The majority of prospective clients I meet have a similar burning question: how to get lean without having to make any sacrifices both in terms of food and time spent exercising. The reason they ask is that they are typically only interested in shrinking a dress size or two but they see that as a major undertaking. My short answer to the burning question is usually “no sacrifices needed”.
However, the long answer is “it depends on what you perceive as a sacrifice” and “how well you understand the benefits of the process of learning what makes your metabolism tick”.
Admittedly sometimes this kind of answer freaks people out because it’s not black and white. In fact, it’s totally grey. The next step is usually being asked whether I can recommend a recipe book or a diet (totally missing the point)…
Sure I could, but how’s that going to help them in the long term? It won’t. Unless the recipe book was written especially for them based on their genetics and natural tendencies towards metabolizing different nutrients. But I suspect that would be more expensive than hiring me.
What do you perceive to be a sacrifice?
And so we go back to mindset and thinking about different ways of perceiving a “food sacrifice”. If someone was addicted to crisps, biscuits, cakes, sugar, soft drinks, etc. then my guess is that, to these people, suggesting they reduce the amount of these foods from their diet would seem like a sacrifice or, more likely, torture. And yet if they asked me “how to get lean” in a few easy steps that’s what I would recommend.
From my point of view, because I love fresh produce, I would consider it a sacrifice having nothing to eat but convenience foods all the time as they provide very little nutrients, lots of calories and then make me crave more of them (which is by design). Convenience food tastes nice and I will have some from time to time too but it’s a choice, not a way of life.
Wanting to know how to get lean but dreading the answer is a reflection of a mentality centered around the idea of “having to go on a diet in order to lose weight”. Or, in other words, meaning that we have to give up something we love in order to achieve something that we aspire to. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just think: how committed can anyone be to a weight loss program when they are working within this framework? In my experience these people make some sort of effort the first two weeks, then they gradually jump off the wagon and revert to their old habits with a vengeance followed by the inevitable crocodile tears.
How to get lean without going on a diet! Yay!
So why not give up the idea of “going on a diet” altogether and instead learn what makes your body tick? The perk is that you can keep on eating your favourite foods while you learn to love others that perhaps you never thought we could love before.
Again, learning how to get lean is all down to fully understanding the benefits of shifting our way of thinking about food, exercise and the strategies that help us achieve fat loss.
For example: I love a good glass of wine in the evenings BUT drinking alcohol after a workout reduces the amount of fat that my body is going to use as fuel after exercising. I have a choice to make: after each workout I either have the wine and shut up OR I wait 48hrs and enjoy my glass of wine or two AND make the most of the afterburn generated by the workout in the meantime.
If I am on a fat loss mission I will always go for the latter, but if I am not I go with either depending on the mood and whether I have to go out to get the wine. 😉 If I find myself craving the wine I know that my metabolism is out of balance and needs to be addressed. There could be issues with my nutrition or I could be emotionally rattled over some event that I cannot control. Shit happens and how I deal with it has an effect on my ability to control stress, hunger and cravings.
Another example: I love chocolate. I love it dark and I love it dark with hazelnuts (Nutella in solid form). Normally I wouldn’t be ashamed to eat a bucketload of the dark stuff and I don’t deny leaving my other half asleep on the floor in the middle of a Thai Yoga Massage treatment to go and eat the Christmas chocolates in the kitchen.
Although chocolate has many health benefits (estolled in another post) and helps curb cravings for starchy carbs, it’s also calories dense and too much of it has made me mucho fat in the past. It’s not an addiction for me but I do like it. So my strategy is to leverage its “superpowers” to help me shrink without desperately needing another bite.
I found my magic formula for breakfast to consist of a mug of milk kefir, pure whey protein powder, a splodge of glucomannan and a couple of heaped teaspoons of pure, dark, cocoa powder. This is especially awesome for me on super busy days because the combination of ingredients keeps me full all day long and I can happily go for up to 4-6 hrs without getting hungry. This might not work for anyone else but it works for me.
Have I made a sacrifice? Nope. In my quest to find out how to get lean I discovered that I can have a treat every day AND get slimmer on top of that.
Final example: when I suggest clients to have a salad for lunch they often give me the “oh f**k I am on a diet” look. So I ask if their version of a salad is like the boring, tasteless and pitiful portions you get in pubs and restaurants or if it’s more Mediterranean style, i.e. chuck in it every bit of fresh colourful juicy vegetable that you like. Dress, toss and eat.
Salad doesn’t equal boring, it’s just a way to describe eating a mixture of fresh raw vegetables. And for all the funky dressings available in the shops, I swear salads taste better with just some EV Olive Oil and the juice of a lemon or some balsamic vinegar and rock salt. The latter is really brilliant for enhancing flavours. You can also add meat to your salad, eggs, cheese, anchovies, salmon, olives and anything that’s going to make it sexier for you.
What better way to eat your carbs and fibre both of which will keep you full and give you energy? In the picture above is a typical salad that I would have for lunch, usually made in a hurry with mixed baby leaves, a couple of vine tomatoes and half an avocado. Does that look like a sacrifice? It looks more like another treat to me.
The thing is, I haven’t even thought about calories reduction so far and yet I am already doing it naturally and effortlessly just by choosing to eat healthy and fresh foods.
What about the crisps and the cakes, etc.? Well I might have some at some point but they are no longer that appealing to me and I certainly don’t feel like “I have to have” some or I go all psycho on everyone. So, again, I am effectively discarding them as opposed to “having to give them up”. No sacrifices.
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