24 Aug Successful Investing, Rules & Covid-19 Success Stories: Adapt and Overcome
This article today is written by RNT Coach Nathan Johnson. It’s a critical read. It highlights the power of three concepts we’ve been discussing extensively within our team and with our clients:
- What you can do when you approach the investment phase with the same vigour as your earlier phases
- How to use long-term rules to fire on all cylinders across the board in your life
- The power of adapting, preserving through dips and overcoming challenge
The last segment is one which Nathan shows how even in lockdown, with minimal (often zero) equipment, you can still master the training piece of the puzzle to make progression, no matter what phase you’re in.
I’ve personally used this time to master my technique, develop my mind muscle connection and prime myself for increased loading when gyms open. It’s been more productive than I anticipated, and I will be writing an article on how to maximise your final stages of lockdown while anticipating gyms reopening.
I can’t hide my disappointment at pubs being opened before gyms in the UK – it highlighted a worrying disparity in our nation’s priorities and future well-being.
Nevertheless, we must continue. Training is only one piece of the transformation puzzle – and it’s not tied to the gym. It can be done anywhere, anyhow. The basics remain. Progressive overload with perfect form, and we can apply these principles to whichever training modality we opt for.
Within our team, we coach each other through the five phases. It was an initiative we started early 2020 to really go deep into the investment and reward-investment phases, in particular. I’ve been coaching Nathan for just over six months now, and it’s been rewarding to see his progress against some of the deep rooted challenges he highlighted in episode 99 of the RNT Fitness Radio.
Investment Phase Update
It’s been four months since my last trip abroad. After spending an entire year travelling, to have this level of contrast has been an interesting experience. The funny thing is, I can’t say I even think about the time before lockdown, and the often relentless travelling schedule I had. To be forced to stay at home has been a blessing in disguise; my goal for 2020 has always been to find and develop roots back home, and start ‘adulting’ to a degree. This meant starting by working more closely with my own journey, with a particular focus on my 3Ss, non-negotiables and what I wanted each day to look like. As with any transformation in a part of your life, with this being my way of living and operating, I was going to use the physical as the vehicle to make it happen.
So far it’s been fruitful, here are some comparison stats of the past four months:
2 meals a day (M1 – egg white and veggies, M2 – chicken and veggies)
4 x weight training and 5 x 20min gymnastic sessions.
69kg BW (Holding)
2400 calories (one higher meal day on a Friday night that’s untracked but similar each week – 220g steak, melted cheese, 500g potato)
4 meals a day
Less than 10,000 steps
4 x weight training and 5 x 20min gymnastic sessions
My current meal plan is as follows:
9am – 80g coco pops, 2 scoops of whey protein/ vegan, 20g Spread (mix of Cadbury’s crunchie, caramel, peanut butter)
12pm – 3 eggs and 1 pack of microwave rice (Mexican or firecracker from Tilda – unbelievable)
6pm – 250g chicken or equivalent in a protein source, 500g potato and 1 x corn on the cob
8:30pm – 400g frozen berries and 2 tsp of freedom sauce
*Please note: this is what works well for me, it’s just an example to show you how I’m eating my 2400 calories.
Four months into an investment phase will do very little for my ability to gain large amounts of muscle mass, but the learnings have been transformative already and primed me for the next quarter.
In fact, the notion that an investment phase is only about muscle building and getting stronger is taking a narrow view of arguably the most important and lengthy phase. It goes deeper into understanding what drives high performance in your life, and how best you can unlock the vehicle to do great things.
Here’s three things I’ve learnt so far:
1) Shiny object and excitement based decision making
When you strip away the shiny objects of a new program, new sport, new structure, new routine, new food choices, what you’re left with is a different type of excitement. It’s the excitement of seeing your bodyweight hold, the excitement of having consistency, and the excitement of feeling in much more control than in earlier phases. It strips back the excitement of shiny objects, and allows you to identify why you do what you do without that shiny object triggering a restart in the process, time and time again.
All of the shiny objects mentioned earlier all have a place, no doubt. However, it’s about timing, and understanding whether it’s rational, logical decision making, or excitement driven. Are you looking for entertainment or results? Are you in a dip and looking for an easy way out instead of leaning in?
We have the ability to up and try something new when things get boring or if you’ve been consistent for long periods of time. But what this phase has highlighted to me is the power of long-term investing, and the important of having a why behind your why.
At the start of this phase, I spent time understanding my why behind my why for my own personal journey. It’s not only to look good. I do this because:
- It’s a trigger to be productive at work
- It’s a reset my day regardless of my emotions
- It allows me to push myself, embrace challenge and develop resilience; when I push through that moment of a hard set, it means I know I can tackle anything on that day.
My highest priorities in my life are looking after myself and helping others. Without prioritising my own physical journey, I’d be far less productive in serving. Instead, I’d be chasing excitement over and over again. The question to ask is: what’s going to be left for you when the shiny object syndrome disappears?
Lean in. The rewards will come.
2) Embracing the fluff
I’ve been candid in my struggles of yo-yo and cycle dieting for the best part of ten years. This year I wanted to regain control here and take charge again. My why behind my why in this industry is to stop others feeling the way I’ve struggled with for a decade. It’s why the transformation journey means so much to me, and why playing a part in the creation of the five phases was so important.
In the past I’ve never wanted to embrace any type of body fat increase. This was different because for one of the first times, it was self imposed and purposeful. That said, the mind games haven’t been easy.
As my bodyweight rose from 63kg to topping out at 70kg, at each 2.5-3kg, things didn’t feel right. I’d miss seeing the lines in my shoulders; tops I’d worn previous weeks would have been ‘snug’ on me, but now hugged what I thought were massive love handles. Mind games were in full force! Each time this happened the thought of dieting and cutting back on my food crossed my mind – I thought if I did it I’d feel better. However, what I found was that if I just embraced that little jump for just a little longer, the feelings would dissipate. Instead, I’d notice my chest looking fuller, my pictures improving, training performance going up, mood improvements and productivity at work firing on all cylinders.
As you come out of the process phase and enter consolidation, you’re super sensitive to how you look and feel, how things fit, and you’re hyper focused on everything being right. After all, why waste your hard work?
But nothing is wasted. The key to being in the shape of your life, for life, is embracing the change, understanding the why behind your why, and channelling the energy into high performance.
3) Finding your BW sweet spot
As my bodyweight has risen over four months, I’ve been paying attention to where my sweet spot is. We’re all on a continuum, and the key indicators to help identify yours are performance, training drive and day-to-day mood/libido/energy. You’ll know you’re at your sweet spot when you’re firing on all cylinders.
For me, 63-65kg felt good and I was performing well. But 69-70kg hasn’t felt great – I’ve not been as productive, in flow or creative. My sweet spot is somewhere around 63-68kg, and we’re finding more and more that most will need to stay in a 2-7kg range to find that sweet spot and blend the matrix of high performance together.
Think of this as your ‘fighting weight’. There’s a reason we don’t see boxers / MMA fighters completely shredded; we see them in a range that makes them productive for their sports. Think of Tyson Fury gaining weight against Wilder to fight at his better fighting weight for his job at hand. It’s true for ourselves as well. We want to be in a range of bodyweight and food intake that allows progression in all aspects of life (not only muscle build), and what facilitates high performance in our highest priorities. There’s always a tipping point. Too lean and energy is low with high food focus. Too heavy and energy tips with lethargy and brain fog. It’s a fine balance, and a critical goal of this phase.
Hitting The Tenpin Bowling Strikes Every Day With Rules
This period of productive investment has only been possible because of the ability to formulate, utilise and implement a rule system that’s allowed me to be consistent with my 3Ss on a daily basis.
Once you’ve reached your checkpoint and consolidated, you need to work on your rules to hold yourself accountable towards, and stop yourself from a slow regression to your old self. The investment phase is about rewiring your mindset, behaviour and identity, and you need rules to facilitate this.
I liken it to an analogy of a ten pin bowling alley. In the process phase, the more accurate you throw (transformation checklist), the better chance you have of knocking down the pins. Having a rule system and using it as your accountability measure and guide to ‘hitting the pins each week’ will be like having the gutter guides up, and razor sharp focus. It’s much harder to fall off and end up in the gutter while you’re familiarising yourself with your new self and lifestyle in the early days of an investment phase. As you get better at hitting the pins and not relying on the guides, and while the need for them will get lighter, you will always need them to some degree to ensure you’re not reverting back to previous poor choices and habits.
The more we delve into high performance and wanting to hit a strike each day, the more that developing and abiding your rules become. Rules aren’t limiting, they’re transformative. If you want to be at your absolute best in the areas of your life that matter to you, they’re non-negotiable.
The rules I have in my diary to guarantee a strike everyday are:
- Protein for meals prepped each week
- Train Monday to Friday each morning
- Take my pain medication for my knee (this is my super rule, without this everything else falls apart)
- Phone curfew 8pm
- Bed between 9-10pm
- Meal times of 9am, 12pm, 6pm, 8.30pm
- Walk between [6:30]-7am to ‘my spot’ near the canal
Not all of these rules are a 7/7 each week, but that’s okay. In my pursuit to narrow my gutter guides each week, my main goal each week is to hit these points as a way to precursor how I feel, act and perform in my day. They are essential, and I’ve learnt in the past four months that when one of these falls apart, I know it’s a red flag and trigger. Meaning, it can work both ways. If one rule starts slipping, it may be a sign that something is off, or a sign that something is about to be off. You’ll learn which way around each rule is as you continue to experiment and go through challenges.
If you fear accountability of rules, and think it’s ‘limiting’, that’s great. That means you need them more than anyone. Rules are key to having a lifestyle solution. It’s simple to get into shape. Staying in shape requires accountability to rules that align your 3Ss and priorities, and a rewiring of your mindset, behaviour and identity. That’s hard.
Covid-19 Success Stories
The journey of self mastery and the lessons you learn from using the physical as the vehicle all come from creating a self imposed challenge on yourself in a controlled manner and environment.
The best journeys and the ones who develop themselves the most are the ones who can go through the dip of challenge and come out the other side. Covid-19 created an enforced challenge and dip that added to the already difficult journey of self mastery that the RNT Transformation Journey embodies. However, like with anything, when you look to persevere through the dip, lean on your priorities and rely on your 3Ss to create non-negotiables, precursors and automated decisions, amazing things can happen.
I want to finish this article by highlighting just how proud I am of the clients and team of RNT. Covid-19 has been a difficult period for everyone, so I want to show how some took the bull by the horns and focused on what they could control – their physical self. It highlights the importance of adopting an ‘adapt and overcome’ mindset with your training, and just how much can be done without a gym! The biggest knee jerk we witnessed in our industry was a panic around what to do without a gym. The reality is, it’s a tiny piece of the overall puzzle, and with the right tools and focus on what you can do, you can still make progress in that arena.
Here’s what happens when you use the physical as the vehicle to push through one of the biggest challenges of a generation. A few client stories to share:
Completed most of the process phase and took himself through the Grind with light DBs only and pushed through a consolidation period that really tested his resolve and determination to stay in the shape of his life.
Working from home with a young child and training with home workouts on minimal equipment.
Completed the last 10 weeks of her process phase which led to her photoshoot at home, working from home, stabilising her thyroid medication, no equipment, and in the midst of the food shortage.
Working around the clock to save his two businesses during Covid-19, strapped for time with only access to light dumbbells.
The physical transformation has given him the confidence in himself to be able to take on more challenges, especially in his entrepreneurial endeavours.
Lost her job and recovering from a back injury early in the process phase, but continued to focus on her 3Ss and reach her checkpoint.
She has used the vehicle to help her rediscover her strengths and motivations, and has learnt how to invest her time and energy for herself. Not only has it taught her how to look good, but it has also taught her how to feel good and to appreciate the value of many aspects of life such as the importance of a good support system and the value of self discipline.
Working as a doctor in NYC during this pandemic, with limited time and minimal equipment.
Mansi had only recently moved to New York to work as a Doctor when the pandemic struck. Being part of the front line in the defence against the virus and in a new city, it would have been understandable for her to have felt overwhelmed. However, she used the limited free time that she had in order to prioritise her mental and physical health through sticking to her non-negotiables. Having to deal with so much stress and sadness at work each day, this process provided her with something really positive to focus on and work towards.
Access to minimal equipment.
Having been furloughed, Jigna’s employment, like most things in the world, was up in the air with no clear answers in sight. Instead of letting this uncertainty get to her though, she adapted her 3Ss to enable her to remain in control of what she could. This gave her days structure and purpose and a sense of achievement each day. By knowing that she was doing everything she could to look after herself she felt empowered when it would have been so easy to feel sorry for herself.
Tej & Hetal
Two sisters looking after their elderly mum during lockdown and at home with no equipment.
Both were very inactive for a long time prior to starting with the RNT and now even the thought of not exercising, eating well or looking after themselves is completely foreign to them. They have also inspired their entire household to pay more attention to their health.
We’ll share their individual testimonials here. What’s amazing is that these are a few of a hundred Covid-19 success stories we’ve witnessed, showing just how powerful this journey can be for the greater good!
To explore all of my Quarterly Insights, scroll through the Coaches Corner here.
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