“Hey Aqilah. What really works?”
People always ask me the same question, directly and explicitly. Sometimes it’s more vague such as “How do I do it?” or “Where do I begin?”. Regardless, I’m always asked the same thing.
I’ve asked myself this question for as long as I can remember, till this very day as I’m typing out this post at a pretty packed Starbucks in Singapore suburbs. This question has in fact drove me to learn more, to lose weight four years ago, maintain the weight, run my first marathon and start Pretty Awesome Coaching that was just launched today.
And surprisingly, the answer is not what we all expect to hear.
Today we will cover the ONE thing that really works when it comes to getting healthier, fitter, losing or gaining weight and happier. In fact, as we uncover more later in the post, it does in fact work on all levels of life and your own self-development. Ready to be surprised?
Failed attempts, confusions and afraid of making mistakes
Sounds familiar? I bet it does.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight or take a shot at being healthy at some point in your life, there will be times where you start browsing fitness magazines and diet books and then pick a plan and try it out for a month. Things don’t go as what it said it would so you stopped and try another one the month after. Failure after failure, you start questioning yourself — “What really works?”
Or perhaps you stayed up all night and start watching infomercials of people working out on Ab Circle Pro. As you walk around in your local shopping mall, you saw a big glossy colourful advertisement of a Tone-Up shoe. You buy them, invest in lots of money, sometimes in weekly equal payments so you can have a shot at looking like the model wearing the shoe or working out on the Ab Circle Pro. You failed. So you returned it back (oh there’s a free trial, lucky bunny!) and you ask yourself — “What really works?”
Another very common scenario? You know there are ways to lose weight. There certainly are proven scientific ways to start getting healthier. You can adopt healthy habits one step at a time so you can start something and finish it. But, you’re afraid it’s not the right one for you and you might make mistakes. So you ask yourself — “What really works?”
We ask this, even I do, and there are so many reasons why we do. The scenarios above are just examples and it may not reflect your current situation right now but in a complete nutshell, we question this because of reasons like:
– We’re confused with so many different informations out there. Which to trust?
– We’ve tried and tried but failed again and again.
– We’re impatient and we want to see results fast and don’t know where to begin.
– We’re blinded by fitness marketers that does a very good job in portraying fit men and women.
– Or simply, we just want to learn more, which reflects me after I’ve lost weight, four years ago.
What we expect to hear
I have to admit. When I first started trying to lose weight, way before I even did anything else, I turned to meal replacement shakes. Why? Because that was what I was first exposed to, way before exercise and eating right came into the picture. That was the first thing I saw when I was actively trying to lose weight and as a result, it became the natural answer to the question above.
If you were to ask me four years ago “What really works?”, I would answer you flat and blunt — meal replacement shakes.
Consequently, someone who has a Sports and Exercise Science background will say that exercise and nutrition is the only thing that works as much as someone who watches infomercials will say that the cream or patch sold on TV will work out perfectly.
Right or wrong, let’s list some of the things that we expect to hear when we ask “What really works?”
– That new diet, shake or pill that you can consume and magically change your body composition without one single minute of exercise.
– A super cream, patch or inner wear that you can buy in monthly instalments, promising you the same thing.
– A weight loss ‘spa-treatment’ which involves you lying still and being put into a machine for thirty minutes and come out 5-inch lesser around your waist. I love this. Oh and you can buy packs of five. Or ten.
– A miracle food or a super hard exercise that you can’t even pronounce the name properly done without proper form.
There are probably tens of thousands of supplements, including weight loss pills and drugs, being sold in vitamin shops or even your local grocer, each being marketed with their own benefits. There are hundreds of books out there that talks about a new exercise or fitness plan and there are praises for them.
Ironically, we are not getting any healthier. Yet 63% of Australians are classified as overweight or obese. 41 out of 50 states in the USA has a rate of obesity of 25%. We’re getting sicker day by day. The direct cost of overweight and obesity in Australia is $25 billion. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money, mate.
So, what really works?
One thing for sure, there is no magic pill or cure. There is no quick fix to being in a complete state of health.
I love to exercise, and I do workouts that makes me happy. I used to run actively for two years but stopped early last year because every step I take made me feel terribly demoralised. I eat and feed my body with food that energises and nourishes me — food that is both great for my palate and for my physique.
Sounds perfect, right?
Let’s look at this now:
I try to get enough sleep although I still fall short these days, trying to juggle work and school. Some days I feel tired, I don’t feel like working out. Some days I feel like staying up late doing nothing in my pjs. Some days I really want an apple pie with vanilla bean ice cream and I have it.
For what it’s worth, we are humans. I am. You are. And we are not perfect. Our interest changes. Our fitness levels changes and what we want now may not be the same thing we strive to achieve in months to come.
But if you allow yourself to a good lesson out of this today, here it is.
The most successful of all humans are those who actively seeks mentorship and support from people who has done what they’ve done.
And when it comes to answering the question — “What really works?”, the only ONE certain thing that does is finding and sticking with a mentor.
Exercising efficiently, eating good food for your body and getting enough rest every night are all of secondary importance. Finding a mentor and working with one is a super-food recipe for success, especially in fitness and nutrition.
My experience with a mentor
Let me share with you my personal experience with a mentor, and this mentor is none other than my brother, Noreis. Noreis is a Paramedic and a Personal Trainer, specialising in fitness for healthcare workers. Putting the brother factor aside, he is an excellent man — constantly showing pride in everything he does. He walks his talk and always showcase his expertise and experience together. Simply put, he knows what he is doing.
Now if you’ve stuck around with me for a while, you probably know that I have tried so many different methods in the past in my attempt to lose weight. I’ve tried patches, VERY VERY low calorie diets and of course, meal replacement shakes.
The funny thing is, I knew I had direct access to my brother, whom at that time was still living at home but I was proud and ego so I did not ask him for help. It wasn’t until I was really tired of everything and start questioning myself this same question we’re addressing today that I reached out to him.
It was only then did he showed me the right way to go, how to exercise despite the long hours I had in school and what to eat and which supplements to take to benefit me and my body. Looking back now, I am thankful that he was there to show me the way. Had I let my ego stick with me, I probably would have failed for the tenth time trying something really dumb and expensive again.
Noreis guided me. He pushed me to be more driven and I attained success for myself in eight months. It wasn’t the easiest eight months, really, but I had him and he dragged me through it.
In fact, till today, I am lucky enough to work, and connect with notable fitness and self-development people in my industry including Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha, Ludvig Sundstrom of Start Gaining Momentum and Celes Chua of Personal Excellence. All because I reached out to them.
Finding a mentor does not only apply in the fitness world. It applies to your whole life, as it did for mine.
Of having a role model, validated knowledge and a pusher.
Remember that scene in Mean Girls when Ms. Nobury (the super AWESOME Tina Fey!) told Cady she’s a pusher?
“I’m a pusher Cady. I push people.”
Yes. Ms Nobury is an excellent mentor and teacher, because she pushes her students.
Having a mentor does not only make you more driven, you have the advantage to take the resources they already have, leverage on their knowledge and make you succeed in your endeavours. Having a mentor can help you figure things out faster, make fewer mistakes and push you to succeed.
Other awesome benefits of having a mentor?
– You don’t have to feel isolated. You know you’re not doing this alone. Your mentor is there to drag you along, just like how Noreis did for me. I feel that this is extremely crucial in fitness and weight loss.
– You develop your perspective and vision. That’s right. An excellent mentor will help you learn and develop yourself, not just tell you what to do.
– Teach you proper form. Like how to do a proper squat or push-ups.
– Educate and feed your mind with important things. Like how to set goals or how to kick out fear.
– You learn how to be a great mentor too, for your future. People with mentors has been shown to become great mentors themselves. In fact, most excellent mentors have their own mentors. Ask around.
Another reason? A study conducted by the team at Precision Nutrition showed that 77% of people who are extremely happy with their body and fitness have received regular mentorship.
Two words. Pretty awesome.
Find your mentor, so it really will work
That’s great, Aqilah. But where on Earth can I start looking for a mentor?
If you’re really serious about making a change to your physique, fitness levels and happiness, find a mentor. You may think that finding a mentor is hard but this feeling is temporary. In fact, this feeling you have now is only there because the notion of finding a mentor is new to you.
Do yourself a favour and start feeding yourself with the right information for success. I’ve churned out 2300 words on this and if there is one single advice I can give to you is this — go out today and find a mentor.
Your mentor could be:
– A relative or a good friend who constantly validates information he speaks on the topic you want. The most important thing is that he or she knows what she’s talking about and not just babbling with unnecessary information, has the right credentials and walks his talk.
– A lecturer or a teacher. Someone you’ve been working with academically. You might think that they’re automatically your mentor but it may not necessarily be this way.
– A fitness coach, personal trainer or a nutrition expert. Your local gym may have this.
– Me. I’m here for you and you can always email me your questions and I will answer them all the time.
In fact, I want you to answer these question for me by leaving a comment below:
– Have you ever worked with a mentor before? If so, how did you feel it benefits you (can be fitness-related or not)
– If I was your mentor, what is the one burning question you have for me? Ask away and it could be anything! If it’s very personal, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll reply you, personally.
If you want to take it out further, you can click here to check out my Coaching services or the banner image below! (which is launched today! YES DOORS ARE OPEN!).
But whether you’re my Coaching client or not, you’ll always be a part of me and I will definitely help you as much as I can.
Although I only decided to seek out for help after months of failed attempts, I was lucky I didn’t let my ego get in the way. I learned the lesson and I wished I had gone out earlier to find a mentor. Nonetheless, I still did and I am thankful I was decisive enough and made that choice.
I care for you, and I don’t want you to repeat that mistake. Go and find yourself one, and listen to them. Right now. It matters to me.
Have a great week Pretty Awesomes. :)
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