Living a 'Lean Lifestyle': How to Shed Weight and Maintain it Without Having to Think About it! Part II

"Success in weight management is challenging. Even after successful weight loss, weight regain is very common" (Karhunen et al, 2012)

Welcome to Part II of this series on Living a 'lean lifestyle'. Part I took a look at the activity-side of things. Part II looks to tackle dietary and lifestyle factors.


Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Food that is...):

The fact is, if you have food in your cupboards, the likelihood is that you will eat it! No matter what it is. So ensure you don’t keep food that it hyper-palatable, high in calories and a food that you find difficult not to over-eat on. For me, this food would be potato chips and nut butters of any variety. For others it could be chocolate. For others, sweets/lollies. 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” (the importance if food prep):

Prepping your own food for the day/week ahead has many advantages. First, it ensures you have healthy food to hand. Second, it prevents you from having to make decisions about what to eat on a daily basis. Third, when eating out, it is much more difficult to know the calorie content food. Prepping your own food makes it far easier to track calories. Fourth, depending on where you live/work it can be extremely difficult to find healthy food that is in alignment with your goals. Personally, I find prepping a few days in advance to be cost and time-effective.

“people are significantly more adherent to prepared meal plans than self-selected meal plans” (Lee, 2001).

If prepping your own food takes too much time, or you aren’t inclined to do it, then there are plenty of options to outsource the process to food delivery companies. 

Be Fridgin’ Healthy:

Keep lean sources of protein (meat, fish, dairy), cut up vegetables and fruit in plain sight in the fridge. Whenever you get peckish or have the urge to raid the fridge, you have healthy, low(er) calorie, highly satiating food to eat. 

Variety is the Spice of… Becoming Fat (Limiting tastes/flavours in each meal):  

I like to call this the ‘second stomach’ or ‘dessert stomach’ phenomenon. How often have we eaten way beyond our caloric needs for the day yet still found room for our favourite Double Chocolate Belgian Cheesecake. In these scenarios we are no longer eating for calorie needs, we are eating out of pleasure. Eating for pleasure is what has been referred to as ‘hedonic’ eating. This stands in contrast to eating for caloric need, otherwise known as ‘homeostatic eating’.

As a result I have found limiting the number of flavours you have in one meal to be an effective way of preventing overeating. How often have you been to a buffet and eaten more than you meant to? EVERY TIME! This is largely due to the vast array of flavours on offer. However, if you only stick to one or two flavours per meal, the chances of you wanting to eat more and more are far less likely.

"The body has evolved to cause you to stop eating when you have consumed enough. What is enough? It depends on what you're eating. If you only have access to fish you will not eat as much as when you also have access to steak... Since they consume different nutrients, it is in the interests of the body to consume both of them... This is why you always have room for dessert...The practical result of this is that the greater the variety of foods in a meal, the more foods you will consume" (Henselmans, 2016)

Be the Water Carrier (Carrying water whenever possible):

My experience is that one of the very easiest ways to lose weight is to avoid drinking any calories. So ditch the skinny latte and soft drinks. Focus instead on drinking as much water as possible. Personally I find this quite difficult so I like to drink herbal teas and sparkling water to ensure I keep my fluid intake high.

Be Steadfast in your approach (Fasting for a period of time each week)

Recently I have found fasting for periods of time each week to be highly rewarding and also extremely effective. Fasting doesn't have to mean depriving yourself for days on end. For me, an easy and effective way to approach it is to just delay breakfast one day of the week to give yourself a 14-20 hour period where you aren't consuming any food. Drink plenty of water/herbal tea but abstain from eating anything. This may prove difficult to begin with. However, once your hunger subsides, you should find you have great clarity of thought, good energy and concentration and a greater appreciation for what 'hunger' really is. Once you have fasted, carry on eating normally for the rest of the day. I often adopt this tactic on a Saturday or Sunday, but feel free to find a time that suits your schedule.

For more information of fasting and it's benefits, see here

ZZZZZZZZZ (The Importance of Sleep):

I aim to get at least 8 hours per night. 7-9 hours should be the norm for people engaged in strength training (which you should be!). Try to: -

  • Avoid exposure to electronic devices and screens with blue light in the hour before bedtime
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room
  • Have a consistent bed-time
  • Avoid caffeine later in the day (drink your coffee(s) early

See here for more information on the importance of sleep.

Setting process & outcome goals

Successful people set goals. It is important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve (outcome goal) and how you will get there (process goals). 

For more information on goal setting,

Surround yourself with like-minded people

You're the average of the 5-10 people you spend the most time with. So, choose your friends wisely. If you spend time with people who adopt unhealthy eating behaviours, don't train, aren't active etc, it will be extremely hard for you to be the only one just sticking to water and ordering the salad. However, surrounding yourself with people who are 'on the same page' will make the process far easier.  

‘Lifestyle’ not ‘day or week-style’ - (Have a long-term perspective)

This is potentially the most important point. Long-term perspective is absolutely crucial. None of these points I have listed will have any impact if done for a short period of time and then discarded. Hence why I titled this ‘Living a Lean Lifestyle’ and not ‘Living a Lean ‘Day-style’. Adopt as many of these as you are able to sustain for the rest of your life.

And there you have it. This is by no means an exhaustive list of things you can do to try and live a lean lifestyle. However, the points in this article and  Part I should provide you with plenty of ideas about how you might construct a lifestyle more suited to weight loss.