Top 10 Things I Learnt in 2017

Top 10 Things I Learnt in 2017

1) Step out of your comfort zone and take risks:

I’ve always been one of these people that can be resistant to change. I like my little bubble, and if it’s not broken – why fix it? This way of thinking works in some areas of life, like when ordering the ‘safe’ dish you know you definitely like in Wagamama every time. (Beef Teriyaki Soba, FYI).

But it can also be a sure-fire way of never progressing in life, too.

Most of you following me already know this, but I took a huge risk at the beginning of this year by deciding to leave working for a great company in London. In the weeks leading up to it, I kept questioning and doubting whether I was making the right decision. Pretty much all of my friends and family are employed by large companies and they’re all getting on just fine. What if this didn’t work out? What if it failed?

However, I’d always had this goal of eventually one day working for myself and being able to pick when I could work, and where I could work from. And what better time to try it than before having commitments like kids, mortgages etc?

So, I bit the bullet, teamed up with Akash and we launched RNT Fitness. Since doing so, I think I can speak for the both of us in that we haven’t looked back. The risk was worth the reward!

Of course, risks don’t always pan out. I took another one during the summer that included getting on a last minute flight to the Middle East! While it paid off in the short term, long term it didn’t work out.

But, nothing ventured nothing gained. As long as the risks are calculated I think it’s better to have ‘tried and failed, than fail to try’.

2) Carve out ‘me’ time:

One thing I’ve been guilty of for years, is constantly focusing on work.

While working the above job in London, I was often out of the house 12-16 hours per day up to six days per week. My one day off  – Sundays – would be spent catching up with my online work.

This is one that I know I’m not alone on. A lot of us bury ourselves in work, then what little time is left over is often spent trying to make other people happy. There’s very little mental ‘down time’. To just hit pause on everything and mentally do something for you.

That something doesn’t have to be elaborate.

It can be as simple as reading a book, sitting in a coffee shop people watching, essentially anything that you enjoy.

I know Akash is a fan of getting up first thing in the morning and going for a 30-40min walk outside.

For me, a big passion of mine is music. So I finally reinvested in a DJ set up a couple of months back. It’s been the best thing I’ve done recently! At least 3-4 times per week, I try and get on there for 1-2 hours. In this time I’m not checking social media, I’m not answering emails, I’m not trying to entertain anyone else. I can just mentally shut off to everything else and unwind doing something I enjoy.

Dr Rangan Chatterjee (BBC’s Doctor In The House) also thinks that this is essential to every day health. His suggestion is a minimum of 15min per day, with three rules:

  • It must be time for you. Alone.
  • No phone, no laptop, no tablet.
  • You can’t feel guilty about it. Book it in, and treat it as an important appointment if need-be.

3) My top three series on Netflix are:

The Punisher – Think Marvel is all about superheroes in capes with magic powers? Think again!

Designated Survivor – American politics. I’m hooked – who’d have thought?

Power – Sex, drugs, violence, humour. It’s got it all.

4) Know when to ‘push’ and when to ‘pull’:

Here I’m specifically talking about training and diet. I think that a lot of people assume that their role models on social media are ‘on it’ 24/7.

I can assure you, this isn’t the case. We’re all human at the end of the day. We’re not robots and we have a finite supply of willpower.

The issue nowadays is that thanks to social media, we see a distorted reality. People will only show you what they want to show you – and of course that’s only the best bits. Their highlight reel.

You’ll see the filtered photo – that took 11 takes just to get the right angle worthy enough to go on the ‘gram.

You’ll see the flash car – but not the 48 month finance contract that was signed for it.

You’ll see abs year round – without realising these are recycled images from a photoshoot last year.

What this leads to is people feeling like they have to be on full throttle with their own training, all the time. This just isn’t the case.

The key is knowing when to push hard, and when to pull back. So that you don’t burn yourself out.

It’s OK to relax over the festive period. The gym can go on the back burner to tick over, while other priorities like social events come to the front.

Then, when the times right, you drop the hammer and go hard at it again. This is how we all do it! When I train for a competition, I don’t skip a single training session, every gram is weighed and nothing is eaten off plan. Because there’s a big end goal, and mentally I’m dialled in.

That’s when I’m ‘pushing’.

Immediately after the show though, I like to catch up on other things that I’ve missed out on. I may skip the odd training session. I’ll eat out socially. This is me ‘pulling back’.

All of this is OK and healthy! In fact, it’s setting me up to be able to go even harder on my next phase of going hard at it.

Naturally, if you’ve got a set 12 week goal, a photoshoot, a competition or whatever – then you need to be nailing your shit. But outside of those, don’t be afraid to admit that priorities change and certain elements go on maintenance.

5) Don’t compare yourself to others:

Simple. Read above.

Don’t believe everything you see on social media. The grass isn’t always greener – instead, focus on watering your own

6) Don’t sweat the small stuff:

There’s a common theme amongst trainees that get the best results, and those that get sub-par results.

The former immerse themselves and ‘just do it’.

The latter question everything, overthink and ultimately make excuses.

Sure, the leaner somebody gets the more variables we have to juggle and things get slightly more complicated.

But if you’re new to the gym and somewhat overweight, it really is as simple as these three steps:

  • Stay under your allotted caloric target, and land within 10g of your protein goal.
  • Hit the gym 3-4x per week, training progressively.
  • Tick off 8,000-10,000 steps per day. Every day.

The trainees that receive their plans and start executing the basics – even if not perfect – almost always see results from the get-go.

The trainees that keep putting off starting because the timing isn’t just quite right, or panicking that they’re not taking ‘x’ supplement, or that they’ve read 170g of protein is better than 175g, or what’s the square root of pie? These clients are the ones that go around in circles.

If you’ve fallen in this camp in previous years, make 2018 different.

Start a plan, and just do the basics well! Don’t chase perfection – just start.

7) You can’t be good at everything:

This one is especially apparent since launching RNT Fitness.

I believe too many people try to do too many things. That they either aren’t passionate about, or just plain suck at.

If you have the resources to do so, rather than bang your head against a brick wall trying to manage everything – simply find someone else that’s better at it than you. Outsource.

With most things, Akash and I can do it between us. As an example, Akash’ main passion is training programming, while mine is nutrition and supplementation.

If I get a client with a specific training need that’s beyond my scope, I’ll have Akash write their training plan. If Akash is trying to peak an advanced client for a photoshoot or competition, I may step in and put their plans together and then liaise with Akash as to the why’s.

The same goes with content production. Akash actively enjoys writing, so he’ll do the bulk of the written work for RNT. I feel more comfortable on camera, so I do most of our video work.

Of course, there are times where neither of us excel, and it pays off in the long term to outsource to others:

Dheeram at has been essential to all of our graphic work and website admin.

Luis Diaz has taken over our podcast editing and hosting to help us ‘level up’.

Vince Del Monte has been priceless with regard to helping us make business decisions and sharing his experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t worked for him over the years.

Could we try and do all of the above ourselves? Sure. But at the expense of our time that could be better served elsewhere in the business (e.g. servicing our clients) and at the realisation that these guys are experts in their fields and will always do a better job than we could with these specific areas!

8) The Hawksmoor Is still #1:

Consider yourself a fan of steak? Me too.

Over the last 2-3 years I’ve searched far and wide for the best steak in the land. I still keep coming back to The Hawksmoor.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of good steaks! Especially in the past year, including a trip to Florida that actually came very close to matching Hawksmoor’s quality. But, still not quite enough to knock it off the top spot.

My recommendation:

400g Ribeye, medium-rate

Bone Marrow Gravy

Triple Cooked Chips

Mac n’ Cheese

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Thank me later.

9) Compete because you love training – not to become Instafamous:

Now more than ever, this one seems appropriate.

I’ve never known so many people to drop out of shows as I’ve seen in the last year.

For me, I started training at home doing press-ups and sit-ups when I was 13. At 14, I had my first gym membership. By 15, I was already buying FLEX magazine and knew that one day I wanted to compete. I first got on stage at 20. That’s 7 years of training, 5 of them consciously doing it specifically for bodybuilding.

Now, I’m having people ask me to prep them who aren’t even training yet! They haven’t even joined a gym and they’re already planning getting on stage. It makes zero sense.

Competing is hard work! It’s all consuming. It’s draining, physically and mentally.

For me, I loved training and competing was the ‘next step’.

Doing a contest prep when you don’t even train is like turning up to your first driving lesson and your instructor puts you straight into a Formula 1 car.

This is the reason many are pulling out of preps and then walking away with minor eating disorders or telling everyone how ‘bad’ competing is.

It’s not that competing is bad, it’s that they’ve gone into prep mentally unprepared and don’t have a clue what it takes.

There’s a difference between dieting to lose some body fat and feel good about yourself, and dieting to get into true contest condition.

If you’ve not even done the former, how are you expecting to be able to do the latter?!

The bottom line is this: Competing isn’t for everyone and it is very tough. There’s nothing wrong with ‘just’ joining a gym and training to look/feel good. I really suggest people do this first and gain a passion for training and eating well before ever attempting the stage.

Ultimately, make sure that you love the process and you’re not trying to put yourself through all of this just for a cool IG photo.

10) Peanut Butter goes with everything:

This one probably isn’t a surprise to a lot of you. But peanut butter goes with anything. Literally, anything.

On toast? Yep.

In a protein shake? For sure.

With banana, in a sandwich? The Americans are onto something.

Mixed into Greek yoghurt? Was there ever a combination more suited?

And more recently, I’ve been introduced to combining it with Marmite on toast.

Sceptical? Try it!


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Akash Vaghela is the Founder of RNT Fitness, where his mission is to see a world where everyone experiences the power of a physical body transformation to act as a vehicle for the greater good in their lives. Akash has produced 200+ blogs, 100+ videos and hosts the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, which has amassed over 110,000 downloads in 90+ countries across 100+ episodes. Alongside this, he's been seen in Men's Health, BBC, T-Nation, Elite FTS and the PTDC, while also regularly speaking nationally and internationally on all things transformation.