The Five Phases of a Transformation Journey, Part Two: The Process – Dip, Drive, Dip and Over Drive

The Five Phases of a Transformation Journey, Part Two: The Process – Dip, Drive, Dip and Over Drive

After regaining control of your day and 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.

Becoming a person who focuses on the daily processes versus the end goal has such a profound impact on your level of accountability, your long-term results, and ultimately the rate in which you reach your goal.

Remember, fat loss is simply a sum of a few things relating to calories in vs. calories out (you can learn more about this equation in our Back to Basics series here). In order to achieve these sums on a day to day basis, we need to ensure all our processes are geared towards them. For example:

  • Did you take 10,000 steps?
  • Did you train 3-4 days a week?
  • Did you ensure you ate to your meal plan or to your calories (dependent on your set up)?

Having established non-negotiables, habits/structure and strategies to take care of these processes in phase one, executing on a longer-term basis in this phase becomes much easier. And as the weeks go by, you’ll notice that you go through four different stages before you reach your first specific goal. These stages will always happen, but the extent to which they occur and when will be very much individual.

Stage One: The Motivation Dip

After 4 to 8 weeks of building consistency on your non-negotiables and seeing some initial changes in your body, you’ll encounter what’s known as the Motivation Dip.

This is when you’re nailing all the processes without fail and watching all body metrics heading in the right direction, but you’re seeing very little physical change anymore. You expect more for your efforts, and so you start questioning whether the process is working for you. Consequently, motivation begins to wane a little, the intensity of your non-negotiables reduces, and therefore your results may start to slow down too.

This will happen with everyone. Any task, skill or goal that’s worth achieving will have a Dip, as Seth Godin brilliantly explains in his book (highly recommended reading), and this one is the same as all the others. 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 fail. Instead, you need to lean in, trust the process, and understand that the lack of instant gratification is gearing you up to enjoy the fruits of your labour afterwards.

This Dip will be short lived if you lean in (3 to 6 weeks), or it could drag out if you let it get the better of you. You’ll know you’re coming out of it when you see a sudden big weight drop, or you catch yourself in the mirror looking noticeably different, or you begin feeling significantly better in your clothes. You’ll know when it happens, and this is the prelude to your body kicking it up a gear in the next stage.

Stage Two: Gathered Momentum

This is the fun stage; it’s when you experience frequent small wins on a weekly basis. You feel on fire, your energy is through the roof, and your body looking better than ever. The slog of the Dip was worth it, and you begin to pick up speed as you move through the gears. This surge in gathered momentum typically lasts 3 to 6 weeks. If you ride the wave by being stringent on your non-negotiables, it can even go longer. However, what typically happens instead is you enter into another dip, and your ‘why’ is tested one last time before you push on to your checkpoint.

Stage Three: The Precision Dip

The second dip is the one which catches everyone off guard. It typically happens 10 to 20 weeks (it varies significantly) into the process, and is purely as a result of the level of results gained during the Gathered Momentum stage. 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 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 justify your mindset accordingly. You start doing the following:

  • Saying yes to more social events with incorrect buffering and guestimating.
  • Eyeballing food instead of weighing them.
  • You fall into the detrimental cycle of ‘giving yourself permission’ to have / do things you shouldn’t have / do because you begin to think ‘I’ve been doing so well’.

Essentially, this Dip can be summarised by taking your eye off the ball. Your level of resolve has diminished a little, and what starts as some well-intentioned complacency can soon leave you in a rabbit hole of stagnation.

The key action to take here is to be self-aware, and know that sticking to the tried and tested processes will be your ticket to the next level. For many, you may need a small burst of Cleaning the Palate in order to reinstall the required level of consistency and intensity across all variables. If you’ve been liberal in your food choices with too much variety (either using My Fitness Pal or our Interactive Meal Planner), this might be the time reduce it and go on more of a ‘set plan’ approach again.

This mini reset for 2 weeks is often all that’s needed to push through this second dip, and go into overdrive.

Stage Four: The Grind

During the Process phase so far, you’ve likely been on multiple dual carriage ways, a couple roundabouts and made a few U-turns in order to reach this point of overdrive. You’re now moving off the slip road and onto the motorway, and it’s time to step on the gas.

Grind time!

This is the stage of the Process that gave birth to the infamous #VaghelaGrind, and it’s where you sprint to the first checkpoint in your journey.

After stage three, you’ve reconfirmed your intensity, your processes are in place again, and you’re firing on all cylinders. The fat starts to melt off, your motivation is at an all-time high, and you now have an ability to drive deeper into your calories to get the most out of this phase.

This is when you throw the kitchen sink. It’s when you let that Ferrari inside of you open it’s engine and kick into 5th gear.

However, you can only be in this stage if you’ve got all your processes in line. You need to be consistently meal prepping, have your buffering strategies well practiced, have your steps blocked in, and have your training kept consistent on a regular basis. All your non-negotiables should be fine-tuned when you unleash the Ferrari. No clunks. Otherwise it’ll be like trying to race down the motorway you’ve got onto in a 1998 Ford KA – you’re not going to go anywhere fast, and it may just break down on the way there.

A well-executed Grind can foster exceptional results, and it’s not uncommon to see 8 weeks worth of progress happen in 4, which is likely the maximum amount of time you’ll be able to handle this intensity before needing to refuel.

Time for Consolidation

Once you’ve sped towards the finish line to hit your initial fat loss goal or specific target, it’s critically important to understand that it’s merely a checkpoint in your journey. In fact, this is when the hard work really begins and you begin consolidating your gains in order to prime your body to build muscle and create lifestyle solutions in the Investment phase.

The Process phase can be incredibly rewarding. It’ll be hard work, push your limits both mentally and physically, but if you can navigate through the Dips and Drives, you’ll find yourself in a position to really set yourself up to be in the shape of your life, for life.

Stay tuned for the phase three, Consolidation!

Related Articles

Phase One: Cleaning Your Palate

Episode 67: Five Phases Of Your Transformation Journey

Back to Basics: Fat Loss

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 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.