Enjoy the Process: Part 1 Small Steps Build Success

I am starting a blog series about “Enjoying the Process” because a big change like ditching the carbs touches so many deeply rooted habits and beliefs, it necessitates a shift in mindset. This is about how I did just that (Spoiler Alert: you can too).

When I became fed-up with my weight and decided to get healthy no matter the cost, I needed to see a monumental change from who I was then, to who I am now. That person I wanted to be did not exist yet. But I could see him.

“I saw the Angel inside the marble, and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo, describing sculpting. I can relate! 😉

This wouldn’t happen overnight. It was a journey, a process. Recognizing this, I adopted an attitude of positive reinforcement, enjoyed the small wins, and continued to carve a path forward (+this is still ongoing!). Enjoying the process has allowed me to make incremental improvements to nutrition (diet), optimize my physical activity (exercise), and educate myself & others on the tenets of a low cab / ketogenic lifestyle (purpose).

This series will be updated with practical tips and advice, and be a place for me to share updates on “what’s new”. And hey, maybe others can take some inspiration!

Enjoy the Process: Part 1 Small Steps Build Success

I came across this idea of “Enjoying the Process” when I discovered this awesome book written by George Leonard called “Mastery” – I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy; it’s a quick read that’s paying me dividends (I have it on my shelf with sticky notes, and refer back to it often – you can brush up on my other recommended reads here). Leonard’s insights got me thinking critically of how I might view my goal of achieving sustained weight loss not as an end-point, but as a process consistently practiced. As for what specifically I took from reading “Mastery”, here we go:

  1. Serious about results? You must practice – alot.
  2. Practice is not a temporary means to a final end.
  3. Practice is your commitment to sustainable results.
  4. When practice leads to results, the cycle reinforces itself.

Let’s tackle each of these points for today’s post, sound good? OK – Roll ’em!

1. Serious about results? You must practice – alot.

Start small, don’t give up. Find a mentor who can already do what you want to, and ask for a helping hand.

Think about anything you’ve ever had to learn to do. Did you ever just ‘do it’ and be amazing at it, right off the bat? Maybe you had some natural talent, and that certainly would get you over a few of the first stumbling blocks, but to be a true master you had to fail. And fail. And fail. So many times, in fact, that the amount of time spent failing may have had you thinking you should quit. But you didn’t quit, did you? You got back on your bike. Or those skates. Or pulled that beautiful lasagna out of the oven.

You see it now, right? You see progress. It feels good. You keep trying. Now, you are amazing at – well, something! What becomes frustrating and prevents us from continuing, though, can be cases where no matter how hard we try, we see zero results. That ‘ah-ha’ moment of finally ‘getting it’ never comes. When it comes to the case of nutrition and sustained weight loss, we all have been fed the wrong information.

2. Practice is not a temporary “means to an end” .

Let’s perform a thought experiment here. Tomorrow you wake up “at your goal” ie: shredded abs, 8% body fat, and a number on the scale so low you’d double-check if your belly was hanging on the towel rack. You exclaim “amazing! I’m at my goal!” and then you go about your day. Doing your exact… same… habits. Can you think this through? If the actions you perform that day cannot keep you at your goal, how could they possibly get you towards your goal? If they could, you would already be there! In a few months you’d spiral right back to where you are sitting today.

Instead, you must already be doing the things your “goal self” is doing before you even reach your goal! And because if you’re reading this, you likely have spent a lifetime (as I did!) doing quite literally the opposite of attaining your goal, then I think it’s time we practice getting those habits well-ingrained.

Look below at the 2 images… a simple swap-out brings a carby pre-keto plate to a low-cab keto plate. Just subbing the toast, for some salami and a few dollops of mayo. Simple, small steps.

3. Practice is your commitment to sustainable results..

So, we need to start building habits, and that means making a few ‘inroads’… let me explain what that means with the help of an analogy. Seeing as we’ve just had a huge snowstorm in Toronto, we’re all going tobogganing! Get your snowpants on!

So, yes, in fact, building a new habit is much like riding a toboggan down a freshly snow-covered hill. At first you won’t get very far down the hill at all. You’ll be all excited, push off the precipice annnnd – crunch, you stop – abruptly. Too much snow piled up in your way, halting your progress. You’ll look up the hill a ways and notice “Hey, we’ve packed down some of the fluffy powder and made a path!” – that’s what we’ll call an ‘inroad’.

Now the thought may cross your mind: “well that wasn’t very much fun, getting stuck so soon”. That may be true, but do you pack up your sleigh and go home after that very first run? No way, you didn’t get all dressed up for nothin’. You race up to the top and try again. Now, you’re at the top – do you A) start a brand new path (inroad) completely fresh ? Or… B) Double down on trying to improve that same path (inroad) you made on your first attempt? Can you see where I’m going here?

Keep building on that inroad, and you get further and further down, closer to the goal.

That inroad you built has made it easier to get started, to build up more momentum than you could have before. It’s likely (and yesterday, man, there sure was a lot of snow) you get slowed down by the fluffy stuff again and stop… but hey, look up to the top again: this time, you are nearly halfway down the hill! And even better, that experience was a little more exciting and fun… you are starting to enjoy this more and more. You begin to see what the full ride down the hill will feel like, and so you are motivated to get there all in one go! So you keep ploughing out that inroad, having a longer and faster ride down each time – until you blow all the way down the hill and look back up to the top… wow… that sure was a long ride. Look at how far I’ve come!

If you only enjoyed ‘being at the bottom of the hill’ this process would be miserable. You would never even leave the house because the mere thought of everything involved in ‘getting’ to the bottom would paralyze you with inaction. You would have zero ‘inroads’ laid down, so each time you tried you’d quickly get stuck, become frustrated by not being at the bottom, and pack up + go home.

4. When practice leads to results, the cycle reinforces itself.

Continuing with our toboggan analogy just a little further: I can hear you thinking “but wait, there’s so much hard work climbing back up the hill each time! If I need to expend effort to climb up the hill each time, just to feel that exhilaration of riding down to the bottom, I need to ask myself, is this worth it?” I would argue that if you come to ‘enjoy the process’ of tobogganing, there’s a certain pleasure to that pain of climbing the hill. Sometimes you make it a challenge to get up quicker than a friend… other times, you try to step in exactly the same footsteps on your way up… you find ways to make it a game. (Aside here: besides, didn’t you always hate seeing some other kid having their parents drive them up to the top of the hill each time? Don’t you think those kids might feel their experience cheapened?! Maybe not, but that helps me sleep at night – ANYWAY let’s move on). Instead, I argue that putting in the work – feeling that bit of pain – makes the result all the more satisfying as part of your personal journey. It’s how we are wired.

Think of building our inroad on that hill. Seeing our incremental results, we gained more excitement each time. The cycle of going down the hill, seeing progress, getting further down, running back up and trying again was self-reinforcing because we felt we were actually getting somewhere. And it was fun – we enjoyed the entire experience despite the freezing cold. Getting to the bottom of the hill was incidental to the transformation we brought on ourselves by embracing the journey.

At first, you may not make it far down that hill. But that’s kind of the point. Have fun while getting there, share some laughs, and you’ll love the whole experience!

Sure, you could just ‘drive’ yourself to a different road – perhaps closer to the bottom of the hill… but that isn’t the point. Switching back to sustainable weight loss, the reason we are all here, right? Imagine you lose a ton of weight all by yourself vs another person who had their weight loss done through gastric bypass or banding surgeries (drove to the bottom of their hill)… who feels more accomplished? Who has experience and grit? Who feels like a “Master” that has transformed their body? You will.

We made it! Hey that was fun… let’s DO IT AGAIN!

Further to this: when fresh snow falls and covers up those inroads you made, orrr… the weight starts to creep back up a little? You’ll have this experience of building positive habits & eliciting lifestyle change, to quickly get back on track. And it won’t be a big deal, because you’ll enjoy it.

Motivation to change is the value I hope you get from my blog. I share these resources to help you drive action and share it with others.

I want you, your friend, or perhaps a family member that might use this info to get the right information, because once you have it, losing weight becomes easy and – dare I say it? – fun. Fun for two reasons: First you finally start seeing results; and second you will find this whole “removing carbs” thing isn’t all that painful, in fact it’s now hard for me to imagine eating all the bland fillers (rice, bread or the boring plain pasta noodles) when you can enjoy more “good stuff” instead! If you feel some personal motivation and coaching could be for you, reach out to me and we’ll talk!

Now, let’s move to Part 2 – Dealing with adversity.