How To Stay Lean Once You Are

Remaining lean once you are lean is more about managing your head than figuring out the lean-making plan. Life will hand you plenty of opportunities to ditch your lean-making habits.  Here’s my perspective.

How to stay leanLIKE ANYTHING hard to achieve, getting lean is a process of two steps forward, one back, along a meandering trail that consistently needs remapping.

If you’re steadfast and guided by the right map (food, drink, exercise), you’ll eventually get there.


Now the challenge is staying lean, a process of two steps forward, one back, along a meandering… well, you get the idea.

And so it is with me, I thought, as I stared down at those numbers on the scale this morning, five more than were there the last time I weighed myself.

I know what happened.  I picked up those five over the course of a ten-day visit with my mother. Gaining half a pound each day is quite an achievement!

Here’s the recipe for gaining five pounds in ten days:

  • Go somewhere where your good habits are hard to maintain
  • Don’t do enough to maintain them

Yeah, well maybe these are more like principles than a recipe, but you get the idea, which is:

Getting lean and staying lean is all about sticking to the habits that got you lean to begin with.

Obvious, yes, but sometimes it’s the obvious that needs reinforcing.  Because when I looked down at what the scale revealed to me this morning, I had to remind myself that during those ten days at my mother’s home, I busted up the habits that keep me lean.


The Recipe for Gaining 5 Pounds in 10 Days

Already cited were principles for gaining five pounds in ten days, but I kinda suggested there’s a recipe too.

Here’s how I cooked it up… you just put all of the following into a big bowl and stir, preferably while spooning down ice cream whilst laying back on the couch:

It was freezing outside, unusually so, and thus I did very little of the daily calorie-burning yard work that I typically do on Mom’s five acre spread. Instead, I sat around. A lot.

There’s no exercise equipment there, and not much room in the house to do an effective calisthenics program, so I exercised little.

Bending to someone else’s routine disrupts my own, one that schedules certain time periods for exercise and eating. Rather than push back and make it happen, I surrendered.

I consumed more calories than normal that came from food not selected for optimizing muscle growth and fat burning, ie: for staying lean.

The bottom line is that I sat around too much and ate too much.  And, when a few neighbors came over for a visit, I drank too much beer, sat around too much and ate too much.

Does any of this sound familiar?

My overarching point is that if you live in the industrialized world, the cards are stacked in favor of you being over-fat.  We sit too much, move too little, drink too many calories (soda, alcohol, flavored coffees) and eat too many simple carbs.

(“Simple” carbs, as opposed to “complex” carbs, refer to carbohydrates that have so little fiber that they quickly boost blood sugar (glucose). This causes insulin to spike so that your body can utilize the glucose just ingested.  The uptake in glucose causes the body to store more body fat.  For an excellent explanation, read this.)

It takes knowledge, a plan and effort to live your life in a way that supports being lean, because running sitting with the herd will do the opposite, as proven by the widely broadcast statistic that about 65% of Americans are overweight or obese.


The Recipe for Getting Lean Again


There will always be a reason to abandon hard-won habits, and you will. That’s the one step back.  But don’t beat yourself up; rather, let the abandonment be fleeting… quickly sprint back to the habits that got you lean to begin with, and get on with it.

Unfortunately, it will take more time to lose these five pounds than it took to gain them, not to mention effort. (Boy, does that beer slide down the gullet easily.)

For me, this means getting back to the following lean-making habits:

  • Drink 30 grams of protein and spirulina powder along with my blended kale and orange-flavored fish oil each morning.
  • Drink a cup of organic, high altitude, air dried coffee blended with cold pressed organic coconut oil instead of cream.
  • Make and throughout the day drink a quart of vegetable juice consisting of kale, red chard, broccoli stems, carrots, garlic, ginger, lemon, lime and apple.
  • Have protein with every meal and snack.
  • Ingest most of my carbs after exercising.
  • Do compound lifts thrice per week (weightlifting with multiple muscles at a time, such as a squat press).

In my case, there’s also a hormonal issue.

Yeah, sounds like something a menopausal woman would say, but do realize that men’s testosterone levels begin to decline in their third decade, and by the time they’re gliding into old age, it’s a mere fraction of what it was in their youth.

Happened to me.


Getting Hormonally Fit

As I documented in Boost Your Testosterone Naturally and How I’m Boosting Testosterone and Blasting Fat, I finally figured out that my (formerly) low energy, encroaching chubbiness (despite eating well and exercising regularly), moodiness and all around low mojo was due to low testosterone.

The Life Extension Foundation’s Male Comprehensive Hormone Panel Blood Test I took gave me the details.  A doctor suggested that I supplement with DHEA, and I did.

My own research caused me to add Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster (affiliate link) and other supplements to the mix.  Gradually, slowly, my testosterone numbers improved, although this fight is not over, as my testosterone numbers are not yet ideal.

I’ve introduced hormones here for your consideration, because it’s often the case for both genders that the mix of testosterone and estrogen is out of whack, to put it in technical terms.  The older you get, the truer is that declaration.

Among several negative consequences of hormone sub optimization is the propensity to gain body fat.  I’ve known men who begin testosterone supplementation prescribed by their doctors and quickly begin losing body fat without changing anything else.

Getting on the bioidentical hormone replacement therapy bandwagon is not how I wish to travel to the promised land of hormone optimization.  My choice is to continue experimenting with various supplements and dietary inputs (such as protein) that have a decent chance of improving my body’s capacity to produce more testosterone-oriented hormones.

Unsurprisingly, exercise also has a role to play in hormone optimization, particularly strength and muscle building exercises. This is a two-way street, in that testosterone makes resistance training more effective (faster strength and muscle gains), and in the other direction, resistance training amps testosterone production.


In A Nutshell

A summary of what I’d like for you to get from reading this post goes like this:

1. Fitness, leanness, whateverness is a cyclical thing.

Assuming you even reach your ideal state, staying there is a whole other ball of wax, because even for the best of us, life will have it’s way with you.

2. Given #1, go with the flow, but aikido it.

You know, something (the “vagaries of life”) is always ready to charge at you and will mow you down if you just stand there. You need to deftly step aside and try to deflect it a bit, retarget it a bit, kinda like what scientists are thinking to do to whatever asteroid eventually goes on a collusion course with Earth — just explode a bomb on it and it will take another trajectory.

So, the key here is to recognize that you’re off plan but keep it in reach… keep it close enough so that you can continue on plan once whatever knocked you off your trajectory eases up.

3. In your quest to get lean and stay lean, be mindful of your diet, exercise regimen and hormones.

If your hormones are too far from optimized, getting lean will be a struggle even if your diet and exercise regime is on the mark.

Given that Christmas is just three days away, I will not be able to lose these five unhappy pounds before yet more opportunities seek to plop my ass down for some epic eating and drinking.

That’s OK.

The Holidays are among the frequent challenges to getting or maintaining leanness. Sometimes these challenging periods in life will push us back a step. Let’s all remember that the key to not falling back and on your back is to resist it some and to aikido it a bit.

Remember what the good habits are, and keep some of them going during those inevitable moments of epicurean hedonism.

Then once it’s all over, press forward, two steps at a time.



Supplements Mentioned In This Post:

  Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster
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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.