L.E.A.N. Principles Instead of a Diet Program
When you feel fit and happy with your body, you’re likely to feel better about yourself. At the same time, improving your lifestyle and your general attitude will make it easier to take care of your body and your family. While you may try a diet program or fitness challenge, there are really just a few simple keys to health and well-being. Dr. Sears calls his balanced approach to wellness the L.E.A.N. program because it incorporates lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutrition. The L.E.A.N. program is not a diet program but boasts similar positive side effects like weight loss, lower stress, and higher energy levels.
Being lean does not mean becoming skinny. It means having just the right amount of body fat for your body type, health, and well-being. Being lean means more than just shedding fat and is more holistic than a traditional diet program. It means getting rid of habits that interfere with your health and concentrating on the things that are most important to you. Certified Health Coaches through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute are well-versed in the L.E.A.N. principles, with interactive workshops designed by Dr. Sears that make learning and implementing the lifestyle, exercise, attitude and nutrition recommendations fun and easy.
As you shake the diet program mentality, here’s a brief introduction to the four components of the L.E.A.N. approach to healthy living.
L is for Lifestyle
Take inventory of your overall lifestyle and trim away the things that interfere with making healthier lifestyle and behavior changes. Stay away from people who criticize your healthy lifestyle choices (or at least stay away from topics of health when you are talking with them). Avoid unnecessary energy-draining activities and overwhelming amounts of work in or outside the home. For example, if you have a job that drives you to junk food binges and leaves you with no energy for you or your family, you need to make some changes. Learn ways to relax: listen to music, practice prayer or meditation, read, enjoy quiet time alone or with your spouse. Learn to laugh a lot – enjoying a funny book or movie will help you feel better about life!
E is for Exercise
Regular, brisk physical activity, helps you control your weight and cope with stress. Exercise will help you make the changes called for in the other parts of the L.E.A.N. program. Find ways to make exercise fun!
A is for Attitude
Besides trimming the excess fat in your body, shed all the stuff in your mind that interferes with your health and happiness.
You can’t control situations, but you can control your reaction to them.
If you’re having problems, don’t dwell on them. Instead, get help solving them. Don’t waste energy on life’s little annoyances. Concentrate on the important things and find support for yourself in your endeavors. You are doing what no one else in the world can do as well as you: nurturing yourself and your family.
N is for Nutrition
Focus on eating a right fat, nutrient-dense diet containing a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Be careful about what you put in your body. Eating healthy food helps you stay healthy and cope better with stress.
Maintaining a Lean Diet
Here are some tips on what to eat that will help you get adequate nutrition and to stay trim and healthy:
- Eat nutrient-dense foods. Now that you have decided to embark on a healthier path, take the opportunity to do what you have probably thought you should do for a long time: get rid of junk food in your diet. Concentrate instead on those foods that pack the most nutrition into a relatively small number of calories. Avoid calorie-dense foods, which have a lot of calories and little nutritional value. These include foods high in fat and/or sugar. Nutrient-dense foods leave you feeling satisfied; junk foods leave you craving more. In one research study, people who were allowed to eat all they wanted consumed fewer calories when their choices were limited to nutrient-dense foods than when they included highly refined and processed foods.
- Fill up with fiber. High fiber foods make you feel full without consuming a lot of calories. High fiber foods tend to be more nutrient dense. Consider just the A’s and B’s of fiber foods, below. All of these pack lots of nutrition into few calories while filling your tummy. Other nutrient-dense sources of fiber are lentils, sweet potatoes, prunes, pears, spinach, grapefruit and peas:
- Little bites mean a lot. You may be surprised by how one indulgence a day, such as one chocolate chip cookie or five to ten potato chips, can add up to 10 pounds of extra fat in a year! These little bites provide little nutrition and a lot of unneeded fat and calories. Be particularly wary of foods that taste yummy but pack an alarming amount of fat, such as coffee cake, pie crust, hot dogs, doughnuts, and croissants. For some, trimming just one of these indulgences from the diet each day is all that is necessary to stay trim. As an alternative, make a trail mix of raw almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, walnuts, dried papaya, and maybe even a few chocolate chips. This is something healthy to nibble on with just a touch of decadence to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Dr. Sears’ L.E.A.N. program uses the principle of synergy. When you get all parts of the program working together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Sort of like 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 5, or maybe even 10! Once you implement the L.E.A.N. principles, it becomes self-motivating. You begin to feel so good that you want to do everything you can to perpetuate this feeling. The L.E.A.N. program can give you a physical and emotional boost that will help you avoid common pitfalls in a health journey, while contributing to the health and well-being of both you and your family.