To make a comeback, to recover from an injury or to overcome any major obstacle, you have to have the right mental attitude and a certain set of belief systems. In part 2 of my interview with Dougal MacDonald, you’ll hear about the attitudes crucial to working through obstacles, the beliefs essential for overcoming setbacks and the mindset required for being a winner in fitness and in life…
Continued from PART ONE
Tom Venuto: To recover from injury, make a comeback or overcome major obstacles, you have to have a certain mental attitude. I believe that involves being open-minded, flexible and adaptable. You have to say to yourself, I can’t do this, but maybe I can do that. I can’t lose weight this way, but maybe I can lose it that way. Do you agree? Could you speak on this a little bit – and talk about how this played out for you and how other people might learn to be adaptable to new circumstances
Dougal Macdonald: Exactly Tom, it is ALL about attitude. I’ve long since gotten over the pain of never being able to do all the things I mentioned earlier, but if my attitude is one of looking for solutions rather than problems, then I am on the right road. “Why did this happen to me? What am I supposed to do now? How am I going to survive like this?” are just no brainer questions. I have no interest in confronting a question I can’t answer; I’m much more predisposed to looking for solutions to the things I CAN change.
Tom Venuto: What other mental attitudes do you think are crucial to becoming the type of person who overcomes problems, injuries, or any kind of obstacle?
Dougal Macdonald:
That’s a no brainer. It’s as simple as, “I CAN, “rather than “I CAN’T.” Ask your President…
Tom Venuto: To achieve all your goals, we hear all the time that attitude is everything and that we must maintain a positive attitude. That’s easy to do when you’re healthy and when you’re moving forward, but when you hit a bump in the road or you’re in the middle of a crisis, it’s a lot harder to stay positive, and ironically, that’s when attitude matters the most. How do you stay positive when things aren’t going your way?
Dougal Macdonald: Tom, again, it goes back to developing a long term vision. My personal mission statement was instrumental in keeping me going forward. My attitude was one of supporting, uplifting and encouraging all the people that I had committed to supporting, I wasn’t about to give up on them. When your vision is NOT all about you then you have a responsibility to others. I think this is key.
Tom Venuto: I’ve gathered from reading your book and your blog that you have a unique set of belief systems. I think you have some of the same beliefs in common with just about everyone who overcomes an injury or setback and I also think that if more people knew what these beliefs were and adopted them for themselves, they would overcome and succeed as well. So let me ask you about a few of your beliefs one at a time. First, what do you believe about the meaning of adversity or misfortune?
Dougal Macdonald: My value, in terms of adversity, is to be grateful for it. Adversity is for me a gift; something I can use to help me become better than I am today. If I ingrain that value deep inside of me then I am being hypocritical if I take on a “woe is me” attitude about adversity. I have had major adversity throughout my life and each occurrence has given me the tools to overcome better than before. I have no doubt that I’m still heading for some tough stuff and that’s OK because I know that no matter what it is, I’ll be able to embrace it and move on victorious. This doesn’t mean that I’m trying to attract adversity – I’m not – I’m just a realist.
Tom Venuto: What do you believe about gratitude?
Dougal Macdonald: I’m honestly and sincerely grateful for so much in my life since I believe in the Universal law of reciprocity. If I acknowledge gratitude for everything, how can I ever be unhappy?
Tom Venuto: What do you believe about mistakes?
Dougal Macdonald: If you have never made a mistake, it’s because you have never stepped out of the front door. I like making mistakes and I do, often, because it means that I am always experimenting with new stuff and that’s how I improve myself every day.
Tom Venuto: What do you believe about fear?
Dougal Macdonald: I believe fear is best dealt with by firstly having belief in your Creator, whoever that may be. If I have a steadfast belief that I am protected by my Creator then I can move towards fear with unshakable faith that everything will be OK, and it most always is.
Fear is also temporary and common sense can help to dispel that. I know that if I’m afraid of a 10-foot wave, the more I ride it, the more that fear is dispelled. I think it’s also important to realize that 90% of our worries never materialize. Sometimes you have to stare fear in the face and DO IT.
Tom Venuto: Are there any other beliefs or attitudes you think have been vital to your success?
Dougal Macdonald: You only get one shot at Integrity. It takes a lifetime to build it and ten seconds to beak it forever.
Be fair in all things.
I believe life is about balance and if you are having a rough ride, for sure things will turn.
Unshakable belief in a plan gets you 95% of the way.
Dream big….My mission statement proves I believe in that one.
Whatever you think, good or bad, starts with one thought.
As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
You attract what you think about most.
Tom Venuto: As you could probably gather from my questions, I wanted to take time to get some insights into your mindset, but I’d be negligent if I didn’t ask you about some of your practical strategies for body transformation. I’ve never been a quick fix guy and never will, BUT lets face it, everyone wants to get results quickly. So what are your best tips to make a body transformation as fast as safely and naturally possible when there’s a deadline or time limit to make it happen.
Dougal Macdonald: That’s a great question. First and most important, if you have 49 or 98 days to transform do enough planning to make sure that you hit the ground running. Make sure that your nutrition provides enough deficit for maximum fat loss.
Make sure you are training as heavy as you can to preserve muscle and burn fat.
Do as little cardio as you can get away with to start which will give you some leeway down the road if you need it. Finally make every single meal, every single session, every single day count. Give your journaling enough information to allow analysis going forward.
Tom Venuto: You’ve seen people compete in body transformation contests or lose a lot of weight and then months or even just weeks afterward they’ve regained some or all of the fat and they’re back to square one. You’ve also seen some men and women who made amazing body transformations who stayed lean and maintained their gains. What do you think is the difference between these people?
Dougal Macdonald: I’ve been there myself so I know exactly why this happens. We somehow believe that a successful transformation makes us an expert and we don’t need to set any more goals and that things will be fine on cruise control. So we plan our training and something better comes along. We relax on the eating when there’s no plan so we end up eating whatever we like. Before we know it, we’re back to square one, and worse than our loss of physical form is the dent our mental and emotional state gets. After two or three shots at it with the same result, we start developing that, “I am such a loser” mentality.
Imagine big business with a strategy for the first six months of the year and then a “let’s wing it” attitude for the rest. There would be chaos.
Tom Venuto: How do we go from diet or “12 week program” mentality to “this is my new lifestyle” mentality?
Dougal Macdonald: My belief, through experimenting with myself, is one of setting long term goals and using contests as action steps. So if I have a goal to get to 7% body fat by the end of the year and I hit 9% by the end of a contest, well then I haven’t finished have I so I keep going. If you continue goal setting you are never done, which is the way it should be, right?
I also believe strongly in affirmations. As I sit here at my desk I look up and see my own affirmations: this is what they say:
I love being fit, healthy and strong.
I love having a six pack and feel very comfortable at 7% all the year round.
I love that I am lean and muscular and that I have really embraced a healthy eating plan and training lifestyle.
This works for me.
There is no timeline on these affirmations so if I don’t embrace them always, I am betraying my beliefs.
Tom Venuto: Why don’t we wrap up with you telling us about your book
Dougal Macdonald: Thanks Tom, it started with people coming to my blog telling me I was a great storyteller and that my writing should be shared with a wider audience. I’ve wanted to write a book pretty much since I was little and my accident gave me the perfect opportunity to write “CHEATING DEATH”.
See, every adversity has an upside.
Tom Venuto: And that’s available for sale on your Dougal Macdonald Website — what’s the exact link for that?
Dougal Macdonald: The link is and the book is available now.
Tom Venuto: And I know you also have a free body transformation report on your site as well, where can our readers get their hands on that?
Dougal Macdonald: Yes, and the link for that free gift is:
Tom, thank you very much for the opportunity to share my story, it is certainly a privilege for me and an honor to be chatting to “The Legend”. You have been MY mentor for a long time even though you were never aware of it.
Tom Venuto: The pleasure is all mine Dougal. Your story is always in the back of my mind and every time I find myself with some obstacle or an injury that’s limiting my training, I think of you and ask myself, “what’s my excuse” and invariably, I find a way around it and I make it through better than before.
I hope this has done the same for all our readers. Thanks again and we hope to hear more from you in the near future.

About Dougal
In 2000 Dougal Macdonald entered the South African Body-for-LIFE competition and placed 2nd. In 2001 and 2002 he followed that up with a 2nd and 3rd place win in his age group. In the 2009 Burn The Fat Holiday Challenge, Dougal won the Most Inspirational award, and was part of the team that won the team award.
An avid transformation contest participant and fitness motivation coach, Dougal quickly realized that this was his calling and formulated a personal mission statement: “To empower 5 million people to find and fulfill their purpose through Health and Fitness.”
In 2008 Dougal had a near fatal surfing accident resulting in a very badly broken neck which resulted in 5 major operations over the next year and left him with no mobility between his neck and shoulders and constant discomfort. Dougal sees this as a tool with which to help others overcome adversity.
Dougal is the author of “CHEATING DEATH: a true story about turning overwhelming adversity into major triumph.” He blogs, writes online and is an inspirational speaker committed to helping others overcome the challenges of life.

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