Square 1, Square 2 ... Square -3

You lose 5 kilos. You've started the year on a roll. Freshly motivated and rejuvenated from taking some time off, you've realised this is what you want to do. This is the time when you nail things.

And a few months later, you find yourself in the same old place. Back to square 1.

Why the fuck does this keep happening to you?

And as you look at photos or training videos from 4-5 years ago, you realise that maybe what you think as square one is actually square -3. What the fudge?! This situation is getting worse.

When you look at your diets, your bursts of motivation with a narrow time window, say 4-12 weeks, you've always done a great job. You've knocked it out of the par.

But when you zoom out and look at them with a 6-12 month window (let's not even get into longer than that), sheesh, it makes for terribly unflattering viewing.

Maybe fat loss is not what you've been grappling with. I always start with it because that is what the vast majority, including me, grapples with. Especially at the start. Until one learns to get past square 1.

Maybe you've been trying to put on a few kilos of muscle. Maybe you've been trying to kick your sugar habit. Or your alcohol habit. Or maybe just do a lot less of this, as opposed to "I'll NEVER EVER do it again."

Whichever way you spin it, when you zoom in - great. When you zoom out - terrible.

Why? How? Can you get out of this square? When do you win this game?!?

Or is this going to be a perennial game of snakes and ladders - inevitably coming back down? Do you just make peace with that as the game?

How does a rocket leave the Earth?

For an object like a space shuttle to leave the Earth's gravity, it needs to create a tremendous amount of energy in a rather short duration.

The Earth pulls all things on it towards its centre. To escape its gravitational reach, one must hit escape velocity. Which is calculated as ~11 kilometres PER SECOND. At that speed, you can travel from Delhi to New York in well under 2 minutes.

What the heck does that matter? Well, I want to introduce the mental model of escape velocity and why that is pertinent to you and your journey of fat loss (or muscle gain or get out of square 1 permanently).

For the Earth, this is the escape velocity. For a larger planet, like Jupiter, the escape velocity is much higher (~5.3 times). Meaning the speed required will get you from Delhi to NYC in under 20 seconds!

You are what you ate

As Coach Dan John says, you are what you ate.

You are not in your present condition because of what happened yesterday or last week. But everything you've been doing or not doing for a much much longer time than just last week or month or year.

You are your habits.

The reason you keep getting pulled back is that you are not able to hit the requisite escape velocity. People who you see pull it off successfully, either they've managed to create it. Or the size of their baggage aka gravitational pull, and thus the required escape velocity is lesser than yours.

It is irrelevant.

What matters is only you, and your escape velocity.

The escape velocity is too high

Trying to undo years of sub-par habits, years of accumulation of baggage, years of moving into the negative space - it has a cost.

And all of you want to hit escape velocity in a few weeks, just like leaving the Earth. But for most of you, that is way too high.

You think you hit it with your 6-week diet, or your month of no-sugar, or even something longer and harder and more restrictive.

But you are not out of the Earth's gravitational pull. You think you are when you lose those 5 kilos or make a significant dent in your goals. You think you've made great forward progress.

Yes, you most definitely have.

But you have not hit escape velocity.

Once you (eventually) hit escape velocity, it does become a lot easier to keep flying towards the Moon. Or Neptune. Or to other galaxies.

Remember, this is a mental model. This is a metaphor. It does not translate 100%, nor should it.

Because you truly only escape when you change your habits. And this happens naturally, it happens inevitably as you get rid of your baggage, as you escape the gravitational pull.

You cannot replicate all of your current habits, the ones that are keeping you on square 1, and expect not to fall back down to Earth. It will happen.

The good thing is, you won't. Not once you've hit escape velocity.

Your habits will be vastly improved. Yes, you will of course have beer when you want and ice cream when you want and all that. But it will be different.

Where does this leave you?

A short-term burst, like a rocket launch, is required.

But that's not enough to hit escape velocity. Because for most of you, for most of us, we are on Jupiter and not on Mercury.

We have to keep at it for longer.

And trying to blaze fully, at 100%, for long durations is excruciatingly hard.

That's why habit change and consistency rule. You have to keep making forward progress, bit by bit. Some weeks, you blast off. Some weeks, you inch ahead. A couple of times, you slip up. But before the gravitational pull gets you, you inch ahead or you blast ahead.

Escape velocity is different for you than it is for a rocket ship. But the mental model is relevant. Think about it.

How does this change your thinking for 2022?

How does this change your thinking for November?

How does this change your thinking for next week?