By Leo Babauta
In this webinar, I talked about the why of getting lean, how to use a meal plan to get lean, how to stick to the meal plan, and how to incorporate exercise into getting lean, and answered some awesome questions.
I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:
- Part I – My Talk: the why of getting lean, how to use a meal plan to get lean, how to stick to the meal plan, and how to incorporate exercise into getting lean. (See notes)
- Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions on eating healthy while traveling, dealing with sugar cravings, a 10,000-step fitness goal, alcohol and weight loss, and more!
Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)
Here are the notes from my talk (video is below the notes):
The Why of Getting Lean
- Looking good — there’s nothing wrong with this
- We are often unhappy with our bodies, and have a difficult relationship with our body-image
- There’s nothing wrong with us for having a strained relationship with our bodies â€” it’s natural, given our environment
- And yet we can still work with it and start creating a more loving relationship with our bodies â€” we start with acknowledging things we don’t like about ourselves
- Start with a loving intention towards your feelings about yourself
- Getting lean can be a noble activity â€” it doesn’t have to be self-hating or striving for a perfect ideal
- Instead, getting lean can be for not only about how we look, but how we feel during the day, being healthier, feeling more energy, alleviating some of our health problems
- It can be the start of a journey towards a loving-ourselves lifestyle
Three Alternatives to a Meal Plan
- Instead of meal plans, we might use calorie counting — but it can be difficult to keep logging (though more varied than a meal plan)
- Or you could just strive for eating healthy most of the time, without counting calories — this is freer and very healthy, but it will probably take longer
- Restrict certain foods â€” for example, no carbs, no sugar, no animal products, a raw diet, etc. This can definitely work, cutting out certain foods.
Using a Meal Plan to Get Lean
- With a meal plan, you just plan it once for the week, then just follow it through the week; you set it and forget it
- Setting fat-loss calories: Don’t subtract 500 if your maintenance calories are already pretty low â€” don’t drop below 1,200 calories, even if that means you won’t lose weight as fast, but at least you’ll be getting the nutrients you need; you don’t want to be hungry all the time, because it will be hard to stick to (don’t feel deprived)
- Sticking to a meal plan means you don’t feel hungry all the time; feeling a bit hungry is OK, not the worst thing in the world; but if you’re hungry all day long, it’s not going to work
- You can create several meal plans for the week
- Advanced meal planning: you can plan several different healthy breakfasts, lunches & dinners, and snacks that can be interchangeable
- Don’t be a food Nazi â€” we don’t want to be obsessed with following the plan exactly; allow yourself to eat off the plan without obsession & judgment
- Remove things from your environment if possible, to avoid temptation/cravings
- That said, you don’t need to give in to every single craving, they pass
- Filling your body with nutritious foods is a loving act, a nourishing act
- If you notice yourself obsessing with every detail, acknowledge the compulsiveness that is taking over, and let go of the fixation
- You also don’t want to get too loose â€” find the middle ground between being way too loose and way too strict; you’re not attached to obsessiveness, and not attached to getting whatever your impulse tells you to eat
- You’re giving your body the nutrients it needs, and then going about your day
- If you start weighing yourself every day and worrying about weight … notice it and let it go
- Obsessing about the scale is detrimental to your mental health, and to sticking to a meal plan, because if you don’t lose weight right away, it can cause you to be discouraged; the scale weight is most influenced by water weight, which can fluctuate wildly
- Weight loss will come eventually if you’re generally hitting your targets on most days
- How long will it take? You won’t hit your lean level this month, unless you’re very close already; we shouldn’t obsess with the goal anyway, but instead focus on the process
- For me, it will probably take 3-4 months â€” I plan to stick to the Lean-Out challenge for that long
- The process: giving our bodies the nutrients it needs, loving ourselves, and learning to see our patterns and cravings – by seeing our old patterns, we can start to break free of them
Using Exercise to Get Lean
- Exercise helps with the lean-out process â€” especially strength training, because it helps us to keep our muscle on a calorie deficit
- Adding strength training helps â€” bodyweight strength training or weights
- Cardio? They also help, not just calorie burning but more for general health (heart, brain, general health)
- Do cardio not to add fat burning, but for your health
- Don’t add your exercise as bonus calories to eat â€” it’s already included in the target calories
- Strenuous cardio exercise can lead to your body releasing a bunch of hormones to get you to take in more calories â€” sometimes you won’t even notice
- I’m not saying to avoid strenuous cardio â€” if you already do it, then keep doing it â€” but don’t add it to burn calories faster, only to be healthy
- If you’re already overwhelmed by doing this Lean-Out meal plan, then don’t add exercise this month, wait until next month
- But if you have capacity, feel free to add in some bodyweight strength training (alternate between squats & lunges, and pushups and chinups); take rest as needed, you don’t need to do it every day
- If you’ve already been doing strength training, just continue with your current workout, don’t add to it
- If you want to add walking, biking, etc., go ahead, but don’t overdo it
Part II: Questions and Answers
Questions answered in this video:
- I used to be pretty good and happy with my meal planning last year-preparing in bulk at home and cutting almost all refined sugar, having 5 meals a day. BUT I have a new job since January with a LOT of traveling-about 60 % of my time I stay in hotels abroad (Luxembourg, London)â€¦ still being hungry 5 times a day and eating stuff from vending machines. Since I want to travel in your (i.e. minimalist) style just with a 25L backpack, I cannot carry food with me. What tricks can I implement to eat healthy during the day in foreign environment?
- What do you think about 10,000 steps a day as a goal? The fitbit sets that as a default–it take a little over an hour for me to do it and it’s tough to make it happen every day, not sure if I should be pushing to make it every day .
- Sugar cravings! I can only stay away from refined sugar when it is NOT around (i.e. not having it home)â€¨ … now I have it accessible everywhere…â€¨â€¨ too much temptation – brain power wasted on fightingâ€¨â€¨I get mentally exhausted by resistingâ€¨ (you know, one can only make this many good decision a day). â€¨â€¨it is the job – hotels, foreign officesâ€¨â€¨buffet breakfasts / lunches – I have pastry available 3 times a day. How do I spend less mental energy on resisting? Would meditation help?â€¨â€¨
- Retired now and don’t have work to keep my mind off food. Also I am a “home-body” most of the time. Thoughts?
- Do you still make the world’s best soup (butternut squash)?
- Any tips, good rules of thumb re alcohol consumption and weight loss?