We all want to look our best and strive to achieve lean, toned and healthy bodies we are confident with. Whether you have lost a lot of weight, achieved tone and definition you have never had, or are just starting out - the question on everybody's lips is "How do I maintain this?"
Staying lean and toned has a lot to do with the types of foods you are eating. If you haven't already heard, it is not possible to eat yucky junk foods then hit the cardio to burn them all off and still hope to stay lean. Yes, this may help you maintain your weight, but if you have unhealthy body from the inside then it may begin to show on the outside. Many girls think that being lean and toned can come through either diet or exercise, unfortunately focusing on one of these things alone will not do the trick. The secret truly is a balance between both elements.
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is searching for "low-fat" foods, as they assume fat is all they need to cut out in order to achieve that perfect lean body. The problem with this is most low-fat foods such as cookies, cakes, yoghurts, ice cream and spreads are actually really high in refined sugar and calories to make up for the lack of fat. This can then take your daily calorie intake higher than it should be, and you may not even realise it. The best thing to do is stick to whole foods that are rich in fibre and protein - such as fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and lean meats. This also means you can eat larger quantities of these foods as they are lower in calories, whilst still sticking to your daily caloric intake goal.
Make smart choices. Choosing to drink sodas will add unnecessary calories to your diet that are essentially empty. The soda won't make you feel fuller or be of any nutritional value to you, you are more likely to get hungrier later as well. In exchange, you could use those calories on a small snack that will keep you satisfied and allow you an extra meal for that day. I love drinking sparkling water as an alternative, I still get to enjoy the fizz without any of the nasties!
Portion control is a major one, that block of chocolate that you accidentally ate? Not going to help! However, I am not just talking about treats here, many people eat waaaay too much of protein, carbs and healthy fats. You shouldn't be eating so much that you feel full to the point of throwing up, and your buttons are popping at the seams. Eat enough until you don't feel hungry anymore and then let your digestive system do its job! A great tip is to drink a tall glass of water before each meal, as a lot of the time your body is just thirsty as opposed to hungry. If you tend to eat out often be very aware that many restaurants will serve portions that are MUCH larger than what you would normally eat at home, which can cause you to overeat without even realising it. Don't feel bad for leaving food on your plate if you are full, simply pack it up and take it away to finish later. I love to load up on veggies full of fibre, these help to keep you fuller for longer and are great for your body!
If you want to maintain a healthy, lean body, exercise HAS to be a part of your life. No questions asked. The most important part about this point is to have a consistent exercise routine that you can easily follow. You may have been following a program that has helped your achieve your weight loss goal, or have taken a few months of good hard training to finally get those baby guns to grow. If you stop now, you will lose all the hard work and effort you have put into your body (it sucks, I know!). Now I'm not talking about doing anything drastic, staying lean literally requires SOME form of exercise daily. This could be using the stairs instead of elevator daily or just going for a short walk each night. I like to think of exercise as something that is a part of my day, no questions asked. Much the same as taking a shower or brushing my teeth, the more often you do it the more ingrained into your lifestyle it will become. Also, don't forget about resistance training, as this is what helps our muscles become toned and defined.
My favourite type of exercises to stay lean are the ones I used in all of my guides. High intensity, plyometric, resistance and interval training. If you have never tried this style of training before, download my Free Week of Workouts to get a little taste! What I love about this type of training is that it literally takes under 30 minutes each day and causes one hell of a sweat.
If you like having something to progress to and work towards, set yourself monthly goals. These can be anything as simple as adding 10 reps onto an exercise, walking 10 minutes longer or trying something new, such as a boxing class. Switching up your exercise routine will help to keep you motivated and challenge your body in different ways so your muscles don't get slack.
Find A New "Normal"
When you begin to lose weight and follow a healthy lifestyle you understand there are certain changes you need to make in your life to accommodate that. The most important thing you need to remember about staying lean and living a healthy lifestyle is this: you need to be ready to change. Now I know this can be really difficult for most people, especially if you are used to heading for the drive-thru every time you are hungry or reaching for that bag of crisps at 3pm each day. Once you deprive yourself of these things for a long time, you are no doubt eventually going to break and want to live your old life again. Whilst you literally cannot do that unless you want to undo all your amazing progress, you can learn to understand what it means. I am totally for treating yourself in moderation, just as long as you are aware that the take away meal will come with a lot of saturated fat and be high in calories. A great way to look at it is not to rely on your treats, make them an added bonus into a already fulfilling lifestyle! Make small changes daily, that will eventually become a habit.
Consistency is the KEY to staying lean. This applies to both exercise and diet, as they go hand in hand when it comes to maintaining a toned body. Now I don't mean you need to be The Rock and smash out every workout like a gun, but even the smallest bit counts! Plan your meals and prep them, I do mine every few days so that I know what I am going to be eating and I don't get caught off guard. I like to eat 5-6 meals a day to keep my metabolism going and this also ensures I am never ravenously hungry.
Lifestyle plays a major role in maintaing a lean body, I'm sure if you already follow all of the points above, fitness and health are an important part of your life. This isn't to say it has to be your whole life, but you are aware of what you are putting into your body and how you treat it. If you are trying to lose weight and don't know where to start, I would write down the things you think might be hindering your progress. Be brutally honest with yourself, whether that be you going out and partying too much or choosing watching the new episodes of New Girl over that evening walk. Writing things down can put them into perspective and help you to prioritise things in your life according to your goals. I always say treat yourself and live a balanced lifestyle that keeps yourself happy. Don't deprive yourself of things but understand if you want to maintain a lean physique all year round, it does come with a little bit of sacrifice. When you look in the mirror and see the results, it will all be totally worth it!