I was looking at a magazine lately and I had to put it down after a while because of the totally unrealistic figures of most of the women in it. I kept imagining my daughters flipping through it, and I was increasingly discouraged at the image it portrayed of skinny frail women “looking good”. Instead of thin or skinny, I think “lean” is a better ideal for women. This is because it can pertain to all body types; it simply means strong; but carrying less fat. Whether we are built “bigger” or “smaller”, we can all be lean because it has more to do with muscle mass than weight.
How do we become leaner? Here are nine ways…what would you add?
1. Eat more protein. When planning a meal, think of the protein first, and then make the meal around that?
2. Eat carbs earlier in the day. Start out the day with fruit, and eat carbs like whole grain bread or rice earlier in the day. Make your night time meal heavier in protein and lighter on carbs. Alison Lewis, who’s popular website ingredients, Inc. is a great source for healthy eating and living, suggests slowing down carb intake as the day goes on in order to stay lean.
3. Stay away from”whites” like white bread, rice and pastas. Instead use whole wheat or brown rice. Avoid foods containing white sugar…but eat them occasionally. I find that when I totally deprive myself of something, I crave it more. Instead if I eat it occasionally, I don’t feel like I have to have it!
4. Try not to eat after 7 pm. Although this is almost impossible for me since we don’t even get home from cross country practice until 7:30, and are usually starving when we do, for many people, not eating after 7 isn’t so hard. This keeps us from eating those useless snacks before bed.
5. Strength train. As we gain muscle, our bodies gain bigger “engines” to burn calories more efficiently, and this can result in weight loss. According to the Mayo Clinic’s health blog, the more toned our muscles, the easier it is to control our weight.
6. Do a SIT workout once or twice a week. SIT stands for sprint interval training, and is an exercise form that unites short but very high-intensity sprints with longer, low-to-moderate-intensity intervals. SIT improves your glycogen and lipid metabolism and can give you results in considerably shorter amount of time than typical endurance training. We can make sure our heart rate increases when we do these types of workouts, and this keeps our bodies burning more calories.
7. Physical therapist Alan Tyson suggests including core exercises in our weekly routine to keep us lean. We can do these “core exercises” as stand alone workouts or include them at the end of a cardio or strength routine. The following is one core routine that Alan recommends (it’s meant as a stand alone routine, but to make it an “add-on” just go through the exercises once instead of three times).
Use a one minute timer (3X through):
Plank (2 minutes)
Eight-count body builders
8. Do a lengthening/stretch-type class occasionally. This can be power yoga, pilates, a bar (Pure Barre) class, etc. All of these types of classes work on improving flexibility and lengthening muscles, and this can help create a leaner body.
9. Sleep/Rest more! Rest is when our body heals itself and grows stronger. If we just exercise all the time, our bodies will break down, and we will get injured or burn out. I used to have a hard time with this one. I exercised six or seven days a week. Turning 40 and then having a ninth child made it impossible for me not to stop and take rest days. Although I would love to sleep more, I am still working on that one!
Any other suggestions for a leaner body?