My client asked me how “fitness personalities” maintain their lean bodies year-round. I know what you are thinking but I didn’t tell her that it was working out or cutting out sugar, fat, carbs, etc. What I consider the most important ingredient is consistency. It’s impossible to stay lean without consistent training, proper nutrition and a few tricks here and there. Here is my list of what you need to keep up with when working to achieve and maintain a healthy lean body.
7 Lean Bodies Secrets
1. Intense Weight Training. It’s a must! No shortcuts here. Cutting calories and cardio alone won’t do the trick. One great tool is to implement supersets. More on those below.
2. Pre-and post-workout nutrition. It’s important because it helps you get the most out of your workouts and improve recovery. Eat protein before your workouts and complex carbs afterwards. The reason: your metabolism is elevated after the workouts and your body will use carbs to replenish glycogen.
3. Eat whole foods and say “good bye” to processed and refined foods. You need nutrient-dense foods with lots of fiber and no added sugar and fat. Many people think that if they have just a little sugar here and there, they will be fine. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. When you are trying to get lean, you have to take advantage of any tool you can get to increase your body’s metabolism and sugar just increases inflammation and slows it down.
4. Reduce stress. Every time you get stressed, your cortisol levels go up and that causes cravings for high-fat, high-sugar junk foods. To balance cortisol, eat frequent meals and avoid long periods of fasting.
5. Keep a food diary. I don’t know many people who can accurately estimate how much they eat. Keep a diary only you can see and you will be surprised. But don’t feel bad, information is power!
6. Get enough sleep. Don’t underestimate a good night’s sleep. When you don’t get enough zzz’s, your body’s cortisol levels go up and your testosterone levels drop and so do growth hormone and thyroid hormone. And that’s what makes fat loss impossible. Most people need 8 hours of sleep per day.
7. Don’t weigh yourself. The number on the scale means very little. Test your body fat instead. Muscle is your best friend and the goal should be not to lose weight but to gain muscle and lose fat. You don’t need inconvenient or expensive tests. You can buy a skinfold caliper from my store and check it yourself.
For You Early Risers
There’s something to be said about waking up early and heading to the gym for a pre-work workout. Are you one of those people who head to the gym after work, only to find you lack the energy to get a full workout in? You lift weights half-heartedly for 20 – 30 minutes and then head home, wishing you had more energy?
It may be time to try working out in the morning. Yes, you’ll have to wake up earlier and probably shower and get dressed at the gym. But, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment and have energy to burn for the rest of the day.
Think about how you’ll feel after you’ve finished your workout. You’ll have free time in the evening to spend with loved ones and friends and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on your exercise routine. My trainers are available as early as 6:00 a.m. and many are available for in-home training sessions as well, if you absolutely can’t stand the thought of showering and dressing at the gym.
Contact me today for more information on early morning and in-home training sessions.
How To Stay On Your Diet While Traveling
It’s easy to maintain your fitness routine at home, especially if you are working with a personal trainer (hopefully one of mine) and have a plan for everything. But what happens when you have to leave town on a business trip, vacation, or holiday? So many people end up falling off the wagon the moment they leave their comfortable environment and have a really hard time picking up the pieces once they are back.
Let’s face it, maintaining your habits of eating healthy while traveling can be really hard and avoiding bad foods is difficult at home, but it feels impossible if you are rushing to a long flight and will be spending days in and out of business meetings.
Here are some of my tricks on how to achieve and maintain those lean bodies and stay healthy on the road.
Prepare and pack your food in advance
Don’t take chances that a healthy option will miraculously present itself at the airport or on the plane: prepare your own meals and take them with you. Some of my favorite foods to bring with me on the plane are dried nuts and fruit, fresh fruit, veggie salads, power bars and takeout from my favorite healthy neighborhood restaurants.
Buy on your way
If you don’t have time to pack your own food in advance, try to stop by a store like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to pick up a few meals and snacks. In the worst-case scenario when you don’t have time, pick up a roll of sushi or a salad with grilled chicken at the airport. When it comes to beverages, stick to water as many bottled or canned drinks usually have sugar in them and will set you back.
That’s your number one priority while traveling. Staying hydrated while traveling cuts down on consuming more calories than you want, eliminates headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue and keeps you full. I like to bring some herbal tea bags with me whenever I go.
Make Smart Restaurant Choices
Eating out doesn’t have to stress you out. Most restaurants can accommodate a healthy diet if you know what to ask for. Let the waiter know right away that you have “dietary requirements”…most restaurants are prepared to deal with that. Choose meat or fish that are grilled, broiled, baked, steamed, roasted, poached or poached or roasted. Choose steamed veggies over sautéed or fried and always keep sauces and dressings on the side…even better, skip them altogether. Limit alcohol and don’t drink juices at breakfast unless it’s a 100% freshly squeezed green vegetable juice. Watch out for sugar calories from white grape juice, apple, banana or other fruit!
It’s tempting to have “just a bite” when your colleagues or family indulge in an after-dinner dessert. But the way to stay in shape is to skip it or opt for berries or light fruit instead of baked sugary creations. Yes, a little bit can hurt. A lot. Everything counts!
Lean Bodies Say NO to free food
Just say “no” to all that continental breakfast or conference table free food, trust me, you will pay for it later in weight gain and fatigue. Make yourself a cup of tea or black coffee if you must have something.
Eat every 2 or 3 hours
It doesn’t have to be much but having a little something every few hours will stop you from being hungry and eating everything that looks good in sight. Best if it has protein!
5 Posture Fixes for a Leaner Body
Posture is often overlooked when people embark on a new workout and nutrition plan. But proper posture is key to a leaner body and bad posture can derail your fitness goals.
We all spend too much time hunching over our laptops, slumping in front of TVs, sitting in traffic in our cars. The result: poor posture that not only affects the way we look, but also takes a toll on our spine, shoulders, hips and knees. If not taken seriously, posture can cause a cascade of problems from joint pains and reduced flexibility to compromised muscles and the ability to burn fat and build strength.
Regular exercise with a trainer who can help you identify the problems is a great first step.
Top 5 Posture Fixes
- Do Cardio. During cardio, you work your core muscles to stabilize your spine to keep you upright. I recommend exercises that use large muscle groups like running, elliptical, cycling or fast walking to strengthen the thighs, glutes and calves to support the weight of your torso.
- Build Strength in Lower Body. Strengthening the arches and calves can help support your body and keep your spine in alignment, so try standing calf raises on a low step or platform that work arches and calves. Fact: your feet and calves support the weight of your entire body and imbalances in these muscles can ruin your posture.
- Strengthen the Core. Core exercises are the key to your posture because the core keeps your spine in alignment. Whether it’s Pilates, yoga or conditioning weight exercises, work on making them regular in your routine. Try holding planks for a killer core and strong back. Fact: Your abs and lower back muscles stabilize the lower torso to keep your spine upright. Thighs and glutes help keep the hips in proper alignment.
- Balance Upper Body. Resistance exercises are the best for balancing your upper body to keep your spine in alignment. Make sure you properly stretch before and after your workouts to release tension in your shoulders. The upper body keeps the shoulder, neck and head in proper alignment. If one side of your body is stronger than the other, the muscles will pull the bones out of alignment and negatively affect your posture. For example, a weak upper back will cause the muscles at the front of your body to pull your shoulders and head forward.
- Breathe. Taking deep breaths opens up your diaphragm space and as it expands, your spine curves more naturally. Plus your core muscles have more freedoms to move and it increases the circulation in your body.
Follow these guidelines and you will soon reap the benefits of good posture. Plus you will look leaner and generally more attractive too.
Increase Workout Intensity with Supersets
To increase the intensity of your workout. Try performing a superset, which means you do two or more exercises back to back. This will surely get your heart pumping faster, the calories burning intensified. Doing three or more exercises in this fashion is generally referred to as a giant set. To further step up the calorie burning intensity, you should finish your gym session with your fat burning cardio workout. You can opt to do a longer steady state cardio session or a shorter and more intense interval cardio session.
Proper Breathing While Lifting Weights
I know, you already breathe all day and all night. Why do you need to be reminded to breathe? Well, you may not be doing it correctly. Breathing from your chest seems like the logical place to breathe, right? Yes and no. Your lungs are in your chest, so it makes sense to breathe from there. However, breathing from your diaphragm is the best way to oxygenate the body, tissues, muscles and more. You should be able to see your stomach muscles expanding and contracting every time you breathe. Never hold your breath when lifting weights. Inhale through the nose on the negative portion of the rep, exhale through the mouth on the positive portion (the lift). Believe me when I say, you will see and feel a significant change for the positive in your training when you breathe properly.