When you’re hit and thrown to rock bottom, you have two options.
You can dwell in the misery of the pit and continue to linger on past events that keep you pinned to the ground.
Or you can fight.
You can learn to let go, allow yourself to grow, and drive yourself back to the top. No one else can do that for you, it’s all on you. The driver of the car. It’s your hands on your steering wheel, and it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it.
Suraj knew this all too well. After hitting rock bottom through the break up of his marriage and the loss of his business, he could easily have spent years in the mist with no real direction, and lost himself.
Instead, he knew that while he was unable to undo the past, he could learn from it and create a better future for himself. He also knew that this all starts with a relentless focus on himself.
He had to make himself number one again. Back in the spotlight. He had to expose all his vulnerabilities and weaknesses, test himself to the limit, and climb his way back to the top.
People around him said he should learn a language or find a hobby. Both fun, but when his counsellor at the time suggested he should go to the gym, a spark was lit.
That’s when he came across RNT. And that’s when he decided that he was going to transform his body, change his life, and push himself in a domain he’d never taken seriously before.
So his journey began. And what a journey it’s been so far. Through mastering his physical being, he’s been able to use it as a springboard to everything else.
His confidence is through the roof.
He’s now set up and successfully scaled three businesses.
His relationships in his life are stronger than ever.
Suraj’s broken from the shackles of his past, and through his journey, he’s been able to find an avenue to deal with the pain of the past, and forge together a future that is extremely exciting.
“I started my RNT journey as something to focus my energy on during a difficult period of my life, at work and at home. What started as something to get my mind off things quickly became something of an obsession and I found myself enjoying the benefits of working out early in the morning and having a cleaner diet.
Going to the gym became a time for me to switch-off from the world and have 1-2 hours of pure focus on myself. With my headphones in and zoned out from everything else, the gym became my second home and I started to experience the non-physical benefits you get from lifting weights.
The gym lit a spark in me that I didn’t know I had – a newfound passion for improving my mind and body. It became my elixir for life.”
Through a lack of structure, direction and a culmination of bad habits, Suraj came to us at RNT at 85kg with very little muscle mass to show.
In the past, training and nutrition had never been at the forefront. He trained in the gym, but was your typical gym goer who’d bounce from program to program while going through the motions.
His nutrition was similar, as he’d hop his way around the fad diets with no real results to show for it.
Up till then, he had no intrinsic ‘why’. But once the switch was flipped, and he’d connected with how transforming his body could impact his life, everything changed. He embraced the RNT principles and dived headfirst into his journey with the following changes:
Suraj’s success with his nutrition can be boiled down to three key factors:
- Batch cooking
- Eliminating all decision fatigue
- Mastering the art of the buffer
With a busy social and business lifestyle, he needed a plan that made it as simple for him as possible to adhere to a calorie deficit. Complicated, exciting meal plans with vast amounts of variety would not work for him (or most people), as it only serves to create more decisions and make it easy to fall off track.
The structure that worked well for him was as follows (amounts varied along the journey):
Breakfast – Eggs, Smoked Salmon, Berries, Veggies
Lunch – Chicken, Nuts, Rice, Veggies
Afternoon Snack – Whey, Peanut Butter, Rice Cakes
Dinner – Chicken, Olive Oil, Rice, Veggies
Simple. Easy to prep, easy to follow, and meets all the requirements of an effective fat loss diet (calorie deficit and a minimum protein threshold).
To begin with, the key shift for Suraj was to only follow one plan, and create a single-minded attitude to learning the movements, and then getting as strong as possible on them.
We started on a three day full body split for a few months before transitioning to a four day split, and utilised a system where we had two heavier days, and two lighter days.
Over the course of the 15 months following the first 3 months of full body, the two splits used were as follows:
Split 1 (8-10 months):
Day 1 – Chest/Arms/Posterior Chain (Heavy)
Day 2 – Back/Shoulders/Quads (Heavy)
Day 3 – Chest/Back/Shoulders (Light)
Day 4 – Legs/Arms (Light)
Split 2 (5 months so far…):
Day 1 – Upper (Heavy)
Day 2 – Lower (Heavy)
Day 3 – Push (Light)
Day 4 – Pull (Light)
The changes in the splits came at a time when there was a significant internal shift in Suraj, which we’re going to dive into now…
First 15 Habit Formation
When we examine Suraj’s journey over the 18 months so far, there are two distinct parts to it – the first 15kg, and the last 10kg.
The first 15kg was spread over 14 months, with the last ten being blitzed off in the final 4 months before his photoshoot.
On the surface level, you may wonder why he took so long to lose the first 15kg. But there were some very good reasons and benefits of doing so.
If you think back to Suraj’s ‘why’, this was never truly about the physical. It was about a journey of self-improvement, and using the physical as a vehicle to help him achieve this.
Through the habits of structured training sessions, meal prepping, steps and everything else that comes with a transformation, Suraj was shifting his focus y internally. He was building habits, laying new foundations, becoming a much stronger version of himself – mentally and physically.
During this, he wanted to make it a real lifestyle, not a flash in the pan. Which is why despite travelling 13 times in a period of 12 months, and even having the agony of having his appendix removed, he was never thrown too far off track.
His extended ‘Clean the Palate’ phase meant he was able to build such robust systems in place that he’d always be striding an inch forward every couple of weeks, while knowing if life got in the way, or he was thrown out of routine, he wouldn’t be taken off track (which we’ll explain further in his ‘next plan’ section later).
This comparison picture was taken one year into Suraj’s journey, at a point he was around 10-15kg down.
First 15 Muscle Building
By taking his time, he was able to build a substantial amount of muscle mass that very few achieve when they embark on fast fat loss transformations. You only need to compare his chest, arms, and shoulder development in the before/after pictures to see this!
It’s one thing to lose weight and get slimmer, it’s another to build a real physique, and that’s what Suraj did here. Through his 14 months of chipping away and solidifying lifestyle habits, he was able to achieve a recomposition effect, whereby he lost fat and built muscle at the same time – the holy grail.
Shifting the Why
Around 12 months into his journey, Suraj’s why began to shift. What started as a way to regain his sense of purpose and find himself, switched to now wanting to inspire others around him, and help educate his closest friends and family on the powerful benefits of his journey.
He realised how many around him were intrigued by what he was doing, and could see how it changed his life, so he wanted to push harder. He wanted to take it to the next level. He wanted to be an example to people who were also suffering in pain, and couldn’t find a way out. His why was now to show how focusing on yourself in a relentless manner can be what takes you out of any mess you’re in.
The switch had flipped.
The Spartan Effect
He started this next level with another push way out of his comfort zone in the form of Spartan Races. The idea wasn’t to tread the waters and see what it was like. It was to fly around the world and complete the Trifecta (three extreme endurance races in one calendar year), which he did!
This isn’t easy, and became another stepping stone and example in finding himself on a deeper level in the pain and suffering of a physical challenge.
“Competing in the Spartan endurance races was important to me because it gave me a target to work towards in my training and allowed me to really test and push myself further than I had ever been before. I took on the Spartan Trifecta as a personal challenge and this added an extra layer of focus and accountability in my training, long before I decided to do a famous RNT photoshoot!”
The Shoot Grind
With the Trifecta under his belt and 15kg taken off his bodyweight, it was time to go deeper, and really go into the depths of his mind to see what could be done. It was grind time!
At the turn of 2019, and now 14 months into his journey, Suraj decided it was time to book a shoot and see what he was made of.
Over the course of the next 4 months, Suraj put the blinders up and applied tunnel vision to his goal. He dropped the final 10kg, and got into incredible shape.
As you’ll see the graph, the drop in body weight was never completely linear. Suraj was a big fluctuator, but what was important for him to recognise was the overall trend. Your weight will fluctuate through the process, and it’s important that you accept this and avoid creating an emotional attachment with any spikes or drops that may happen.
It wasn’t easy though, and as anyone who’s got very lean will know, it’s all mind games. It’s constantly fighting the devil on your left shoulder telling you to have that biscuit, skip your morning cardio, or have an extra day off. But this is where the growth comes, and it’s in fighting this devil every waking minute of the day that forces you to reach within and learn more about yourself than just about anything you can do.
Getting very lean isn’t a four hour week solution. It’s 24/7. It’s learning to deal with hunger, managing your energy and stabilising your mood through the day, all the while living your normal, daily life. Learning to juggle all those hats is the growth.
That’s where you talk to your demons and fight. And that’s why Suraj is now in a better place physically, mentally and emotionally than ever before.
“The final grind towards my photoshoot was one of the most physically and mentally challenging yet satisfying processes I’ve put myself through. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions, from feeling anxious and nervous to determined and excited, but I had my eye on the prize, my photoshoot, at all times. I remembered RNT’s advice advice of being ruthlessly consistent and focusing on my ‘why’. Along the way, there were some blips and setbacks but making sure I was honest about any deviations from my diet or training helped me to quickly get back on track – this accountability was at its most critical during this phase of my journey.
During this period, it’s not just enough to rely on your willpower to keep you on track. I had to adjust my environment too – hiding away snacks/sweets/chocolates at home to stop myself from getting tempted in the final few days before my shoot. This final process is not just a lone journey either – you inadvertently take those closest to you on the journey as well so it’s really important that they also buy into it and support you, especially during this final grind.
To help me through some of the more challenging days as my shoot got closer, one of my best friends told me to think of it like the final sprint at the end of one of my Spartan races: have total focus on the finish line and see and feel yourself crossing the line, imagine how good it will feel and the feeling of accomplishment you will get. I kept reminding myself of this which helped change my focus from ‘this is dragging on’ to ‘get up and finish strong’ which got me to my exact target weight of 61kg on my shoot day!”
Parallels of Business
Losing ownership of his business was a key driver in his initial spark to change. What’s interesting is how since embarking on this journey, Suraj has been able to start two new businesses, and take another existing one to new heights.
This is no surprise. As soon as you begin to master your body, you start growing the confidence needed to push yourself in all areas of life. Business is one that is always positively impacted. And for anyone who’s aiming to operate at a high level as the owner or as part of a growing business, being on your physical A game is absolutely critical.
The other interesting part of this is the parallels it teaches you. Going to the extreme physically can serve as the ultimate playbook for business, and the lessons run in complete parallel.
After speaking to Suraj about this, his three biggest lessons he learned from the physical transformation that helped him blow his business up were:
“1) Ruthless consistency. I learned that building a business and building your body is all about doing a handful of basic things over and over again, sometimes without seeing any results for a while, and staying consistent with it, as opposed to jumping around looking for the latest shiny object.
2) Know your end goal and track your numbers. Along the journey, I’ve always set goals, whether it’s with my body weight, a strength lift, or even as simple as a new lifestyle habit I wanted to implement. With each of these, as you do in business, I had to reverse engineer and apply a ‘future back’ approach to be able to implement it in the present day.
3) Seek help and accountability. For my physique, you guys at RNT were my mentors, and provided me with knowledge I was lacking, while keeping me accountable to my goals. This is the same in business. Whenever I have a problem I want to solve, I seek out business mentors who can help me see things I can’t.”
AV: This picture was taken during one of Suraj’s popular Entrepreneur Jam events, where he brings like minded entrepreneurs to share their journeys, learn more, and network. I was fortunate enough to speak with Suraj at his event in March, and talk about the parallels between a physical transformation and business.
Video Testimonial & Podcast
To watch Suraj’s video testimonial, click here.
To gain more of an insight into Suraj’s story, make sure you tune into episode 78 of RNT Fitness Radio on your preferred podcast app, or directly here:
Key Lesson to Learn
Since embarking on his journey 18 months ago, Suraj’s life is completely different. He’s a new man with a new lifestyle, and he’s hardly recognisable from where he was, both mentally and physically.
The key lesson to learn from Suraj is that when you’re thrown in the pit, the only way to get out is through your own doing. You have to claim control and work relentlessly on yourself to climb out. It’s the only way, and through all the life changing transformations we’ve been lucky to be a part of, the commonality found is that through mastering your body, you can create a springboard to do anything in life.
Stats & Pictures
Starting Bodyweight: 85kg
Leanest Bodyweight: 61kg
Starting Waist (at umbilical level): 39.5 inches
Lowest Waist (at umbilical level): 28 inches
Straight after the shoot, Suraj embarked on a month-long trip around Asia. For many, this can spell disaster, especially given the precarious timing and critical period that follows a fat loss phase. But with the robustly built habits and systems created over 18 months, Suraj has been able to go into the wilderness of The Consolidation Phase, and come out alive. He’s only a few pounds up from shoot day, which is a testament to the lifestyle solution he’s now created.
His next goals will revolve around learning how to continue staying lean while living his life, and throwing himself into more difficult Spartan Races later in the year.
Sky’s the limit now for Suraj, and with new projects on the horizon, it’s exciting to see where the next stage of his journey will take him.
To read his testimonial:
As a small business owner, going to the gym and planning my meals was not something I thought I ever had time for until I met Akash. Working long hours to grow my business and with the usual family commitments to juggle at the same time, focussing on my health and well-being was not high on my priority list. Little did I realise this was the missing piece to being more productive and profitable in my business and finding something to focus on for myself outside of my work, which is often all-consuming for entrepreneurs and business owners.
I met Akash when I was going through a difficult period of my life, both at work and at home, and decided to spend some time taking care of myself by hitting the gym and eating clean. What started off as ‘something to take my mind off things’ turned into a full mindset and body transformation over the next 18-months which has been completely life changing – losing 25kg and getting totally ripped to be in the best shape of my life for my 34th birthday! I started nervously, not knowing what to expect, but massively inspired by the other transformations I’d seen RNT clients achieve so I wanted to give it my best shot to see what I could do myself!
My personalised training and nutrition plan was designed to fit into my busy lifestyle of running a business as well as regular travelling, and was easy to get started with to build some momentum and get results fast. I started losing weight and getting stronger after just a few weeks of following the plan religiously and this gave me a whole new outlook on what I could actually achieve – a total body transformation rather than just ‘get a bit healthier’! For someone who had never been a ‘gym person’ and had hardly ever cooked (let alone macro-friendly healthy meals!) I found myself unlearning old bad habits and learning new ways of getting fit and eating consciously to get into the best shape of my life. I have a completely newfound respect for clean eating and training hard, and now actually find my ‘meditation’ during my training!
The RNT process works when you follow the process fully. I had to learn to let go of certain decisions and control over my daily routine such as how much and what to eat (as well as what not to eat!), when to train and what to do in the gym, and what supplements to take. My advice to anyone starting this transformation journey is to trust the process and focus your energy and efforts into implementing the plan that is made for you. Have an open mind to unlearn what you think you know and re-learn from the experts who know more than you.
The results I achieved on my RNT journey are nothing short of life changing. As dramatic as that sounds, it’s not an exaggeration. Not only am I in the best shape of my life at 34 years old, I’m also much more aware and conscious of how to maintain my fitness going forward. The education I have received during this process about making better food choices, reducing decision fatigue, conscious meal planning and how to buffer around social events has been invaluable and I’m now fully equipped to maintain my physique and health going forward. I’ve also found a much better work life balance, which is something I didn’t expect, but had longed for as a business owner and entrepreneur.
The physical transformation is definitely a great feeling and confidence-booster but the mindset shift is the truly life changing impact that I have taken from my RNT journey. I’m extremely proud of my journey so far, and feel like I’ve accomplished something I never thought I could.
It’s true what they say: fix your body, fix your mind.