Let’s face it, we’re all a little vain.
Whether you’re like me and openly admit it, or you would rather hide your vanity in the closet, as humans being vain is only natural.
We all at one point or another have walked past a mirror and picked out one (or in most cases more than one) thing that we would like to change about our bodies. Maybe you want bigger arms, a rounder butt, or chiseled abs.
In fact, the reason many people take up a fitness regimen for purely aesthetic reasons: lose fat, build muscle, look better naked, etc.
Many people though do not truly know the steps you need to take, not only to achieve a lean physique, but maintain it as well. It is a lot more involved than simply “eat less, move more.”
In order to achieve the body you want, you need to create habits that set you up for success. Once you put these habits into place, achieving the body of your dreams becomes a much simpler process.
But in order to get where we’re going, some direction would help right? After all, if you’re driving from New York to L.A., you could probably get there without a map or GPS; but directions would make it much, much easier.
So in order to help you get where you need to go, I reached out to 11 trainers and coaches and asked them to share some habits they have found necessary to achieve and maintain a lean physique.
Think of these habits as your directions to the body you’ve always wanted…
Focus on small victories – Tanner Baze, tannerbaze.com
“We all know what we need to do to drop fat and get lean, getting ourselves to do it is the trick. I love to trick myself by challenging myself to pile up “little wins”. Winning at breakfast by eating veggies, winning by drinking water, winning by eating lean protein. No matter how small, it all adds up. After a few days of pilling up little wins, you’ve really started to build some serious momentum that can carry you to the six pack shrine. And what do you do if you fall off? It’s as simple as finding your next little win.”
Stop trying to be perfect – Mike Vacanti, On The Regimen
Let me give you an example: Danny is trying to lose fat and “get abs” for the first time in his life. He is tracking his macros and doing really well, when on Thursday night he ends up 200 calories more than his target for the day.
Danny is frustrated and distraught. He had such a perfect week. And now it’s all ruined. He is so upset with himself.. storming through the kitchen, he says F-it, and destroys a bowl a giant fruity pebbles (sidenote: great choice by him). Followed by another. Followed by a 1200 calorie pint of ice cream. Because “he already screwed up.. might as well enjoy himself.”
Missing by 200 calories or having a bad workout is completely normal. You will make insane progress by getting close, being consistent, and avoiding the big blow ups. Quit chasing perfection, it doesn’t exist.”
Focus on the big picture – Eric Bach, Bach Performance
Getting and staying lean is about consistently making better choices. That said, we’re all human. Sometimes we crave beer, pizza (both), and give into temptation.
This is fine, as long as the other 90% of your meals are on par with your goals.
Micromanaging and stressing over every meal and decision is a sure-fire way to burn out and end up on a weeklong binge, and trash your progress. Your diet is the sum of all decisions.
No day, nor meal makes or breaks your diet. They’re all a drop in the bucket when you look at the scope of thing. Step back and view the big picture: If you’re consistently improving and making good choices, don’t flip out about a cheat meal every now and then.”
Prepare to fail – Dell Farrell, Ice Cream Gal
Focusing on struggles you anticipate, writing them down and thinking about ways to avoid or overcome them will prepare you for bumps in the journey. When setbacks come, respond by working twice as hard. If you can’t get to the gym do an at home workout, if you don’t have time to eat a healthy breakfast just fast until lunch time. Prepare to fail and you will keep forward momentum toward your goal.”
Manage your expectations – Jordan Syatt, Syatt Fitness
For example, if you think you’re going to lose weight on every single day (even if you were 100% on point with your diet the day before) you’re setting yourself up for failure.
If you’re really serious about getting and staying lean you need to remember fat loss is an ebb and flow. Progress is never linear and there will always be peaks and valleys.
The key is to manage your expectations accordingly and never let either extreme (peak or valley) get to your head.”
Consistency leads to habits – Mason Woodruff, masonfit.com
“You have to make a habit and lifestyle change for long term success. External motivation is fleeting and what is left will be your habits. It’s more than just changing your nutrition or starting a new exercise program – you have to stick with something for an extended period of time.
Soon enough you won’t need motivation or willpower to get to the gym or stay away from the potato chips. It will become an automatic response and part of who you are. Consistency is certainly the key, but we can make consistency a lot easier on ourselves over time.”
Have a plan – Slyvon Blanco, Von Blanco Fitness
“Know what you’re going to eat for the next day(s) ahead of time. Food prep or no food prep, this is something anyone can do at any time. The mental preparation in itself can significantly affect your eating behavior. For example, knowing that you’ll have a burrito from Chipotle for lunch and a home-cooked meal for dinner can help decrease the risk of you sabotaging yourself with impulsive food purchases. And impulsive food purchases usually mean one thing: over-eating.”
Good old-fashioned food prep – Matt Dustin, The Athletic Physique
“I’ve found that the most effective habit for long-term dietary adherence is preparing food or snacks ahead of time, and eating before you get hungry. Whatever eating schedule or meal plan you follow, be sure to always have something on hand, even if it’s just a protein bar.
If you get very hungry, and your quickest food option is heading home to thaw out some frozen chicken and cook that, you’ll be much more tempted to stray from your plan and eat the first thing you see.”
Stay accountable to yourself – Mike Samuels, Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting
That doesn’t mean you have to track macros 365 days per year, but it does mean you always have to have your goals at the forefront of your mind, and realize that every decision you make can take you closer to, or further away from those goals.”
Veggies, veggies, veggies – Jason Helmes, Anyman Fitness
Vegetables are excellent sources of nutrition, and consuming them is a solid strategy for maintaining long-term leanness.
Veggies contain healthy doses of fiber and loads of micronutrients, helping to keep you full, energetic, and regular.
Although “IIFYM” has boomed in popularity, you will be hard pressed to find a lean person who has maintained their leanness without the aid of plant material in their diets.
Just steer clear of the Cheez- Whiz.”
Don’t forget the activity – Robbie Farlow, Side Quest Fitness
Oh and walk. Take long walks by yourself, with your significant other, or with your dog. Listen to a podcast (is it cool if you plug mine here, even your episode or like the others who have been on? if not no worries bro), an audio book, or do something no one does anymore and call an old friend and catch up. Walking is good for recovery, mental health, and it just feels good.”
And a final tip from me…
EAT MOAR PROTEINZ!
Protein is arguably the most beneficial of all the macronutrients. Adequate protein intake will help preserve muscle tissue while dieting. This is important because the more muscle you lose, the more your metabolic rate is going to drop.
Protein is also beneficial because it is more satiating than other macronutrients (with the exception of high fiber veggies). This is because it takes the body longer to digest protein, meaning you won’t as hungry as often. This slower digestive process also means it takes the body longer to break down protein sources, which means you burn more calories digesting protein than you do digesting carbs or fat.
The important thing is to make sure you are eating enough protein to support your goals. If you are trying to shed body fat, and performing regular bouts of resistance training (which you should be), you should be consuming somewhere around 0.8-1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
(To learn more about the benefits of protein and other macronutrients, check out The Best Damn Macro Article, Period!)
Achieving and maintaining a lean physique is not easy, but as you can tell from the tips above it’s not exactly rocket science either.
Pick one of the tips above and start finding ways to implement it into your life. Once that becomes second nature, pick another and do the same. By doing that, you will build habits that will put you well on your way towards achieving the body of your dreams.