Getting healthy is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you’ll ever do for yourself and if you want to be lean for life, then you have to look at the approach to living healthy as a complete lifestyle. That might sound boring, but I can promise you it’s one of the most fulfilling things you’ll ever do. Getting lean and staying lean really isn’t that hard and it doesn’t require you to go through the day starving. in fact, it’s actually quite simple to become lean and stay lean, without even thinking about it after you get the hang of it. The best part? No hunger pangs involved! If you want to be lean for life, just follow these tips below. I’m willing to bet when you see how amazing you feel once you get started, you’ll wish you had only began this journey sooner.
1. Start Fresh
For starters one of the most important things to do if you want to be lean for life is to start fresh today. Don’t think about yesterday, all your past dieting failures, mistakes and food addictions. Don’t think about your nightly rituals with your favorite snacks, or think about the guilt you felt after eating too much. You can’t undo any of that, so quit focusing on the past and start fresh. Set up a calendar and start fresh with your new lifestyle, no looks in the rearview mirror allowed!
2. Eat Green
In line with starting fresh, I’d suggest actually taking that to a literal level and visit the fresh produce section in your market. Eating green is the most essential thing you can do if you want to be lean for life. Fill up on plant based fruits and vegetables before anything else, and include produce in every meal you eat. These foods are packed with antioxidants, fiber, minerals, vitamins and water to keep you full, fuel your metabolism and also keep your skin looking great too! If you don’t know how to cook something that looks interesting to you in the produce section, buy it anyway and Google a recipe once you get home!
3. Protein Please
Always include a little protein at your meals if you want to be lean for life. Protein satiates you, the amino acids help your muscles preserve lean muscle mass, which burns fat all day long, and protein actually stabilizes certain hormones that can lead to weight gain if they get out of balance. As a bonus, it also halts sugar cravings and there are more proteins options out there than just meat. Pick one that’s right for you like Greek yogurt, eggs or egg whites, clean protein powders, nuts, seeds, grains like oats or quinoa, lean poultry, fish, and if you eat red meat, choose grass-fed above all else. Leafy greens and superfoods like spirulina are also jam-packed with protein too, so include those in your diet and you’ll get a variety of protein form various sources.
4. Don’t Pair Fat with Sugar
It’s not terrible to eat healthy fats in your diet, and in fact, you should! However, you shouldn’t pair healthy fats with high sources of sugar or starch. In fact, I’d suggest keeping your sugars minimal anyway and sticking to only low sugar fruits like berries, apples and citrus fruits for the leanest options. Pairing fat with sugar is not a good idea because your body can’t use both for immediate energy. It prefers to use the sugar first, which means the fat gets stored immediately. Instead, eat your healthy fats with produce, which helps your body absorb the nutrients from produce, and include a little lean protein to increase your metabolic burn of those fats too.
5. Starch Smart
Starches in your diet should only include low starch grains like oats and quinoa for the leanest options, but other options include small amounts of brown rice, wild rice and amaranth. Whenever possible, opt for the healthiest option and stick to vegetable based starches like sweet potatoes, winter squash and root veggies like carrots and beets. These are always the most nutritious choice of all, however oats or quinoa make a perfect filling breakfast, so long as they’re free of sugar. Never opt for bread as your starch. I realize there are healthy options out there, but it won’t help you get lean, and can cause you to crave more carbs on a regular basis, which can lead to binging or going carb-crazy. Carbs aren’t evil, but studies continue to show people remain leaner when starches come in minimal amounts, and from whole grains, not breads or processed foods.
6. Drink Your Green Tea
Green tea is often touted as a weight loss tool, and it deserves a spotlight for staying lean for life. Green tea not only contains fat-burning catechins, but it also contains the amino acid L-theanine. Why is this important for weight loss? L-theanine directly decreases cortisol in the body, which is your stress hormone that stores fat. Green tea can stabilize your blood sugar, lower stress, and enhance your metabolism. It makes the perfect afternoon treat or mid-morning treat. I like to drink mine hot or iced and carry the to-go tea bags with me when I'm out and about. It’s pretty tasty with lemon and stevia, let me tell you!
7. Water up
Always include water as your beverage over sodas, juices, coffee drinks or energy drinks. Water-rich beverages like caffeine-free herbal tea, coffee and fresh, raw vegetable juice are also awesome to include in your diet, but don’t forget about basic, clean and hydrating plain H2O too!
8. Food Prep
Preparing your eats for the week ahead can truly make such a difference in your goal to get lean for life. Prep oatmeal in jars in your fridge for the week, so you can either eat as cold cereal, or just reheat and go. Keep individual yogurt cups in your fridge to pair with lunch or as a snack, portable veggies like chopped carrots, red bell peppers and celery, and be sure to keep a few supper options in your fridge pre-made for the week. I suggest taking 3 hours on a Sunday and making as many preparations for the week as you can. You’ll be less likely to make bad choices if you have something healthy to reach for in your fridge.
9. Shop Smart
You can’t be lean for life if you don’t know how to shop smart. Fill your cart with only lean options , healthy fats, and plenty of produce. If you need healthy supermarket ideas, check out Lisa Lillian’s ( also known as The Hungry Girl) Official Supermarket List for 2014 which is full of healthy options and ideas. You can access it here: hungry-girl.com.
If you want to be lean for life, I suggest starting a journal and writing down why first. Then, just start! Prepare yourself for temptations, but also be excited that you’re embarking on this new lifestyle. Take one meal at a time, don’t think about what you’re giving up. Think about what you’re gaining for your health and life, while you actually lose weight! Do you have a tip for becoming lean for life?