06 Nov Dhilon Solanki Case Study: How Dhilon found the second wave and finally got the 6 pack he wanted
The best part about writing these case studies is knowing the ability they have to educate, motivate and inspire others to also enjoy the process and benefits of a true transformation.
In the summer of 2017, shortly after RNT began, we released Shyam Kotecha’s case study on how he went from ‘chubby city worker’ to photoshoot lean in the space of 15 weeks. The result Shyam achieved was incredible. Yet, when I speak to him about it, he rarely talks about the condition he achieved, or how spectacular the change was. Instead, he’s most satisfied by how many other people, just like him, he’s been able to inspire to do the same.
Case in point: Dhilon Solanki.
What’s interesting about Dhilon’s story is it goes completely against best practice. In fact, the article ‘Why the First Wave is the Best Wave’ was written after one of his check-ins during his very own second wave.
For most, the first wave is the best wave, and at the moment you first embark on a transformation journey under professional guidance, it’s critical you go all in. Don’t tip your toes in. Jump in and ride the wave.
When discussing this concept within our team, we all agreed that for 99% of people, the first wave will always be the best. And if you catch it right, you’ll set yourself up for future waves with ease.
That being said, human psychology means everyone is different, and no rule can be applied across the board.
Which is why I wanted to dig deeper into Dhilon’s story, and find out how he, after a ‘disaster first wave’, managed to catch a later one and get into the shape of his life.
AV: You first came to us at RNT towards the back end of 2017 with the goal of getting a six pack by Christmas. Tell us what your motivations were, and what led you to the point of starting.
DS: While I stated I wanted a six pack, that was never my true ‘why’. That was just the best way I could measure it objectively. To talk about my motivation we’d need to go back to further.
You see, I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over 12 years. There’s no daily routine. It’s not a 9 to 5, it’s a lifestyle. There’s never any consistency in terms of everyday working life. Each day is different, which is probably why I love the industry so much. At the same time, it also brings its challenges. Late nights and early starts, combined with the adrenaline of working in such an exciting industry does start to take its toll on your health. I was eating at irregular times, and often giving in to late night bingeing while being unable to find the time or motivation in the day to be active.
Looking back, this was the easy bit. In 2014, I branched out and opened my own bar and restaurant business, and this was an incredibly big challenge. It took so much out of me. The hours, sacrifices and the stress that comes with running your own business is insane. But what made this tougher was that I was always out of the house at the restaurant; I couldn’t do it like you do on your laptop! So I rarely saw my family at all, which was the hardest bit.
AV: I know I’m interrupting here. But the number one driving factor for me setting up RNT as an online business was for this exact reason. The hours, sacrifices and stress I can deal with no problem. What I didn’t want was to be out of the house all hours of the day, or tied down to any location where I didn’t have control of my schedule, nor have the ability to see my family or friends whenever I like. This is vitally important to me, and in the future when I have kids, I want the flexibility to be the most active father possible.
DS: That’s exactly it. That was the hardest part. In 2013, just before the restaurant opened, my wife gave birth to our son. So I was juggling fatherhood as best I could with the rollercoaster ride of running your own business. Every emotion you could possibly feel, I felt it.
If we fast forward to 2017 now, when I decided to sell the business, I was at a loose end. For the first time in my life I was experiencing a different pace of life which felt completely unfamiliar to me.
I wasn’t sure of my next move, nor did I know where to start building my focus. To go from an all-consuming lifestyle to a sudden void was difficult. I began freelance consulting while deciding on my next move, as well as making up for lost time with my family and friends.
But this wasn’t enough. I wanted something that was going to challenge me in a way I’d never been before. Which came at the time I saw RNT release Shyam’s transformation case study. I knew then that’s exactly what it was going to be.
AV: That void is a tough one, and it’s why I’ve always enjoyed all-consuming goals myself. Back when I used to work for someone else, I had that feeling on a constant basis, whereby I never felt truly challenged, and wanted something that was ‘all-consuming’. Being an employee, that’s rarely possible. So at the time I threw myself into competitive bodybuilding, which has that 24-7 feel running a business does. Deep down though, I always knew my next move in life was to quit and run my own business.
DS: It’s exactly that. While I set myself the goal of getting a six pack, I knew that’d be the by-product of my hard work. Instead, it was the mental outlet I craved. I wanted structure, discipline and to really test my will-power.
AV: Let’s talk about the first round back at the end of 2017. You came to us and said you wanted a 6 pack and to do a shoot by Christmas, but it didn’t quite work out like that, and it was – to be blunt – a disaster! What happened?
DS: I know. I still look back and think what a waste of time. I don’t think I understood quite what was required of me. Meaning, I thought a few of my son’s chocolates, or a couple bites of cake at work, or you know, the odd thing here and there would be ok. I didn’t quite realise the calorie ramifications of all these ‘treats’ and I ended up spinning my wheels for 3 months. Once Christmas came along I just gave up completely and forgot why I set out to do this in the first place.
AV: It was surprising, for sure. But what was more surprising was when you reached out a few months later saying you were ready. If I’m completely honest, I didn’t think you were serious… What was the turning point?
DS: I don’t blame you. My friends thought the same. After failing miserably, and still craving the structure and challenge in my day, I decided to reach out again. No way was I giving up that easily. This time it was all in or nothing. At the same time, I kept it low key, and only told my nearest and dearest. It might be counter to normal accountability advice, but this really worked for me.
AV: You were certainly different the second time round. You had a no-nonsense, ‘get it done’ attitude that’s required if you want to take it to the next level.
[Note] We started Dhilon on a four-day split with two strength focused days, and two higher rep days. He was doing between 12-15,000 steps a day already with work, so we allocated a certain amount to be done in a higher heart rate zone. With regards to his diet, we followed a simple structure of eggs / whey, rice cakes & nut butter / chicken & rice / whey, rice cakes & nut butter / chicken & rice. On the weekend when he had more time, Dhilon would use the RNT interactive nutrition planner to bring in different foods such as salmon or cod, but keep the overall ‘base’ similar. Also, on one day of the week, Dhilon was vegetarian, so we accommodated for that accordingly with suitable replacements. Overall, a very simple set up geared towards fat loss.
AV: What made the process easier the second time round?
DS: A few things… 1) I knew what to expect. I completely underestimated what was required to get into incredible shape the first time round, and I felt like a fool for it. So this time I was armed, which leads me onto 2) meal prepping. This was big for me and allowed me to keep the junk out of the house, and only focus on what I had to eat in the day. I typically prepped the night before, and having owned a chicken speciality restaurant, I enjoyed my time cooking, which brings me onto my final point, 3) making the food taste good! This time I put more effort into this, and made sure the food tasted good. I’m a real foodie, so this made the process so much easier for me.
AV: Nutrition is typically the toughest part for most. So if you can make your food taste ‘gourmet’, it can really make a difference to the whole experience. What’s your ‘go-to’ chicken recipe then?
DS: I really like this Lebanese variation of chicken, rice and veggies.
For the chicken:
- Chicken fillet (I had 130g uncooked weight) diced up in small strips (has to be strips, not cubes!)
- 1 tbsp swarama spice powder mix (can get from Morrison’s in World Food section)
- 1 tbsp harrisa powder mix (also from the same place)
- ½ lime juice
- Chilli flakes
- 1tsp garlic
- 1tsp green chillies for extra spice!
- Crushed salt/pepper
For the rice:
- 50g white basmati rice
- 1tbsp cumin seeds
- Handful of garden peas
For the veg:
- Any works, but I usually went for a mix of sugar snap peas, green beans and chopped mushrooms
- Chilli flakes
- Crushed salt/pepper
AV: Love it. Will have to give that one a try!
DS: It’s also worth mentioning here that because I was committed this time, I saw the results coming from both a physical and mental perspective. My structure in the day returned, I was being tested by this challenge and I had a real focus I could channel my energy into. I noticed this within a few weeks, and so this really spurred me to keep going.
I also quickly realised I was learning transferrable skills I could give to my son, and hopefully influence those closest to me to follow suit in some way. This became a real driver to me as the weeks went by.
AV: That’s awesome. The domino effect of a transformation is one of the most fulfilling parts of what we do. Did you ever have any doubts along the way in the lead up to your shoot? What were the biggest challenges?
DS: Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly times that I thought ‘f**k this – what am I doing?! Where’s the mint choc chip ice cream?!’ But it does very much become a case of mind over matter. Getting into shape is certainly a relentless test against your mental and physical endurance. Sounds insane, but there were times I would put a chocolate bar in my mouth then quickly check myself, realise what I was doing, and spit it back out! I laugh at it now, but I was so damn determined this time round to achieve my goal, I wasn’t willing to give in that easily.
I learnt to be conscious of my automatic, engrained behaviours and habits, and I knew I needed to break the cycle and create new ones. Even at the age of 36!
Seeing the weight drop like a sack of potatoes certainly helped. My Diesel’s weren’t fitting me, and I was seeing definition like never before, so this all kept me on track through the challenges.
AV: Well, I can’t say I’ve heard that chocolate story before!
DS: Ha, I don’t think I told you at the time. I was so determined to not let you down after last time, that was also a driving factor for me. A combination of having a shoot booked in, not wanting to let you down and all of the other factors we’ve spoken about culminated in a very strong ‘why’ for me. It’s what allowed me to apply pure tunnel vision on the task ahead. The more I think about it, it’s exactly like business.
AV: It really is. And when I think back to the times I’ve gotten lean, especially my 2017 bodybuilding season where I got inside out shredded, I learnt so many lessons that can be transferrable to business. Taking myself to the extreme has not only helped my business from a trainer perspective, and having that empathy, but it’s taught me so much about business itself. There are a lot of parallels to be drawn between the two.
DS: 100% agree. What’s interesting is that while it’s a ‘one-man band’ when transforming your body, you need the support of people closest around you. I mean, my wife has been incredible. It’s been a journey for her and my family too. We had to redefine meal times and choices when eating out, but we’re a far healthier family now for it, which is amazing.
What’s also been cool is that you guys at RNT don’t expect you to put everything on hold either. I still went to my close friend’s birthday meals, and I even took my wife to Venice for our anniversary! The real key was being honest with you, and building the plan around it. I knew that if I let you know in advance, you could tailor the week accordingly to allow for progress to keep coming. This was game changing.
AV: It really is about building that strong team, and having a close-knit group around you that’ll be there no matter what. That’s why it’s so key to be able to continue life, and not put everything on hold for your own reasons. Of course, in the finally 2-3 weeks when it gets real tough, certain sacrifice will need to be made. But before that, most things can certainly be worked around. How do you feel now after the transformation?
DS: The process has been fantastic and came at the right time in my life for me. The guidance and support from RNT has been second to none. And the results – wow!
Not only did I never think I would be able to achieve a great physique, but it’s changed my whole outlook on health and fitness. I have a greater respect for my body and my health is no longer taken for granted.
I completely underestimated the impact this would have on my overall life. I am more disciplined, structured and have greater clarity on my goals while launching my new business now!
AV: Amazing, that’s great to hear.
DS: I’ve never felt better. It’s been a great experience, and I want to thank you all at RNT for everything. I can’t wait for the next stage.
AV: It’s an absolute pleasure. I’m excited to see not only the next stage of your fitness journey, but how your new business takes off too. All the best!
To listen to Dhilon’s podcast, tune in here, or search for episode 75 of RNT Fitness Radio:
Final Pictures / Testimonial
Over the course of 16 weeks, Dhilon dropped over 10 kilos while getting into the shape of his life.
Dhilon’s next plan is to build strength and muscle, while staying lean. Here’s what he’s had to say about his overall experience with RNT so far:
I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over 12 years, where there’s very little daily routine. It’s an exciting industry, but late nights and early starts, eating at irregular times, and often giving into binges wasn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle in any way. After selling my business in 2017, there was a void in my life, and I missed having a daily challenge and focus.
That’s where RNT came into my life. I had studied the RNT programme for quite some time and had seen the various transformations which looked incredible. But I thought, how the hell can I look like that?
They were great. They understood my reasons for this challenge and understood my ‘why’. This was important as getting into shape isn’t just a physical change. It’s a full transformation – mind, body and soul.
My coach was accommodating, understanding and tweaked the plan where he saw fit. Sometimes I did question it. I was dropping weight like a sack of potatoes. My Diesel’s stopped fitting me! I was so focused and was in complete trust in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, there were times that I thought ‘screw it – what am I doing?!’ But I’m lucky to have had the support of my family, as this hasn’t been a one man show. It’s been a journey for my family too, but they’re now far healthier as a result.
The process has been fantastic and probably came at the right time in my life for me. The guidance and support from RNT has been second to none. And the results – wow! Not only did I never think I would be able to achieve a great physique, but it’s changed my outlook on health and fitness, I have a greater respect for my body and health and no longer take it for granted. I underestimated the impact this would also have on me in terms of my life, I am even more disciplined, structured and have greater clarity on my goals whilst launching my new business.
I have never felt better. A great experience.
Thank you for everything RNT. I’m now looking forward to the next phase!
To read more case studies like Sanjay, have a read of the different articles here.
For more examples of our transformations, have a scroll through growing page of before/afters here.
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