The Five Phases of a Transformation Journey, Part One: Cleaning the Palate

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.

Even though no transformation journey is ever the same, everyone who successfully undergoes life-long transformation goes through all five phases.

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 last a lifetime.

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.

Remember, habits without thought take a long time to form (66+ days), but with greater implementation, new habits can form much quicker and will get easier every day.

Cleaning the Palate 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 you and your lifestyle.

 

A successful phase one boils down to six key ingredients.

  1. The 3Ss (Structure, Strategy and Systems)

The first step of the CTP is to master the 3Ss. Those that do not master the 3Ss before moving onto the next phase of their transformation journey are highly unlikely to succeed in long-term transformation. While the RNT transformation checklist is relatively simple and straightforward, modern day life has a habit of getting in the way. Mastering the 3Ss armour you with the ability to overcome obstacles and accomplish your checklist, gradually creating positive new habits that will become second nature to you.

Structure

Structure equals freedom. As counterintuitive at that may sound, the freedom to control what’s happening in your day and what you take from it requires structure. Without structure there is chaos, which leads to overwhelm. Creating structure allows you to regain control of your day, refocus on what truly matters to you, and extract what you want and how you want to feel.

Structure is essentially created through rules and positive habits. Simple habits such as getting up earlier gives you more time in the day, eliminating overwhelm and instilling a greater sense of accomplishment, giving you more time and greater freedom to focus on you. See where we are going with this?

Planning your time, your day and even your weeks in advance provides you with the freedom to be present in the moment and capacity to be productive and in control.

Strategy

Strategy is your navigator for when life happens. Structure creates your track, but strategy is how you manoeuvre around the obstacles that may fall in the path of your journey. These obstacles are the challenges of every day modern life. These can be working long hours, attending networking events, nights out with friends, trips and holidays, even a Friday night takeaway. Each of these factors are experienced by nearly everyone on a regular basis, but are also factors that could potentially derail your transformation journey. This is where your strategy comes into play.

Firstly, reconnect with your why and your why behind your why and your accountability systems. This will give you focus on what you need to do.

When going on a night out with friends, ask yourself:

  • Are you going to drink? If so, what are your rules?
  • Is there food involved? If so, what will you eat?
  • Does the event have to be food and drink focused?

When travelling:

  • What are your rules for food and drink?
  • How will you continue to train and stay active when away?

By having a plan in hand on how you will address such situations prevents straying from your transformation path.

Strategy is essential to creating a successful long-term lifestyle solution. No matter what, life will always get in the way. How you choose to approach challenges and situations is the deciding factor of your success.

Systems

Systems is how you bring everything together. You have set your structure and your rules, now how will you implement them? How will you ensure you train three – four times a week? How will you ensure you sleep seven – eight hours a night? How will you follow your nutrition plan every day?

Establishing systems to put these plans in action is imperative to long-term success. These systems are as simple as; deciding what days to train and at what time; deciding when to pre-prepare your meals for the day/week and what time to eat; and deciding what time you go to sleep and wakeup and eliminating anything that could disturb the quality of your sleep.

Structure outlines positive habits, systems enforce them.

  1. Identifying Triggers

Triggers are often the cause of poor willpower, weakness and destructive behaviour. This behaviour can be comfort eating, lethargy, and even excessive drinking. Triggers can range from emotional events, locations, people and places. Identifying your triggers can be difficult as it requires a lot of self-awareness. Right now, you may not even be aware you have any, but you may discover underlying triggers whilst undergoing your CTP phase as you become more self-aware and conscious of your responsive actions.

By recognising these triggers and the behaviours they stimulate, writing them down and working through them, you can rewire your belief system to eliminate poor decisions throughout the day and respond differently. This can be a difficult process, but the outcome can be life changing.

  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.

Decision fatigue is very real and backed up by research and evidence to support this. When an individual is presented with a large number of options, the ability for that person to make the ‘best’ decision rather than the easiest will diminish as the number of options go up. As the day goes on and the more decisions you must make, your mind becomes exhausted and decision making lazy, so when it comes to deciding what to have for dinner at the end of day, a takeaway always looks like the easiest option!

Limiting your decision is key here. Taking away choice reduces the chances of making a ‘bad’ one. For instance, when eating out the many different options on a menu can be enticing. If you eliminate decision by only looking at the gluten free menu however, a decision becomes much easier to make.

Decision fatigue can come from almost anywhere – even to the extent of what clothes you are going to wear that day. Making decisions beforehand, such as pre-preparing your weekly meals and laying out your clothes the night before can eliminate this decision-making process, freeing up your mind and time for more important things.

  1. Non-Negotiables

Your non-negotiables are your commitments. If phase one is the foundation, then the non-negotiables are your individual bricks. It’s all about elevating the different components of the transformation checklist to become a priority in your day and finding ways to ensure these non-negotiables happen no matter what.

However many non-negotiables you make a priority is personal and life dependant, but the core RNT priorities are:

  • A commitment to training three to four days a week
  • A commitment to following your nutrition plan every day
  • A commitment to taking at least 10,000 steps a day
  • A commitment to drinking three to four litres of water a day
  • A commitment to sleeping seven to eight hours per night

Above all, you need to make a cornerstone commitment to finding a solution to a perceived problem you may face. This may be an upcoming holiday or long working hours, and is where your 3Ss come in. A pre-planned alternative is all you need. Once you have identified your non-negotiables, you will by default structure them into your day with a system to ensure all non-negotiables are met and strategies to overcome potential challenges.

  1. Mastering Precursors

An action can change the just before it is executed. This is the decision before the decision. How you approach a situation can affect the overall outcome and the option for success.

For instance, leaving your gym bag at home before leaving work reduces the chance of your going to the gym. Taking it with you increases this chance. Moreover, changing into your gym clothes before leaving work increases this chance ever further.

Mastering your precursors is critical as it aligns with the success of eliminating decision fatigue and implementing your non-negotiables. Just as you want to eliminate the decision of doing, you also want to eliminate the decision that comes before the action to ensure it is followed through.

We’d highly recommend reading the article on finding your precursors here.

  1. Connecting Your Why Behind Your Why

Every successful transformation starts with your why, and more importantly, a strong ‘why behind your why’. It’s what allows you to think beyond the first milestone, and focus on creating real, meaningful change.

In most cases, the why is never about the physical. The why is often connected to mindset, mental awareness, and lifestyle improvements, be that building confidence and self-esteem, improving productivity in the workplace, battling insecurities, anxiety and depression or offsetting future health issues – to name but a few.

These are the deep, meaningful reasons that create a greater sense of purpose to your transformation journey, motivating you to power through and achieve your goals. It becomes the anchor to your life, and helps you stay focused when experiencing motivational dips or overcoming hurdles.

Uncovering your why requires a great level of self-reflection and self-awareness. You can read more about finding your ‘why’ in our article here.

Recycling CTP

CTP never really ends, and at several points throughout your transformation journey, it’s worth taking a moment to restock, reset, and reapply CTP to keep your progress on check. This is especially helpful when experiencing moments of difficulty as CTP allows you to regain control and refocus your transformation journey.

Here’s a few examples of when resetting CPT can be beneficial to your journey:

Scenario 1 – Consolidation Phase

At the start of a consolidation phase, food cravings and hunger are at an all-time high, and your risk of relapse is considerable. You’re stepping into new shoes. 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 three, serves as the ‘linchpin’ of this phasic approach.

Scenario 2 – Lengthy Investment Phases 

During a lengthy investment phases, especially if you choose to ‘embrace the fluff’ as a muscle builder, 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 CTP reset in order to regain control, sharpen your focus and kickstart your gains again.

Regaining Control

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.

After successfully mastering your 3Ss, installing your non-negotiables and combatting decision fatigue, you will move on to phase two of your transformation journey: The Process Phase.

Related Articles

Phase Two: The Process

Phase Three: Consolidation

Phase Four: Investment

Phase Five: Reward

The Ultimate Guide to Reverse Dieting

How to Eat If You’re Busy

Finding Precursors To Your Day

Simple Guide To Meal Prep

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Akash Vaghela
akash@rntfitness.co.uk

Akash Vaghela is the Founder of RNT Fitness, where his mission is to see a world where everyone experiences the power of a physical body transformation to act as a vehicle for the greater good in their lives. Akash has produced 200+ blogs, 100+ videos and hosts the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, which has amassed over 110,000 downloads in 90+ countries across 100+ episodes. Alongside this, he's been seen in Men's Health, BBC, T-Nation, Elite FTS and the PTDC, while also regularly speaking nationally and internationally on all things transformation.