Back at the start of 2017 I knew I wanted to hire a nutrition coach. Everybody needs guidance, and at that time I was trying to make as much investment in myself as I could to improve as a coach, as a friend, and as a person.

I chose Alex Ritson because he was really smart, humble and seemed like an all round nice guy.

I had said to myself ‘do this for a year and see what positive change you can make’.

I remember the first Skype consultation like it was yesterday.

Alex asked me ‘what do you want to get from coming on board with me?’.

My answer was ‘I want to take as much as I can. I want to look better, to learn more, to feel better…I’m going to take as much as I can’.

I say that to my clients when they first come on board, ‘you need to take’.

This involves engaging in the process. Ask questions, do the work, get involved, take as much as you can.

This is what I took…

Everybody Needs A Coach.

Or a mentor. Or both.

Or to spend time in the company of someone way smarter than you.

If you want to make progress, if you want to learn, to grow, you must be challenged.

To be challenged you need to accept the fact you need help. Once you accept that, find somebody you look up to you and who shares the same principles, has infinite times more knowledge than you, and learn from them.

It’s hard to put a price on what I’ve learned over the past year or so. You’re probably wondering ‘what was the big lesson or secret you learned about nutrition?’.

Work ethic.

That’s the single biggest thing I have taken from the experience, and I’ll always be grateful for it.

The Weight You Think You Will Look Your Best At…It’s Probably Way Off.

That’s not a bad thing, it’s just realism. The scales is a great measure of progress (or lack of progress) but it doesn’t have much context.

Look in the mirror, if you have body fat where you don’t want it you just have to lose more weight on the scales.

I remember when Alex said to me ‘you’ll look amazing at 78kg’, my first thought was ‘how do I get my money back?’.

Well guess what, the coach/mentor who does it for a living and has all the experience was actually right.

Dieting Sucks At First, But Like Anything The More You Do It, The Better You Get.

The first week or two was incredibly tough. Once you’re used to taking on a certain amount of energy over a sustained period of time, if you take away a large portion of that energy (food) your body and mind won’t thank you for it.

By the time I was dieting down to 78kg a year later I could manage it fairly easily.

Any skill takes time to develop, and in my opinion dieting is a skill as it requires hard work and diligence.

‘Just eat less food’. If it was this easy everyone could do it, but it’s not.

A physical, mental and emotional skill.

I had a coach who I was accountable to and was providing guidance along the way, for me that’s the ideal way to develop a skill.

Be Ready For The Trade Off.

Performing at really high levels training and getting lean. Conflicting goals.

Eating out in nice restaurants and going out socialising every weekend and getting lean. Conflicting goals.

Adding slabs of muscle and getting lean. Conflicting goals.

Not having to manage hunger in some way day to day and getting lean. Conflicting goals.

I’ve saved you a lot of time there.

Anything Worthwhile Doing Or Learning Takes Time, Along With That Be At Peace That There May Not Be An End Point.

It just takes time to get good at something, it takes time for things to happen with your body composition. Anything worthwhile takes time and work, get used to that.

You also have to get used to the fact that there probably isn’t an end point.

‘When I get to 78kg I’ve finished and will turn into a ball of pure energy’.

It doesn’t work like that. The journey and struggle of constantly trying to improve and work at things is where happiness is derived.

Quite simply for me, learning makes me happy now.

Anything Worth Achieving Needs A Work Ethic To Match.

Paying someone to help won’t solve your problems.

Use the guidance, but you better be ready to work incredibly hard to pursue your goals.

Your Social Environment Can Enable You, Or Disable You.

I had an amazing conversation about this the other day with Niall in the gym.

The people you spend most of your time with can heavily influence how you feel and what you believe you can or cannot do.

It’s human nature to be a little self-conscious, to have doubts about yourself and your ability, but if you spend enough time in the presence of people who encourage you, who tell you they believe in you, you become enabled.

It may seem like an obvious thing to say that ‘if you are around people who drag you down you’ll be disabled in terms of being happy and reaching your potential’.

But it can be a subtle thing also. It takes a certain level of awareness to be able to judge this.

Have a think about it…do the people you spend most of your time around enable or disable you?

Who’s opinion do you listen to? Is it worth listening to?

I definitely feel enabled thanks to my friends, my colleagues, and my coach.

You may have the best intentions to work hard, to pursue your goals…but in the wrong company that process and your intentions will get completely disabled.

Your Physical Environment Is Also Very Important.

If there’s high calorie junk food in front of you every day you will eat it.

Me too.

The principles of managing weight are fairly straightforward, but the social, physical and emotional factors that come into play with each person is what makes the whole thing a huge challenge.

The Power Of Habit Can’t Be Overstated.

I see it myself with my own clients – you are trying to break long formed habits and to establish new ones. This is so complex as it involves behaviour and the brain.

A good example of the power of habit is the last couple of days even though I don’t need to be restricted I have still ate to the same pattern as the previous 3 months.

The habit was built, and we love routine once it’s set.

Keep that in mind when you are trying to make changes to your life. You might have habits set for YEARS, don’t think you can change them in a week or 2.

Even With A Positive Support Network You Still Must Get Up Every Day And Believe ‘I’m Good At What I Do’.

As much as my coach supports me, my friends, my work colleagues…I have to wake up every day and believe I am good at what I do, and know that I have to work hard to continue to be good at what I do.

Your support network can’t live inside your head and tell you ‘you can do it’ 24 hours a day.

Train yourself to think positively, it takes time – it took me 15 months, but I turned ‘I don’t know if I’m good enough’, into ‘I am a fucking beast at everything I do’ on waking every morning.

That’s a good feeling.

What price do you put on being able to think like that?

Priceless.

Goals Are Great, But They Should Be Layered/Overlap.

Everybody probably has some experience already of the anti-climactic feeling of completing something and then a sense of emptiness.

Make sure you always have multiple things to work on, and goals that overlap when it comes to timing.

This requires thought because taking on too many things at once is never good…not much gets done.

I learned this over the past year too.

If You Think Getting Lean Will Make You Happy, Think Again.

I woke up on the day, stood on the scales and saw 78kg. Job done.

When I looked in the mirror I felt I wasn’t lean enough, and that I needed to be to get a decent set of pictures.

‘Just give it a few more days and drop down another small bit’.

Doubts.

Anyway, I was honestly just really, really tired from the lack of energy. I’ve got a lot going on – lots of clients, lots of hard training, study for exams, a busy shift in the gym, a lot of articles and projects I’m trying to work on so I just had to get to it.

I went in, trained, got the pictures and was fairly happy. But life moves on within a few minutes, I was more happy about the articles that needed doing, the projects, the study, the clients.

The happiness comes from the process, from the work.

I’m sitting here writing this a couple of days later sitting close to 80kg. I’m still lean, a lot more energised with some extra food, and happy to be doing something productive.

78kg means fuck all.

Happiness is a cluster of things, never just one thing.

Getting REALLY Lean Takes A Lot Of Work.

I’m a coach so I have access to the gym every day. I didn’t miss a training session.

I was single through the whole process and I’m highlighting this because it’s a really big deal.

If you have a partner things become more complicated straight away. I don’t drink that much or spend any times in pubs, social occasions were few and far between so it was easy to manage that. It doesn’t even have to be nights out, it could be dinner or lunch.

Is calorie restriction going to cause friction?

I don’t have kids, again this is something that makes things more challenging if you do. Meals, shopping and food preparation will get affected here.

It’s my career, so it was pretty important to stick to things well and see it out for many different reasons related to this.

You always need to evaluate the goal versus the amount of effort it will take get there.

Is it realistic in your set of circumstances?

Everything was in my favour but by the end trust me, I was just tired.

Work Hard, Try To Achieve Things And Improve, But Know When To Stop And Reflect On Things.

I’m still working on this.

Everybody Needs A Coach Or Mentor, But They Can Be Around You Every Day Too.

I’m grateful for my work colleagues who support me in everything, who work so hard and are incredibly good at everything they do. I take inspiration from them and try to do them proud with anything I do.

I am grateful I have clients who I can meet for coffee and ask for guidance. Websites, education, planning, presentations…chances are you have some really, really clever people you see every single day.

People are generally really willing to help if you ask for it, just always make sure you are thankful for their help.

I’ve got some incredible guidance over the past year from people in plain sight.

You Can Make Huge Changes To How You Look In A Year, But More Importantly You Can Make Huge Changes To How You Feel.

It just takes time and work.

15 months ago I promised myself ‘work hard for the next year and everything will work itself out’.

It did, it took a lot of effort but the last year has been amazing. Day to day I am very happy…put a price on that.

Priceless.

If You’re Reading This And You’re In A Bad Place I Promise You That You Can Work Your Way Out Of It….But You Must Be Relentless.

Every day.

Final Thoughts…

If you made this far thanks a million for reading, I always appreciate anyone who takes time to look at my stuff.

Thanks to all my work colleagues, friends and clients.

A huge thanks to my coach, Alex Ritson.

It’s hard to quantify the value of what I’ve taken from the past year having him as a mentor. I am in a very strong place in many different aspects of my life because of the choice to sign up with him.

The biggest thing I have taken from it all is work ethic and drive, absolute monstrous work ethic and drive.

I think it’s something I will ALWAYS be grateful for until the end of my days because I will carry it with me throughout the rest of my life.

You might wonder what happens now that the year is up?

I have to take a few weeks off to study for exams and then take them, but after that I will be linking back in with Alex to work together on some projects I need help with moving forward.

The value of a good coach/mentor is hard to quantify, it’s priceless.

I know it more than anyone.