A former mentor once told me that “how you do one thing is how you do everything.” He was not the best mentor in many ways, however this one phrase has resonated with me more and more over the years. With countless hours spent in various gyms around the world, observing and meeting different people, discussing techniques and different diets, a few things have become clear to me.

The more I focus on my training and take a deep-dive into the nitty-gritty of nutrition, technique and the rest, the more I realize how much I can still learn and improve.

Funnily enough, this realization comes as a relief. I have come to understand that the reward is a result of the journey and not from reaching the destination. As cliché as this may sound, I believe it is the truth. The dreaded “plateau” is considered to be the most challenging part of any personal development path—be it learning a new language or obtaining your dream physique, getting stuck in a temporary rut can be mentally challenging and can also cause a total loss of motivation. Every time I have achieved a new goal without thinking about what’s next or setting a new one, I very quickly drop the ball and find myself not progressing or even taking backward steps. Coming back to what my mentor once told me, I tend to split life into three main areas. For now, it kinds of works for me.

  1. Physical (health, fitness and diet)
  2. Social (family and friends)
  3. Professional (work and business)

I have met very few people over the years that have their fitness and diet on point while their personal and professional lives are in total shambles. This can be attributed to the common idea that mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand and cannot be out of sync for extended periods without negative consequences. Good physical health through intense training and a balanced diet can kick-start the whole process of improving the trinity of Physical-Social-Professional. I have trained many different individuals over extended periods of time and observed how all aspects of their lives improved over the course of their training. It wasn’t always a straight road but the overall trend was always that of improvement.

I have always fallen back on my training as my constant in difficult and stressful times as training and fitness has been an area that I have always felt was under my control (unless prevented due to injury or sickness). This is very different when it comes to social and professional life where outside factors can be more challenging and don’t always go as planned.

When it comes down to it, the formula for a healthy body is quite straightforward, but by no means easy to stick to. With the right diet and training regime, progress is inevitable. I am not trying to state that training hard and eating well is easy. Quite the contrary actually, it is hard to stay on the right path, but at least the right path is relatively clear.

On the other hand, following the right path at the workplace with factors such as corporate politics, difficult people, different and unclear career paths and economic effects influencing outcomes can be very difficult. Similarly, being a good partner, parent and friend is a test that lasts for an entire lifetime and the right decisions along the way are not always obvious.

In the following monthly columns, I aim to discuss the “training lifestyle,” as I call it, and offer tips on both working out and diet and nutrition. The focus will be on staying fit while living in Yangon, which is not as easy as in other cities I have previously lived in. It took me a while to adjust my training lifestyle to life in Yangon with the many events, dinners and drinks seemingly going on everywhere and all the time. Nonetheless, through some adjustments and improvising I can now happily say that I am currently in the best shape of my life and constantly improving where I can.

I think I will stop here but there is still much more to come soon so please stay tuned!

Bye for now.

Lay Fortis is a fitness model, qualified personal trainer and nutritionist based in Yangon.

This column is presented in association with Training Ground, a premier fitness club located in downtown Yangon.

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