Learn My Past to Know My Present

Learn My Past to Know My Present Milaonsupplements

JOMO

definition:

Joy of Missing Out: You're enjoying what you're doing in the here and now and not on social media broadcasting or seeing what everybody else is doing. Opposite of fomo or the fear of missing out.

MOJO

definition:

A quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy.

If you switch the two syllables on each word, you will see that the two words are interchangeable.

mojo = jomo; jomo=mojo. And so it goes the loop.

Prelude

In April 2019, I deleted my personal Facebook profile. I don't live my life by accident. It was a very intentional choice I made. I've never been a social media power user. I carefully spent as little as possible time on Facebook. A week before I took that decision, I finished the book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by one of my favorite authors Cal Newport.

A week later, I saw how one of my best friends ruthlessly shared our private conversation over Facebook with her significant other. And it didn't bother her at all. It was vice versa. I ended up being the selfish, ego-centered, in-the-clouds person for seeking privacy.

A month after I finished with Facebook, most of my "best friends" completely forgot that I exist. There wasn't any green dot next to my face on Messanger anymore - the modern indication for our existence.

I was scared to see how meaningless friendships and connections I've created and sustained for years. As hard as it was, I've purged all fake friendships. Then one day, I looked around my apartment and saw so many meaningless possessions. I've never used them, and I've never cared about all these things. Why did I have them? What was I trying to fill in with them?

Status. Validation. Ego.

What followed changed me entirely as a character. Ever since that accident, I've become obsessed with living the most intentional and meaningful life.

I've found minimalism and stoicism. It was that one moment when FOMO became JOMO to me.

And with that, I've discovered the path to the pure joy of having a meaningful life. Today, I see myself as a happy person. Probably irritatingly happy for some people (no problems = no drama - but people love drama). And the joy of missing out turned out to be my charm, my mojo.

I didn't answer the question, why am I practicing minimalist fitness, and what exactly minimalist fitness means to me. My answer won't make much sense until I walk you through my past life of fat loss struggle, life losses, and victories. I will try my best to break down my past into easily digestible chunks.

"Because stories untold cannot be heard."

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The post will be a little bit longer, but this is who I am. And every word I share here, right now – it's my real deal. My story as authentic as it could be, and my sweaty skin in the game, shaped the human I am today.

I pray that I never lose my path, no matter how difficult and muddy it might be.

From Birth to Getting Fatter

"There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

I am lucky. I come from a place where kindness and empathy are like the water in the fish story above. These are just the qualities that people are born with, live through, and die with.

Five days before the fall of communism in Bulgaria (1989), I was born. Well, not just me. My twin sister, too (she is the firstborn of the two). My family comes from Startsevo, a small village in the magical Rhodope mountain, southern Bulgaria, located near the Greece border. With a pure heart, I can say that there isn't any other place like Startsevo – it's the people, the traditions, and the deep roots that still thrive even today.

Since a very young age, I was a very active kid. I would play football with the boys, play basketball with the girls, and bike all day with the gang. Once I entered puberty, I stopped playing sports but kept eating as I still was doing long hours of sports. I can admit that there was emotional binge eating too.
Startsevo, Rhodope, Bulgaria

Although the food I consumed was organic and natural in any sense (we have gardens, so my family was harvesting and producing much of our food), it consisted mainly of carbohydrates and vegetable oils. We are a family of 5, and back then, we couldn't afford to eat meat every day, even more so at every meal.

Side note: I recently told my sister that as a child, one of my biggest dreams was to buy a whole grilled chicken and eat it at once all by myself. She cried.

From Fat to Getting Fitter

Around the age of 15, I was already overweight. The weight scale hit 80 kilos at 160 cm height.

You get the picture. Thankfully, at a very early age, I was well aware of the world around me and who I wanted to be. I knew that people like me (heavily overweight) were rejected by society (unfortunately, and it was still 2003).

So just like that, on the whim, I decided that I have to lose weight. I bought a book on food combining diet (where you eat different carbs from proteins separately, fruits too) and started my first diet. To my surprise, the diet worked.

I haven't counted any calories, and I definitely haven't had any clue about how much proteins, carbohydrates, and fats I should consume. To tell the truth -  whichever diet you pick as your first, it will always work (as long as you don't eat for two).

Then, with an old buddy of mine, we constructed a hand-made home gym. Back then, there weren't any gyms around. We made our own from plastic buckets filled with sand, hand-made benches from wooden leftovers, dumbbells from old wheel bearings.

We did lots of cardio, wrapped in nylon so that we can speed up the fat loss process (familiar?:). This was two years before the desktop PC became an affordable item for a household in a small village.

We just didn't have access to any better information. Wrapping in nylon bags looked like an awesome idea for speed fat loss! We did what we thought was right to do. And again, it just worked (of course, not because of the extra nylon bags we carried on our bodies:).

We may not have had a fancy gym, but we trained hard. We put the discipline into something that will later become an obsession of mine.

The New Era of the Immense Knowledge

This was the biggest deal of my life during that time. Our parents bought us our first desktop PC. The obsession with accessing information and gaining untapped knowledge and new skills on fitness, nutrition, and supplementation was the main activity on my to-do list—an obsession in any sense.

I devoted hours, days, weeks, months, years, and now a decade on reading everything I could get my hands on, as long as it was fitness-related.

And of course, the access to so much unfiltered information was the prerequisite for long years of confusion, errors, and trials. Often, it was a loop. I was always testing the latest diet, the newest workout program, and always taking the most recent fat burners on the market. This vicious loop led to many mistakes and slow progress. One step forward, two backward.

But I question, isn't this what separates credentialism from people with skin in the game? Mistakes and experience, rather than certificates and naked degrees?

They Party, I Sleep. They Sleep, I Workout. Now Repeat

In 2008, my sister and I graduated from high school and moved from the little village of Startsevo to one of the biggest cities in Bulgaria to pursue our bachelor's degrees. I can tell - it was a thing.

What followed were four years of transformation. I took advantage of the plenty of time I had and kept obsessing over nutrition, dieting, supplementation, and exercising. My parents did a great job of supporting us financially. We didn't have to work, as long as we study and receive good grades. And so we did.

But supporting a pair of twins was hard. I have no idea how our parents make it, especially during the 2008-2009 crisis, but I owe them big, until the rest of my life and beyond.

So, with the budget being tight, I didn't have extra money for a gym membership, but I had creativity and unshakable will. I didn't have extra cash for steaks on every meal, but I had naturally built sense for money and finances.

The first year I crafted a barbel from two 11 l water tubes attached with tape to a wooden slat, which I brought with me upon moving to the dorm. After year one, I went on a summer exchange program in the UK. I saved as much as I could, and when I came back to Bulgaria for my second year, I bought dumbbells, a barbell, a pull-up bar, the basics.

It wasn't much, but it was the minimum equipment I needed to become a female beast.

What's the Most Important Currency During Students' Life?

You guess it right. It's alcohol. But for me, it was something else.

Calories. I measured everything in calories – grams of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I had to be merely creative with my nutrition plan. I didn't have any other choice. I cooked my food. I've never ordered a single meal during those four years at the university. I've always bought products on sale, which I planned carefully in advance.

We didn't even have a fridge with my sister in our dorm room.

I attached a bag with groceries to the inner side of my window so that the food could be chilled out during the night. This was my fridge, and it was free, so I didn't complain at all.

The only source of meat I could afford was chicken. Always frozen as it was cheaper. My primary source of proteins was curd (the Bulgarian type, not cottage cheese). And I didn't mind that food. For me, it was great food. I could build muscles, perform, and recover on that food exceptionally well.

I was well-fed, and I wasn't starving. I could do what I loved to do, and life was good.

Sleep. Eat. Perform. Study. Repeat.

"Sleep, eat, perform, study, repeat" was my life for the first three years of my student life. I had friends, of course, but I am an introvert. I can hardly attach to people. Since my childhood, I lived as a self-sufficient individual, and I still do (but this is a story for another post).

Plus, my friends partied hard. I was the alien on some kind of high-performance pills that cared only about fitness. It wasn't far from the truth. When they ware parting, I was sleeping. When they slept during the day, I wanted to read and do my workouts.

We lived in different words. We had different dreams.

Anyway. During the last forth year, finally, I got a bit more socialized, and I've started parting a bit more with my colleagues and friends. I've found out that people with a higher percentage of muscle mass can't get drunk very easily. Thankfully, I never did. And I never skipped any of my morning 10K runs or any of my afternoon CrossFit workouts.

To sum up those four student years. During that time, I've tried every trending weight loss diet and training program. From running 10K each morning, through heavy lifting and bodybuilding, to CrossFit as my second session workout. From years of low-carb low-fat dieting, through high-fat low-carb dieting (literally eating a pack of butter per day), to carb cycling and intermittent fasting.

I made huge mistakes with nutrition and training, but those were my mistakes, and they pretty much prepared me for the next chapter in my life. I don't regret any of that.

When I Realized that "9 to 5 Wasn't in the Script for Me"

After graduation, my sister and I moved to the capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia, where my parents and brother already lived for years. With zero experience, but with a well-crafted lie (this is another topic for another story), I landed a job at what will become years later, one of the biggest Bulgarian IT companies.

During my time there, I was saving money like crazy (not that my salary was huge) as I quickly realized that "9 to 5 wasn't in the script for me." Having a job wasn't the path for me to the wealth I wanted to create.

But I am grateful for that job. I've learned a lot about the IT industry, how things are done in the business world, and I've met some smart people with sharp minds. And of course, I was finally making money to afford better nutrition, supplementation, and training sessions with one of the best Bulgarian weightlifting trainers.

But as I said, having a corporate job doesn't create wealth.

For me, wealth is way beyond materialism. Wealth is the freedom to do what I love to do whenever I fill like doing.

So, while still employed, I developed my second obsession – side hustling, or as I will call it years later, "extra-preneurship." And this is how I started milaonsupplements.com. Fascinated by the supplements industry and how some particular supplements could give you a significant advantage on mental and performance levels, I began writing articles on supplementation.

When I first started milaonsupplements.com, it was a website for testing and reviewing different types of supplements. And since I had to learn how to grow the website myself, that need for knowledge led me to my third obsession – marketing and business growth.

During the period through the age of 23 and 26, my daily schedule was something like this:

  • 5:00 am workout;
  • 8:00 am at the office;
  • 18:00 going back home, working for some 4 – 5 hours on milaonsupplements.com;
  • 22:00 – 1:00 am reading research papers on supplements and reading every blog on marketing, growth, and SEO I could find.

This was every day, seven days per week, twelve months per year.

I was driven by something bigger than passion. It was an obsession over success.

And I am not afraid to claim it out loud. It is just who I am.

Milaonsupplements.com was my baby and couldn't abandon my baby out in the streets. Milaonsupplements has just been born, and I wanted to see how it grows. To know what school it goes to and to see what will accomplish in life.

And So I Quit My "9 to 5"

Three years later, with savings for 24 months, I quit my job to devote my entire time to milaonsupplements.com. That happened in my early 26's, and it lasted for 18 months (no, I didn't fail, see below why). I worked hard—both on the website and on myself.

I kept my schedule optimized. I did my best to prioritize work, relationships, and friends. While I did great with work and good with friendships, I destroyed the beautiful relationship I had back then.

"When you stop caring, she stops loving." - And this is how love fades. If you don't deliver your supply of oxygen, then flames won't burn.

I don't show emotions, and I don't grieve in relationships. But this break-up deeply marked my future attitude towards the meaning of unconditional love and unconditional friendships.

I had to recover. Repair. Un-broke. I had to grow.

And most importantly, I was about to learn how to live egoless, a meaningful life with fewer possessions and fewer friends.

The Cocoon Turns into a Butterfly

Then one day, I received a message on LinkedIn from the CEO of Kanbanize. It was an opportunity to take the lead on the growth of a new Bulgarian start-up.

After meeting the founders of Kanbanize (they were funding the start-up), to whom I had to present how I grew milaonsupplements.com over the past (then) 18 months. I had something they needed, and they had something yo offer - a completely new and untapped experience for me - growing a start-up.

And this was the beginning of the most critical opportunity and definitely what will lead to the most significant change in my life. If it weren't for my work in that start-up, I would never have been where I am today. And I would never have been the character who I am today.

Chiefly, I will explain how the last 30 months, working as the growth lead in a start-up (Flow-e), completely transformed my vision towards nutrition, training, time, productivity, virtues, and character.

The One Thing We All Have in Common Each Day

24 hours.

That's it. You either do the best you can with that time, or you will be outperformed. The work for a start-up is like no other. It requires long hours of your time, it requires you to be emotionally involved in the company you are building.

It was demanding, but it was also extremely rewarding. Your adrenaline skyrockets each time a big tech media cover your story on their website. And while I was still pulling 8+ hours on my start-up job, I was still working on milaonsupplements.com plus five more experimental niche websites I own. I still cooked my food, and I worked out every day.

I was Mila on steroids for a long time.

I had to wake up almost every day at 5 am so that I can read for an hour and do my morning workout. And my workday usually ended after 11 pm. Since I didn't have the time in the mornings to do hour-long workouts, I started to develop my workout systems (which I will discuss in another post).

I thought that if I cannot train for 60 minutes 3-4 times per week, then why not try 15-30 mins in the morning. I didn't have any other choice, except to prioritize frequency over volume. I was able to exercise almost every day and to recover remarkably well. After a month, I saw how my arms and shoulders got trimmed from fats.

After another month I had to buy size smaller jeans.

I was like, wow! What is going on? I decreased the total time spent exercising, and still, I got the best results in my life.

On top of that, since I don't do breakfasts, I started naturally to fast. I moved to two big meals per day, mainly consisting of animal proteins and fats (this will later lead me to become a carnivore). My fasting windows were between 18 and 20 hours.

Then another wow occurred.

I trimmed lots of belly fats, and my love handles shrank. My focus and alertness in the afternoons have drastically increased.

I may have been eating only two meals a day, but they were dense on calories, not on food quantity and volume. Thus avoiding the lethargy, we often experience after a big meal with vegetables and carbohydrates.

Three months were enough to prove that sometimes less is more. Sometimes, less is better. Sometimes, less is healthier.

"Calm the stomach. Move the body. Rest the mind. — naval"

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What followed was two years of practical experimentation with workout systems I've created, nutrition, and supplementation plans. Deliberately, I documented the whole process of transformation and positive change.

Then one day, while going through my past notes and experiments, I saw a trend.

As months passed by, I noticed that progressively I had become a natural practitioner on minimalist fitness. I was also slowly seeking minimalism in the way I lived my life.

I've found stoicism, which led me to understand that it's not the type of diet or the workout which derive long-lasting results, it's the way you perceive them, it's following consistent philosophy on nutrition, exercising, and meaningful life— seeking the best version of yourself. And not trying to replicate someone else's life.

And this is how the idea around minimalist fitness was born. It was my skin in the game. And here I am. Openly writing about the potentials I've unlocked thanks to the minimalism, stoicism, and freedom. They all have so much in common with fitness, aesthetics, and well-being.

The Now

As of the beginning of 2020, I no longer go to work. I needed my time and freedom back.

The freedom to be creative and work on the things I love – this blog, writing poetry, building marketing hub, side hustling, reading, playing the ukulele, learning Russian, hiking, climbing, traveling, exploring my own country with friends, which I have neglected for the past three years (and I feel deeply sorry for this, but I am making up to them).

The now teaches us to be present. The now is me, it's you, it's the moment I'm writing these words, and it's the moment you are reading them.

I believe in what I've chosen to build. I believe in my never-ending curiosity for knowledge and development. I believe in Kaizen and Kiryo. I believe that stories untold are never going to be heard. And I believe that I have quite some stories to narrate.

"Stay true. Stay humble. Stay authentic. Let your MOJO shine NOW. - Mila"

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