As a high achieving self-starter, Dr. Tapan Patel is someone who thrives on setting the bar high so he can be the best version of himself in all aspects of his life.
Tapan wears many hats: he is a doctor, an entrepreneur - running an exclusive cosmetic clinic in London as well as a loving father. It is no surprise therefore that he has a tight schedule. His days are packed with work commitments and his weekends are busy with social commitments. On top of that, Tapan is required to travel extensively for work.
Like most high achievers Tapan likes to lead a full life that is full of energy. He was therefore really unhappy that his health and fitness levels were far from optimal. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t achieve the physique he aspired towards.
“I tried a lot of different things, but nothing really clicked. I read fitness magazines, but they didn’t really help. I made sure I did some cardio, but it was probably a bit too much. I had a weights program, but it lacked structure. And of course the one thing that went against me was my active social life. I had late nights from Thursday through to Saturday when I met with friends and family. I loved to drink and eat lots of wonderful food! I was also really sedentary over the weekends. I would go to the gym on Saturday but would spend the rest of the day on the sofa watching televised sports!”
While Tapan looked good in clothes he never felt confident enough to take his top off when he was on holiday at the pool or by the beach. He could never break out of the skinny-fat mould.
“I honestly thought that this was as good as it was going to get! I thought I just didn’t have the genetic predisposition to carry lean muscle.”
When Enough Was Enough
Although filled with good intentions, Tapan always fell back on the age-old excuse that he was just too busy to put in more time and effort into his health and fitness. He joined a high-end gym and hired a personal trainer and he did see some results. But when a back injury took him out of commission, he went off the rails again.
The lynchpin moment that jolted him out of this downward spiral was when he fell ill with Covid.
“I got Covid in March 2020 and this was before the country went into lockdown, before anyone realised the level of impact this virus could have on our lives. When I caught it I got hit badly. I had pneumonia… I couldn’t breathe… every breath I took hurt and would set off a coughing fit. There were one or two nights in hospital when I thought I was going to die. They were the scariest few nights of my life.”
After he recovered, Tapan was like a bull charging towards the red flag. He completely let go of the reins…
“When I got better I completely let myself go! I ended up eating everything I could get my hands on - thinking that I deserved this after my ordeal!
I was eating all the wrong food, drinking quite a bit of alcohol and I even started fairly early on in the day. This of course then impaired my food choices. I had always been about 70-72kgs but very rapidly I went up to 88kgs which was immense for me!”
Tapan had gained about 13kgs in about 2 months. Thanks to lockdown his cosmetic clinic was shut, which meant he didn’t have any structure to his day. He was going through boxsets and staying up late into the night watching shows and as he says himself, “had every bad habit going”.
The saving grace though was the fact that he was well aware of what he was doing, he knew that he was self-sabotaging and he knew that he couldn’t do this forever.
“Every time I couldn’t fit into clothes I just got out slightly bigger clothes from the back of my wardrobe! I was in my baggiest pair of shorts and even they weren’t fitting me! That was the day I actually joined the cohort in RNT.”
Tapan was in his mid 40s and he knew that if he didn’t do something to change things ASAP he was jeopardising the rest of his life.
“My father has always been really healthy and even now he is always ready to lend a helping hand. I wanted to be the same, I wanted to be there for my kids, not just now but even 5, 10, 20 years later.”
This moment of epiphany shook him out of this rut and he realised that being healthy doesn’t just hold aesthetic value but would have an impact on the quality of life he wished to enjoy as he grew older.
Why RNT Works
The idea of joining RNT had flashed up a few times but somehow Tapan didn’t feel confident that it was the right thing for him.
“I had seen some incredible transformations but somehow just never believed that an online personal training company could help me achieve something. I realise now that I was being foolish and I do think about that as wasted time.”
Tapan had worked with a PT in the past and he had managed to achieve some results but he found that it was just not sustainable.
“Having a PT in the gym was so rigid! I had to make it to the gym on a specific day at a specific time; and if for some reason I couldn’t make it I had to miss a session. Plus it was so expensive, I couldn’t justify the expense over an extended period of time.”
Getting The Ball Rolling
When Tapan signed up, he was really nervous. He was almost afraid that he would be told that he had gone past the point of no return and that nothing could be done to bring him back to feeling healthy and well.
“When I signed up I had taken photos of myself and sent them in and I was so embarrassed! Part of me wanted to quit as I just thought I couldn’t do this! But I had my ‘why’ firmly in place, I knew that I needed to turn my life around. It was such a huge relief when I received my first email! It was so positive and encouraging. When I read that first email all my fears were set aside. And when I was told that I would see visible results in 4 weeks I was so excited and eager to get going.”
What Really Helped Progress
1. Counting Steps
Tapan had never taken the time to even look at his step count before joining RNT. So when he did look at the in-built pedometer on his phone he realised that his daily step count was actually less than 1000!
“When I realised how important my step count was, I decided to walk to work and back. I live about 5 miles from where I work so I decided I would never use the tube to commute to work again.”
2. Weighing Food
The only way you will know for sure that you are consuming the right amount is by actually measuring the amount of food you will eat per meal. A lot of people believe that weighing food is an extreme measure that borders on having a food disorder. It is in fact just data - powerful data that can help you change the way you feel in your body.
To lose body fat you have to be in a calorie deficit and guesstimating will not help you lose excess body fat. Only a set of food scales can tell you exactly how much you are consuming. Your eyes will always deceive you and trick you into thinking you are eating less when in fact you are eating more!
“I realised that I had to be pedantic, I had to be obsessed about weighing my food. So much so that even when I travelled I carried a set of food scales. This completely negates the chances of making erroneous portion sizes. At first I felt awkward standing at the buffet counter with a set of scales, but I soon realised that no one really cares and something as simple as that kept me from losing momentum when I was travelling.”
Every member’s journey is unique, but at the same time there are a lot of factors that are similar. If you are struggling with a particular aspect of your journey, chances are that someone else has faced the same obstacles and figured out a way to overcome them.
“I listened to about 20 podcasts in a row and I did this while I was walking to and from work. And I could relate to every single story, some of them felt like it was exactly my story and it really inspired me and helped to keep me motivated.”
4. Involve Friends And Family
The RNT methodology isn’t a quick fix, slap-dash methodology. It works because it is highly customisable to make sure you can follow this structure for a long time. And when you are following a plan over the long term, you need to let the people you are close to know. Only then will you get the support you need to achieve your fitness goals.
“I tried to follow the RNT program in secret, which was a big mistake. I was just worried that my social circle wouldn’t understand what I was doing and their reaction would derail me. But when I went to my best friend’s birthday I took him aside and told him what I was doing and why I wasn’t going to be drinking. And he was so supportive! When I ordered a non-alcoholic beer no one really cared! And I realised that it wasn’t about what I ate or drank, it was about spending quality time! That first chat with my friend was scary but after a while everyone got used to it and supported me.”
There is nothing like the pressure of knowing that you will be standing in front of a camera in a few short months to keep you on track.
“When I booked in my photoshoot with Skot Visuals, I remember speaking with Shyam and he told me that this simple commitment would keep me in-line with my targets, and he was absolutely right!”
6. Trial and Error
Finding the perfect lifestyle solution takes time and patience. You can’t expect to nail it in a week, it can take years to find the perfect balance. What works for one, may not work for others. But once you find what works - you can nail it down, lock it in and stick with it.
“I find intermittent fasting (IF) and following a ketogenic diet works for me. Since I have glucose intolerance, IF and Keto help me keep my blood glucose levels in check. This doesn’t mean that it’s some magical formula, I still have to stay within my calorie count and my macros but now I have a method that works for me. I have a large fasting window and shorter windows between meals so I feel full and it helps me manage my hunger levels. I know this works for me so I stick with it.”
Staying On Plan Even While Travelling
Staying true to your training and diet plan at home is hard work but travelling frequently can really throw a spanner in the works.
Tapan’s business requires him to travel frequently and to certain parts of the world where it’s not as easy to follow a specific plan.
Rewiring Old Behaviours
“It really comes down to mindset and rewiring old behaviours. My long haul flights are more luxurious and I always have access to the business lounge at the airport. As soon as you enter these lounges the first thing you see is free beer, wine and champagne. It’s so easy to walk over and pour yourself a glass or two! And I’ve done that for the last 10 years! So when I walked into these lounges after starting with RNT I had to take a deep breath and make myself pick up a bottle of water instead.”
Staying away from alcohol while flying meant that Tapan made better food choices when he reached the hotel room and when he landed he felt more clear headed and better able to work effectively.
Planning Your Stay
“When I booked in a hotel I always called ahead and enquired about the gym facilities, I wanted to be able to continue to train while away. I also carried my protein powder in sachets - since they were already measured out, it was one less thing for me to worry about when rushing between meetings.
I also carried my food scales as well as a set of portable bodyweight scales to make sure I stayed on track with my weight loss goals”
A huge factor that is often pushed aside is making sure you get enough rest and sleep. It’s important to remember that more is often not better, better is better - and the best way to make sure you are performing better is by making sure you get enough rest.
“Poor sleep can really impact your decision making. As a person who likes to succeed I don’t suffer from lack of motivation. But if I am sleep deprived I end up feeling too tired to make the right decision, so I slip.
While on the plane I literally visualise myself as being in the country I’m travelling to and I behave like I would if I was already there. So for instance if I’m travelling to India and it’s 5pm there, 4 hours later I’ll go to sleep. This way I prepare my body to be in a different time zone, which means I feel rested and ready to work as soon as I land.”
After hitting Checkpoint many RNTers find managing diet and nutrition treacherous terrain. You are no longer eating for fat loss, which means you can be more flexible with your calories. But this doesn’t mean you can let go completely and eat everything you can get your hands on.
“It’s so unfair but if you have a few consecutive days of bad choices your body starts to change. If you have been avoiding certain behaviours for weeks or months, it suddenly becomes irresistible.
I was rather unlucky, as I got Covid again in December just a few days before Christmas. This meant I had to self isolate and miss out on all the celebrations. I couldn’t really train so I wanted to eat all the food I could.
But then I reminded myself of my ‘why’ - I am going to be 50 in July 2022 and I wanted to hit 50 in the best state of health possible. This helped me hit the brakes and get back to my regular routine.”
Consolidation is a time when we have to be extra particular about our training and nutrition because it’s here that things can unravel really quickly. You need to have a deep and meaningful ‘why’ to really keep you grounded so you can stay in the shape of your life, for life.
Key Advice To RNTers
The collective wisdom of RNTers is a powerful tool that can really help our members achieve amazing results. Hearing how other members have managed cravings or pulled themselves out of a bad week can really inspire and motivate.
Tapan has this to share when asked to add to this collective wisdom:
“If I can do RNT, literally anyone can. I don’t think I possess any particular genetic advantage that gives me an edge over others.
Don’t over analyse. If you just follow the plan you can achieve remarkable results.
Lock in some accountability. I told my friends on social media that I was training for the 4/4/48, which is essentially running 4 miles, every 4 hours for 48 hours so around 77km in 48 hours. Once I announced it, I couldn’t go back on it! Plus I was doing it for charity.
Allow yourself a reward for achieving your goal - maybe a holiday or a new wardrobe.
Realise that it is a journey and celebrate the small successes - this will keep you going.”
The Physical Is The Vehicle
“I like to set challenges and relish the accomplishment of achieving them. Training makes me more resilient in other parts of my life. These habits that I have developed are synergistic. So, when I sleep better my productivity improves. When I look after myself my productivity improves, when I eat better my productivity improves.
This is why my time with RNT has been the single best investment for my health and wellbeing. I do feel 50 years young. I want to find things that will push me in the right way, with the right balance without running myself into the ground. I don’t want to use age as an excuse. I am in better shape now than I was when I was 18 so I look into the future and see what can be done and what can be achieved. The possibilities are endless.”
To hear more about Tapan’s amazing RNT journey tune into Episode 263 on RNT Fitness Radio. In this candid conversation he talks to Akash about the trials and triumphs of his journey as well as the little hacks and tips and tricks he has used to build his unique lifestyle solution.