My top tips for getting lean
Being brought up in the age of the internet has always led me to believe the internet can answer absolutely anything. What healthy food staples should I buy? Google says cacao powder and spirulina. How do I make my boobs look bigger? Try a tight top and wear three bras. How do I look like a Victoria’s Secret model? Stop drinking water and only eat fruit. Come on Google, what is this? All I wanted was some advice about how to lead a healthy lifestyle and now I’m walking around wearing three bras, stuffed with six pairs of socks and only eating apples that are sprinkled with spirulina.
My point is that the internet, social media and magazines can be a minefield of conflicting and, at times, dangerous advice. Getting the body you’ve always dreamed of doesn’t have to be hard and definitely shouldn’t put your health at risk. This time a year ago I was living in Singapore on a diet of deep fried vegetables and snickers bars. I found it hard to work out what type of exercise I should be doing to lose weight and what type of diet to follow. I tried following diets that were high protein, high fat, high carb, vegetarian, low calorie and everything else in between. I tried cardio based exercise and weight training. If someone’s recommended it, I’ve probably tried it. What I didn’t realise was that achieving my goals could have been far simpler and I could have gone about it in a much healthier way. Here are my top tips for achieving a lean body.
Don’t follow a diet that you don’t like.
What makes me sad about this one is that most people will probably read this and think you can’t lead a healthy lifestyle and enjoy what you’re eating. This is NOT true. People think this because certain diet programmes tell us we can only eat chicken and iceberg lettuce if we want to achieve a lean look. We’re told bread and pasta are evil but a chocolate bars is fine if it fits into your daily points. Nothing annoys me more than this. If you live on foods that leave you hungry, you are probably going to give up trying to lose weight because you associate being healthy with being unhappy. You’re also probably going to miss out on essential food groups because you’re being told to avoid them or because you’re skipping meals so that you can have a chocolate bar. I once tried a low carb diet that encouraged you to fill up on fats and protein. The fat gave me awful indigestion and I was so sick of chicken breasts that by the end of it, I turned pescetarian. This diet would never have worked for me long term and it showed me why so many people struggle to make long term changes.
Don’t cut out carbs.
Carbs do NOT make you fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Protein doesn’t make you fat. Eating more calories than your body uses in a day is what makes us gain weight. Cutting carbs seems to be one of the most common pieces of advice I’ve come across. I have a certain cookbook/lifestyle guide and whenever I look through it all I can think is yes, these main meals would make a brilliant snack. But are you seriously suggesting I have a chicken breast with a wedge of lemon as dinner!? Thanks, but no thanks. There is pretty much always a carb in each of my three daily main meals. I stick to wholegrain varieties and they will be balanced with a serving of vegetables, a protein such as beans or fish and some fat from cheese, olive oil or yoghurt. Carbohydrates are essential to your body’s functioning and without them you’re likely to feel lethargic and weak. You’ll also probably end up without enough fiber in your diet. Rather than go into too much information about the effects of that on here I’ll let you Google the side effects of a low fiber diet…
Enjoy your life.
It’s a cliche but don’t treat your fitness journey as a race. Make changes at your own pace and you are more likely to make sustainable changes. If you eat nothing but salad for two weeks you might lose weight quickly, but you will gain it back as soon as you start eating properly again. Instead incorporate small changes into your lifestyle. Swap your daily chocolate bar for a square of dark chocolate which contains less sugar. Swap your white pasta for brown pasta. Go for a five minute walk in your lunch break. Take the stairs instead of the lift. These changes might seem small but if you make gradual changes you are far more likely to keep them up. Achieving your body goals doesn’t require you to lead a miserable, hungry life. When I go out for dinner I have a glass of wine and a dessert. I’ve never followed a diet programme to the letter as I need more flexibility in my life. This might have meant my results have taken slightly longer but it also means my results can be maintained because they are a lifestyle change rather than a diet. I’ve found a form of exercise I love in the form of HIIT training and Kayla Itsines’ workout guide. I get a buzz from working out and feel good for the rest of the day after a good gym session. That is the only reason I’ve been able to stick to workouts in the long term. Find something you love doing and I promise you that you will see long term results.
I hope these tips are helpful to those trying to achieve a lean body. Changes don’t happen overnight but if you make long term lifestyle changes your body will not only look good on the outside, but you’ll also feel better on the inside. Make sure you make sensible changes and if something sounds ridiculous, it probably is.
Lots of love