With your foundations firmly in pace and regaining control of your day by completing the first phase of Cleaning Your Palate, it’s time to step it up a notch with the process phase.
The process phase is a teacher, a humbler, and it instils patience and consistency while delivering some short-term wins along the way. As we discussed in Episode 67 of RNT Fitness Radio, the process phase does exactly what it says on the tin: it focuses solely on the processes required to achieve your specific goal.
This is where the RNT process phase differs from many other fitness programmes, the focus isn’t on the end goal (or rather, the checkpoint), it’s on the daily processes to facilitate it. This can seem daunting and lengthy, but it is important to establish the positive behaviours and habits taken on board during phase one to get in the shape of your life for life.
The process phase heightens your sense of accountability, your long-term progression, and ultimately the rate in which you reach your goal. That being said, there is no need to rush this phase; what may take one person 16 weeks may take you 30 or 100 weeks, or even longer. Everyone is different, and so every transformation journey is different too.
The road to your first checkpoint isn’t always going to be an easy ride. You may encounter certain challenges and the occasional dips as the road is a long one. These feelings are not always experienced by everyone, and each vary in length. We have identified five particular themes that people have encountered during the process phase.
These stages are:
- The Honeymoon Period
- The Motivation Dip
- The Gathered Momentum Period
- The Precision Dip
- The Grind
Stage One: The Honeymoon Period
In stage one of the process phase, you’re riding the wave of early momentum you’ve built up during CTP to rack up some big wins. You’re nailing your transformation checklist every day, you’re losing bodyfat each week, and you’ll be wondering why you found this so hard the last time you attempted it. At this point, you’ll start picturing your reaching your first checkpoint a little earlier than expected.
That is until the motivation dip hits you…
Stage Two: The (Potential) Motivation Dip
The novelty has worn off. You’ve grown complacent and things just don’t seem as exciting anymore. After four to eight weeks of building consistency on your 3Ss and CTP accelerators and while seeing some initial changes in your body, you’ll encounter what’s known as the motivation dip.
Despite nailing all the processes and seeing all the metrics heading in the right direction, you’ll start questioning why you’re now not seeing much physical change. You expect more for your efforts, and so you start questioning whether the process is working for you. This is when your motivation starts to dip, the intensity of your non-negotiables reduces and your results slow down.
This will happen with everyone. Any task, skill or goal that’s worth achieving will have a Dip, as Seth Godin explains in his book, The Dip. You have to be self-aware to know you’re going through it, embrace it, and lean into it. Don’t shy away and take your foot off the gas in any way. That’s what the Dip wants you to do, and it’s why so many fall at the first hurdle. Trust the process and understand that the lack of instant gratification is gearing you up to enjoy the fruits of your labour afterwards.
Although you may never actually experience this motivation dip, it will be short lived if you lean in (two to four weeks) if you do, or it could potentially drag out if you let it get the better of you. Despite the fat reductions, there’s no reflection of it aesthetically, and often not on the scales either. The key here is to remain consistent in your daily processes and continue ticking your transformation checklist. Eventually, you’ll notice a sudden weight drop, or you catch yourself in the mirror looking noticeably different. You’ll know when it happens, and this is the prelude to your body kicking it up a gear in the next stage.
Stage Three: Gathered Momentum
This is where the fun starts again! Seeing small wins on a weekly basis, you feel on fire, your energy is through the roof, your body looking better than ever and your confidence soars. The slog of the dip was worth it, and you begin to pick up speed as you move through the gears and start envisaging the bigger picture once more. This surge in gathered momentum typically lasts three to eight weeks, possibly even longer if you stay focused on your transformation checklist. But just when you think you’re almost there, that’s when the precision dip hits with different problems to overcome.
Stage Four: The Precision Dip
Typically happening ten to twenty weeks into the process, the precision dip hits catching everyone off guard.
This dip comes as a result of the fast progress you’ve made during stage three. With results comes complacency, and with complacency comes another roadblock in your results.
It’s a classic case of being close enough to your goal to skimp on the essentials and justify not being 100%, but far enough away to not notice the impact the complacency is having, so you stall. You start to think your body can’t get any leaner, and self-justify your behaviour. You may:
- Say yes to more social events with little to no strategy in place
- Eyeball day-to-day food instead of sticking to your meal plan
- Fall into the detrimental cycle of giving yourself permission to have or do things because you have been doing so well
Essentially, the precision dip is taking your eye off the ball. Your level of resolve has diminished a little, and what starts as some well-intentioned complacency can soon snowball.
Self-awareness is key at this point and sticking to the processes will be your ticket to the next level. Going back to basics with a one to two week CTP reset is just what you need at this point to reinstall the required level of consistent intensity across all variables, especially if you have been a little too liberal with food choices recently. Stop, check, reset, and get back on track.
Stage Five: The Grind
And so begins the grind: the final push towards your first transformation checkpoint! Having overcome the two previous dips, you are now ready for the final sprint.
This is the stage of the process that has come to be known as the #VaghelaGrind, a term coined by a previous client that was pushed to his peak, where you press harder than you have ever done before in pursuit of your initial goal.
At the end of the previous stage, you’ll have reconfirmed your intensity, your processes are in place and you’re firing on all cylinders. Motivation is back at an all-time high, your body fat is melting off, and you now have an ability to drive deeper into a calorie deficit to get the most out of this phase.
This is when you throw the kitchen sink. Don’t be afraid to go to the extreme here as it’s only for a short period of time (two to four weeks). You can only be in this stage if you’ve spent enough time in CTP and have all your processes in line. Everything you have been working on so far has been building up to this point.
A well-executed grind can foster exceptional results, and it’s not uncommon to see eight weeks’ worth of progress happen in four, which is likely the maximum amount of time you’ll be able to handle this intensity before needing to refuel.
At this point of the process phase, you’ll be in a place you’ve never been before, so remember why you are here and what is driving you. the aesthetic benefits are incredible, and you’ll now begin to understand the power of the physical as the vehicle for the greater good in your life.
You can read more about ‘the grind’ in our articles here:
Process accelerators will enable a smooth arrival at your first checkpoint. These accelerators are managed around your daily lifestyle and commitments and challenges, such as socialising, networking events and holidays.
These process accelerators are:
- The Art of the Buffer
- Social Stigma Armoury
- Hunger Suppressors
1. The Art of the Buffer
It is unlikely that you will go through the entire process phase without wanting or needing to eat at a place where the cooking/ingredients are beyond your control. Rather than being exclusive, where you avoid all social events or take your own food, the buffer allows you to be inclusive, where you’ll have a pre-planned buffered number of calories. Perfecting the art of the buffer can make all the difference when creating a long-term lifestyle solution.
The first step is to do your homework on what you’ll be consuming at the event. If you cannot access this information online, choose something similar and make and educated guess – if you are unsure, always err on the side of caution and overestimate calories. Remember, starters, sides and alcohol all must be taken into consideration.
The Principle of the Buffer
Before implementing the buffer, you first must understand these five rules:
- Buffering only works if you have a clear plan on how much food or drink you’ll consume You’ll have a build-up of hunger, so if you’re not planning ahead of time, you’ll over consume.
- If you have a history of binge eating, don’t buffer unless you have a clear system on how to manage your food.
- Never buffer in the evening as this is near impossible. It should be in the morning.
- If buffering in the morning creates a change in your routine meal timings, expect to feel hungrier.
- Buffers do not give you a license to over-consume or eat calories you have not estimated for.
The art of the buffer enables you to lead a normal lifestyle whilst on your transformation journey, but it shouldn’t be abused and should only be saved for when necessary – too much of a good thing can set you back.
You can read more about the art of the buffer here.
2. Social Stigma Armoury
“You’re looking too skinny.”
“When are you going to eat properly?”
“You look ill.”
“I preferred how you looked before.”
These are just some of the comments you are likely to hear whilst undergoing your transformation journey. These usually come around the gathered momentum stage and during the grind. Even when you feel on top of your game and are more confident than ever, these negative comments can come when you least expect it, catching you completely off guard and throwing you off balance. Don’t let it stop you.
So, what can you do when faced with comments like these?
The best response you can give to the critics is to educate them on the process and tell them why it’s important to you. The worst thing you can do is listen to them and start doubting yourself. Instead, appreciate their concern and explain how good you feel. Quite often, these are the people that are deflecting their own insecurities on you.
Remember the reasons why you are doing this and the why behind your why. You are only part way through your transformation journey, and this is your journey, not theirs. You are doing it for you, not them.
Read about our insight on Social Stigma’s in Asian Culture.
3. Hunger Suppressants
Your hunger levels will slowly increase over the course of the process phase. Although this can be very challenging, especially when faced with social situations, remember that it is only temporary.
There are many simple ways in which you can defeat your hunger cravings, such as drinking coffee or green/herbal teas, delaying the first meal of your day, and keeping occupied. Check out more of our great tips on how to manage your hunger cravings here.
You’ve made it! You have reached your first goal! You look great, you feel great, you’ve conquered many of your demons and worked you way through the ’muck’. You’re in the best shape of your life, so what next?
The checkpoint is not the end of the journey. Think about the bigger picture and your long-term goals. How can you look and feel better? How do you stay in the shape of your, life for life?
After all the months and effort put into reaching the top of the mountain, the answer is finding a safe passage home and maintain what you have worked so hard to build in the next phase of your transformation journey: The Consolidation Phase.