If you want a lean healthy physique, but aren’t sure where to start, here are some proven tips that have worked for thousands of people – including me.
Tony Robbins, the worlds leading success coach, says “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” I believe that most of your success in getting lean and healthy involves deciding to do so. It starts with your decision. Fitness begins in the mind. If you think it, you can do it. It may sound overly simplistic, but the fact is that if you want to get lean and healthy, you have to decide what that means to you, and make a clear decision to make whatever adjustments are necessary for you to succeed.
2. Make a Plan
The Chinese general Sun Tsu broke this down to 3 levels, including strategy, planning, and tactics. In strategy, you define your desired end state and set your goals. In planning, you determine when, where, and how you’ll hit your goals. In tactics, you figure out what you’ll do to execute on your goals. Sun Tsu believed that if you take these steps, achieving your goal is guaranteed.
3. Be Realistic, and Take Baby Steps
Most people change about as fast as aircraft carriers make U-turns. Decide on fitness as a lifelong journey. Think of getting to being lean and healthy as a marathon, not a sprint. Start by making one adjustment today. This might be deciding not to drink soda (diet or regular), or replacing that Mocha Frappuccino (500 Calories) with cup of coffee (2 calories). Be specific. The next day you might decide to do as many pushups as you can right when you get out of bed. The bottom line is that what you decide to do doesn’t matter as much as that you improve yourself and your fitness program each and every day.
An interesting characteristic of success is that a little success breeds more success. As you do more, you’ll feel better about yourself, and be inspired to do more.
If your goal is to get lean and healthy, the overall focus of your efforts, taken in order, is diet, strength training, interval training, then long, steady cardio.
4. Change What You Eat
You’ve may have heard the phrase “quality in, quality out.” That’s absolutely true with our bodies. When you focus on eating high-quality, healthy foods, and minimizing low-quality foods, you’ll experience great results. High-quality foods include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein. Lower-quality foods include highly processed snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined (white) grains, refined sugar, fried foods, foods high in saturated and trans fats, and high-glycemic foods such as potatoes.
5. Change the Way You Eat
This starts by being mindful. I know that’s an overused term, but hear me out. Too many people these days multitask, even when eating. They eat at their computer, while looking at their phone, or while watching TV. The result is that they don’t pay attention to when they’ve had enough food. So pay attention.
A habit to adopt (see #3) is to stop eating when you no longer feel hungry, not when you’re full. Give yourself permission to leave food on your plate. You’ve probably heard that it takes about 15 to 20 for your body to register that it’s full. You have to account for that lag time. When I overeat breakfast I get “PBFC,” or “post breakfast food coma.” If you’re tired after you eat, you’ve probably had too much.
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6. Eat Regularly
It’s important to eat regularly, but the fact is, that there’s no solid evidence that six small meals a day instead of three will speed metabolism. What we do know is that starving yourself doesn’t work, for a variety of reasons. If you’re going to adjust what and how you eat, there is some evidence that suggests that the old saying “eat like a king for breakfast, like a merchant for lunch, and like a beggar for dinner” has merit.
7. Strength Training
The CDC recommends that you do some strength training at least 2 days per week. Why? And how does lifting weights help with being lean and healthy? The simple fact is that weight training has LOTS of benefits, but for the purpose of this article, just get that strength training builds muscle. Since it’s your muscles that burn calories, more muscle helps you burn more calories — even when you aren’t doing anything. So it’s really not about how many calories you burn while you’re exercising with weights, it’s how that increases how many calories you burn.
8. Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Before you think “I can’t do that,” understand that HIIT training is flexible and can be modified for any fitness level, or for conditions like being overweight or having diabetes. HIIT workouts can done with anything from walking to cycling, swimming, rowing, aqua training, etc.
HIIT training has been shown to improve:
- aerobic and anaerobic fitness
- blood pressure
- cardiovascular health
- insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)
- cholesterol profiles
- abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.
Since the most common reason people give for not exercising people give is time, HIIT should be appealing for anyone interested in being lean and healthy.
9. Mix It Up
It’s an interesting fact that whatever your body does a lot, it gets good at. While that’s a good thing in that the more you work out, the better you’ll be at working out, the flip side is that to keep your body guessing and continue to stimulate growth, it’s best to vary your exercises. Changing workouts on a weekly or monthly basis helps keep the exercising from being too routine, and also helps maximize results.
This article turned out to be a bit longer than I originally expected, hope you made it through!
For more information on Fitness, Nutrition & Weight Loss for the over 50 crowd, check out Gray Zone Fitness.