My Top 20 Lessons From 2020


Top things I learned about health & fitness

1- You CAN build muscle and lose fat at the same time!

I’ve no desire to be a bodybuilder, but when the first lockdown was introduced here I started really pushing it with strength training. 

I’ve managed to gain a couple of pounds and still get leaner this year. A proverbial “fingers up” to the conventional bodybuilding paradigm of bulking and cutting!

It didn’t actually start out as an aim, it sort of just transpired as tennis and BJJ closed down. 

 Here’s how I managed to do it:

  • Maintenance(ish) calories - I say “ish” because I don’t track, but I know roughly

  • Strength training near-daily

  • Higher protein intake ratio for those calories than before

  • Emphasis on volume; becoming stronger and doing more reps over time (all without a gym)

  • Much less cardio than 2019

2- I need to place higher value on rest 

Truth be told, I haven’t done it enough for several years. I suppose we can then debate what “enough rest” means and looks like. But there are times when I’ve been tired, and quite worn out.

I've been prone to burning the candle at both ends once or twice for a few years now.

Not close to crashing and burning, not stressed, but just slightly overdoing it. Or at least enough to realise that I was perhaps pushing a little too hard.

Quitting my job in 2019 and going full-time with this helped a little. Since then, I've tried the typical methods of:

  • Less screen time at night

  • Getting into bed earlier

  • Planning days off

However, what I now realise is that none of these “tactics” worked because my mindset wasn’t right. 

 The reason why I couldn’t get those things to stick is because, truthfully, I didn’t want them to! I hadn’t placed enough currency on rest for it to be worth the effort to solve. Make sense?

Going forward, I need to value it more. It’s already working. 

3- Hemp seed is my new favourite of the big 3

Big 3 you ask? Hemp, flax and chia. Out of those popular milled seeds, hemp is my new favourite! Why?

(1) it’s higher in protein, which is something I’m more considerate of with the extra strength training this year, and (2) I find it tastes the best of the 3!

4- I get LESS injuries when I don’t use workout tracking apps

The Strava app was my best friend last year. If you haven’t tried Strava, it’s a great tool for runners, cyclists and walkers!

However, it made me get “too focused” on PRs, pushing my progress, etc. It made me LESS intuitive about my body because I was always so keen to push it.

I got way less injuries and pains this year as a result, but worth noting that I’ve also run a lot less. So how much of my injury-free year is down to putting Strava on hold?

Hard to tell, but I can't help but notice the trend!

5- Bodyweight squats ARE enough to build your legs, initially at least

Lots of people think you need a gym to build muscle. I do think that being without a gym severely limits the strength gains you can make, but I’ve been amazed at how my quads and hamstrings have come up just doing bodyweight squats - no resistance!

There’s so many variations I can do as well to keep up the overload:

  • My 3-set burnouts: Going to near failure for a set, pausing 10 seconds, going again, pausing 10 seconds, going to failure again (that last set is usually only 5-10 reps!)

  • Pause squats: holding at the bottom for 3 seconds before returning to the starting position

  • Single leg squats to a chair - brutal!

6- It’s probably wise for me to supplement omega 3s as an insurance policy

The ratio of omega 3s to 6s can be a little skewed when you’re vegan.

Because of how I was eating last year, I found it easy to get those 6s, but less so (though far from impossible) to get the appropriate ratio for 3s, in comparison. 

I knew this at the time, and even talked about it online then, but only actively started fixing it consistently this year by supplementing and/or tinkering with my diet a little.

7- I miss tennis like mad, but get over it when I find other forms of movement I enjoy

Tennis is, and probably always will be, my favourite sport to play. My tennis group shut down on several occasions earlier in the year which naturally meant less tennis, and then I left Cambridge in October, where I had such a brilliant setup for it.

I have brief moments where I miss playing tennis like crazy, but then quickly get over it when I start doing something else.

For me, it’s been doing more strength stuff again and also returning to running after acute injuries last year.

I think I’m pretty fortunate with exercise. I’ve always loved sport so I’m sure I could quickly learn to enjoy anything!

It's been nice to not get TOO attached to any one exercise this year, and be able to pivot easily when everything closed down.

 

Top things I learned about the bigger issues

8 - We will not learn the biggest lesson from 2020

You would hope that, when we see a problem in our lives, we fix the thing as quickly as possible! Cut the head right off the beast, no hesitation.

And what a year this would and could have been for people to get the proverbial kick up the backside they needed to address their health.

But nope! Rather than behavioural change to boost long-lasting immunity, it’s been:

  • Avoiding contact

  • Hand-sanitiser

  • Masks

I have RARELY heard the British Government - or media - talk about lifestyle choices that demonstrably lower the risk of death from the virus. That said, I’m not overly surprised.

I called this back in April when someone asked me if Covid would make more people go vegan. I pretty much said no. Watch the clip here: https://youtu.be/bxjr2tgRyzU

I suppose there will be a time for culture and thinking to shift once all this passes, and it can be digested with a lot more facts than emotion, but it feels like we’re learning all the wrong things from this:

  • To fear our fellow humans

  • To avoid close contact even though it’s key to our wellbeing

  • To comply to rules without question through fear - I cannot believe how much Government overreach has been tolerated here

But probably won’t learn:

  • How to prevent pandemics so these things have a far lower chance of occurring in the first place

  • How to improve immunity so that people are stronger when something like this inevitably happens again

Another example of us addressing the symptom rather than the cause…classic! 

Has this year been tragic? Yes! Has society had some tough lessons this year? Absolutely! Has it learnt what it needs to from those lessons? I don’t think so, but time will tell. 

My prediction? When it comes to preventative measures, we will learn nothing from this year.

9- We still can't chat to people we disagree with

Here's one BIG thing I noticed on YouTube and Twitter this year...

There's a new, trendy epithet in town. One that people level at those they don’t like, or disagree with, rather than actually having a respectful and productive conversation with them.

That's right, it's another "ist" word. This time...narcissist. 

I’ve been called this a handful of times online this year, despite not a SINGLE person ever calling me this in my personal life. 

I’ve also watched others online (who I don’t believe to be narcissists whatsoever) be called it 1000x more often than myself. 

Fascinating, especially given that I’ve never actually met someone who I believe to be a narcissist.

I'm very well aware that narcissists exist, but one read of the internet would suggest that they’re everywhere!!

I honestly think this is a label that low self-esteem people use to bring down high self-esteem people. Sad!

I love seeing people sing their own praises when they deserve to do so. I make sure all of my clients take the time to celebrate and share their breakthroughs, because nobody else is going to do it for them!

It does feel like this incessant need to bring people down, or label them as some form of evil because they have a different viewpoint, is a new thing in these last 5 or so years. Would love to hear insight from older members of my audience on this!

Anyway, the inability to chat to people we disagree with continues.

10- Fear is infectious

Being around someone who’s fearful can rub off on you. This is why I am SO careful in managing my environment and policing the people and thoughts that enter it.

The thing about fear is that, whilst it’s natural and very much a part of life, it can lead to hysteria. Not only that, but it can be disempowering.

The fear I’ve seen here in the UK this year is incredible. It's toxic. You can feel it in the air. 

People are afraid, and no wonder. But we need more leaders who can stand up and be counted. First and foremost, you need to be the leader of YOUR life first!

Things like the news and the topics you cover with friends in conversations must be managed. 

Covid, covid, covid!

Panic, panic, panic!

It’s all anyone talked about this year. It had TOTAL CONTROL over their minds.

Some of my family WhatsApp chats were awful. I love my family BUT...the fear, the self-marginalisation, the victimhood...it made me feel shame to be around this weakness.

Ouch...harsh words I know, my family are great, but this was my real reaction - and there's nothing here that I wouldn't say to them!!

The lesson: manage your words correctly, you can give something more POWER just in the way you speak about it.

Yes, what the world has suffered this year has been a great tragedy, but, in the face of adversity, resilience is required. Not surrender. 

I've witnessed lots of submission and fragility, from people who I typically have great respect for. I find it hard to see.

What I'll continue to remember going forward:

What I give my attention to can make or break me, so be deliberate with where I put it.

I could not afford to be fearful this year. For me, it is no way to live my life. I must be strong, and I want you to be too. 

I’m not saying be stupid, I’m saying be in control.

11- Veganism continues to plod along...

I don't know that I was waiting for some cultural "aha" moment or sudden shift in thinking, but this is probably what all vegans hope for.

A moment in time where the tide feels like the tide has turned on the animal agriculture issue. A tipping point, if you will. 

Well, to me, it doesn't feel like we are much closer. I've always thought that we are a long way off frankly, but you would think this year of all years could create a big change on this issue.

I don't think it has. Early data seems to suggest that veganism continues to grow in terms of key metrics ( # of people that self-identity as vegan, industry trends, search volume, etc.), but it feels like a steady plod rather than a sprint, sadly.

I feel a real obligation to do more on this in 2021.

 

 

Top things I learned about business

12- It pays to submit to those with greater expertise

Checking your ego is easier said than done. But when I accept that I need help, I have the courage to go and ask for it.

By acknowledging that someone knows better than me, I can submit to their leadership and teaching WITHOUT resistance from the ego. When you accept that some people have superior knowledge in a certain area, you are humble enough to take good advice!

I had good coaching in 2019, but I didn't leave my ego at the door to get the full benefit of that coaching until this year!

Natural Weight Loss Mastery is hugely better off as a result. 

13- No more “staying in my lane”

I’ve used this term a bunch on my YouTube channel in recent years. I’ve been careful about not straying down paths that aren’t exactly under the “Natural Weight Loss Mastery” ethos - whether that be in a content or a business sense.

Notice how I very rarely talk about anything aside from weight loss, let alone anything remotely personal?

Truth is, I think I’ve used it as a crutch to not push myself.

A brief tangent...

I'm a really private person. I'm extremely protective over things I hold dear, because I'm very well aware of how that information can be used against me. 

I make a conscious decision to under-share rather than over-share. It really annoys people, because they feel like they can only get to know me so much, but I refuse to change it.

It feels totally natural to me, rather than something that I've forced.

But, even with that said, there's definitely more that I could share that would pose NO threat to me. It just feels strange to do so I guess...it almost goes against my default setting!

And after slowly sharing more and more, and doing small things like starting my personal IG page or releasing my non-weight related mindset book, I’ve began to stray a little outside my lane. And you know what…it’s fine!!

I post an opinion that I fear some might find controversial (it's usually totally reasonable but you know what social media is like) and...nothing happens!

Actually, 99% of my audience usually agrees, my YouTube channel still grows and I still help my wonderful clients lose weight! No harm done.

And, if anything, people feel closer to me because they know my real thoughts and stances...rather than being some online avatar with no opinions.

Sadly, nowadays, you have to tread on eggshells with the online stuff because things can get taken away from you so easily! But I'm continuing to just say "sod it" and go with my gut anyway.

The whole "staying in your lane" thing is not a battle I can win anyway.

Some of my audience constantly ask me to talk about other things and share more of my life, then, when I do, another portion yells "stay in your lane!!"

I'll just go with my gut going forward. Sometimes when I'm so in my head about a decision thinking, "should I or shouldn't I", my instinct needs to decide. 

I've learned to give myself permission to do that.

14- Cryptocurrency is magic

Not really business related, but this one has affected my financial life so it's worth including.

I had a good old dabble with crypto this year and made some nice pocket money - in the thousands in fact.

My total earnings on it over the course of a year totalled to a few months rent, happy days!

I'm not in a position to offer you any advice on this obviously, but it's worked well for me in 2020.

Example: bitcoin is finishing the year at £18k sterling. At one point in the summer it was £5.5k.

Crypto sure is volatile, but simply glorious when you get it right!

15- Coaching is my thing, despite my doubts

The books and cookbooks on this site have done really well and helped a lot of people, but what I really love is the coaching.

It was always something I had reservations about in years gone by because of the time it takes. Overseeing a client for a period of time, like 90 days, is intensive.

Lots of energy and time! I could never fully enjoy it and really advertise it whilst still working a job.

When I left my career to do this full-time, things naturally got easier. I could open my coaching up to more clients. The results and transformations were good, but I was still very limited in the amount of people I could work with.

I was also very concerned that it wouldn't continue to get enough interest to be worthwhile long-term. I just had lots of doubt about it really.

What I now realise, is that there were obvious improvements I could make to my program, coaching skills and marketing, to make it blow up...but the doubts I had caused reservations. 

I NEVER fully-committed to building the best program ever and shouting from the rooftops about it because of this...until this year at least.

In March-April time I went hard. I added more resources to the program, new methods of client communication, and actually began talking about it a lot more online.

I'll tell you what though, it was VERY uncomfortable at first. I couldn't work out why. I knew this program was the bees knees, I knew that I was a brilliant coach, so why the hesitation?

Then I was like "damn, this is exactly what my clients go through, just with weight loss!"

Massive, unrelenting self-sabotage. Here was a coaching program that would benefit others and benefit myself, yet I was scared to fully get the word out about it!!

Makes no sense, right?!

I came to realise that the reason I was doubtful is because I hadn't seen proof that it could work yet.

I knew that I had this great program, and that it was a no-brainer to promote it heavily, but because I'd only put a few people through it, I wasn't totally sure about how successful it would be.

Like with weight loss, if you haven't been able to lose much weight yet, you're still not sure if it's actually possible!

Even after you lose the first couple of pounds, you're still tentative about whether it will continue.

This was the exact feeling I had. It was totally natural, but the problem was that it prevented me from taking the action necessary to overcome it.

What changed is that I just accepted this feeling and got to work anyway. I accepted that I would feel doubtful until I showed myself that I had reason NOT to be doubtful.

In other words, I needed to PROVE that it could be successful to have faith that it would continue to be.

This one mental shift allowed me to put so much more energy into building and promoting the program. Word soon got around and, several months later, the testimonials were crazy!

Nowadays, the program just sells itself because the results are so evident. I publish client success stories on Instagram and people ask to sign-up.

With this continued success, I feel more and more confident about the program and the future of my coaching business. Do you see how it's a snowball?

The success of the program has allowed me to enjoy working with clients even more. In hindsight, I'm so glad I slowed down with the books and meal plans and gave more of myself to the coaching. 

I've been blessed to have some smashing clients this year, so it really is win win for me - in terms of finding it meaningful AND doing well from it financially.

If you want to work 1-on-1 with me next year, apply for my weight loss coaching program here: https://ryanadamsuk.typeform.com/to/AHWISy

 

Top things I learned in my personal life

 16- No, I don’t want to “jump on a call” with you!

I’ve been on the phone loads for several years with my clients, well before 2020 came along! 

So when friends and family have asked me to arrange and schedule calls for remote catch-ups…my first thought is usually: “no way!”

What happened to good old fashioned email ay!?

Calls, for me, are reserved for helping my clients! I don’t want to spend my leisure time on the phone on top of this!

17- I need one or two escapisms

It's taken me a while to allow and completely enjoy leisure time. When there's something you want to fix in life, you feel bad for not working on that thing.

This year, I feel like I reached a point where I'm really starting to get the things I want. Things just feel easier now and so I feel that I can afford to "switch off" a bit more.

I've thought a lot this year about how to do that. Here's one VERY uncharacteristic thing I did back in May to work on this...

I bought a video game console!

I know, what a geek!

I’ve long lambasted video game players for wasting hours and hours gaming when they could be improving! I still stand by this for the record!

But this year I got a video game BECAUSE I wanted to switch-off a little more.

As I predicted, I’ve hardly played the thing, and I still find it incredibly dorky, but it works for what I intended it for!

The football team I follow has also done very well this year, so that's been a really engaging and fun escapism.

I think I need a few of these things to jump into from time to time, even if I used to see them as a royal waste of time in the past. I’ll stumble across some more in 2021 I’m sure.

18- More of a plan is required

I love spontaneity, but I did a few too many things on a whim this year and didn't plan out some of the things I really needed to.

I went to Prague for 3 weeks in the summer, booked it very last minute.

Great time but boring on my own after a while! I should've come up with a better plan ahead of time.

In October I finished living in Cambridge and by midday on the day of my check-out, I still wasn't 100% sure where I was going!!

I then spent 2 months in my old home city of York. A great time, but still not necessarily the best move for me.

There's slightly more to that story, but the point remains, I need to think ahead a little more.

I'm fortunate enough to now be in a position where Natural Weight Loss Mastery gives me a great potential lifestyle, so I now need to think about EXACTLY what that's going to look like - because I have real freedom now!

19- I want to be good at everything

There's no point living a really healthy lifestyle if you're not doing other great things with the energy and life span that gives you.

Similarly, there's no point doing well financially if you don't have great people, experiences and causes to spend that money on or with.

I'm now taking the rather arrogant and arguably deluded position that I need, and am going to, achieve excellency in all the big areas of life.

I just want to be good at everything I guess, the full package! I know, I know, it's something a Tom Cruise character would say...but that's what I'm like!

I'm still a firm believer that you need to put certain areas of life on the back-burner to fix others though.

So I know that a wholly "balanced" life will take lots of time to achieve.

But, that said, I'm warming to the idea of operating at 95% in every area of life: health, career, social, etc. Rather than gunning for 100% in one area, to only see another area drop to 70 or 80%.

I had to sacrifice a lot to get on top of my health in 2015-2016 and I've had to sacrifice even more to get Natural Weight Loss Mastery to where it is as well.

What I showed myself this year is that I could make massive gains in several areas at once.

I'm still of the belief that you can't be truly balanced all the time, and instead you need phases where there's more concentration on one area than another, but I'm learning how to better bring everything up at once.

How am I doing this?

  • Not automatically believing that everything else has to suffer for one thing to prosper anymore: I really did subscribe to that typical "sacrifice" narrative.

  • Continuing to work on my own terms: being considerate of the needs of my clients but largely controlling my own schedule.

  • Using systems: automated processes that make "work" easier so there's more time for "play"

  • Speed: working efficiently rather than working lots. My strength workouts are usually around 20mins, but very high intensity. When I'm making YouTube videos, I'm making YouTube videos...no distractions. I get things done so much faster nowadays.

Maybe you can be the jack of all trades, after all?

20- Life is easier when you're respected

Whether it's friends, family, romantic or business, when people respect you, life is better.

What's the lesson? Do things that are RESPECTABLE and things will start going for you. 

The world will bend to your will if you are worthy of it doing so.

Now, to some, this will sounds wildly egocentric, but respect is the bedrock of good relationships.

When respect goes, the common good or WIN WIN dynamic in a relationship goes too. 

When you set strong boundaries, speak well and politely, take care of your appearance and do useful things, people notice. They want to be part of it.

If you don't do the things worthy of respect, even if some of them sound superficial, you will get walked over at some point.

The quality of people you attract in your life will not be as high either.

You have better relationships with people when a strong respect is present.

You can have greater influencer and be a better leader for your family or colleagues when you are respected.

You don't need to "convince" anybody of anything, because people can see that YOU are a product of your achievement. 

There's an energy about you that is instantly recognisable and it will command respect from people.

Again this is something I've known for years, but only fully pieced together and found the language for this year. 

I've noticed, the more success I have in all areas, the more respect I get. 

This might sound big-headed, but I can assure you, it's not coming from that place. I just want the best life possible, and I increasingly see how crucial it is to be respected.

I still have plenty to improve on, but by doing things worthy of respect and getting the subsequent respect, life has definitely been easier. More opportunities!!

And that's it! My 20 rules for 2020. I hope these insights help you in some way. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Ryan