Lean & Fit: 10 Tricks to Creating a Workout Program & Diet to Achieve Your Fitness Goals

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Hi Everyone!

If your goal is to be Lean & Fit you probably already know that this requires a commitment to both your workouts and your diet. Below I have listed 10 Techniques to improve your ability to achieve your fitness goals.

Each of these techniques are worthy of their own blog post, but I hope you find this summary helpful to helping you achieve your goals!

10 Tricks to Creating a Workout Program & Diet to Achieve Your Fitness Goals

1. Be Consistent: This is the number one factor that will help you achieve your goals. This applies to exercise and diet.

A large part of consistency is creating a sustainable program. You want to create a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain. How much time do you have to exercise, cook, meal prep? That varies from one person to the next. Figuring out what is right (and realistic!) for you is a huge part of achieving your goals.

Once you figure out how much time you have to workout and meal prep, create your workout schedule.

2. Create a Tracking System: Record your workouts and meals. You can write your workouts down on a calendar, or use photos to track your workouts and progress.

I prefer writing my workouts down on a desk calendar. It gives me a quick visual, and if I miss several days in a row, that’s a big motivator to get moving! Research has shown that tracking your fitness and meals improves your results. There are plenty of meal tracking apps: MyFitnessPal is a popular tool/ap that I have used.

Tracking your food can also improve your awareness of what you are eating, foods that trigger over-eating, and any food intolerances you might have.

3. Figure Out How Much You Should Be Eating: Calories are not your enemy. Calories are fuel. You don’t want to starve, but you don’t want to overeat either.

Think of it this way: You don’t drive a car around on empty and expect it to perform well. You also don’t fill up your gas tank and continue to pour gasoline all over your car and onto your seats. Both techniques are asking for trouble.

HandGuide_PortionControl

Under-eating and Over-eating will sabotage your results. So how the heck do you know how much to eat? Unfortunately, this varies by individual. I wish there was a quick and definite answer I could give you, but it requires some experimentation on your part.

For people who have been on a low-calorie diet for an extended period of time I recommend increasing your caloric intake. Basically, when you restrict your calories for an extended period of time your body responds by decreasing hormones related to weight loss (T3, Leptin and others). As a result, your metabolism slows down and you plateau. You want to slowly increase your calories back to a maintenance level (the amount of calories you can consume without gaining weight). This has to be completed slowly to determine what your personal level is. Try adding only 50-calories per day (about 1/2 an apple or Banana). Maintain this for a week. Each week you can either increase your daily intake by 50-additional calories or hold at your current level. As long as you aren’t gaining a significant amount of weight you can keep adding calories.

If you are Over-Eating (or maintaining, but want to lose weight) you want to start decreasing calories slowly, and figure out how much you can eat while losing weight. Remember, if you are creating a healthy lifestyle you want to figure out a caloric deficit that you can maintain throughout your weight loss. Extreme cuts in calories are not sustainable. As soon as you go back to eating normally you will re-gain weight. By slowly cutting your calories you can achieve weight loss, while maintaining satisfaction in your diet. It will also be easier to maintain your metabolism, and figure out your maintenance point when you have achieved your goal weight.

Whether you are dieting or want to maintain your weight, you want to be able to do that on the highest amount of calories your body can handle without gaining weight. This allows you to have fuel for energy, workouts, and maintaining your hormone levels & metabolism.

4. Workout 3-6X Per Week: Exercise at least 3X per week for 30-60 Minutes. You want to workout hard enough to sweat. The benefits of exercise extend beyond your weight, and influence your current and future health. If you want to be Lean & Fit you must combine a healthy diet and a consistent and challenging workout program.

bootcamp with lenny yt

Your workout program should incorporate Cardio and Strength Training. I prefer high intensity workouts so I can maximize my workout in a short period of time. If you like to follow a plan, but don’t know where to start pick one of the programs below:

12-Week Bikini Workout Program
30-Day Fitness Challenges
10-Week BodyRock BootCamp Series

When you are creating or following a workout program you want to ensure that you are creating muscular balance. How do you know if your program is doing that? The exercises that you are using should work your body and muscles in every direction. For example: to work your core you should exercise the front, sides and back. The same goes for legs and arms. You want to work the joint in each plane of movement. The different planes of motion recruit different muscles.

5. Hydrate: The human body is more than 60% water. Your Brain and Muscles are 75% water, blood 92%, and bones 22%. The human body has trouble differentiating between hunger and thirst. Staying hydrated is a simple way to reduce excess calorie consumption. Water improves your metabolism and feelings of satiety (fullness).

water

64 ounces of Water

Water helps your blood transport oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This allows you to workout more efficiently. It will also lubricate your joints and decrease your risk of muscle cramping.

Caution: It is possible (and dangerous!) to over-hydrate. There are two ways to over-hydrate: Drinking so much water that your kidney’s can’t keep up, or if your body suffers from a condition where you retain water.

6. Incorporate High Intensity Exercises: High intensity interval training is a fantastic technique to utilize for maximizing fat burning, while maintaining lean muscle mass. There are many techniques you can use to incorporate High Intensity training into your workout program.

HIIT can be completed with running/sprinting intervals, cycling, or exercise programs. HIIT alternates low to moderate intensity intervals with high intensity intervals. This workout technique burns a lot of calories during the workout, and continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours post workout.

10-minute-interval-workout-treadmill-Melissa-Bender

Interval Workout for the Treadmill

7. Use Weights: Weight training can help you achieve faster gains in strength and aesthetics. Muscle mass is much denser than fat. Building muscle is an automatic boost to your metabolism. One pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories per day at rest. That means if you are able to add 10 lbs of muscle to your frame, your body burns an extra 500 calories per day at rest. That added muscle also has a higher calorie burn during every workout you do. Did you ever wonder why men have an easier time losing weight? Typically their higher percentage of muscle has a lot to do with this!

If you are a female, don’t worry that adding muscle to your body will make you bulky! It won’t! Getting bulky takes a lot of work and effort for a female. It’s not something that just happens. Muscle is what gives your body shape. Round butt, sculpted arms, and tighter midsections all get their shape from muscles.

muscle-2Bvs-2Bfat

8. Plan Your Meals: Planning sets you up for dietary success. It limits mindless snacking, and allows you to prep food ahead of time. When you have healthy options on hand and ready to go you are less likely to go outside of your diet plan.

meal prep

The easier you make your diet to stick to the more successful you will be with it! Consider planning 1-2 days per week where you cook some food in bulk. Separate it into easy to grab containers, and store in the fridge for easy meals or meal additions.

Check out: Abs Are Made in the Kitchen: Meal Prep

9. Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep decreases your energy, motivation, and performance during workouts. Getting less than 6-hours of sleep per night is linked to increased weight gain. It is much more difficult to find motivation to get in a hard workout when your body is fatigued. Research has also shown that human beings have difficulty recognizing fatigue and sleep impairment, although fatigue impacts the body similarly to being over the legal alcohol limit for driving.

10. Know What You Are Eating: This one sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Have you ever looked at an ingredient list on some pre-packaged foods, and thought “What the heck is that?” When you create your meals at home you can ensure that you are getting a well balance diet with plenty of nutrients.

Incorporate vegetables, lean protein sources, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. When you plan a meal, aim for half of your plate to be vegetables. Even if your workouts are on track, if you aren’t pairing it with a healthy diet you aren’t maximizing your results. Check out: How to Eat Clean: 5 Tips for Success.

This doesn’t mean you can’t eat your favorite foods! Remember, the number 1 item on this list is consistency. To be consistent, you have to create a lifestyle that you can maintain. That means incorporating your favorites into your healthy lifestyle. Completely cutting out your favorite food can increase your chances of binging/over-eating.

Foods are not inherently Good or Evil. They have higher nutritional value, or lower nutritional value. Try to make 80-90% of your food choices have a higher nutritional value, and that gives you some wiggle room to incorporate other food items of choice.

 

If you have suggestions or techniques you have found successful post them in the comments section below.

Melissa

19 thoughts on “Lean & Fit: 10 Tricks to Creating a Workout Program & Diet to Achieve Your Fitness Goals

  1. Ana

    Thank you Melissa! I love your programs and approach to fitness!! I have a question about weight lifting. I see that your programs combine strength training w/cardio. If I am striving for a lean, toned body, is it better to have separate days to focus on heavy lifting and then combine that with HIIT, or is it possible to achieve my goals using a combination strength/cardio program, which you outline. Thanks! Ana

    • benderfitness

      That’s a great question. Both techniques will work. If you decide to do both heave lifting and HIIT on the same day be sure that you either separate your sessions (IE Cardio in the AM & Lifting in the PM) or do all lifting first and finish with cardio to ensure that your form doesn’t suffer.

      If you are naturally super lean, and have a difficult time building muscle you will want to separate your days, and keep more focus on the lifting. Also, if you find that your body is very sore or fatigued from the lifting you will get more benefits from separating your days.

      I hope that helps.

  2. Chelsea

    Thank you for taking the time to provide us with this information. I just want to say that you are truly my role model. You are strong, confident, smart, and kind. I have suffered with an eating disorder in the past and you have inspired me everyday to treat my body with love.

  3. Joanna

    Thank you for this outlet, it helps me. I am a stay at home mom of 5 kids. I have a question I usually do your routines 1 or 2 in the early morning, after I do cardio in the late afternoon. Is that fine, or should I try to have them back to back?

    • benderfitness

      That’s great! Separating them decreases the chances of fatigue impacting your form during the workout. Plus you are working up a sweat twice per day, and exercise helps regulate your appetite and hormones throughout the day. 🙂

  4. Shannon

    I absolutely loved the way you explained this in such detail. Makes so much sense. I just started following you and feel like I hit the jack pot!! Your amazing! Thank you so much!

  5. Sallina

    ALOHA fm KAUAI, On vacation now. Just did your 20 min AB toning hiit workout & hit repeat for 40 min workout! Thx , Yes doing hiit fitness circuits on the beach here with my weights, body weight exercises & Cardio spurts, almost everyday before we head out to enjoy all water sports. Also, hubby & i hit local Kauai Athetic club couple times too!! Yesterday kayaking. I would say @ age 54, I’m in good Fit shape but want to look better (Fabulous) & lose that last lower stubborn belly pooch & get more definition in arms & mid section. YES, i do Clean diet 80% time but seems hormones may be a factor & metabolism alower! Any TIPS, suggestions are highly APPRECIATED ! GOAL IS TO LOSE about 7~10 lbs fat, replace with more lean muscle. I turn 55 this August & fighting to reach my GOALS!! Thanks Melissa for all your GREAT Challenging workouts! ALOHA Sallina

  6. Great post Melissa! I have been working out with you for over a year now. I always look forward to my workouts. I appreciate you sharing what you have done to stay in such awesome shape! Eating a good clean diet is such a large part of any fitness plan. Great job pointing out the need to feed your body! When I was younger all the girls I grew up with didn’t lift because they were “afraid of getting bulky”. Now I laugh at this. It’s sooooo hard to get muscle. You have to work! Thanks for reminding us all!
    Melody
    http://www.The Melody of Cooking.com

  7. This is a great post. I’m curious-do you consider the workouts you post (such as the 20 Minute HiiT: Sweat, Fat and Burn that I did today) to be weights as it’s body weights or do you incorporate another weight program into your daily workouts? I currently bike 20-30 miles 5-6 days a week, then do one of your workouts after. I’m wondering if the bodyweight workouts are considered strength training? Thank you for the great blog and workouts. I’ve been working out with you for a few years!

    • benderfitness

      Even though these are body weight workouts they are also strength training, and are effective for building muscles. The workouts you see on the blog are the actual workouts I have done to get in shape and build the muscles that I have. I do incorporate weights into my workouts too, but that isn’t as often. You can find those here: http://www.benderfitness.com/category/weights

      I hope that helps! I like to incorporate both to continuously challenge my body in new ways.

  8. Jackie

    I have a question about #3. How do you know how many calories is the right amount???

    For example, I typically take in between 1200 and 2000 calories per day depending on whether I work out that day. I’m 5″7.5 and weigh 147. My goal at the moment is to tone, not really lose weight, so I’ve been doing your HIIT sets you post as well as running (distance and sometimes an interval workout at the track). I understand that if I don’t eat enough calories my muscles have nothing to grow on.

    What is the right amount?

    • benderfitness

      With that variation are you experiencing any weight gain? If not that is perfect for maintenance. To gain muscle you have to increase your calories with your workout intensity. I will be writing an article about it. 🙂

  9. Vanessa

    I love all your workouts and thanks for this article. I know you run a lot, and I have a question about incorporating hiit and strength training into a running plan. I have trained for both half and full marathons but saw very little change in my body. I want to train for another long race but am afraid all the long, slow runs will be detrimental to the strength I have built in my core and upper body by lifting weights and doing your workouts at home. What is the right mix to staying lean and toned all over while building up and maintaining a running base? If you have written about this before please point me in the right direction. thanks!

  10. My dearest Melissa
    I just wanted to write a little something to let you know how much I injoy reading your blog and following your workouts.
    So let me start by saying thanks for the best motivating site on the net with daily feeds and ideas that can help beginners like myself to the advanced. I recamend your site to my friends and family. I have been following you for over a year your exercises are nice easy and almost anyone can do it honestly I have never done a daily exercise with you but have done some of your exercises in my routine so you ask why do I follow you it’s because your daily blog motivates me to keep moving even when I’m down and don’t want to think about exercising there you are posting again on my Facebook thank you I’m a better and fitter person because of your blogs

  11. Robyn

    I workout as soon as I wake up in the mornings. That is my guaranteed time without interruptions. I’ve read a lot about pre-workout meals. Since I train so early what do you suggest I do when it comes to pre-workout meal? I currently just drink BCAA during my workout.

    • benderfitness

      It depends on your body. Some people can eat immediately before their workout, for others they feel sick. I have found that a banana sliced in half, with some peanut butter is a great pre-workout snack. It combines carbohydrates and protein, and is easy to digest.

      If your current system is working for you and you don’t feel fatigued during your workout stick to that, and have a snack after your workout.

  12. CoCo

    Dear Bender Fitness.
    First, let me say that your workout programs and videos have changed my body in the best way possible. I am trying to lose weight, and am just so grateful for every video you put up and all the effort you and Jesse put into Bender Fitness. Thank you; it’s made a huge difference in my physique, plus doing the workouts along with you keeps me motivated to challenge and push myself to do max reps.
    Anyhow, do you know any information regarding what to do when you are at a weight loss plateau after adopting clean eating lifestyle and regular vigorous exercise? Are there any articles on Bender Fitness about that? I searched for that topic but was unable to come up with anything.

    Thanks again for everything!

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