Staying Lean & Mean | Martial Arts for Life

While everyone has their own reasons for staying fit and trim, some of the biggest benefits have nothing to do with outward appearance.

When I write about staying “lean and mean,” many folks misunderstand and think the concept has to do with trying to emulate the fitness models on the cover of the latest magazines by being on a zero-carb diet. For the purpose of this article, “lean and mean” refers to maintaining a healthy body weight and an active lifestyle in order to have health, energy and vitality. While everyone has their own personal reasons for staying fit and trim, some of the biggest benefits have nothing to do with outward appearance.

According to the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, overweight and obesity-related health problems in adults include coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, and infertility. Obviously, avoiding these serious health risks is a bit more important than wanting six packs abs or tight buns!

While training men and women of all shapes and sizes in fitness and martial arts for nearly two decades, I have made some observations. As the saying goes, “success leaves clues,” and there are definitely some habits that those who stay “lean and mean” observe.

Here are some of the most important habits to help you stay lean and mean:

1.) Eat Like An Adult. There is a reason that fast food establishments give away toys and have playgrounds – they are designed to attract children! The same goes for sugary snacks and cereals. If you are an adult and you’re routinely eating goodies that came with a treasure map or toy inside, you need to reexamine your diet. In order to stay fit, trim and healthy it is important to avoid excess sugar, fat and empty calories. Processed snacks and fast food must be consumed sparingly (if at all) if you want to stay lean and mean.

2.) Drink Water. In order for your body’s various systems to work properly, you need to drink water. For starters, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, lubricates joints and helps to maintain body temperature. It helps you stay lean by reducing hunger, and raising your metabolism. In addition, water reduces caloric intake by filling you up when consumed prior to meals and when substituted for sugary drinks.

3.) Eat Snacks That Blunt Hunger. By consuming snacks that blunt hunger, you will be less likely to indulge in overeating. For example, snacking on a handful of almonds has been shown to increase feelings of fullness and help with weight management. You could also consider having a shake containing whey protein in between meals as whey is digested rapidly and has been proven to raise levels of hunger blunting hormones.

4.) Make Healthy Eating & Exercise A Lifestyle. Fad diets and quick fix 90 day workout programs are generally not sustainable. Rather than attempting to stay the course on a crash diet or complete a short-term exercise program, strive to make a sensible diet and exercise part of everyday life. The “lean and mean” crowd doesn’t have to make extra time to exercise or fanatically monitor calories because they have made their workouts part of their routine and have made eating healthfully a habit.

5.) Don’t Walk, Run. You don’t have to physically run as part of your workout if you don’t want to, but it is important to exercise with intensity (provided you are healthy enough to do so) in order to stay lean. Many overweight people simply do not get enough physical activity to burn off the excess calories they are consuming on a daily basis. On average, a person will burn roughly 100 calories per mile while walking. However, just one 12 oz. can of soda contains between 140 and 150 calories. Set a goal for between 75 and 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week. Be sure your workouts include both cardiovascular and resistance training.

6.) Live An Active Lifestyle. Another secret of the lean and mean crowd is they lead an active lifestyle. They don’t shy away from taking the stairs, taking care of yard work, playing with their children or vacuuming. Did you know vacuuming for 30 minutes burns about 90 calories? When you exercise regularly and stay active outside of the gym as well, you keep your metabolism in high gear and burn off excess calories.

7.) Practice Hara Hachi Bu. Hara Hachi Bu is not a new form of yoga, but rather a habit of calorie control which specifies that you eat until you are 80% full. Stopping at 80% is a great strategy to stay lean without starving yourself, because the stomach’s receptors take around 20 minutes to tell the body how full it really is and 20 minutes after stopping you will feel really full. That means if you eat until you’re 100 percent full, you go over capacity at each meal. Unfortunately, because your stomach stretches when you overeat, you’ll gradually have to eat more and more to feel satisfied.

8.) Be Selectively Indulgent. There are very few folks that never eat for pleasure. Most of us have a couple of favorite foods that we eat for enjoyment rather than sustenance. As a general rule of thumb, you should seek to eat for health and sustenance 70% of the time and be slightly less disciplined about 30% of the time. For example, eat healthfully Monday through Friday and be selectively indulgent on the weekends. Selectively indulgent means you have a couple pieces of pizza (not a whole pie) or have a scoop of ice cream for dessert (not a double fudge sundae). It’s not necessary to cut out everything you enjoy in order to maintain a trim appearance, but it is essential to exercise self discipline.

9.) Make Smart Decisions. Individuals that maintain a healthy body mass index generally consider how the foods they are eating will affect their body. In other words, they ask the question, “How will I feel after I eat this?” People who are overweight tend to choose foods based on how they feel while they are eating them, not afterwards. Make it a habit to consider what affect the foods you are choosing will have on your body both in the short and long term.

10.) Know Your Number. With the help of your physician, you should determine an ideal body weight based on your height, age, health, physical condition, etc. Then decide on a weight you will simply not allow yourself to go beyond. Many people never make this decision.

There you have it, ten tips to help you stay lean and mean!

Martial Arts for Life is a family oriented martial arts school that offers classes for men, women, and children. We are committed to patiently helping everyone who enters the program develop leadership skills, honesty, integrity, focus and self-discipline in every aspect of their lives.

We are located at 1260 Springfield Avenue, New Providence, NJ.  We are proud to serve  Union County NJ, New Providence NJ, Berkeley Heights NJ, Murray Hill, Summit NJ, Chatham NJ and all surrounding areas.

You can reach us at 908.464.2836

Making our community healthier & safer, one person at a time.

The Village Shopping Center, 1260 Springfield Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

Proud to offer Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Protection Strategies to residents of New Providence NJ, Summit NJ and all surrounding areas.

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