BHealthy Blog

The Process

By Jeremy Ray, Fitness Center Coordinator, Baptist Health-Little Rock

Football is here, and I’m getting excited. I’ve been listening to sports stations trying to get a feel for the Hogs and watching a little ESPN for pro coverage. I’m more college than pro though, and as a Hog fan I’m hoping for a 5 win or 6 win season. My expectations are not very high, but it would be a drastic improvement from last year and would temporarily satisfy my craving to win.

With all the preseason media coverage, you can’t help but hear about Alabama and Nick Saban. Although you may be sick of him, you have to respect him. If you have noticed in almost all of his interviews he refers to the “The Process” whether he’s speaking about the team as a whole or about an individual player. I believe there’s something to take away from “The Process” statement.

As I started thinking more about what he’s talking about, it started to resonate with me and how it relates to fitness and nutrition. There’s not a better example of “Follow the Process” than when it comes to coaching someone through a fat-loss or strength-gain transformation. The process can vary from person to person and can be fairly challenging for some and easier for others based on their current state.

What I mean by this is, does the individual currently have any knowledge of healthy nutrition, a history of proper exercise, injuries? And just as important, does his or her lifestyle and daily schedule make it easy for healthy habits to develop. If so, then at least from the surface that individual may have the advantage versus someone who has no idea about eating healthy, hates exercise, and has a hectic schedule. In either case, there would be a relatively general but also specific process for each one.

It’s really no different than comparing a quarterback with a couple of years under his belt versus an incoming freshman. For example, as a Razorback fan I had hoped for a possible returning starter in Connor Noland. Why? Because he would have been further along in his process, had exposure to the playbook, had time to mesh with teammates, and had game experience in the SEC. Obviously now we know he’s out and pursuing a baseball career, but we have two good quarterback options in Nick Starkel and Ben Hicks.

Hicks is in his senior season and has played for Chad Morris before at SMU and is familiar with his system. Starkel, on the other hand, is a redshirt junior from Texas A&M who has experienced the weekly grind of facing SEC opponents. Both of these young men are further along in the process then Noland would have been to become the starting quarterback. They have incrementally gained the knowledge and applied it with experience to reach the point they are currently at.

Everyone goes through a certain process or steps to improve or accomplish anything. I experience this when working with clients and trying to coach them through the process of improving their diet. Most of the time when people come to me for help, it often seems as if they are expecting me to hand over a diet to follow. While I know it’s effective for the short term, it eventually leaves the client momentarily satisfied only to relapse back to old habits and unhealthy eating a few months later. In order to develop new habits and shift away from the bad ones, it takes a process.

For instance, if we choose that water and protein consumption is low and needs to be increased, we must take steps to do that. First, the client must purchase a water container to have available throughout the day and be mindful of the intake. Secondly, I would introduce them to foods rich in protein and then instruct them to consume a certain amount with each meal. These two interventions seem easy but prove to be fairly challenging when it comes to practice. Trying to change unhealthy habits that have been ingrained for years doesn’t come without some resistance. It’s a process.

Another area that falls into the process theme are the stages that some people have to go through to master certain exercises. I worked with some youths this summer with their athletic development, and strength training was one component of that. One kid in particular was one of the strongest in the group but could not consistently repeat proper technique on the squat. There are certain progressions and regressions that I use when teaching exercises, and if you can’t master a lower level with proper technique then you can’t progress to the next level.

Some of the key points I look at when teaching the squat are foot position, knee and hip motion, as well as trunk position. I could see him getting frustrated because I was progressing others in the group who were not as strong but were becoming proficient in the movement. I explained the importance of proper technique and how it would benefit him in the future with not only his strength but also with the prevention of injury.

The point of this article is to encourage and help you understand that something worth wanting is worth waiting for. Very rarely does an individual go from a novice/rookie to an expert or pro, and even in the quest to become healthy there is a process to follow.

I’ll leave you with this quote I heard: “It’s seldom for someone in such a hurry to get good results,” which is the overall theme to a story titled “A Father’s Lesson: A Taste of Banzo’s Sword.” Check it out.

Stay Fit, Motivated, and Thankful!

Check out the Baptist Health fitness center on the ground floor of BHRI. Call 202-7628 or email for help reaching your fitness goals.