Use the Principles of Mastery to Overcome Hurdles

Jun 10, 2014

Making any kind of lifestyle change is hard. When you set out to change a habit you have no way of knowing what obstacles will get in your way. Obstacles can be mental, emotional or physical.

Clients tell us all the time that one of the big obstacles getting in their way was a lack of planning. If only they could plan meals consistently everything would be easy. They could lose all the weight they wanted to lose and be really happy with what they saw in the mirror. But it isn’t that simple. There is never just one thing that leads to success with the paleo diet, the primal diet or any other diet.

What usually leads people to succeed is having a goal and being flexible enough to course correct when their plan of action is not working. These people have the ability to enjoy the journey of mastery. They are not in a hurry and they get fulfillment from the process of healthy living.

You have to realize that mastery doesn’t happen over night. The curve looks more like this: 

There will be times in your journey to achieving your fat loss or health goals where you will make a lot of progress in a short period of time. With the paleo diet this can come in the form of seeing dramatic weight loss in a matter of weeks, seeing your energy levels increase in a matter of days and feeling a lot better physically, emotionally in mentally in as little as four weeks. That’s probably why so many people enjoy doing paleo challenges.

Results can come quickly and you can see that there is an end to the challenge. But a funny thing can happen after four weeks. Your motivation starts to wane and you might lose some steam which allows you to give into temptation foods more often than you normally would. You feel like you got close enough and deserve a reward so you let your nutrition slide for a week. Which then turns into two weeks. You have some social events coming up and decide to let one time events drag out into days of bad choices.

We are all human. These things happen. How you handle these obstacles will determine how successful you are. These periods of time where motivation wanes and progress slows down are called dips. These dips then lead into what’s called a plateau. This is where you can go extended periods of time feeling like you’re not seeing results.

In George Leonards amazing book entitled, Mastery, he talks about learning to enjoy the plateau. His message is to realize that the plateau is a great place to be because soon you’ll arrive at a point where you will breakthrough and have another spurt of success and growth.

Most people hit the plateau and they quit. Think about those people who go strong with paleo or working out for two to four weeks then lose motivation and stop seeing immediate results. What happens? Usually they say the paleo diet doesn’t work for them and they quit.

I would like to urge you to take a different approach. I would treat the initial four weeks of your paleo journey as a steep learning cure in which you will learn a lot about your body and the foods that make you feel great. You’ll probably see some dramatic results very quick early on in this stage. You’ll soon hit a plateau in which things might slow down. This is not the time to throw your hands in the air and give up. This is where you embrace the testing mindset and learn to love the plateau.

You can start to tackle the mental side of success to build a strong mind with things like meditation. You can explore the physical side of success by experimenting with new lifts in the weight room or different rep and set schemes. You can explore the emotional side of success by examining tendencies in your diet when you are stressed or depressed.

Some people might look at this article and say that this is tactical advice and that any one of them could be the answer to your problems or stalled results. But that’s not true.

What’s really happening is much bigger. It’s a shift in strategy. Your strategy is now about thinking long term and enjoying the journey to ultimate health and well-being. You can relax more and not be stressed about your diet all the time. Simply experiment and keep doing what gets you results until you hit the next plateau. Minor course corrections that help you achieve small incremental successes is what this is all about. Don’t lose focus on your goal. And enjoy the ride.

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