Nagina Abdullah is the founder of MasalaBody.com and helps ambitious women take control of their health and weight. She created Spice Yourself Skinny, an 8-week program in which women describe their weight loss as “effortless.” She has been featured in Business Insider, Huffington Post and on Fox News for her weight-loss expertise.
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- Flipboard – Nagina’s small business resource
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:04] – A major part of Nagina’s business is a result of her personal transformation
- [01:13] – She struggled her entire life to be fit
- [01:34] – She had no time for herself
- [01:54] – Nagina realized she didn’t want that life
- [02:15] – Nagina found Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body, used the foods and added flavors and spices
- [02:39] – She lost 10lbs in 4 weeks and 40lbs in 9 months
- [03:09] – The neighborhood started asking Nagina how she lost weight
- [03:25] – Nagina started with a blog
- [04:15] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Nagina wants you to focus on just the goal. Start with 5lbs or 2kgs and start getting those off. Break up your goals into smaller milestones.
- [05:41] – Weigh yourself in the morning before drinking or eating anything
- [05:54] – Have a protein-filled breakfast
- [06:18] – The goal is starting with something small
- [07:00] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Nagina was at a point where she was really wanting to scale her business. She created a group program but since she felt she knew what people wanted, she didn’t talk to too many people about it. After putting a ton of effort into a webinar and email campaigns, not one person bought her program.
- [08:22] – Nagina realized she didn’t test the concept
- [08:39] – She looked at the most popular and most viral articles and segments she’s done
- [09:01] – She renamed the program “Spice Yourself Skinny”
- [09:18] – Making one tweak can change everything
- [10:55] – Just because something doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it won’t work ever
- [11:32] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: When a lot of women asked what Nagina did, she literally told them everything. What shocked her was that none of them followed what she said. Nagina then realized that she needed to start telling people her techniques in smaller pieces.
- [14:26] – You CAN achieve your goals
- [14:58] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? Nagina is fired up about her child’s birthday. This also marks the start of her transformation. Today, she also received an email from a woman in her program who lost 8lbs in 3 weeks!
- [16:20] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – Not realizing she could create a program from her own transformation
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Stay focused on a project
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Consistency
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Flipboard
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness
- [19:29] – Start anything in small steps with consistency
- [19:47] – Special gift for Fire Nation! Get Nagina’s Weight Loss Recipes Handbook for Busy Women PLUS The Spice Yourself Skinny Starter Pack: 12 Weight Loss Spices here
Nagina: Yes, I am.
John: Woo-hoo! Nagina is the founder of masalabody.com. It helps ambitious women take control of their health and weight. She created Spice Yourself Skinny, an eight-week program in which women described their weight loss as effortless and she’s been featured in Business Insider, Huffington Post, and on Fox. Nagina, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us just a little glimpse of your personal life.
Nagina: Yes, definitely, definitely. Well, I think a major part of my business and what I’m doing today, it’s a result of my personal transformation. And one of the things that I feel is so important to let people know is that I struggled my entire life to be fit and to be at a weight that I was happy with. It was a daily struggle. I thought about it all the time. And what happened is that after I had two kids I was at a weight that was heavier than ever before and I was also working in a career as a demanding management consultant in New York City. So I had pretty much no time for myself.
But one day everything changed and this really led to where I’m at today. I was at home and my kids were crying to go outside and I didn’t want to take them. I just had no energy, I was too tired, I felt extremely lethargic. And it hit me in that moment, oh my god, is this the life that I wanna lead where I can’t even take my kids to have fun because I feel so bad about myself? And then I knew at that moment I had to make a change, I had to take control of my health and of my life.
And that’s when I started looking into what could I do to change this with my busy lifestyle and actually found Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body. And all the foods that he recommended, they really worked for me because they went along with the kind of cuisine I had grown up with, which is an ethnic Indian cuisine. So I used a lot of his foods but then I needed to spice them up because there was not the flavor that I had grown up with. So I started adding spices, I started adding flavors, and all of a sudden I lost ten pounds in four weeks and then I went on to lose 40 pounds in nine months. And it was very transformational.
And what I did is I actually did research, I found out how many weight loss benefits spices have. Like for example, a pinch of cinnamon in your coffee or your smoothie, it helps you manage your blood sugar and reduce storage of fat. And so when you add it to a really good eating plan, weight loss becomes easier than ever. And so what happened is as I lost this weight, women in my neighborhood were knocking on my door, literally I would walk out in the neighborhood and they would ask me, “What have you done? How have you lost this weight? How do you have two kids and you lost 40 pounds and you’re working?” So what I decided to do is I decided to start a blog and I started sharing my recipes online, I started sharing my tips, and it’s evolved now where I talk about mindset, emotional eating, how to put ourselves first. And I now create weight loss solutions for other busy women like myself, other entrepreneurs, seven figure business owners, other consultants, doctors, to help them really experience the transformation that’s so possible for them.
John: So Nagina, weight loss is obviously your area of expertise and you did drop that one cool value bomb about spices and that cinnamon thing was pretty cool. I actually put cinnamon in my coffee every day when I’m making my little bullet proof, so I like hearing that. But what’s something that we don’t know as entrepreneurs about weight loss but we should? Like what’s something that you haven’t told us yet that you’re like, I doubt Fire Nation knows about this?
Nagina: Okay, so about weight loss is I really advise my clients and my students, my private clients, my students, and I wanna tell you this and drop this value bomb right now, is I only want anyone that’s interested in losing weight to look at the goal right in front of them. So what happens is with weight loss, if you wanna lose 20 pounds, it’s a lot to focus on. It becomes overwhelming and sometimes it becomes so intimidating that you actually never get there. So what I recommend is start by looking at the first five pounds or two kilos right in front of you. You think only about those and work on getting those off. And you need to achieve those before getting onto the bigger goal. And so, basically when you have a goal, break it up into smaller bite-size chunks.
John: Well, so that’s helpful in a way. But when you’re talking something like five pounds, I mean, I know for me I wake up in the morning, if I weigh myself I might be like 172, but then I chug my two glasses of water, now I’m 175. I mean, what’s a tip on that? How do I know when to weigh myself? What should really be counting? I mean, that’s kind of a tough pill to swallow when you’re like wow, I thought I lost two pounds, then I drank a glass of water and I didn’t.
Nagina: Yes, okay, yes. So this is the thing. It’s really good to start with one part of your day instead of trying to overwhelm your entire day. It’s kind of the same – it’s a similar thing. So like specifically with water, what you wanna do when you’re weighing yourself is you really wanna weigh yourself in the morning before you’ve eaten anything, before you’ve drank anything because that’s your actual weight. Whenever you eat or drink anything it has a major impact on your body.
So, one of the first ways to start is to have a really good breakfast filled with protein. So having a breakfast with eggs or having a breakfast with Greek yogurt or with whey protein in your smoothie, that really activates your weight loss. And again, when you sprinkle things like cinnamon or even nutmeg, which increases your circulatory system, then you start to really feel those benefits.
But the goal is to start with something that’s small. Like start with your smoothie in the morning and make that change first and then you can start – you don’t have to change everything all at once. That’s the thing. Add – start with just like adding a sprinkle of spice, starting with a high protein breakfast, doing something that’s really small and actionable and then it becomes part of your lifestyle.
John: I wanna move into your lifestyle, but even more so than your lifestyle, Nagina, I wanna talk about your history as an entrepreneur. So kind of take us back to a time when you were struggling or what you would actually consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. And Nagina, take us to that day, tell us that story.
Nagina: Okay, definitely. Okay, so I started my business doing one-on-one coaching and I came to a point where I was ready to scale my business, reach more people, and I was really ready to create my first group program. So what I did is I came up with a group program really based on my intuition and I called it Food to be Fit because that’s really what I focus on is how to eat differently to change your weight and your health.
But the thing is I didn’t talk to too many people about the idea, I just felt like I knew what people wanted and I just created it all by myself. So I put a lot of work into this, I created a sales page, I put up a website, I did all those things and then I held a webinar to announce it. And what happened is that not one person bought my program that I had put my sweat and tears into. And it wasn’t just that webinar. I sent out a lot of emails the following week, emails that when I had my coaching would generate clients, nobody was buying my Food to be Fit program.
So I was really disappointed because this was kind of a new area, a new – it was kind of a fork in the road for me and my business to start scaling it and nobody was latching onto it. So I was really disappointed so I had to figure out what do I need to do? So I went back to the drawing board and I really tried to diagnose what went wrong. And what I realized is that I actually didn’t test that product concept. I just assumed the product concept. I just assumed that people would want Food to be Fit. And they didn’t.
So what I did is I looked through all my past guest posts, I looked through all my articles, all the media that I had gotten, and I really looked for the most popular, even some of the most viral articles or segments that I had done. And what I found is that talking about spices to lose weight was really interesting to people. It was – like I had written an article that had went viral with 12,000 shares, I had gotten featured on Fox News for my spices, and so I realized this is what people are catching onto.
So renamed my program to what is today, Spice Yourself Skinny. And it’s actually the same product that it would have been under my previous name, but I changed the concept, I changed the hook, and I focused on the spices in the food instead of just the food. So making that one tweak changed everything. And when I look back at it I realize I have to do that with every – everything’s not gonna work out right away. You have to work – you have to be flexible and work things out. And so now I share the fat loss benefits of spices in my program, I provide weekly menu plans with them, all combined, and people love it. They’re excited by it. And that’s something that I’ve found by lots of iterations of it.
John: Fire Nation, Nagina calls it a hook, I call it a niche. Basically what happened was this. She was like; I wanna help women lose weight. And people are like okay, you and everybody else in New York City and she just got lost in the noise and she didn’t resonate with anybody. She was screaming into a crowded room of screaming people. You’re never going to get momentum that way, Fire Nation. You’re never gonna get noticed that way. You’re just going to blend into the crowd because you’re trying to resonate with everybody; you’re going to resonate with nobody.
But when Nagina finally figured out, whoa, I already have something unique to say and not just repeat everything else everybody’s saying about weight loss and all of this stuff and this and that, and she stood up for that and she owned it and she started marketing towards that she found her niche. She got that initial momentum. She was able to have some great features like on Fox, etc., Huffington Post and got that momentum building, growing.
And now Nagina’s at that point where she can branch out. She doesn’t just have to talk about spicy and all this stuff because now she’s looked at as an expert because she’s established herself as one, but she had to find her niche first and grow from there. So Nagina, that’s my big takeaway. What do you wanna make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Nagina: Well, I think, I mean, what I want people to know is that just because something doesn’t work, go back and try again. It’s not about you, it’s not about something that – it’s not like you can’t be successful, it’s just that you have to change things and tweak things a little bit.
John: You’re messaging probably wrong, that’s why it didn’t work, Fire Nation, because you didn’t figure out what your unique hook is, what your unique message is, or you’re not conveying it in the right way. Now, Nagina, let’s talk about one of your greatest aha moments. Obviously moving into the spice focus was a huge aha moment, but what’s a story that you wanna share with us where you had this idea and you turned it into success?
Nagina: Yes, definitely. Okay, so like I was saying before when I lost weight myself a lot of women asked me what I had done. So I would be walking to the grocery store with my two kids in a stroller and women would stop me and they would say, “How did you lose this weight? What did you do? Tell me everything.” And I literally told them everything because I wanted to help them. I wanted them to get the transformation that I got.
And so what happened is that shockingly to me, none of these women listened to me. Not one. They didn’t make one recipe I suggested, they didn’t take one piece of advice that I gave to them and I didn’t know what was wrong. I started getting mad at the women that lived in my neighborhood. I started thinking it was their fault, but then I started looking internally and looking at myself and saying if all of the – if so many people are not listening to me, it’s not them it’s me. I need to switch.
So what I realized is that I needed to start telling people smaller pieces of advice that they could actually implement right away and once they start seeing the difference, they would actually – they would start to trust the advice and they would want more. And so that’s kind of this – it’s actually exactly the same reasoning around the spices being such a big part of my weight loss programs. It’s like I mentioned cinnamon before, how it reduces blood sugar, it helps you store less fat, and black pepper is another thing I tell people. If you use black pepper you burn as many calories as a 20 minute walk. So you just need to sprinkle that on your eggs or on your veggies.
And when I say something like that it is so easy to actually sprinkle black pepper onto your eggs or onto your veggies and you start to see the difference happening. And that’s really where I got the aha moment that people will listen to me and they will transform their bodies, they will transform their lives, but I have to tell it to them in a small, actionable way and then build from there.
John: Fire Nation, small wins are everything. It goes back to that momentum that we were just talking about. You have to get that initial momentum going in your business, in your life, whatever it might be, and it’s not easy. In fact it’s incredibly difficult. In fact it’s the most difficult thing you’ll ever do is getting that initial momentum. I mean, how hard is it to push that boulder to the top of the hill? It’s almost impossible. But once you get that boulder moving down that hill, its own gravity and momentum takes care of itself.
You know, within the Freedom Journal a lot of people are intimidated. They’re like wow, this is accomplishing your number one goal in 100 days, that’s a long time, that’s a big – that’s just a big pressure to put on me, one big goal. And that’s why we break things down into ten 10-day sprints so you’re accomplishing micro goals every ten days so that you’re winning, you’re getting small wins, you’re building momentum. That’s my big takeaway Nagina, is that those small wins are everything. In just one sentence, what do you wanna make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Nagina: I wanna make sure that they get that they can do whatever they want. You can – Fire Nation, you can achieve your goals. You can reach that goal whether it’s a weight loss goal, whether it’s a goal to earn a certain amount of money a month or a year, or whether it’s about getting a certain amount of subscribers. Break that goal into a smaller piece and you can actually do it. Just focus on that.
John: Nagina, I wanna move into what you’re most fired up about today.
Nagina: Today is a really special day for me. Today is my daughter’s sixth birthday and it’s a big deal for me because it’s a marker of how far I’ve come in my life. Because my transformation for myself and for my family started at her birth. That’s when I had gained 20 pounds, I was tired and lethargic all the time. And today I’m so fired up, Fire Nation, because I’m a mom of two and I’m not frumpy or exhausted. I have energy to grow my business and now I even teach other women how to take care of their health and weight.
One more thing I wanna add on to this is I just got an email today from one of the women in my program. I call them sisters. And she said that in three weeks she lost eight pounds. She can fit into the clothes that she wants to wear, she feels lighter and she has more energy and that fires me up.
John: I’m glad you use the word frumpy. I feel like that’s the word that nobody wants to ever be called. And if you ever look at yourself and you’re like I am frumpy, you’re probably gonna do something about it.
Nagina: Yes, and that was actually my fear about being a mom is that I thought I would be frumpy and it almost stopped me from wanting to have kids because I just thought that was what it was.
John: So, Fire Nation, we have some value bombs coming up in the lightning round after we thank our sponsors. Nagina, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Nagina: Yes, I am.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Nagina: I didn’t realize that I could create a system based on my own transformation. I just didn’t have the confidence that other people would actually listen to my advice. But then what I realized is that it’s not only about the chance that people listen to you, there’s actually methodical ways and psychology that helps people understand what you’re saying. And a lot of it is by appealing to people’s emotions. So I stop telling people how many calories to eat or what foods exactly to eat and I started focusing on how they could feel. That they could feel amazing. They could feel lighter. And that was such a change for me, but that’s what had held me back originally.
John: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Nagina: The best advice is to stay focused on the project that I’m working on. It’s so easy, especially with social media, to get distracted, to see what other people are doing and to want to work on other things. But I have really run my business by sticking to one project at a time, getting it to a place where it’s good enough, and then moving on at that point and not getting distracted by all the other possibilities.
John: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Nagina: My personal habit is consistency. It’s every day I work closer and closer towards that goal that’s right in front of me and I do it every day. I have hours in the morning that I get up, that I change my sleep schedule for, just so that I could contribute to my business and build it even faster. And that’s exciting for me. I don’t always see the results right away, but I know exactly what I’m working towards and it does come.
John: Can you share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation?
Nagina: I love Flipboard, which is a – it’s an online magazine that categorizes articles by topic. And it’s a really fabulous way to do market research and to see the language that people are using in your industry or in other industries and to see what’s hot.
John: If you could recommend just one book, Nagina, what would it be and why?
Nagina: My book that I would recommend is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.
John: Love it.
Nagina: Oh, good. Yes, and the subtitle really says it all, it’s Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness. And it just absolutely speaks the truth.
John: Have you read The Compound Effect?
Nagina: No, I haven’t.
John: Okay, so Darren Hardy, who used to work with Success Magazine was mentored by Jeff Olson and then he wrote The Compound Effect. Like not as a direct follow-up, but I mean, it really builds upon the principles of The Slight Edge. It’s a must-read. Those are the one-two punches that I recommend. Love them both.
Nagina: Amazing. I will do that.
John: Nagina, let’s end today on fire, girl, with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say good-bye.
Nagina: Yes, definitely. Well, my parting piece of guidance is to start anything with small steps and to stay consistent. You could transform you entire body with something as small as adding a pinch of spice a day to your coffee. Use this for every part of your life that you wanna improve, including business, relationships, and more. Now I have a special gift for Fire Nation that I’m so excited to share. If you go to masalabody.com/fire I’ll instantly send you my weight loss recipes handbook for busy women. Inside I have seven recipes with all the fat-burning spices combined. And only for Fire Nation I’m also sharing my Spice Yourself Skinny starter pack, 12 weight loss spices that will melt you away while you eat more and how to use them.
John: Is that URL working right now? Because I’m literally going there. Kate will love this.
Nagina: It’s gonna be working by the time this is up.
John: Love it. Well, I’ll put a little reminder in there for me. And Fire Nation, are you not right now typing in masalabody.com/fire? That’s M-A-S-A-L-A body.com/fire. And Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with NA and JLD today so keep up the heat.
And if you head over to eofire.com and type Nagina, that’s N-A-G-I-N-A, in the search bar; her show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Best show notes in the biz, time stamps, links galore. Check it out and again, last call to action, masalabody.com/fire. Get on over there Fire Nation. My mouth is currently full of saliva right now. And Nagina, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, girl, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Nagina: Thank you.
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