Sometimes I wonder…what is it that makes people closer? Some will say the amount of time they spend together. But is that true? What could give you the freedom to feel yourself, to feel accepted, accomplished and appreciated, in the presence of somebody you meet for the first time? What is it that takes away the need to place barriers between your communication, with the goal to keep youref save? Is it possible to meet somebody for the first time and still feel the security of his presence and the freedom to be yourself- with all your pros and cons, with all your strangeness?
I am once again convinced that it is possible- after the meeting I had with my guest- Kolio Koev and his wonderful wife-Nadia.
Probably what brings people closer, is not the time they spend together, but the experience they gathered, while independently from each other, without even suspecting their existence, they rushed through life, making tons of mistake and then learning from them; seeing how their life, their dreams and everything they’ve built, is shattering in front of their eyes, and then they still found the strength to start over and build everything again- this time smarter.
Life brings people together, when they’ve gone through enough experiences, so they can be capable of appreciating each other.
Well, I am happy to say that life led me on the path where I met Kolio and Nadia and I sincerely recommend you to read the wonderful interview and take a piece of hope, wisdom, faith and some of Kolio’s greatness. Then take it to your ife and multiply it according to your own potentia.
Ines Subashka: Introduce yourself.
Kolio Kolev: Before I introduce myself, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity. I am a big follower of the philosophy that the present or that exact moment, are the most important of all, so I am using now, as an opportunity to say thank you.
My name is Kolio. I am born in Razgrad, Bulgaria, but nowadays I live in Sofia.
I am a person keen on sports. Throughout my whole life, I’ve been involved in some kind of sport- soccer, badminton, kick box, basketball and fitness and bodybuilding. I can’t show off with some incredible achievements, besides one- the fact that I am still a part of sports and I’ve kept it as a main part of my lifestyle. Something that hundreds of people, whom I trained with, didn’t accomplish. When it comes to my professional endeavor, I’ve tried a bunch of things. It took me some time to find my element”- the one that helps me wake up with a smile on my face and live through every second up to my full potential. What is that thing? It is called being a personal trainer. Now I work as a personal trainer. And “work” is not the most appropriate word. Actually I live as a personal trainer.
IS: Before dedicating to lifting weights, you used to be a basketball player. Back in the days I was a basketball player as well. Looking back on that time, I realize that if back then I had the knowledge I do now and if I paid more attention to my physical conditioning ( if I had an appropriate approach towards it), as well as my nutrition, I would probably have had better results, with less efforts. What are your observations? How did your experience in the gym and your knowledge about nutrition, change your point of view about sport’s conditioning?
KK: My observations always come to one thing- the extreme methods that I used towards my body- both physically and mentally, without providing it with what it needs and deserves. Thanks to me gifted genes, my inborn sport spirit, thanks to the higher threshold of endurance- not just about physical activity, but also when it comes to pain that accompanies it, I still managed to succeed, where most were bound to fail.
But I did it egoistically. Actually I used to do it egoistically, because back than I did not have the knowledge I do today, nor I tried to earn them. But as it is said: Ignorance is not a crime, but it is still punished with death. „And even though the association with death is too strong, I could easily answer your question like this- I am completely convinced that I would have had better achievements, with less effort, if I haven’t tortured my body with too much exercise and terrible nutrition- the kind of eat everything in sight „diet.
Nowadays, after everything I experienced and after the epiphany I had- that emotional pleasure, shouldn’t be for the price of the physical one, I changed my point of view, towards achieving a balance between working out and nutrition.
Sure, I should make it clear, that I am far from professional sport, where this kind of balance, should be often neglected, so it can go beyond the limitations of what is considered normal- it is just the price you pay to become a champion. And this pretty much gives me the freedom to say this.
Where I am now is the highest level, when it comes to the optimal combination between normal and sport achievement. Through my proper nutrition and training method, I can bravely say that nowadays I feel extremely good.
IS: For those of you, who follow you on Facebook, it is well known that you often update pictures of your meals, you share extremely interesting articles- for me they are something like the obligatory morning press and besides that you use your status updates as an opportunity to share your observations and thoughts. What is your motivation behind this? I am sure that behind all of this, there is some kind of a deeper intention! What is it?
KK: I have a couple motives. Without listing them according to their importance, they would be as follows:
1. I publish photos of my meals, because of people who like these pics. The reason is that it is still motivating for them to start eating better- like I do. Or if they are already eating better- it is a motivation to keep on doing it. Those that are not afraid to ask, often have a bunch of questions for me and the meals. I am saying those that are not afraid, because all people have questions on the topic, but not many dare to ask. Some are afraid that their question might sound stupid; that they do not want to bother me with their thoughts or that I might have more important things to do… I’ve always said that there aren’t stupid questions, there are just stupid silences.
2. Just like you, I love reading. I do it every day, everywhere in every possible moment. I read a lot of interesting things, as well as a lot of not so interesting things. Even though it is a subjective value, what is interesting for me, is what I chose to share with others. In this case, I share an article, because I consider it to be useful for everybody who is going to read it. I do the same as you, with the main difference that I do not have a personal blog. Some time ago I had one, where I used to share everything that is hidden in my soul, but I haven’t written for a long time. It is not because of a platoe or because I ran out of ideas. I have the muse to write, but I’ve dedicated to something else right now.
3. I do it because you do it. I do it because other people do it. I do it because I believe that the more people do it, the more people are going to start doing it. I believe that “the good”, similarly to enzymes has the power to unlock a cascade reaction after itself.
And yes I have a message to spread. It would be: Balance!
IS: You and your wife, Nadia, are a wonderful family- something like an example for all couples. You have common interests and you are pretty supportive to each other. Did both of you have a healthy lifestyle, before you got married or living together, played a key role in changing your point of views, to a level, where they got combined and shaped a whole new mindset? What would be your advice to couples, where one has a healthy lifestyle and the other doesn’t? How could they build a deeper level of understanding and tolerance?
KK: My wife and I have been friends long before we got married. When I met her- 5 years ago, I was still in that kind of state, where I treated my body without respect and care. Probably it was genetics or a kiss from fate…probably it was something else, but in spite of my careless attitude, I still looked and performed great. I was a little bit thinner but still irresistible (lol). We really seemed to match perfectly- when it comes to working out and our similar philosophy about life. But this wasn’t true when it came up to nutrition.
I was strictly following the plan of Ignorance”, and I refused to hear something different on the topic of nutrition- the topic of Nadia. I was impressed by her knowledge, almost as much as her beauty impressed me, but I didn’t want to hear anything or follow her recommendations.
A couple years after, we became a couple and we started living together. That’s when I changed my mind about nutrition- completely. The “guilt „about this, foes to Nadia. She is the one, who beat the ignorant person in me.
I hope that it won’t sound egoistic, but still the merit for the change was my own. The reason I am saying this, is that my conviction is that a person is capable of changing, just when he decides to change and starts acting towards the change. A person, on his own, and not somebody else instead of him, does the change. What somebody else could do is help you see well. Somebody else could save you from your own blindness. That’s what my incredible wife did for me.
The situation with couples is delicate. Human brain does not work well with abstractions, when it comes to a habit, that’s why it needs specification. In other words, clearly stating how things work. But when it comes to relationships, that couldn’t happen directly. Just imagine the one with the healthy lifestyle, going to the one with the unhealthy habits and saying: “You either stop eating junk, or I am leaving. It’s your choice- either the fries or me. What do you pick? „There are a lot of indirect ways to give somebody information about a particular problem. The task is to find out the best method that will work with that particular person.
The advice I would give, is directed towards the one with the healthier lifestyle- keep on showing and proving the blindness of your mate.
Mutual understanding and tolerance, when it comes to training and nutrition, as well as every other aspect of the relationship, could be built in different ways. It once again depends on the particular situation, and the particular couple. There isn’t a one formula that fits al. But I am convinced that deep understanding and tolerance are achievable. Everything is achievable is the coupe really wants to share their time together in the best and most pleasurable way.
IS: In 2011 you had a surgery on your lungs. Would you tell us a little bit more about it? What happened?
KK: It happened one wonderful morning, while I was making coffee. I was stretching, as I always do… an hour later I could breathe with just half of my lung. What happened is called pneumothorax or in other words an abnormal collection of air or gas in the pleural space that separates the lung from the chest wall and which may interfere with normal breathing.
“How did it happen?”- I always have just one answer to this question- it’s chronic stress. The guilt for the pneumothorax is my own and the bad state of my nervous system (back then). Initially, I could not understand how and why this was happening with me. After all, I was “the iron man”- how could it be possible?
Later on, when I started studying the reasons behind diseases, all paths led to the mind of the person, who is suffering. I learned a lot from the book of Robert Zaposky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. I’ve never read something more clear and understandable, concerning the topic on chronic stress and its consequences. Stupidity is not a crime, but it is still punished with death. I was stupid and I paid my price. There is nothing better than acknowledging this, right at this moment. I hope it is going to help somebody, to avoid his own crisis.
IS: How did you face the day, when doubts settled in your mind? The day when you thought you were never going to be able to do what you love? How did you manage to fight this fear?
KK: I faced this day full of fear. And the fear was a consequence of just one thought- that the surgery was marking the end of my sport activities. Back then, I didn’t think if I was going to live, but if I will keep on playing sports. Initially, doctors told me that I have to be really careful. They said no strenuous exercise, no to sports, where I was supposed to lift more than 5 pounds, and no to sports where there is a team play and an opportunity for somebody to hit me.
Later on, I understood that they said it, because they wanted to make me be more cautious about what I put my body through. That’s when I started changing my mindset- the switch towards balance. That was the first time I thought that my body was not made from iron. That no matter how strong it is, it is still fragile and able to break. And by saying body, I mean not just its physical aspect, but also its psychological aspect. I managed to fight my fears, by changing my point of view. I understood why I got to that point, what happened and what was going to happen if I do not find my balance. I made the decision to find it and I managed to accomplish it.
IS: How do people around you accept your lifestyle? Are they supportive?
KK: Yes, they support me completely. Some of them are even starting to make their own healthier changes and choices. People even start asking me how to change their habits and improve their lifestyle. I’ve never expected that I will become a source of motivation for a change, but it happened and I know that it will keep on happening. What could be better?
IS: Would you share your training philosophy and your nutrition philosophy?
KK:My training philosophy is built on a person’s natural endowments. We are all born with a great potential for development. When it comes to physical gifts, some are more gifted than others. This is a fact that can’t be argued, but this doesn’t mean that if you are thinner, you cannot achieve the best you are capable of achieving, in other words you are able of becoming the best version of yourself.
My training philosophy is based on understanding how your own body works- not the body of the person next to you or the one standing in front of you; which are the sports that match it the best; what is the type of workouts that match it the best- with weights, with bodyweight and so forth. When it comes to nutrition, the same is true as well- the type of food, when and how it works the best. My training philosophy is built more on intuition, than on the textbooks. Yes, I’ve took a lot of wisdom from a lot of people and books and I keep on doing it, but I do not idolize any of them.
I experiment with myself, and I constantly take notes. What works for me and what doesn’t? When it comes to training, I like bodybuilding in its raw variation. When it comes to nutrition, I am far from a bodybuilding diet. Depending on the period, I eat either a balanced diet or I use the Carb-back loading method.
I do not eliminate any source of nutrients. I sustain a pretty much fixed amount of protein and I cycle carbs and fats depending on my present plan. After all experiments, I’ve found out that this works the best for me. This way I feel completely balanced- both physically and mentally. That’s what I am trying to explain to every person, that has asked me how to build his own balance- between the mind and the body. There is a path for everybody, willing to achieve this balance.
But the main question comes to defining a clear goal. What you want to achieve. When you have a goal- there is a way to train and a way to eat, so you can accomplish it.
IS: What would be your advice for people, who have difficulties following a particular nutrition plan?
KK: My main advice, has to do with defining a clear goal. And that doesn’t mean, saying: “I want to lose weight.. Saying that you want to lose weight is the goal itself. Saying that you should understand everything that has something to do with losing weight- how you are supposed to work out, to eat, what you should expect, the pros and cons- well, this is making a goal clear. When the goal is clear, your chances of accomplishing it increase drastically! You should know what you get yourself into- where are the underwater stones, the hidden holes and so forth.
Following a nutrition plan is always difficult, when you don’t have a clear goal. Another difficulty might arise from the fact that the nutrition plan does not match the needs of the person following it. Here the reason might be due to the person that made up the program or the fact that the program is a copy-paste from the internet.
Whatever is the cause of the difficulty, there is always a reason. There is something that feeds the difficulty. My advice is to search for that thing and when you establish it, move on to the next step- find a way to overcome it.
Everybody has his own specifics and that should be kept in mind, because the solution is not the same for all people.
IS: Do you find it difficult to combine your daily tasks with your workouts? Have you ever used the excuse that you are too busy to train?
KK: Right now I have absolutely no problem in fitting everything in my schedule, because I work in a gym and when it is not full, I use the time to train. There is always some gaps in between, when I manage to fit a workout. And even if there isn’t, I have rest days for this, don’t I? Back in the days when I used to work 16-18 hours a day, 6 days a week, I didn’t have time to work out. Back then I didn’t need excuses. Everything I needed was food and sleep, and I made sure I got plenty of them. This is a period of my life, that was characterized by extremes.
Everything I am trying to say is that sometimes life goes in a way, when you really don’t have time to train. The question is why you allowed yourself to reach this fat, and put yourself in that position. Besides that, I’ve never made excuses to skip workouts. It would be the same if you ask me, if I’ve ever used an excuse that I am too busy to breathe.
IS: What would be your advice to beginners?
KK: Do not slave the workouts of professional athletes or advanced trainees. This is the main mistake most beginners make. Then, once again make sure you have a clearly defined goal. Then establish the steps you need to make. Initially, the most important thing is to give yourself enough time to learn the proper technique. For me, this is the fundamentals- you should make the movement feel natural. Then pay more attention to proper nutrition.
Do you know how often, beginners come for the first time and ask me what supplements I’d recommend them. It would be the easiest thing to tell them take this or that, but I don’t do it. Yes, my job has to do with selling supplements and by doing it I would earn more money. But my main goal is not earning money from the beginners. My philosophy inspires me to find a way to give as much information as possible, in a way that the beginner will be able to assimilate and understand it. I have the need to educate people about what they are doing.
That’s why my advice to beginners, would be to slowly improve in the workout process- this could be achieved if you pick up the main, basic exercises and focus on mastering them first. It is important to realize that more is not equal MORE. What I mean is that spending three hours in the gym, won’t give you three times more than spending one hour in the gym. You need to take adequate rest, enough sleep, less sleepless nights.
My other advice is about being more serious with nutrition. Before you even think about supplements, first take the time to learn more about foods and the nutrients they contain.
Last but not least- motivation and consistency. Everybody should find his own way to get motivated. If you sustain a good level of motivation, then consistency is a lot easier. Usually the latter suffers, when the former decreases or is being completely lost. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one formula that fits all.
Part of my job is being able to motivate people, to require consistency. Every person is unique and that’s why I need to have a different approach for everybody. After all, I am not the one achieving other people’s goals. I am just helping them, but they are the one who are actually doing the work!
IS: What would you want to achieve with your workout as a coach? For me, being a coach is much more than just training people? What do you put into that word?
KK: What I am doing right now- sustaining compete balance in my life and slowly growing and reaching my potential. As I mentioned earlier, for me it is not work, it is a way of life. I feel complete when I do what I do. Every person who trusted me, and decided I am gonna be his coach, deserves the best I am capable of. Whoever picked me, deserves the best version of my own self.
This version is being constantly improved, that’s why people always get a better me in the present, than they did yesterday.
For me, being a coach is a mission and a responsibility. Every coach has the duty to earn his mission and responsibility to be a coach.
A coach should have confidence in what he does. If he has some hesitations, he should search the knowledge that will take them away. He shouldn’t feel what he does as a burden. If he feels it a burden, than everything is lost and bound to fail. Being a coach is not a matter of earning a living, but a way of earning a life.
IS: What are your dreams for the future and where could people find you?
KK: I dream about reaching a level of complete independence. Keeping in mind that I ive in a society, which has the foundation of laws, complete independence is unachievable, but a relatively complete independence is reachable. Everything else, that I dream about, is in a process of growth- i.e. I am not dreaming, but working for it.
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