08 Mar Puja Teli Case Study: How Puja Transformed Her Mind, Body & Life To Create Her Version 2.0
This is a special case study for us. I first spoke to Puja when she reached out for help at the tail end of 2018. Her goal was simple: to use the physical as the vehicle to transform her life. I’ll let her tell you her background, her why, and her journey so far in her candid account below. But I want to preface this by stating how proud we all are of Puja. She started off as purely a client in November 2018, and when we advertised for the position of Business Manager in April 2019, she came on board as a member of our team ‘behind the scenes’. In the past year, she’s moulded this role into her own, and we’ve seen first hand just how she’s used the physical as the vehicle to produce a level of confidence, tenacity and clarity that’s not only transformed her life, but fundamentally changed how we operate as a business. Enough from me, let’s dive into Puja’s life-changing account…
I’m really proud to say that because of RNT, there is Puja 2.0. Without it, I would have still led an existence that I really came to despise.
The newer version is still taking some time getting used to. The older version is all too familiar. If you look at the ‘before’, you’ll see a mess. You’ll see a sign that I just didn’t care. It’s true, I didn’t. I didn’t actually feel my life was worth anything. I had spent years trying to fill a void that I assumed was there, and that void was filled with food. Food overpowered all decisions. It was there for any emotion or stress that came through. Working in a stressful role made me a reactive person all the time, and owing to its stressful nature I saw comfort and solace in food. Soon enough, the food I was consuming was consuming me. My health deteriorated, my mood was at an all time low and I couldn’t even bring myself to speak or communicate with anyone. I became a recluse. When I look further back, the void I assumed was there was actually non existent. I had tried to fill it with a relationship previously, but it didn’t serve me well, and in fact, almost ended me. When I left that environment, the food became the next attempt to ‘complete’ who I was, but soon took a hold on me.
There were two triggers for me to actually do something about it. The first came when my GP explained that I was slowly committing suicide through food consumption. The fact that I had voluntarily attempted this before, but now was being told that this was my second attempt, though involuntarily, numbed me to my core.
I left the surgery broken, but I had no idea how to rid myself of the mess I had gotten into. I turned to the only thing I knew, which was the thing that was taking my life.
I suddenly found a love for walking. It became my thing to do. When working in Central London, it was easier to get lost in London’s streets and its beauty. Through this I was able to get some air into my mental state, and it served as a sign of relief through a lot of turbulence. But my habits continued. I’d eat junk on my walk all the time, and as a result, I’d feel sluggish and mentally exhausted.
The true trigger to join RNT came on one of my extended walks to buy some clothes for an awards ceremony. I dreaded the whole trip. I knew I’d be out of my comfort zone completely as I had been unable to buy clothes properly for ages. I walked into the shop and was greeted by a sales rep. I explained what I wanted and she looked me up and down and led me to a corner of the store. She pointed towards some clothes and said they ‘may’ fit. Her unsure tone filled me with no reassurance but it was a task I needed to complete. I picked out an outfit and went to try it on. It got stuck halfway over my head and I just looked at the pathetic excuse of a human being in the mirror. I remember thinking I can’t continue like this. This isn’t me. I took it off and gave it to the sales rep explaining it didn’t fit. She looked disturbed and said ‘but this is the biggest item we have’. I loosely smiled and left, annoyed at the situation, but more so at myself that I had allowed myself to be bullied again by food, and that it led to such a situation where I couldn’t even do the basic task of shopping. I had already made the decision in my mind to join RNT as soon as I walked home. On the way though, the bully returned and I bought street food… because that’s all I knew.
A cry for help to Akash at the tail end of October 2018 was the best decision I ever made. I had no faith I’d get this far, let alone actually achieve so much in terms of weight loss, getting shoot lean and actually doing the shoot.
The Journey So Far…
It’s been a tough journey, but the most fulfilling experience I’ve had so far. My coach Kunal has been patient, calm and educational with his feedback. I’ve loved being trained by him.
My relationship with food has been like an abusive marriage. The dominant force of the triggers to reach for the unhealthy snack have been in my life for God knows how long. And what I’m finding through this journey with RNT is that whilst the new habits are chipping away at this awful relationship, I’m still in a very vulnerable place to go back to the thing that, as my GP said, will kill me.
It’s a harsh reality that I still dread every morning when I wake up, whether my check in sheet will turn green to say I’ve achieved it or not. Even after achieving this transformational checkpoint there is a lot of healing on my side, and still a lot of work to do. But I cannot take away from everything that’s happened so far. I’m the lightest I’ve ever been, clothes fit me that I had previously given up on, and most importantly, I’ve become a decision maker and a master of my own life. For someone who could never be decisive, the biggest thing I’m learning about myself is that I can make decisions, and that I’m in control.
I’m coming out of the woodwork, in the best possible way, chipping away at a version of me that I hated, and that I had wished would never have existed, but if a new version is to be created, an old version had to exist. That’s why this journey doesn’t have an end date. I’m taking things slowly as well so I can figure a lot out about myself, and I’d even say I’m still cleaning the palate, all these months later. I know I can’t undo years of my old self in a short space of time. I’m committed to making this a lifestyle solution for me. I owe it to myself to do so. There will never be a moment to give up – the accountability alone is way too high!
The emotional trigger to reach for the unhealthy snack or something off plan is, I’ve realised, is because I needed an outlet to calm my stress and anxiety. When I was at my lowest mentally, I’ve turned to my ‘friend’ – food. I took it out on food. Everything that I was going through; all the angst of the past, of bad decisions, and actual toxic relationships that I couldn’t undo – no one understood apart from, what I thought, food. That slow ecstasy turned into a slow death and destruction. I look at my first profiles sent to Akash now and see that destruction in full force. They represent bad decisions, a lack of self worth, a fear of failure, and even a lack of understanding of how to deal with success. No woman ever should feel what I used to. I always thought I’d hide my first photographs, but I want everyone to see what devaluing yourself and your existence looks like. I want women to be impacted enough by that image and version 2.0 as a call to action to take control of their own lives.
There’s no hiding in this process. I’ve learnt hiding does you no justice. I’ve not completely healed from this abuse, but if it wasn’t for the weekly accountability with my coach, I would still have been at the point I was at the start. But etching away at this new habit is changing me slowly.
I realised today that I really need to sit down and figure out all my outlets of releasing that stress and anxiety. I’ve not looked beyond food for this in such a long time, or probably ever, but I know now there are more options available. Plenty of things that I could be doing to relieve that stress and enjoy that ecstasy of mental freedom. It’s about focusing my energy to find new ‘friends’; ones that aren’t so abusive, and ones that won’t end me, but empower me. They are ‘focus’ and ‘control’. They seem really cool. I’m hoping their vibe transcends into me soon.
Being Coachable And Breaking The Ego
I realised early on that I was going to be educated with RNT. It was a weird set up: all online and I’d never meet my coach. But it worked. It works. I learned you’ve got to leave that ego at the door. I really respect Kunal’s knowledge, experience and opinion, and I found the more honest I was about my lifestyle, the more success I was getting.
We dealt with a lot of things around my lifestyle that I’d never really explained to anyone else before. It was about shifting the scenarios controlling me, to me controlling the scenarios. I’d eat differently every Thursday for religious reasons for example, but finding a way to deal with that and not move away from the plans gave me so much confidence that I could do anything. Dealing with my menstrual cycle differently – when usually even discussing this is a taboo subject in my culture – gave me control and was really empowering. It broke an ego too. Because now I see the ego was the assumption that the inability to function as normal each Thursday or during my period was the norm. I was able to change the rhetoric of both things, just like I’m changing the rhetoric around food.
In a good way, I started to dread my check-ins. It meant I had to face reality. You’re evolving in this process, and if you lie or withhold the truth in any way to your coach, you’re really just not being honest with yourself. It’s about accepting who you are at the moment, and chipping away until your true self is revealed. Being coachable, accepting advice, being questioned, and most importantly, getting better, became the norm for me. I realised I had an ego, and realisation is always the first step. But it’s about breaking down the ego of excuses, negativity and defeat. You can’t let that ego override this process. You have to be willing to learn about who you are at that moment in time, and accept there needs to be changes.
Why I Decided To Do A Photoshoot
The plan to do a shoot was never on the cards when I joined. It came about when I had joined Team RNT. At the time I was the only non-coach on the team, relatively new, and going through the process phase. My drop in weight had stagnated and I had been a bit lost. Looking at the team dynamic, they had all gone through transformations themselves and were experienced in the field of fitness. I wasn’t. I had only started taking fitness seriously when I started with RNT.
The decision to go ahead with the shoot gave me direction again. It also signalled a moment where I could end the old version; shed the skin of my past once and forever. It felt like the right decision and right milestone to focus on. I asked Akash to release my case study around my Mum’s birthday which incidentally falls on International Women’s Day on 8th March. Both true examples of the strength and resilience of women. After everything I had gone through, I could think of no better time.
I also wanted to show others that the impossible is possible. You’d never think in a million years that the version of me in the first photo could achieve such a milestone, but RNT enabled me to see it by getting me there.
The preparation for the shoot wasn’t the easiest ride, but the grind gave me everything I had ever wanted. The control I had gained during this period was something I’ve been searching for my entire life. The ability to choose where I’d put my energy gave me so much freedom. In the lead up to the shoot Kunal raised a few things to think about for the day, including hair and makeup. I always said there was no hiding in the process, so apart from some eyeliner, I wore none. A layer of make up seemed like a barrier which hid my true self. It was about which battles I wanted to fight in the lead up. Hair and makeup was never one of them. That control is amazing. The ability to choose. Now I can apply that control anywhere.
The shoot was really surreal, and I had felt numb throughout. I think the main reason was because it felt like a wake for the old Puja as she was being destroyed. It was about time, but it was tough as she’d stayed with me for so many years and she always meant well. Saying goodbye to 1.0 was difficult, but it’s what RNT has given me, and was very much needed.
RNT gave me a choice to not continue as I was.
I’ll always be grateful for the guidance and patience from Kunal, for the continued support from Akash, and the encouragement from our wider team. RNT has well and truly saved a dying soul. And I will do everything in my new found power to help them spread the word and change the rhetoric globally to prove that the physical is truly the vehicle not only to transform lives, but to save them too.
Puja’s Episode on RNT Fitness Radio
We’ve also recorded a podcast together for RNT Fitness Radio, which you can listen to on all platforms, or directly below.
Stats & Pictures
Starting Bodyweight: 76kg
Leanest Bodyweight: 51.3kg
Here are some words written from Puja taken from our Transformations page:
I represented an accumulation of bad habits, lack of self worth, and not much confidence. I felt I couldn’t continue as I was. I had been looking at RNT’s work for a while but it seemed inaccessible to someone like me that had gotten so lost in life. My trigger came when I had to go and buy some clothes and the biggest thing in the store didn’t fit. I had a terrible habit of looking to food for comfort and deal with any mood or stress by overeating. Soon the food that I was consuming was consuming me.
I had had enough so I got in touch with Akash at the tail end of October 2018, and it was the best decision I have ever made.
Slowly chipping away at the old version of myself, my bad habits, facing myself everyday in this process has been nothing but enlightening. The education that RNT gives out is truly its superpower. The accountability is the golden nugget to ensuring progress. Staying accountable each week meant I had to face myself and my reality.
The support and guidance from my coach Kunal has been so much more than I had anticipated. This transformation has been only possible due to his patience, support and forward planning.
RNT’s coaching is more than just about the physical. We’ve gone beyond that to ensure that I can create a 2.0. Focusing on my day to day, I’ve been able to see more clearly where I need to work on prioritising things in the right way. The momentum that has built over the last year has been motivating and encouraging.
It’s been difficult to accept how different I look. It’s welcomed for sure, but it just seems too good to be true because I had spent so long in version 1.0. The continuous support from Kunal is again making me chip away at the old mindset to truly accept who I now am.
RNT has truly saved a dying soul and has enabled it to live again.
Take The Test
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To read more case studies like Puja’s, have a read of the different articles here.
For more examples of our transformations, have a scroll through our growing page of success stories here.
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