Balance. It’s a word we hear all the time and see as a hashtag plastered all over social media, but how many of us really know what it means and how many of us have managed to successfully achieve it within our lives?

For me, balance is about perspective and setting out to achieve your goals in a healthy way. I see way too many people starving themselves on strict diets and refusing to take rest days with their training because they are so scared of slowing down their progress. Sure, nibbling on carrot sticks, grazing on lettuce leaves and smashing out multiple gym workouts on a daily basis may see you drop the pounds, but how sustainable is it and, most importantly, does that make you happy?

Happiness is key when it comes to eating well and training hard. The simple fact is, if you’re not enjoying something then you’re not going to stick to it, so what’s the point? I see no benefit in dropping however many dress sizes only to pile the weight back on again. You’re not really achieving anything and you’re certainly not learning anything if you’re not doing it in a sustainable way.

Faisal drinking a shake

If I could ask my clients to take away one thing from my sessions, it would be to focus on the long game and drop the pursuit of quick, short-term fixes. What’s the quickest way to get a six pack? How quickly can I lose three stone? These questions all show the wrong mindset.

This isn’t just fitness, it’s life. It’s is about embracing healthy habits and a positive mindset that will last you a lifetime, not just the duration of a crash diet. It’s about chasing real goals rather than purely aesthetics. Easier said than done you might think? Wrong. It’s about adopting very small changes that will shift how you think and feel so that before you know it, you’re not trying, you’re just living.

Here are some of my favourite ways to stay motivated and on track while maintaining a bit of balance. I talk about them more in my new book The PMA Method, but here is a little insight.

Honest training = honest results
Take some ownership and face yourself. Sometimes you hold all the answers as to why you’re not seeing the results that you want to. Honesty is hard as it makes you face yourself and quite often that involves facing up to the fact you’re the only person that’s holding you back. Are you training as hard as you can or as often as you can? Are you really eating as well as you could? In all areas of life, you get out what you put in and if you really want to make changes in life, those changes HAVE to start with you.

Don’t deprive yourself
If I knew I could never eat chocolate again, I’d lose the will to live! Yes, I know it’s not good for my body, but it tastes amazing and it makes me happy. A little of what you fancy is essential when you’re on a lifetime journey so relax and just learn to manage those cravings in a healthy way.

I ensure I have a cheat day every single week (unless I haven’t trained hard or eaten well for the rest of the week.) A cheat day is my day to eat whatever I fancy. I don’t mean pulling up a chair to an all you can eat buffet for 24 hours, I just mean relaxing. If you want a pizza, order one. If you fancy a bit of chocolate afterwards, then go for it. I make a real feature of my cheat days and spend the week planning what I’m going to eat. It keeps me on track and allows me to stick to eating well all week because I know I can eat what I want come Sunday. If I’ve got a birthday or something else to celebrate mid-week, I just make that my cheat day which means social events don’t have to be a snooze fest and I can say a big fat yes when I’m offered the pudding menu!

Almond banana bread muffins

Trick your mind
Some people find the whole “eating healthy” concept really hard and just the word healthy makes them want to run to the sweet shop. But healthy doesn’t have to mean boring and tasteless so switch up how you look at things. I’ve scattered #FasialFakeaway recipes in my new book which are basically healthy versions of takeaways. Think Thai burgers with almond butter satay sauce, chicken madras and pitta pizzas. Take it in turns to host a Saturday Night Fakeaway with your friends and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

Lamb kofta with tahini

Lose the guilt
As with anything where you’re playing the long game, look how far you’ve come rather than how far you’ve got to go. If you slip up and have a day of bad eating or you swap training for a Netflix marathon, don’t sweat it. It’s just a wobble and we all have them. What is a problem is allowing that wobble to throw you off course and using it as an excuse to throw in the towel.

Remember you’re chasing a healthier and better you and that means physically and mentally. There’s nothing healthy about obsessing over a Mars bar that can’t be uneaten or a workout that has been skipped so try and maintain some perspective. If the damage is already done, pick yourself up, dust yourself down, man up and get on with it! If you’re really struggling mentally, read through my book’s tips on unlocking your PMA to help you get your focus back.

You’ve got this
Maintain some balance, have a little faith in yourself, trust the process and stick with it. If you train hard, eat well and think positively you will smash your goals, whatever they are. We are all capable of incredible things if we believe in ourselves, now go out there and get it!

The PMA Method book

Book Credit: The PMA Method by Faisal Abdalla published by Aster £14.99 3 May 2018 (octopusbooks.co.uk)