Marrying the Five Pillars of Health in the RNT Journey

Marrying the Five Pillars of Health in the RNT Journey

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the first of many iterations of the thoughts I plan to write down here. More and more, I’ve been thinking of how our journey’s real power is in the unique ability to marry all five pillars of health: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.

What’s interesting is that common thought or assumed best practices only match a few together at once. In the fitness industry, you’ll typically be exposed to physical only, with a potential exploration of social and mental.

Upon reflection, the five phases are able to bring together these five pillars in a way that facilitates a transformation of self. It’s a revolutionary experience if you embrace every phase for what it truly consists of.

In the book, Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, I speak about this journey being the best self-development tool available. Since writing it in the fall of 2019, my belief in this has force multiplied. I’ll explain why.

Transformation in every sense is achieved by introspection coupled with action. Everyone is fighting a never-ending battle to balance the two. One doesn’t work without the other for a true shedding of the skin to a new being.

Introspection + Action = Transformation

It’s interesting how at the start, much of this is happening at a subconscious level. Your subconscious’ introspect triggers an action to start a journey, which may be ‘packaged’ as the physical, but unwraps as so much more.

I’ve read thousands of application forms, and I always smile when I see a reason for starting being only physically focused. Of course, it’s our headline campaign strategy. But the physical is the vehicle. The physical is the foundation and springboard to everything else. The physical, in the way we approach it, teaches you the repeatable process of introspection plus action on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Over the years it forms an anchor into your life that allows exploration of what’s beyond.

I’ve been exploring various timeless scriptures recently, with the Bhagavad Gita being the one that’s most resonated. With similar teachings of identifying the soul, and the Self, the mistake our world has made in its interpretation, is assuming that engaging purely in spiritual exploration is the ultimate path. The Reward phase. However, what these scriptures really teach is that the body/physical is the vehicle. Deep within, it explains how breaking the rules of physical self-care prevents you from authentically engaging in deeper practices.

The change in thinking here is that the physical body is the container, carrier and vehicle for the eternal soul, or Self. If our physical is running at optimal, it allows us to look past the cloudiness, and cultivate self-awareness of the true self inside the vehicle. Where our modern society’s ‘mindfulness’ focus has gone wrong is skipping past the physical, or merely thinking of it as an afterthought. It’s not possible to progress towards self-mastery without it. That doesn’t mean an unhealthy obsession with the body. Rather, a reframing that the body’s health is necessary for the entire, holistic journey.

The Start of the Journey

To allow this exploration, it begins with an education of the physical self. In our journey, it starts with laying down the foundation of specific non-negotiables of our Transformation Checklist (training, nutrition, steps, hydration and sleep), and figuring out a structure, strategy and system to automate these decisions into your life. This is the fundamentals of Cleaning the Palate. Many are resistant in this phase because they’re yet to accept this path, and what’s required. Environmental conditioning to ‘quick fixes’ and a lack of a journey means the idea of installing early non-negotiables of physical practice for a long-term lifestyle solution is foreign.

As we walk into the Process phase, our non-negotiables are challenged and put to the test. ‘Life’ triggers your emotions and your mental state, and makes you question your social relationships. Especially when you’re in the depths of the Grind, where everything is amplified, and you’re blessed with the first opportunity to marry the five pillars of health in a tangible fashion.

I always say that the Grind isn’t anything to do with the physical shape you attain. Being in the shape of your life is the welcome by-product. What the Grind is for is to impose a level of internal challenge and facilitate new growth in ways few other avenues can achieve. The word imposed is key, because the battle is driven internally, not by external factors. You go through this out of a choice to want to explore the depths of your core. This is when the notion, the physical is the vehicle, really resonates. Because you’re able to ‘move up the levels’. You’re getting a glimpse of what it takes to have mastery of your physical foundation. It’s a glimpse because it’s not automatic or engrained. The rewiring is yet to come. Yet, it’s a glimpse that’s important, as you now believe you can achieve anything. It’s a springboard to a better future, and clearer path ahead. It’s the introspection required to take action in the later Investment phase.

Your Transformation Checkpoint is only a snapshot though. Once it comes, it goes in a second. The journey never stops. That’s why being obsessed with, or falling in love with the way you look is futile. A need for external validation is only debilitating, and is often exposed at this stage as you enjoy the attention, the social gratification and the ‘feeling’. The only thing you can fall in love with is the journey. The journey to self-mastery and evolving transformation is all you can rely on. It removes the highs and lows, and stops the rollercoaster. It’s a mindset shift that brings equilibrium, and attention to the importance of the physical as the vehicle for all you do in your life. It’s a chance to achieve your purpose, because how you do one thing, is how you do everything.

Moving Up The Levels 

The practice of physical self-care needs to be seen simply as it is. As a vehicle for more exploration. Attaching your non-negotiables to the outcome of how you look is dangerous territory. Taking action only for the tangible reward is fake progress, and will keep you at ground zero. Understanding the physical as the vehicle to move up the levels towards finding your true Self facilitates a different way of being. This is when you think and act differently. You understand that our Journey is underpinned by opportunity.

In the true sense of yoga and meditation, not in modern day’s adaptation to ‘mindfulness’, it follows a similar concept. For example, Patanjali broke it down into ashtanga yoga – asht (eight) and ang (limbs), in Sanskrit terms. As you ‘move up the levels’, you shift from physical, to the mind and emotion, to spiritual oneness, where true meditation is achieved. Physical control is the core foundation. It’s said that one who doesn’t have body control, cannot have mind control, and without mind control, one cannot concentrate and hence, be unable to enter meditation.

If we consider another analogy inspired from the Bhagavad Gita. Our body is the chariot that carries our soul, or Self. Our mind/mental is the reins. Our emotions/sense are the horses. Our way of thinking/education is the driver. Our soul/Self is the driver of the chariot. Only if all pieces of the puzzle are intact can the chariot reach the ‘destination’ and release the soul/Self.

The Journey Continues

In our Journey, you have to move through the phases. You can’t skip any or swap the order. You have to build a foundation (CTP) in order to create challenge on top (Process) and crystallise your learnings and position (Consolidation). The Consolidation phase is so important because without it, you lose the opportunity to move the chariot forward into the true rewiring that happens in the Investment phase. Up till the checkpoint, you’ve changed your body for the better, but you’ve not transformed it to withstand the long-term pressures of life. The chariot isn’t yet built for bumps in the road, bad weather, or attacks. It’s in a fragile state that’s living with a glimpse of what could be, yet with an understanding that there’s serious work to be done.

The Investment phase is where the opportunity arrives to transform your mindset, behaviour and identity. The introspect, insights and ideas gained in the Process phase can now be actioned. The glimpse you gained can be turned into a reality. But you must work at the inner battlefield of your mind now. Your physical health is the best it’s been, yet your mental and emotional well-being is stuck in an old state. This is the opportunity to shed the skin to a new being and bring your physical, mental and emotional health at one. If you stay away from the work, expect to revert to square one. The glimpses will be a memory, not a future reality, and you’ll spin your wheels by latching onto new shiny objects, thus yo-yo’ing.

Snakes are real examples of this in action. They shed their skin to allow for further growth and remove parasites attached to their old skin. When it comes to the process, it must happen all at once. An incomplete moult will create discomfort, health issues and in many cases, death.

The journey is similar. Insufficient work in the Investment phase will cause a disparity between the physical and the mental and emotional. But rather than losing the ability to move up the levels, what will happen is you’ll diminish to a point where your physical will suffer too. A lack of investing will trigger mental health problems via yo-yo’ing and obsessiveness, as the inability to grasp the increasingly intangible nature of the journey is missed.

Our industry and society have conditioned us to focus only on the tangible, rational and logical. Physical results, new programs and quick fixes. The power lies in the opposite: education, accountability and the journey. You can’t see it. It’s intangible, yet it facilitates the tangible to enable great things to happen. The intangible is what allows the physical to be vehicle.

Deep Investing 

For the persistent few who shed the skin to a new being, you realise that this won’t be your last moult. You’re now in the realm of a recycling journey whereby you repeat bouts of introspection and action to transform to new levels. You continue to move up the levels.

As you begin to realise mastery of your body, and a healthy vehicle, you have a new capacity to go far within to explore more. You start to consider your relationships and the people you surround yourself with – your social health. The growth you’ve accomplished can mean you may have outgrown some relationships and strengthened others to a deeper level. At the same time, you begin to inspire, encourage and facilitate others to come along the journey with you. You realise that the most important aspect of the journey is the company you’re surrounded by. While internal battle will always be individual, sharing the experience with vulnerability, emotion and accountability gives you strength to persist and remain resilient.

The Reward?

The Reward phase is somewhat of an enigma. It’s a false paradise that doesn’t quite exist. Tangibly, perhaps so. In the context of our Journey, one in the Reward phase will have achieved mastery of the physical to an extent that there is no going back. The chariot is bulletproof. You continue to add more layers and strengthen it, but it’s never breaking down now.

What this brings is the clarity to fight a deeper struggle internally. You shed the skin to move up a few more levels, and begin to explore purpose, spirituality and the unanswerable questions in life. In the Grind phase, you will have gained glimpses of this level for a short period of time. As you become an Essentialist, you start asking questions about your flow, your relationships, and seek answers to challenging questions.

What most find is, once the Grind is over, this elevated state you’re in can be lost. That’s why it’s so key to act on your introspection, and invest seriously in moving up the levels. The glimpses you will have gained now become your reality when you’re at this stage of the Journey. Your physical is so crystallised, that your reason for physical health becomes solely to achieve your greater purpose in life. It allows you to seek this and explore it to its depth. Without a strong body, you have no foundation. Without clear windows on the chariot, it’s unrealistic you’ll see inside. The physical quest becomes spiritually connected. At this point you’re able to reveal your true authenticity, superpower and reason for existence. You can connect with this and start to connect the dots in your life.

Marrying the Five Pillars 

The beauty of our Journey is just how far it transcends. The parallels exist in many fields: entrepreneurship, relationships, careers, body composition. Essentially, it’s in any endeavour where transformation can occur. The path is the same, yet adaptable to the cause.

What’s unique about the RNT Transformation Journey in the realm of health is that it marries all five pillars together: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. Many health practices – from mindfulness, body composition improvements and spiritual exploration, all focus on one or a few. The beauty lies in all five, which pull together at different stages to facilitate continuous transformation on a number of levels.

What the Journey acknowledges is that it will take a lot of work. You can’t be passive and expect it to happen ‘just because’ you’re showing up in one aspect or phase. It’s hard work that starts with the physical, and keeps the physical as an underpinning. The physical remains the reflection of all the pillars. This reflection in the long-term is not merely an outcome of your Transformation Checklist. It’s the outcome of your ability to identify and introspect on the ‘muck’, and break it down through action.

The muck is a recurring theme in the Journey, and one which is the precursor to shedding the skin in all the different phases. When the muck festers, it manifests on many levels, with the tangible display often being in poor physical practices – such as overeating, lack of activity, poor sleeping patterns. Your ability to recognise the physical manifestation and address one of the other four pillars is vital. For example, you may link overeating to a difficult conversation you’ve yet to have. Or your lack of activity could be due to an absence of purpose in your work. Or your poor sleeping patterns may be a result of mental baggage you’ve not let go of. It all cascades down to the body. The physical takes the scars of everything above. It needs to be strong to withstand the battle, and lead it simultaneously.

That’s why this journey is transformational, in its ability to use the physical non-negotiables to identify the muck and the subsequent required improvements – mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. When you continue to repeat this cycle of introspection and action, with education and accountability to drive it, you move up the levels bit by bit to become unrecognisable, inside and out.

This is a lifelong practice. It’s why our Journey never ends. As life evolves, the Journey does so too. Your focus changes. RNT is all about transformation. This Journey is designed to marry the five pillars of health to transform you – but not for good; only until you identify the next level to step change to. It’s a continuous pursuit to achieve mastery, and be at one with your true Self. That’s where the magic lies.

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Akash Vaghela
akash@rntfitness.co.uk

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.