Sneak in the Lean Look – Get Fit in Ways You Never Thought Possible

Ah, if only they were true … all those commercials and infomercials. Take one pill a day to melt away fat. Wear this electronic belt while you're watching TV and the fat will be zapped. Do this diet and you'll never get hungry yet the pounds will fly off. Get on this gizmo and do reps for 15 minutes and you'll look like this guy (ripped muscles, lean stomach, perfect teeth, great skin, thick hair, 22 years old).

If it was that easy, would you be seeking advice right now? No. It's time for a reality check:


That said, let's talk about some shortcuts. Maybe there is not one single way or one particular product that will get you lean. But you can lose fat, build muscle, gain better definition, find more energy, and overall feel better by taking several little steps on an ongoing basis. These tips will not feel like one certain workout, a specific diet, or a product you must buy this instant.

This multiple of "shortcuts" should not really be viewed as shortcuts, or temporary steps to take just for now. They're a way to integrate a new lifestyle into your daily routine. Used over time, they become second nature.

It's just plain ol 'good stuff you might not have thought of, might never have heard of, and bought to be doing. And we're assuming you already know things like, do not grocery-shop when you're hungry and take the stairs instead of the elevator.


Eat me. Breakfast begs to be ateen, whether it's your normal routine or not. This is the time to load up on calories, nutritionists say. Your body has all day to burn them. Worship the bodybuilder's Faberge egg, the incredibleible egg white. You can mix it with a little cheese and some veggies for a filling omelette – or you can order it that way at a breakfast place. Your wallet likes it, too, because eggs are a cheap form of protein.

Know it, do not show it. Learn how many calories you should have in a day. Ensure that at least one-third of them are consumed at breakfast, suggests leading nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.


Project-manage the gym. Do not just work out at machines in the order they're placed. Specifically plan a workout that allows for various body parts to be worked on different days, with a planned day of rest for certain muscle groups after they've worked out (track this in a notebook if you need to.) It actually helps your muscle -building. "(Many athletes) negate the effects of training by not getting enough adequate rest and recovery," says Mike Gough, CSCS, who has worked with professional baseball and hockey teams.

Use alternative thinking. Know and plan on substitutions at the gym if the machine you want is being used or has a line, Hough also suggests. This way you can charge through your workout without a loss of time. Always do cardio, even if it's 20 minutes tacked onto the beginning or ending of your weightlifting. It will burn more fat than any other exercise.

Do not overcrunch. Doing too many crunches will simply waste your time, according to Craig Ballantyne, M.Sc., CSCS, of . "Why spend twenty minutes per day doing endless crunches when five to ten minutes every other day will accomplish the same results?" He asks. To have visible abs, he adds, you must decrease your body fat to 10 percent or less. Your overage time on crunches is "better spent," he says, doing compound resistance exercises, such as the squat, bench press, pull-ups, and deadlifts.


Pack on protein. Protein helps satisfy cravings, and healthy adults can have about a third of their daily caloric intake in the form of protein, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine. Most of us automatically go for a carbohydrates-based snack, such as a bagel or crackers.

Get fruity. Fresh fruit helps you three ways: it has fiber, it's sweet, and it's juicy. All three elements help fill you up and reduce hunger. Match game. Have on hand (or know where to get it during the workday) fruit that will sort of match the munchie you're craving. If you feel like eating small things to pop into your mouth, like nuts or popcorn, pop berries instead. If you crave something crunchy, chomp apples. If you yearn for smooth and creamy, eat melon or a ripe banana. The "mouth feel" of fat has a lot to do with your craving, experts say, and you can fool your mouth.


Work it by walking it. Deliver memos. Go to talk to people instead of sending them emails. Take a walk outside for a few minutes if you can. Make it a habit not to sit longer than 50 minutes at a time, even when involved in an intense project, suggests exercise and occupational therapist Michael Bracko, a spokesperson for the American College of Sports

The desk is not a pec deck. Even if you know those little "exercises" you can do at your desk to burn calories, do not assume that's a workout. Nothing substitutes going to the gym. Fry your frustration. Rather than downing coffee or a fattening snack when you've had a bad day, do something different. If you need to, keep in your desk a long list of ways to burn off frustration other than eating.


Eat fat. Huh? Since everyone wants and craves some fat during the day, learn to have some in unhealthy ways. If you like avocados, use those. They help reduce fat cravings, are a great source of vitamin E (better than a supplement), and can raise your level of HDL ("good") cholesterol, according to a new study by the State University of New York at Buffalo. If you do not like avocados, try peanut butter, within limits. It helps in the same way as avocados. In fact, skip eating handfuls of peanuts when you want this flavor. You tend to overeat with peanuts. A tablespoon of peanut butter is more likely to satisfy your craving.

Skip the Big Gulp. Giant-sized drinks from convenience stores pour the calories directly into your body. Those supersized containers hold as much as five cans of soda – about 750 calories! If that's diet soda, you should be drinking water. The convenience store also has appealing-looking frozen drinks that have so many calories, they can, indeed, freeze more fat right onto your belly. Just walk on by.


Pick-me-up cup. If you're a caffeine drinker, you might like a cup of coffee just when the post-lunch drowsiness hits you. Change it. Take a brief walk or switch to herbal tea – hot or iced. A flavored one, such as raspberry, can also help satisfy sweet cravings. Caffeine stimulates your appetite.


Start wining. If you're a hard-liquor drinker, try a quality wine. It mostly likely has fewer calories (about 125 per glass) for more volume of liquid, which satisfies you. It also has polyphenols, which help your arteries.

Salsa dancing. The free chips and salsa are just habit, and hey, salsa's healthy, right? Yeah, but the average person can easily eat 30 chips. You do not realize this, because you are not counting. That's about 300 calories and 20-25 grams of fat.


ATM it. Think about what you're going to buy (that's healthy) and go to the ATM to get just about enough money for that. Then you can not buy the sale-priced kind-sized (which will, indeed, make you king-sized) package of Mallomars or the new brand of triple-thick stuffed-crust frozen pizza.

Learn produce-section paranoia. Grocery are learning to sneak high-temptation items near the produce and health-food sections. Some of these foods may seem healthy-ish or are designed to accompany healthy foods (such as dip next to the carrots). They've already learned that people like you avoid the candy bars next to the Weekly World News at the register, so they're reaching into your wallet in another way. For store strategies, check out Phil Lempert's advice on the website. He's the self-proclaimed Supermarket Guru, so you can find his info at


Do content conversion. As often as possible, make your dinner at least half fruits and vegetables, cooked or raw. You do not have to measure everything, just eyeball it. This fills you up more on fiber and healthy foods rather than calories. Keep this system going as best as possible when eating out. But beware. The tendency of most restaurants is to offer more fat and protein at dinner than anything else.

Punch out your boss. No, not literally. Be aware what you bring to the dinner table, even if the "dinner table" is a trip to the drive-through at McCrapold's. Sometimes our desires are based on anger and frustration through the office. Buy a punching bag and boxing gloves and put it in the basement or spare bedroom. Okay, you can tape a picture of your boss on it. Punch before you munch, and you'll likely eat less.

Downgrade dinner. Be loyal to breakfast and lunch, but looser about dinner. It can be a snack. Maybe you feel like walking instead. Get a massage and eat a mini-dinner later in the evening. Make yourself honor specific intake for breakfast and lunch and snacks earlier in the day, and treat a sit-down dinner as an option. If you tend to snack later at night because you're hungry and did not eat enough dinner, do not do this.


We should not even have this category because hopefully you've had a balanced, healthy diet all day and do not need to eat while watching TV. But just in case … No couch-potato cocktails. It certainly is easy to have a couple of drinks while lounging in front of your favorite show. But you already went to happy hour, remember? If not, now is happy hour. Drinking alcohol will affect your sleep (important, as you will see later) and slow down your body's ability to metabolize your dinner. Have ice water instead.

Pop it. Pop light or fat-free microwave popcorn, spray it lightly with butter-flavored spray topping, and toss it in a bowl with a tablespoon of reduced-fat Parmesan cheese. Nice cream. Say goodbye to ice cream altar, except when you run across an old-fashioned soda shoppe. Instead, have a cup of fat-free yogurt in the evening. Its acidophilus content aids in digestion and helps disperse alcohol.

Bedside manner. If you watch TV late, only watch it in bed. And have a rule that you can not eat in bed.


Snooze. Getting enough sleep – and for most people that means at least eight hours – does so many good things it could be its own article. You become more likely to store than burn calories if you do not get enough sleep, says Conrad Earnest, Ph.D., director of the Cooper Institute's Center for Human Performance and Nutrition Research in Dallas. This is because losing sleep seems to slow down your metabolism and even reduce your body's tolerance for glucose. Simply said, a good night's sleep helps you have more energy, elevate your mood, better process your food, and exercise better.