07 Jan Minal Patel Case Study: Minal’s Journey Into The Reward Phase
Having reached her Transformation Checkpoint in the summer of 2018 as a mother of two in her 40s, Minal makes for an excellent example of someone with a unique Investment profile that’s evolved as she reached the different goals she set herself.
Once she completed her first Process phase and successfully consolidated, Minal wanted to develop serious levels of strength and improve her overall muscle mass. She went against the grain of someone with her background and placed herself on the right of the Investment continuum.
When she asked herself what she wanted out of this Investment phase, her thoughts were as follows:
“I liked what I had achieved so far from where I started; I look great, feel healthy, more confident, and now have a structure, strategy and system to maintain this around my lifestyle. This was something I was never able to do before as I yo-yo dieted for years. I want to now be stronger with more muscle, and be able to achieve an even leaner condition next time round.”
With the long-term goal laid out, Minal’s focus was entirely on progressive overload with perfect form while staying in a calorie surplus. You could argue that Minal went against the grain here given her background, but it was a move that women in particular should draw inspiration from and look to as a blueprint for taking control, and setting short, medium- and long-term goals in order to stay progressive over multiple years.
To be able to master your body, it’s feedback and to have a lifestyle solution, one diet is never enough. You need to go through at least one to two annual Investment cycles to be able to make significant changes.
Instead of going through where Minal started from, which you can listen to more of on Episode 68 of RNT Fitness Radio, we’re going to begin at Consolidation, and explore the subsequent Investment phases that came after.
To begin with, Minal mastered the critical period post her first photoshoot; the clarity and awareness around this phase through the articles and podcasts hit home for her as she reflects:
“I was concerned about turning in to a telly tubby again. But I learnt through making lifestyle choices how I wouldn’t pile the weight back on. The key principle my coach taught me here was making this new-found lean body I had my new identity, and so I changed my lifestyle choices accordingly to match it.”
Running A Marathon
As you may have heard on the podcast, the start of the Investment phase also came at the same time as a secondary goal of running the London marathon.
“I was asked if I would run VLM (after I had set my long-term goal) for St Georges Hospital PICU, who looked after my nephew after he had tragic accident that meant he’s no longer with us. I couldn’t say no given the ‘why’ involved, a desire to give something back, and to show support to my sister Sina and her husband Jay. Aari (my nephew) donated 7 organs and we felt this would help raise awareness about organ donation, especially in the BAME community. It’d also help raise funds for new pieces of equipment (that the NHS couldn’t afford) at PICU which can be used to help save other children”.
As Minal’s calorie expenditure went through the roof with her running and high strength training intensity, we increased her calories to push recovery and facilitate some muscle growth; which for most is said to be virtually impossible during this period of training. However, Minal did a lot of the right things to put herself in the best position for both goals. She was ruthlessly consistent with her food, training and recovery at all times, and it paid off.
“On the food front I felt I was eating all the time to get the calories in…so happy! It was hard sometimes as I wasn’t actually hungry. As the miles increased on long run day (18+ miles), meals had to be timed well. A bowl of coco pops before a run and a protein shake after for recovery with nothing more for at least two hours after worked well. Anything more and I’d be sick. I learnt that with experience, the low digestive weight of the coco pops is ideal for a long-distance runner who has the calories to play with. With the high food, I progressed with strength up until four weeks before the marathon where I couldn’t lift as heavy. This was frustrating but I guess it was to be expected, and I had to drop some of the weights to focus on maintenance. After the marathon though it didn’t take long to get back to the heavier weight.”
The coco pops strategy came after a period of trial and error where we tested five to six different pre-running meals, all with various timings. We had to find the balance between digestion, recovery and performance. When running 18 miles, you don’t want your stomach to feel like a brick, which is often what the typically ‘healthier’ sources of carbohydrates can feel like. Given the rest of her diet was so nutrient dense, some simple sugars here for her training was no problem.
Balancing raising children, work, ‘life’ and a demanding training schedule meant for a period going into the Marathon Minal was burning the candle at both ends. She quickly learnt the importance of optimising recovery, especially given the high standards of goals she wanted to accomplish. With work triggering high stress, her training pushing her to the limit and often affecting sleep, Minal’s stress cup was regularly tipping over. Part of a productive Investment phase is working on these ‘lifestyle optimisers’ and often looking for the ‘1%’ when everything else is dialled in.
To help this, Minal used a combination of Support Max Neuro and Cortisolve (both great formulas to reduce stress and encourage a rested nervous system) post training and pre-bed. In the pre-bed combination, we also added Sleep Stack to promote deeper sleep cycles in order to facilitate recovery, mental cognition and overall physical and mental health.
Sleep is one of the most underrated aspect of any transformation journey, and if you’re wanting to perform your best in the board room or the weights room, you need to optimise your sleep. You can learn more tips here.
What Does the Scale Really Mean After a Year Of Muscle Building?
During the marathon training, Minal was consuming well over 2500 calories to cope with the training demands placed on the body. After it was finished, and for the remainder of the Investment phase, we had to realign her calories to her lower activity levels, and reduce it by 700 in order to give us the small amount of gain per week we were looking for (0.0-0.3kg).
Over the course of her 14 months of muscle building, she added 14 pounds of bodyweight to go from 98lbs (at her leanest) to 112lbs. This rate of 1lb/month was perfect, and is a testament to her level of consistency while managing work, socials and the busy life as a mother.
What’s interesting is that at the start of her journey two years ago, Minal came to us at exactly 112lbs, but just have a look at the change in her body composition over that time – that’s smart investing! Her love handles have stayed away and her legs look way more defined. This is why women shouldn’t be afraid of muscle building, and should embrace all the benefits a productive Investment phase can have.
“As the weight increased on the scales during that time it used to mess with my head but looking in the mirror at my physique, I couldn’t believe I was the same weight at the start of my journey while looking like a different woman! I thought I was turning into a ‘chunky monkey’ and I just kept telling myself to trust the process, keep checking in, not to stress and keep pushing with my weights which were non-negotiable. All the clothes I had at the start of this journey didn’t fit, even though I was the same bodyweight!”
The reason for this is simple. Minal embraced the key principle of progressive overload with perfect form. Her indicator lifts over the course of this period were as follows:
Indicator #1 – Leg Press
Start: 100kg 4 sets 12 reps
Latest: 240kg 2 sets 8 reps
Indicator #2 – Incline DB press
Start: 12kg 4 sets 12 reps
Latest: 18kg 5 sets 8 reps
Indicator #3 – Walking Lunges
Start: 14kg 4 sets 12 reps
Latest: 24kg 4 sets 12 reps
Indicator #4 – Pull Up
Start: A few half reps!
Latest: 16kg + BW for 2 reps and 10kg for sets of 10
Watch this video to see some of her training footage over the course of her journey so far:
Entering the Reward Phase
After a heavy period of Investment, Minal was ready to showcase her results further by initiating her first entry into the Reward phase with another photoshoot in 24 weeks time. This time she wanted to be even leaner with more muscle to show for it. She ticked all the criteria boxes needed for this entry, including mastering her:
- Structure, strategy and systems (3 S’s).
- Precursors, decisions and non-negotiables are all installed.
- Processes required to push hard on a diet.
- Meal hygiene in all environments.
- Handling of social situations.
- Ability to travel on holiday and return with the same body composition.
To begin with, this was her training and nutrition set up:
Calories – 1600
Protein – 100g
Carbs & Fats – selected by her preference (At this stage of her journey her level of education meant she could be more flexible with her foods with no worry of falling off track)
Steps – 85,000 per week
Training – Four days heavy resistance training
Cardio – 3x LISS per week
With seven weeks to go until the agreed shoot, Minal had the opportunity to do a ‘test run’ at the team RNT shoot. She was ahead of schedule and so wanted to run a mini ‘peak’ while gaining feedback from the camera on how far she’d come, and where she wanted to push towards.
After this first shoot, it was time to push on as we employed the strategy of ‘hunger days’ which would signify a big drop in calories on specific while increasing the volume of foods significantly (egg whites and veggies would be an example meal). The volume of food here would allow the calorie deficit to be stretched here without compromising satiety to the point of making it unbearable. This is a hard push, but given the structure, strategy and systems were all already in place for Minal, she was able to focus purely on execution. When doing these days, the key is to revert back to a set meal plan to minimise all decisions at a time when decisions are hard to make. At this point it’s worth making the sacrifice of food flexibility and taste in order to reach the goals you’ve set. Over the course of four weeks we added one ‘hunger day’ per week and then stayed with it at four days until peak week for the photoshoot arrived.
The end result was that Minal turned up to her photoshoot in the shape of her life with more muscle, shape and condition than she’d ever experienced. She hit her goal weight of 97.5lbs at a significantly leaner position than when she was 98lbs at her previous shoot, owing to the extra muscle added underneath.
Ever since consolidating her latest Checkpoint, she’s recycled the Journey back to a period of Investment in what’s called the Reward-Investment phase. This time she’s taken a far-left position on the Investment Continuuum, as she now aims to maintain her condition and build more strength while continuing to learn how to refine the 3 S’s and lifestyle solutions that work for her.
Minal’s Parting Words…
I am leaner, stronger and dropped 2 dress sizes now in past 18-24 months and WOW! Can’t see life going forward not looking like this other than a bigger bum, more abs, quads, hamstrings, shoulders, back…… ha! My lifestyle has changed so it wouldn’t go back to how it was before I started with RNT.
To read more case studies like Minals, 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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