvaghela or FB RNT Fitness

Akash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela is the Founder of RNT Fitness, where his mission is to see a world where everyone experiences the power of a physical body transformation to act as a vehicle for the greater good in their lives. Akash has produced 200+ blogs, 100+ videos and hosts the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, which has amassed over 110,000 downloads in 90+ countries across 100+ episodes. Alongside this, he's been seen in Men's Health, BBC, T-Nation, Elite FTS and the PTDC, while also regularly speaking nationally and internationally on all things transformation.