With wedding bells around the corner Dr. Shaan Patel felt that it was time he made some real effort to build muscle so he could look and feel strong for his big day.
In the past, Shaan had taken the time and effort to create an exercise routine. However, what was missing was a proper structure to his training plan and nutrition strategy. This ad hoc approach to his exercise and diet regime resulted in him carrying excess weight around his midriff but with rather skinny arms and legs. In other words he was stuck with the dreaded “skinny-fat” look.
“I had a wedding that was planned for 2020 (which eventually got postponed thanks to the pandemic) but I really wanted to finally shed the skinny-fat look and build muscle and strength. I was working out but without any routine and I wasn’t lifting very heavy weights and I definitely wasn’t following any diet plans. And with the wedding coming up, I thought it was a good time to really take my diet and fitness seriously.”
While looking around for training programs Shaan came across RNT and was impressed by the quality of all the transformations. He had tried so many diets and training programs but had been unable to achieve the physique he desired.
“I saw the results so many people had achieved with a body type similar to mine with RNT so I decided to sign up.”
Shaan had hoped that he would nail his dream physique in about 3-6 months and wasn’t all that pleased to hear the hard truth that building a solid physique takes time and patience.
“At first, I approached the RNT journey with the wrong mindset. I thought I could get into amazing shape in 3-6 months. And when I was told that it would take more than that to get the physique I wanted I almost didn’t sign up! But I had an honest conversation with the RNT coaching team and I realised that there was a reason the fad diets and workouts didn’t work - they weren’t sustainable and they wouldn’t give me the long term benefits I was seeking. Now when I look back, I am so glad I didn’t decide to follow another quick-fix strategy. I realise now that staying in shape is a life-long journey.”
Working Hard On The Wrong Things
Prior to signing up with RNT, Shaan had tried a bunch of diet plans and fitness regimes. This included training really hard to run a half marathon while he was at college.
“During the time of my Residency, I was training for a half marathon and I can be very disciplined when I put my mind to something. In preparation for the marathon, I worked out for almost an hour everyday for 6 months and I lost around 30lbs (13.6kgs) but I was skin and bones and I looked so unhealthy! I was so mentally and physically exhausted at the end of that!”
While there is no taking away from Shaan’s dedication to his routine, his plan was too extreme: so much so that it also impacted his summer vacation in Europe with his family.
“Even while on holiday I was waking at 5am and going for hour-long runs and I wouldn’t eat any of the food! I was being too extreme with it. I even made things uncomfortable for my family and the people around me as well, taking away from their experience.
In comparison to that, my RNT training plan is just 4 times a week and my rest days are so important for my mental health and my physical strength. Looking back now I realise that what I did was the wrong thing to do, I had fallen into the ‘more is better’ trap and I ended up doing more harm than good.”
Creating An Easy To Follow Diet Plan
For a fitness regimen to work it has to be a holistic, sustainable solution that can be integrated into your lifestyle. This includes making sure that your training plan is something you can fit into your schedule week on week for the foreseeable future. It is also essential to follow a diet plan that includes foods you enjoy. If the training schedule is too strenuous you’ll end up with too many missed days. Similarly, if you are being forced to eat foods you don’t enjoy, you are going to have that many more cheat days.
“I realise now that the plans I had tried before were never really for my diet. I am vegetarian so I couldn’t sustain the diet plans that were prescribed in other plans. The biggest difference with RNT was that I could create a plan that was suitable with my diet and included things like mung dal and paneer, making it so much easier to follow.”
Juggling Travel, Training and Nutrition
It’s one thing to follow a training plan when at home but making sure you continue with minimal deviation even while on the road involves putting in some solid non-negotiables and creating a good structure. Making sure you hit your step-count, drink enough water and practise good meal hygiene are a few non-negotiables that are easily transferable.
“The great thing about RNT is the focus on really counting calories and tracking macros. The journey really forces you to understand the intricacies of meal planning. So while I travel, if I can’t track the macros I focus on total calories instead and and practice meal hygiene - so I make sure I keep an eye on the portion size, and ensure I have more protein and veg and less refined carbs.
Before I had the knowledge, I would choose more fried options like nachos and french fries but now I don’t even consider those as options. Now I also stop eating when I feel satisfied and not eat until I feel full! For desserts, I have a 3 bite rule - which means I don’t have to fully limit things that I like.”
With respect to training Shaan made sure he picked hotels that had well-equipped gyms.
“I would try to look up the gym facility beforehand. I would try to pick hotels that at least had a decent range of dumbbells, a bench and squat rack so I could continue to train even while travelling.”
Long term Muscle Gains
Shaan’s journey started in 2020 and he started his RNT journey weighing 65kgs. His Checkpoint weight was at 57kgs but the real success is his journey post Checkpoint after his consolidation and investment.
“Training has been really responsible for the type of gains I’ve had in the muscle building process. The weekly progression of weights for all my indicator lifts has literally forced the muscle to grow. Every time I went to the gym, I made sure I would try to lift to the maximum so I could stimulate my muscles to grow.”
Shaan was also not afraid to accept that muscle gain is a process and cannot be fast-tracked with fad-diets and quick fixes.
“I realised that I couldn’t go too fast. If you have my body type it is a journey to build muscle. You can’t go too fast - if I gained more than 1 kg per month I ended up adding too much fat around the abs. But I knew if I wanted to build muscle I had to accept that I had to have some fat gain.”
This is a fine balance that many struggle with, but the truth is you can’t build muscle if you stay too lean. Equally you have to go down to being lean before you can actually build muscle.
When Shaan started off with RNT he thought he was already too skinny and was at first perplexed that he was put on a fat loss phase before he was asked to build muscle.
“To be honest, I didn’t think it made any sense! I was already skinny and to think I had to become even more skinny before I built muscle felt completely crazy. But I trusted the process and I now realise that it was the right thing to do. It is much easier to pack on muscle and get into incredible shape after losing fat.
And now, I feel healthier, I feel good mentally. Most people thought I was way too skinny before so they think the weight looks good. When I do the next cut I know the muscle I am building will show through and the effort will be worth it.”
Top Tips for RNTers
As a long term RNTer we thought Shaan could give members starting out on their journey some advice on how to make sure they get the results they are after.
“If you are at the start of the journey, really focus on the week ahead of you. Just take it one week at a time. Think about what you can optimise every week - maybe you can make sure you hit your steps every day, or maybe you can focus on making sure you stick to your diet with no deviation. For your training, try and focus on one or two exercises that you feel needs just a bit more work.
Also, make sure you weigh yourself every morning. If I see my weight is not moving in the right direction I try to take steps to correct it before it goes too out of hand. When you don’t know what you weigh it’s so easy to overeat.”
The Physical Is The Vehicle
As a doctor and an entrepreneur, Shaan has a full schedule with a long list of responsibilities. When we asked him how his RNT journey has helped him he shares this:
“When I work out and train and eat well I realise that my productivity increases exponentially! When I’m in a rut while working on something mentally, I go to the gym and when I come back I feel refreshed and feel productive and find solutions. I also have a better focus on time management.
RNT is a great program, it’s so structured! The plan is assessed using key performance indicators, just like you would do while running a business. RNT applies that same business concept of regularly managing weekly KPIs to your body! And the results are really astounding!
The best thing is that I don’t have to change who I fundamentally am: I still travel, still go to socials and still train and manage my food so I can follow my fitness goals.”
In Episode 260 of RNT Fitness Radio Akash and Shaan talk in detail about Shaan’s journey and all the hacks, tricks and strategies he has integrated into his lifestyle so he can stay in the shape of his life, for life!