My name is Miten Kakaiya and I am a fitness coach. You might think it was easy for me, because it is my profession. The truth is that I was nowhere close to where I am now, physique wise. I tried and failed for many years before I learned what I was doing wrong and what I had to do right.
This is a look into my journey.When Fitness Was A Dream
Back in school, I was the 'fat', out-of-shape kid. I would still push myself to get through a workout routine (3 sets of 10 push-ups, 3 sets of 50 crunches, 3 sets of 10 squats) that I had fashioned for myself every night before bed. But those push-ups, crunches, and squats did absolutely nothing. Perhaps because I was doing it for the wrong reason, which was simply that I was frustrated.
My first gym experience was a short, 3-month stint before I was to leave for the university to Manchester, UK. I thought it would do the trick since I clearly wasn't getting anywhere on my own. As part of my membership, I received a complimentary month-long diet plan, which was quite terrible. I also hired a personal trainer, who introduced me to the basics of weight training. The outcome was- I did manage to increase my arms by half a cm which gave me the false impression of having achieved an Arnie-like physique!
Life Lesson 1
Stints don't stick. When starting any fitness journey, even if it's an 8-week Plan, the mindset should be to focus not just on a goal to be achieved by the end of the plan but to look ahead at making that planning part of a journey.When Fitness Was A Fad
False impressions aside, my stint at the gym in India led me to join a gym as soon as I got to the UK in 2011 for keeping the momentum going. But the distractions of being in a new country, with new friends and a new life meant that I went to the gym not more than 6 times in a whole year. This plus my irregular eating habits resulted in a 'skinny fat' physique, which I had come to accept as my body shape. With very little motivation left in me, I didn't dare re-join the gym next year but occasionally played some football to keep my stamina up.
When, in my third year, a gym opened up right under my student accommodation, my flatmate and best friend, who was also my first fitness motivator, persuaded me to join with him. We believed that thanks to the proximity, we'd be more regular than we'd ever been. What happened in reality though was that gymming became just a vanity trip – we'd go only on days we were planning to go out clubbing, so we could show-off the pump and feel good about ourselves. And although we were more consistent with gymming by the end of the year, my nutrition needs were severely lacking. Grabbing a burger from McDonald's or a £1 frozen pizza for our post-workout meals effectively meant our 'workout' sessions were nothing but a waste of time.
The next year, an unexpected (albeit misguided) motivation came my way when my sister moved to the US, making it possible for me to attend my dream festival – the Ultra Music Festival in Miami in March 2014. Two months ahead of the festival, I was gymming 5 days a week, pushing myself to run that extra mile, and eating only home-cooked meals. At the end of 2 months, I achieved decent results (still no abs though!). But again it all came to naught, as after the festival I had lost all my motivation again.
Life Lesson 2
Right reasons matter. Motivations come in many shapes and forms but the ones that truly last are those that are not limited by transient goals, such as a number of the weighing scale, a pair of jeans to fit into, or the number of abs that show.When Fitness Became A Reality
In my final year at university, a new friend became possibly my biggest and most influential motivator till that point. He introduced me to the concept of a Balanced Diet (as opposed to just dieting), and Macros and how it all works. I came to realize the connection between food and exercise as I observed how eating healthier made working out easier, effective and enjoyable.
It was during one month just before the summer of 2015, when I was on lockdown, studying for my exams that I went a clean-eating mission. Naturally, I had no distractions in the form of parties and what not. Instead, I was tied to my study table, with very little physical activity. My daily routine was cooking clean meals, eating them, studying, cooking again, eating again, studying and sleeping.
To my shock and surprise, I saw the best results that I had ever seen in my entire life from those 4 weeks of no exercise but eating pristine clean. I had lost 7 kgs! I even observed the faint beginnings of my ab muscles showing through for the first time in my life. After years often pointless slogging at the gym, I realized that food was the real answer!
Soon I couldn't wait to apply weight training with diet to see what wonders it would do for my body. And for once I was not disappointed! Two months later, I had a ripped physique with six-pack abs. Now I was the one with the physique I always admired on others.
Life Lesson 3
Finding the right balance is crucial. Food is an essential part of the health and fitness equation. It literally is the fuel for our body and can change the outcome of your workout routines. Being on the fitness journey is also a constant process of learning about your body, how it works and what works.When Fitness Became A Lifestyle
The results were so incredible and addictive that I just didn't feel like eating anything unhealthy. Eating clean and going to the gym became a natural part of my life, such that my day felt incomplete if I didn't eat clean through the day, and didn't manage to squeeze in at least one weight training session. What was also incredible was that I was seeing these results without having done a single mile of running or cardio. And I didn't even have to resort to bland foods and salads all the time. But I was willing to experiment, learn, and adopt a few things from my old lifestyle to fit my new one.
By now, I knew what I was doing would continue to get me the results if I was consistent, and so I had no reason to stop. My goal, then, changed to PROGRESS.
They say that it is good to have an end goal in mind. According to me, however, that's not the case for fitness. The aim shouldn't be just to reach a particular shape, size or number because you'll lose motivation the moment you get there – similar to what happened to me after Miami in 2014.
But when the goal is to keep growing and progressing, one day at a time, to be the better version of yourself every single day - there is nothing that can stop you. My biggest victory was a mental one. I had long stopped comparing myself, my physique, my body with those around me. I was my only competition, and that was what motivated me to stay on track. Make this a lifestyle – do it to please no one but yourself.
Life Lesson 4
The fitness journey never ends. Fitness becomes a lifestyle when it stops being something extra that you have to accommodate into your lives, instead becomes what directs how you live your life. Your fitness routine (diet and workout) also has to be your own. It has to seamlessly fit into your life so that it stops being a struggle but comes naturally to you.