08 Apr The Five Phases Of A Transformation Journey: The Consolidation Phase – A Safe Passage Home
When Frodo and Sam destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom during part three of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s safe to say that all they thought of until that moment of time was accomplishing their mission. Their efforts, struggles and journey were so fixated on the end point that they 1) likely didn’t understand how hard it’d be, and 2) hadn’t thought about the difficulties of how they’d get back to their home in the Shire.
As they sat on an exploded piece of lava rock beside of Mount Doom, at the End of All Things, they dreamt of the beauties and joys of Shire. With no hope to return to their beloved home, Gandalf suddenly appears with his trusted eagles to save them from the lava rock, and give them a safe passage home.
If there was ever a movie scene to describe the Consolidation phase, it would be this.
After months of pushing towards your fat loss goal, you have two options. The first is to jump off the top of the mountain and hope for the best. More than likely, you’ll be stuck in No Man’s Land on a rock (like Frodo and Sam), or back at square one very badly hurt. Either way, this is exactly like the classic yo-yo dieter that works hard to achieve their first fat loss goal before then gaining it all back again.
The second option is to take the safe passage home. This may not be as easy and as smooth as with Gandalf and his eagles, but what he represents in this moment of time is the connecting phase between you achieving your initial goals, and you keeping your gains over a long period of time.
The Consolidation phase is the lynchpin.
It’s the difference between regression and progression, and whether you need to repeat the rocky process of fat loss again.
Societal norms have set us up to fail. You hear it all the time where someone diets hard to get into the shape of their life, but gains it all back in the space of two weeks. There’s no worse feeling. You experience such a high of achieving your goal to suddenly come crashing down, and in a worst position than you started again. We’ve all been there as coaches, which is why we’re so passionate about the Consolidation phase.
The bottom line is if you’re going to go through the battles of a fat loss journey, you need to think about how you’re going to get back home after. You need to think about your route back to the Shire. Don’t think you’re any different to the rest of us and rely on luck. We’re all the same. It’s human nature.
Before we get carried away and begin likening Cleaning the Palate and the Process phases to various battle scenes from the great trilogy (just in case you may not have seen the films!), we’re going to flip analogies to climbing up a mountain.
The journey up the mountain is very much your phase one and two. It’s putting one step in front of each other, and using your mental and physical strength to get to the top. Once you reach the top there’s a tremendous peak, beautiful views, and you feel on top of the world.
After the initial euphoria dies down, you feel tired, hungry and ready to rest. Except you can’t, because you’re at the top of the mountain! How do you get down without hurting yourself or risking the fast route that may cause compression sickness?
The Consolidation phase is the safe passage home, and it’s more than likely going to be harder than the way up. You’re going to be wanting to be finished, you’re going to be tired, and you’re going to need to continue to show the same resolve as you did on the way up.
If we take it back to dieting… your body will be calling for food, your hunger will be high, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t eat the donut except for if you stray off course you may lose your footing and end up overeating significantly. Trigger foods are everywhere, and on this safe passage home, maintaining the same rigidity that got you to the summit will be your priority. This isn’t the time for excessive variety, change and/or luxury.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, because the time it takes to get down is typically significantly less than the way up. You can complete your safe passage home in anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks, after which you’ll be able to add more variety, incorporate social event strategies, and consume more palatable foods without being triggered. However, on the descent it’s critical to remember that your psychology and physiology are working against you in terms of feedback. It will tell you to eat, it will tell you to justify your self-sabotage, and your control of your eating will completely go if you’re not careful.
This doesn’t happen to only a select few; this is human psychology and physiology, and the traits of someone who’s been through a period of energy restriction (i.e. a calorie deficit).
During this phase, the best piece of advice we can give you is to maintain structure in your day. It’s harder because there’s no immediate goal anymore, but structure will give you freedom, and it’ll enable you to maintain control of yourself in this critical period. To enable this, cleaning your palate again over 7 to 21 days albeit with higher amount of quality calories is our favoured approach.
Instead of planning and stocking up on trigger foods, load up on more of the foods that carried you to the top! By doing so, you’ll avoid the temptation for ‘one more’, and the tendency to ‘try a little of this’, or the self justification of ‘I’ve worked hard for this’. There’s a time and place for it, but it shouldn’t be a regular feature of this Consolidation phase.
After 7 to 21 days of cleansing the palate, you can then start transitioning to the muscle building / Investment phase where the tendencies to overeat have passed, and you’ve gained more control over your feedback signals, your psychology and your physiology. Now is the time to be more flexible, add more variety and to start shifting towards an [80:20] lifestyle approach. This is when you start implementing lifestyle solutions, and continue to work on real life strategies that enable you to stay in the shape of your life, for life.
To conclude, here are our five top tips to ensuring you have a successful Consolidation phase:
– Try to move the scheduling of excessive social events from post transformation to post Consolidation phase. More specifically, do not plan a holiday straight after the dieting phase. It’s a recipe for disaster.
– Be mindful and stay self aware. Take 20 minutes to eat your food, journal about how you feel, and know when you’re being exposed to triggers.
– Maintain the structure of your day. This will enable you to avoid the anxiety of losing control, which can often set you into a downward spiral and inevitably falling off track.
– There is no on and off switch when it comes to your health. If you can shift your mindset from the end of a dieting phase from being the ‘end’ to a ‘checkpoint’, you’ll be well on your way to avoid splurges.
– Value this period of time as the lynchpin to your long term success. The tendencies to overeat and go off the rails isn’t an option, it’s simply psychology and physiology at play. There will be genetic and individual differences, but it will be felt at some stage in everyone. It’s therefore critical that if you’re reading this nearing the end of a dieting phase, you build strategies in place now to avoid it.
For more in-depth information about the day to day strategies of the Consolidation phase, we’d highly recommend reading the following article next:
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