FIT & FAB
BA English Hons / CIAR
Nothing good comes easy. Whatever we want to achieve in this life requires fortitude, commitment, sheer grit and guts, determination and that mindset that says “I will achieve this goal no matter what it takes.” It's the same with fitness. No matter what we want to accomplish, it will take time and effort. We need to start slowly. It's a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Sadly we human beings are often ruled by our emotions. When we are depressed we eat. When we overwhelmed and exhausted we often turn to food as our first escape mechanism. We need to understand that progress in fitness is a combination of sensible eating, regular exercise, and rest. Three small nourishing meals a day are recommended. Breakfast is essential, a well-balanced lunch to include lean protein and vegetables and a light evening meal is a good way to start. I love the adage: “Eat like a king in the morning, a prince at lunch time and a pauper at night.” Balance is key. Crash dieting and overtraining are counterproductive.
If your goal is to get stronger, protect your joints, maintain fat loss, build lean muscle mass, increase balance and mobility, and improve your cardiovascular system, then consistency over the long term is much more important than intensity in the short term. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”—Lao Tsu
My guest today is Alex Fraser, a healthcare professional who has struggled with weight gain and body image all his life. Through mindset and positive mentoring, he has transformed his body and his mind. It gives me joy to share his inspiring journey.
I'm a young healthcare professional, recently graduated from The University of The West Indies. My main struggles in life have always been with maintaining body positivity and confidence. About a year and a half ago, I was jobless and eagerly looking for ways to improve myself and my marketability. During this time, an interest in physical fitness and aesthetics slowly crept into my life and what started as a mere curiosity has evolved in ways that I never could have predicted.
Growing up I was always a fairly bulky kid and dabbled in many sports including tennis, basketball, and swimming, but never had much to show for it. I also struggled with addiction to video games, foregoing many social interactions to mindlessly plug into an alternate reality. Fast forward to late 2017, after having completed my medical internship I was probably in the worst shape of my life with a poor diet and poor sleep hygiene. I really didn't have much going for me. However, I was pressing on and was doing some courses "in the States" trying to boost my resume. Fortunately where I stayed, had a gym attached and I had interacted with other guys in the dorm who were gym enthusiasts and they carried themselves with such confidence, they inspired me to embark upon my own fitness journey.
So it began. Day after day, I'd wake up early before class and make my way to the gym. Did I know what I was doing? No, but I was excited to make a positive change in my life and it kept me going. Not before long, I found myself going twice a day and spending countless hours researching optimal diet and exercise regimes for hypertrophy. I had mediocre results, but I was not discouraged as I was moving in the right direction. I felt better about myself, I became more social, I wanted to make the most of the life I had. Then by the start of 2018, all my courses were completed, my CV looked amazing, but I was back in Trinidad and all my routines I had become so accustomed to would be no more.
In comes Dexter Simon, now my brother and mentor, who has made one of the greatest impacts in my life to date. Along with an awesome supportive group of men, aptly named the Testosterone crew, I have had the fortune of growing together with them under his tutelage. It wasn't his intense workouts. It wasn't his extreme stance on dieting. It wasn't his advice on optimal supplementation. So what was it? It's the idea that all it takes to become the best version of yourself is a simple mental switch. The idea is to develop your mental fortitude to approach everything in your life with a level of intensity, prioritising the things that matter most to accomplish your goals, that if you work hard consistently, prepare to capitalise on each day in advance and love what you do, you will find true freedom and confidence and lead an extraordinary life where you will reap the benefits in ways you could have never imagined.
Late in 2018, my father passed, somewhat unexpectedly, and it really did a number on me. There were a lot of things left unresolved between us and I wish he was still here so we could work through them and become closer. In my grief, I found comfort in eating and put on about 20 pounds. One of the last wishes my father had for me was for me to do what I want in life. Over the course of the next month I would get back into my usual regime of daily workouts and cardio while adhering to an intense and controlled diet. Before I knew it, I was in the best shape of my life at the start of the new year. Doing this has brought me immeasurable joy and I know now that this is what my calling is to be for the rest of my life.
It's not merely a selfish ambition. I see it for way more than that. Yes, I look and feel great, but it's about the people I've met and come to know as family. It's about the energy, confidence, and comfort in my own skin that I want everyone to experience. It's about the countless people who have seen my transformation and commitment who have been inspired to initiate positive change in their lives as a result.
Especially as a healthcare professional I feel that it is my duty to lead by example in promoting healthier lifestyles. I want to be part of a more holistic approach to healthcare that puts emphasis on mitigating the deterioration of life to the point where medicine and surgery are the only remaining options. There is so much misinformation floating around and I want to share my experience and knowledge and keep on inspiring others.
I want to encourage everyone not to be intimidated by all the things that go into a healthy lifestyle. Just get started with one small change that you are comfortable with. You don't have to be a gym rat like me either, just find what you enjoy doing, be consistent and always put your safety first. Do what you love! All the best!