Today's post is not written by me. This is an email sent to me by one of my students who is just going to start college. I am sharing this with you because I feel it epitomises what we do at The Quad - we want to educate, we want to show you why sustainable long-term thinking is the way to approach this. And most of all, the magic ingredient is YOU. You need to figure out the actual stuff for your context.

This wise young man, let's call him KN, does all that and more (and in the process makes me look like a genius - but it is all him!) And he's crazy polite and careful with his words. His email is produced below, with just a few abbreviations fixed for the ease of reading.

Hello Coach Arvind.

I hope you are doing well and everyone's safe from this oncoming second wave.

It has been exactly 6 months and 1 week since I started on working on my lifestyle more actively after seeking your advice. I began in October, weighing a very unhealthy 129 kg, not feeling fit, regularly tired both mentally and physically. However, I'm glad I took the decision to work on something that I had the time and ability to work on and approached you.

You taught me how to eat, instead directing me on what to eat. In the sense, you did suggest me things but you also allowed me to figure things and out and patiently gave me feedback. Well that's what [has] allowed me to now maintain a mostly consistent diet for half a year now. The funny thing is I did not realise half a year has passed by. Before, if someone asked me to maintain a consistent diet for six months, I'd have definitely thought it as a tedious task. However, now it's been almost casual, an integral part of my day to day life. I remember how you used to explain to us about 'good reps', how good reps eventually become rote memory and in turn ensure optimal training and insure against injury in the long run. I realise that every time I had a good day with respect to the food I ate, it was a good rep. My brain felt that whatever I ate was sufficient, was tasty and it didn't have FOMO. A good diet rep if I may.

As of today morning I weigh in at 110 kg, 19 kilos lighter than when I'd begun. And like you've always insisted, I've been measuring inch loss primarily (however checking the scales occasionally to see myself have lost of few kilos is great feeling), and I've almost lost 10+ cm on all measurements except my thigh ( which are now more visibly muscular but haven't changed much with respect to the circumference)

I just wanted to let you know that your advice helped me a lot to be where I am right now, and most definitely will continue to help me as I move forward. I know this email encompasses majorly about the diet part but I hope I can soon train under you again so I can write you a mail about that as well.

What I learned from KN, and you can as well

  1. Good reps. A good diet rep, as KN calls it. Everything in life depends on good reps. The more good reps you do, of anything, the more your skill improves. The more the habit becomes a habit. The better the outcome. If we can learn to look at things not in an isolated fashion - "should I eat this chocolate" - but instead, how many good reps have we gotten this week/month/year, the larger picture allows us a lot more leeway and growth.
  2. Figuring things out for yourself. There are a lot of right methods out there. Some might work for you, some might not. But those that don't work for you might work for your friend. It is NOT about the method but about the context translation that has happened. How a way of eating or how an exercise routine or a group class or training by yourself fits into your life is something only you can do. All successful people contextualise the method for themselves.
  3. Patience. Believe in the process. Keep putting in good reps. Stay in the game.
  4. Recognise you want to "not be here". KN had been training with us for a few months before this period of change. He didn't just show up and see these results. He had a stop-start period. He found it hard to wake up and come to class. He found it hard to have the motivation, while having to study 12+ hour days for his exams. Sitting too much meant back pain. These are all issues that KN had to overcome. But he was able to do that with intent only after he recognised that he did not want to be where he was.
  5. Do the work. There's no way around this. Diligence. Perseverance. One step at a time. One day at a time. Not worrying about slip-ups.

I hope you are inspired. I certainly am! I've learned so much from this email exchange with KN and I think I can be a better teacher, as well as learn to apply things better in my life. I am also reminded to read what common themes run with my successful students.

Good "life" reps.