Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Is "Lean Eating"?

August 1, 2010, the day before I started my first round of Lean Eating and November 20, 2011, as the end of the second round approaches.

No, Precision Nutrition's Lean Eating Coaching program has no late night infomercial. You're not going to see Dr. John Berardi, PhD on the boob tube at 3 am lauding the virtues of the program and begging you to buy his DVD and supplements and workout gear. No packages of quick fix dinners or DVD wonder workouts will start appearing on your doorstep. You're not going to drop "10 pounds in the first 10 days." As a matter of fact, the beginning of the Lean Eating program (LE) is a bit anticlimactic--by design.

The LE program stems from years of research and professional growth in the fields of nutrition, medicine, psychology, sports performance and any other field the PN team thinks might advance their knowledge. Using the latest information from those fields, Dr. Berardi and his team at Precision Nutrition took their basic nutritional information and developed what has become a one year course to help people live their healthiest lives. Not only is the program scientifically sound, it is brilliant. Each person who signs up for Lean Eating Coaching is assigned to a small group of men or women with their own coach. Over the twelve months, the coach is that person's guide to all things Lean Eating and that group becomes the other pillar on which to lean by way of a team forum. Each day brings three things: a workout, an assignment to read, and a habit to complete. Every two weeks, lean eaters get a new habit to build on top of the previous one. Individually, the habits seem quite simple, but when joined together they become the key to unlocking the door to a new life. LE breaks up the task of learning how to eat well into small, easily-digested bits that allow one to slowly and fully incorporate them into everyday life--for life. By focusing more on the daily habits and less on the constant and foreboding idea of "I must do this now to lose 5 pounds by Saturday," eating healthfully becomes second nature and weight loss is a natural progression of that change. This slow introduction of small habits is one of the many research-proven methods used by the LE team.

The LE assignments are another product of their research. Some days the assignments are quick and easy, and they never take longer than 5 minutes or so to read. Some days, though, the assignments contain a task. Sometimes it is things like checking out the local farmer's market. Others it's turning the focus inward to discover something about oneself. Occasionally, the assignments seem silly or annoying, but when taken to heart and completed with a commitment to giving 100%, they always lead to growth sometimes in surprising ways. Strangely enough, most of us overeat for a reason, and it's not just because we like food. LE doesn't ignore this fact but embraces it then helps us to find that reason so that we can move past it. Examining what makes us the way we are, inside and out, is part of what the daily assignments are all about. They are also about teaching us about the individual habits as they come along. Each new habit has a set of lessons teaching one why that habit is important and how to best incorporate it. Everything in Lean Eating has its place and purpose.

While the program is called "Lean Eating," it also has a workout component. The workouts shouldn't scare people away, though, because they are well-planned and offer alternatives for all fitness levels. The workouts can be as easy or as hard as a client wants to make them by varying weights and using alternative movements that are provided in the instructional videos, and the coaches are there to provide even more individualization if needed. Prospective clients often ask if joining a gym is a necessity. While it is not absolutely necessary, it might make things easier in many ways if you don't have a bit of equipment at home. I did the last round of the program that was a six month round and did it all with 6 kettlebells, a set of bands, a pull up bar, a TRX and a sandbag, but I had been using these tools for years and knew how to make the movements that they wanted me to get out of them. After joining up for my second round (yes, I thought it was that good), I bought a set of bumper plates, a bar, a squat rack, adjustable dumbells and a bench. I also have an 0.8 mile trail on my property. I don't anticipate needing any more equipment, but I might get a little something just for fun. Occasionally, though, I head to a regular gym when I'm traveling just to shake things up. The bottom line is that the workouts help make the body function better, don't take up too much time out of one's day, and there are ways to get them done.

The habits, the assignments and the workouts comprise the three tasks LE requires of the participants daily, and participation in the forums is optional. Each day, lean eaters receive a email, that one can actually opt out of getting, reminding them to check in to the home page, their guide to their daily tasks where they can find a link to their lesson, their habit, their workout and the forum as well as a link to contact their coach and the PN crew. While it's not mandatory to check in every day, PN has found that doing so increases one's chances of success. (They track numbers like neurotic gamblers in an effort to give their clients the best chances as reaching their goals.) As participants complete a workout, assignment or habit each day, they click a circle on the home page to get credit for its completion. By doing so, clients track their compliance to the program. At the end of each week, measurements and weights are taken and entered to track progress in a similar way. By going to the progress page, lean eaters can get multiple different visuals including graphs and charts showing progress and compliance, and coaches can see where a client needs to buckle down to find better results. Only the coaches and individual clients can see individual progress pages, though. At the end of the year, if a person's progress is 90% or better, the compliance percentage that research has proven has no choice but to bring results, and he or she isn't satisfied with their results, Precision Nutrition has a money back guarantee. I can't imagine that anyone has ever taken them up on that, though, and honestly, I think most people see quite impressive results with compliance that is even lower than 90%

I believe in this program. It is the most scientifically sound approach to nutrition I have ever seen. It is the most well designed program I have ever seen. The coaches and staff are some of the most helpful, positive, uplifting people with whom I have ever been in contact, and they care. Their whole approach to life is one of kindness and happiness, and they believe in making the world a kinder and happier place. They understand that weight loss is not easy and that it is not just about food but about why we eat the way we eat. Because the program addresses weight loss in such a comprehensive way, often clients have the experience that I have had, one of a transformation from the inside out. I've been a lean eater for about sixteen months now. Not only am I leaner, I am a better person, and I am looking at life differently. I am approaching life differently. And after sixteen months, the greatest thing is that my journey is just beginning.

Oh, and in case this has made you want to look into it a little bit more, the next LE program starts in January, and here's the link for more info:

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