25 Mar The Five Phases of a Transformation Journey, Part One: Cleaning the Palate
When it comes to a transformation journey, there’s no on or off switch.
It’s a lifestyle that evolves through different phases that all interlink and feed off each other to create a system that enables you to transform in the best possible way.
Each phase is critically important in serving their own purpose, and those who go through the phases are the ones who not only get into the shape of their lives, but stay there and continue to improve.
The phases are as follows:
Phase 1 – Cleaning the Palate
Phase 2 – Process
Phase 3 – Consolidation
Phase 4 – Investment
Phase 5 – Reward
In this five-part article series, we’ll be diving deep into the power of each phase, and how each build on each other to create a sustainable lifestyle solution for you and your goals.
To begin with, every transformation journey, no matter the goal, starts with a phase called ‘Cleaning the Palate’. It’s the foundation phase, and it’s where we lay down the fundamental bricks that will allow you make this journey one for life, and not something fleeting.
The aim of Cleaning the Palate is simple: to regain total control of your day, and to build the habits, structure and systems required to be in alignment with your goal. As a result, it’ll force you to create non-negotiables with your time, eliminate decision fatigue, and trigger changes in your routine that allow for a positive outcome.
Cleaning the Palate can create fast results in the short and medium term, and is very much the anchor in any transformation to facilitate long-term, lifestyle solutions. It allows you to rigorously audit yourself, and enables you to figure out what works for your lifestyle.
A successful phase one boils down to four key ingredients.
1. Limiting Decision Fatigue
Variety is the spice of life, but this variety will hold you back in the beginning. At this stage, you want to make as few choices as possible, and allow for action rather than thought. The art of ‘doing’ is always first priority here. You want something completely actionable that can be manipulated once you’re in the swing of things. Variety and education come after, and only once your foundation is built.
Think about it in the context of two friends and their ideas. One will always say they’re going to do something, loves to talk about all the different options, but can’t decide which option he’d like to go for. The other only has one option, so commits to it, takes action, and learns to find better ways later as they go through the process.
Decision fatigue is very real, and even more so for those of you with busy work, social and family lives. The research is crystal clear on this now too. When an individual is presented with a large number options, the ability for that person to make the ‘best’ decision rather than the easiest will diminish as the number of options go up. In this period where you have no foundation of education yet, nor any process systems or habits engrained into you to execute, flirting with too many choices can be your downfall.
This phase is all about building this base level of education so that when you do add freedom, variety and decision making in later phases, you’re able to do so correctly, and in alignment with your goals.
If phase one is the foundation, then the non-negotiables are your individual bricks. The art of developing non-negotiables is all about making the different elements important to your goal a priority in your day. It’s about finding a solution to ensure these tasks happen no matter what, and that they are a firm part of your habit stacking and daily strategies.
The process of achieving a goal like fat loss is highly mechanistic. If you do X, you will get Y in return over a period of time. It’s not linear, nor can be completely predicted, but it is a mathematical solution of ultimately eating less than you need, and potentially burning more calories from activity and daily life.
Understanding this equation is easy. The hard part is making sure you have the habits and systems in place on a daily and weekly basis to stand this mechanistic process in light of hunger, social events, long working hours, and an ‘on the go’ lifestyle. That’s the trick, and it’s why this phase can’t be overlooked.
How many non-negotiables you can make a priority will be person and life dependent. However, the core priorities which will need to be set in stone in some shape or another are as follows (for fat loss):
- A commitment to a 2 to 6 day exercise routine
- A commitment to mastering the batch cook (read the guide here to decide which category you fall in)
- A commitment to taking 8-12,000 steps a day
- A commitment to finding a solution to any perceived problem your current goals may face, such as social events, holidays and long working hours; in 99% cases, an alternative and some pre-planning is all you need.
To help build these on the outset, finding precursor dominoes in your day will be critical. These are the ‘decisions before the decisions’, ‘the moment prior to acting’, and ultimately, what enables you to execute a new habit, task or process with the greatest chance of success.
We’d highly recommend reading the article on finding your precursors here.
3. A Short Time Period (7-21 Days)
The third ingredient to a successful ‘palate cleanse’ is determining the length it lasts for. It may feel like a long time when you’re going through it, but it’s a very small price to pay for building a foundation of health and fitness, regaining control of your day, and the beneficial impact it’ll have on your career, home life and mental well-being.
Phase one typically lasts between 7 and 21 days, and the determining length will depend on individual context and circumstance (it may be more). Remember, habits without thought take a long time to form (66+ days), but a process that you repeat based on it being high on your priority list can start much sooner, and will get easier every day. Think baby steps, creating small wins, and laying down your foundation one brick at a time.
4. Connecting Your Why Behind Your Why
In order to execute on all of the above, you need a why. It sounds cliched, but every journey starts with a why. And in our experience, those who have no real why, or more importantly, haven’t spent time connecting to their why, and their why behind their why, struggle to move out of phase one.
Before starting your journey, it’s critical to go through this exercise below. Turn your WiFi off, put your phone away, and spend 30 minutes writing this down using a pen and paper…
Why is getting [insert goal] important to you?
Why is [insert outcome] important to you?
Why is [insert outcome #2] important to you?
And so on.
Here’s an excerpt from an email sent to one of our clients explaining the why behind Akash’s why, and the importance of connecting to it. It’s such a critical exercise, and if you continuously pour out the connections linking it to your highest priority in life, it’s a game changer.
“Being lean, in shape and strong is important to me because it makes me feel great, and gives me stress free ‘me’ time.
Why is this important to me?
It helps me be at my best peak state to work productively, and grow the business.
Why is this important to me?
So I can better serve my clients, my team and my family.
And so on…
If I don’t train, none of this is possible. I wouldn’t be able to perform at a high level, and I’d be constantly stressed, feeling low on energy and unproductive.
On Monday I was snowed under and missed my usual 1pm gym slot because I fell behind. I was in two minds; should I skip it and go tomorrow, or should I go do SOMETHING at 2.30pm.
I was so tempted to skip it, but I remembered why it’s important to me.
So I went to the gym and just did 20 minutes back and forth between lunges and RDLs, and came back. I got something done, and I felt great for it.
Just writing this has made me amped up to go harder.
Is it for your self confidence?
Is it for your children?
Is it for your family?
Have a think…
If you can connect with this exercise, it will change everything for you.”
When Else Can You Clean the Palate?
While this one to three week phase of cleaning the palate is typically executed at the start of a journey, there are other times it can be implemented with great success:
Scenario 1 – Consolidation Phase
At the start of a Consolidation phase (or reverse dieting), food cravings and hunger are at an all time high, and your risk of relapse is considerable. The biggest mistake you can make at the beginning of this phase is to forget all your habits and systems you’ve spent months building.
This is the time to buckle down, nail your structure in your day, and maintain control of everything you’re doing while you bring your calories up and activity levels down. Cleaning the palate at this point can set you up for a well-executed Consolidation phase, which as you’ll come to learn in part 3, serves as the ‘linchpin’ of this phasic approach.
Scenario 2 – Lengthy Investment / Muscle Building Phases
During a lengthy muscle building phase, it can be easy to let positive habits slip, get lazy, and become too ‘flexible’ with your food choices. It’s when your diet starts resembling a ‘see food diet’, and your response to every social situation is ‘I’m bulking’. If you’re at this point, and you haven’t already spilled over significantly (and so require a mini cut to tidy up), then you may need to initiate a palate cleanse in order to regain control, sharpen your focus and kickstart your gains again.
If phase one could be summed up in one phrase, it’d be ‘regaining control’. Cleaning the palate is all about focusing on yourself, gaining personal insights, stopping any meandering, and taking charge of your day so you’re in the driving seat. The non-negotiables it’ll encourage you to create will force you to be more ruthless and organised with your time, and place you in the best possible position to create real meaningful change in all areas of your life.
Stay tuned for part two, the Process phase!
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