Darren Ho is one of our guest contributors for our sports series, FUEL. He is a triathlete who experienced a transformational weight loss from a peak of 150kg. Since then, he has participated in various triathlons – including the renowned Ironman. Darren has also shared about his experience with ADHD and autism in hopes of ending the stigma attached to mental illness.
Five years. 60 months. 1,825 days.
That’s how long it took me to finally find balance. That’s how long it took me to lose 75kg, to change my habits, to develop discipline and to stay disciplined.
Many people think that the result of my weight loss and fitness journey is in completing multiple triathlons from sprints to full distances.
While this holds some truth, my journey is one of self discovery and the importance of always pushing harder and harder – in breaking barriers we set for ourselves and that others forcefully place in front of us.
The journey is one that cannot be quantified by one race, one lift, one tournament but rather something that satisfies the beast inside.
Here’s the disclaimer: I’m not the fittest, strongest, fastest or the most flexible. Not yet. It’s those last two words that fuel me consistently, day in and day out.
And it is exactly because we are not quite there yet that the fight continues, the struggle lives on and the pain is ever present.
I get asked a lot about how I stay motivated to train almost daily and how some strides I have taken in the realm of triathlons have seemed to be tremendous to some. I have also often been asked how I can bring myself to train multiple sessions a day, sometimes to breaking point.
It’s because I’m not quite there yet. And when I say that, it’s not about winning anything but the race to satisfy myself and my drive. My own inner beast that needs to be fed.
What is this inner beast that I keep referring to? To me, it is what makes an athlete great or mediocre.
It is a combination of pride, drive, passion, hunger and ultimately the love of pain together with the achievement that comes with it.
The more we receive, the more we desire it and this is what to me, this inner beast is.
But it is also what keeps so many people from their fitness goals and in achieving more than they think they are possible of.
Here’s my take on the factors stopping people from achieving their true fitness goals:
1. Fear Of Pain
Pain is part and parcel of training; if you don’t feel the pain during training, then I have news for you – you’re not training hard enough.
Yes, some sessions are easy ones but to optimise your potential we have to optimise the pain. Ask anyone who has pushed their limits and you’ll understand.
2. Fear Of Effort
This one is very different from pain. Being afraid of putting in the effort for whatever reason, is a leading cause of the rut.
Most of the time we think that it’s impossible to wake up at 5am to go for that run or to hit the gym.
It’s not impossible, we’re just afraid of the effort and where it will take us.
3. Fear Of Being Judged
In the world of social media, we are so afraid of being our own person and pursuing our own excellence.
How many times have people told you that it’s not possible or maybe even shunned you for working so hard that it hurt to sit down the next day?
Excellence only comes to those who are willing to suffer for their art, and the path is often long and lonely.
Surround yourself with people who encourage you, not those who respect mediocrity and expect you to follow their own flawed methods and mindsets.
4. Spending Too Much Time Idolizing Others
Constantly checking out other people on social media and wishing you were them? Why not put in the effort and be better than them?
We all started somewhere – even them.
Dig in, dig deep and be prepared to grit your teeth and kick butt where it counts.
5. Spending Too Much Time Hoping Others Fail
Sounds silly but it’s true. The human nature is a strange one and most of us like to see others fail when they are trying.
This same mentality applies to the individual as well. Because we cannot embrace other people’s success, we are -unfortunately – unable to accomplish our own goals.
Less time spent being resentful or jealous of others and more time spent on yourself will yield results.
6. Popularity Contest
I could write a book on this one. I know so many people who claim they spend hours on the gym but have little results to show for it.
Their claim that gym time doesn’t lean them out or they are building muscle and not losing fat is the usual nonsense we hear too often.
Follow them and you’ll see why results are not achieved. They spend more time taking selfies, videos and talking rather than training.
Then with the assumption of having spent “hours” in the gym, terrible eating habits ensue.
The result? No results.
7. Lack Of Precision
Training faster will make you faster, training slow will make you slow.
Many people I speak to have ambitious goals but lack training precision. It is one thing to want to run a marathon and another to be able to do it competitively.
The latter requires a lot more effort and precise goals to be set during training.
Are you doing enough?
8. No Deeper Purpose
Getting fit and staying there requires a purpose – more than just Instagram or impressing other people with race results.
Staying the fight establishes a purpose that is beyond what is quantifiable. It is a drive within us that remains invisible to others as we seek excellence with only ourselves as a yardstick.
The world is a blur and we focus on only one thing – becoming better. Too many find it hard to discover a deeper purpose and like that job that seemed enjoyable initially, it will eventually fade out.
I embarked on Beast.Body.Machine as a personification of my own fitness goals – to find out how fit I could become in one lifetime.
Through this, I realised that my fitness goals could no longer be quantified by how many Ironmans I did, because the deeper desire to do more only became more apparent after completing each race.
I hungered for more and my thirst for becoming better has never been more pronounced.
That’s probably why I can bring myself to train daily – as painful as it gets, as hard as it becomes and as lonely as the path grows as it slowly but surely becomes narrower.
5 years, 60 months and 1825 days. Who knows what the future will bring.