It’s true. I wasn’t always a relatively lean woman. In fact, for a while I was pretty chubby.
The fortunate thing is that I was able to get healthier and improve my body composition. You can, too! In this post, I will be talking about how I am able to stay at the level of leanness I want to be at and provide you with some tips so you can do the same.
When I was chubby
I was never completely obese or anything like that but there were times when I was on the overweight side. This was from the ages of 10-13 and 16-18. Below is more information on each of these times in my life:
I started the puberty process at 10 (4th grade) and by 11 (5th grade), I had pretty much reached my adult height. This meant that I was going to end up being short which is exactly what happened!
Despite being heavily into soccer and playing almost everyday- I was still chunky. It wasn’t to an obese level but I definitely had excess fat everywhere on me.
My diet was terrible back then so it is not hard to figure out why I looked the way I did. After all, you can’t out-exercise all the pop, takeout and large portions of snacks.
I also developed very oily skin, bad acne and some light upper lip hair during this time. Because of this, I am pretty sure now that my PCOS was starting to rear its ugly head then. That didn’t help anything either.
At 14 years old, I began to watch what I ate more. One of the main things I gave up was pop and I started drinking a ton of water. I was still doing soccer but I also added in some extra exercise a couple times a week. All of this made me slim down quite a bit and stayed that way for a couple years.
After staying slim for two years- I ended up quitting soccer altogether and did not workout at all. This caused me to get a little chunky again. It got even worse when I started working at a pizza place and I drank a ton of pop again.
Towards the end of my senior year, I began to really dislike the way I looked and felt. The nail in the coffin was when I went to a new clothing store to try on some jeans and I was told by an employee that they didn’t make jeans for people my size (I really wasn’t that big though).
The day after I graduated high school, I quit working at the pizza place and embarked on a healthy journey.
Made changes and have not looked back
Shortly after graduating, I joined the Weight Watcher’s online program. This set me off on the right path with my diet first and regular exercise second as I found I got more food points that way.
I eventually moved away from Weight Watchers and continued eating better on my own. Exercise then became even more a part of my life as I found out about the many different types of workouts I could do. I also began to make my own weekly routines.
First, I mainly did cardio workouts at home (elliptical!) and then I added in strength ones as well as Pilates sometimes. All of this eventually led to having a body with a different composition that I was proud of. I lost belly fat and was just firmer all around.
I did go through a short anorexia phase but I will talk about that in a different post. It is all about healthy times right now!
I have kept up with regular, high quality exercise and making better choices when it comes to eating. This has been not only to have a good body composition but also for managing my PCOS and general health.
Although I have fluctuated in weight since I started trying to be healthier, I still have stayed relatively slim-never getting back to the chunkiness of the past.
My body recently
These past three years I have actually maintained an even leaner look very easily while still having some softness to me. Here is what I have been doing that I think has helped:
- Intermittent fasting- This has been a game changer for me and I will never give it up. I experimented with stopping it for two months and my body composition went in a less lean direction. Quickly after resuming fasting again- it was back to where I wanted it to be.
- Everything in moderation- I do not follow any special diet nor do I track calories that close (or at all). I just eat when I am hungry and stop before feeling completely full.
- Weightlifting- Consistent weightlifting four times a week, has been necessary for the shaping of my body and my metabolism (I think).
- Cardio- Doing intense cardio has helped me burn more calories than weightlifting would alone. I also love the cardiovascular benefits it has.
- Caffeine- It is not for everyone, but it is for me. I feel like it gives me a lot of energy and possibly raises my metabolism (who knows though). I love having the caffeine pills from Bulk Supplements around as I don’t always want to drink coffee or tea.
- Fitness watch: My FitPolo fitness watch has been instrumental in my enjoyment of not only working out but also just getting steps in. I love to see how many steps I get in and try to set challenges for myself sometimes.
- Sleep- I try to get at least seven hours in. I used to only sleep for four hours, which is not good for one’s body composition. Although it didn’t affect me back then, I feel like it might affect me now that I am in my 30s.
Tips for ultimate success
Here are some tips for getting to a healthy level of leanness and maintaining it long term:
- Resistance training- There are great benefits to resistance training which includes achieving a lean appearance with it. You don’t even have to lift weights to do this as bodyweight training is great too. There are so many resistance training workouts on the internet so you are sure to find some that you will be able to do on a consistent basis.
- HIIT- Some people should not be doing this type of workout but if you are already in pretty good shape-this can propel your body and cardiovascular system to new heights.
- Regular, intense cardio (if you can’t do HIIT)- Any kind of cardio is great for you body. One idea is to go on a brisk walk on a treadmill that is at an incline setting.
- Adequate sleep- It is important to get enough sleep for an all-around healthy body. For adults aged 18 and up, seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended. It may be hard to start doing this if you aren’t already. Luckily, there are some ways that can help you on the path to good sleep.
- Not drinking a lot of calories with your food- You would be surprised how much drinking pop, milk, juice, bottled ice tea etc. can add to your daily caloric intake. If you are drinking a lot of those things-reducing them may really help you reach your body goal (s). They are still okay to have once in a while or built into your daily calorie intake.
- Eating a healthy amount of calories- Even if you are trying to get leaner, it is important to pick an amount of calories that isn’t too low. Decreasing your caloric intake too much will be difficult to follow long-term. Use a calorie calculator to find out the calories you need to lose weight/fat in a healthy way. Once you reach your goal, figure out your maintenance calories. Remember that you don’t need to do the exact numbers that the calculators give as they are just guides.
- Develop a healthy relationship with food- This is really important and something that a lot of people have a hard time with. There are many resources out there on how to develop this so go check them out if you are struggling (here is one great resource). The healthier the relationship, the easier it is to maintain a lean body (an attainable, realistic kind).
- Drinking enough of water each day- Water is extremely important for your body. When you drink enough water you will be better able to function which in turns can help you stay at a healthy level of leanness.
- Don’t rely on a fat burner- These are tempting to use but may be dangerous- especially if taken long term to maintain your body. If you are going to take one, do some research on the ingredients first. It is definitely best to rely on diet and exercise though.
- Keep a health journal- If you like to write, a health journal might be something that helps you stay lean and healthy. You can keep track of your food intake, weight, moods etc. One of the best journals to get (in my opinion!) is the HealthMinder one.
- Be realistic- Staying relatively lean is possible, staying absolutely shredded is probably not. The ripped and peeled fitness influencers you may be admiring are either somehow naturally like that (doubtful) or are going to extreme lengths that aren’t feasible for the average person. Being that lean also doesn’t even mean that you are healthier. You will probably feel pretty crappy, too. You want a level of leanness that you can enjoy!
A word on intermittent fasting- This type of eating has worked very well for me and others when it comes to staying lean. It is important to note that some people should not try it or ask their doctor before trying it. Eat This, Not That has a great article on the type of person that should avoid this type of eating.
A word on caffeine- Many people like me, have a daily intake of caffeine that provides a great amount of energy-especially for workouts. While it actually does have health benefits, some people should avoid it. If you aren’t already a caffeine taker and want to start-talk to your doctor first. If you already are a caffeine taker-make sure to not go over 400 mg a day.
Items to consider buying for home workouts-
Weightlifting equipment: If you got your taxes back or you have a good budget, PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells are the way to go for home workouts. The Personal Trainer set is probably the best but the Elite EXP set is also great and more affordable.
Resistance bands: If you don’t have the budget for adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands are a great option to work your muscles with.
Cardio equipment: You don’t need equipment to do cardio but if you want something and you have the budget- a treadmill might be a good option for you. XTERRA Fitness offers a great fold-up treadmill that is affordable and of good quality (we bought one!). It is just one of the many treadmill options out there so just do some research if that one doesn’t look good to you. A stepper, such as one from the Sunny brand, is also a good choice if you want something more affordable.
I hope this helps
Staying at a realistic and healthy level of leanness is possible. If I can do it, so can you! I hope these tips I laid out for you are helpful and provide you with ultimate success.
Are you happy with your body and overall health right now or are there changes you want to make?
Thanks for reading!
Medical disclaimer: I am not a doctor or any kind of medical professional so what I say is not a substitute for medical advice. I am just relaying information I have learned over the years. If you are looking to change or add anything to your diet or daily/weekly routine, consult with your doctor first. Your health is your own and I am not liable for any consequences that occur because of your choices.
Affiliate disclaimer: I am part of an affiliate program. Some of the links you click might be affiliate links which means I might receive a commission for any purchases you make.
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