Author Archives: studio

Sure They Smell Good... but do they work?

doterra blog 2Hi everyone,
My name is Jenine and I hope to serve as a resource for those of you looking to support your health with the natural healing benefits of pure essential oils.

I started my holistic journey nearly 3 years ago, which was quite contrary to my very southside, meat and potatoes upbringing.  I purchased a kit and didn’t do much with it for a couple months because I didn’t know what to do or how to use essential oils.  I typically did what many of us do… I lit my candles, cleaned with store bought cleaners, grabbed an aspirin or NyQuil if I came down with something and eventually got a prescription when I was run down and fighting the common bug.
It took a little bit of learning, trial and error in using the oils and I had plenty of doubt.

Sure they smell nice.. but are they effective?  
I started up the diffuser and learned how to diffuse oils for relaxation and stress relief.  I also began carrying my favorite oils in my purse instead of perfume and not only did they smell beautiful without any synthetic or ‘chemical’ smell, I began to notice how they provide a calming relief during times of stress or energy when I felt depleted. Slowly I began using the oils for bug repellent, air freshener and sharing with friends and family who were struggling with sleep issues, emotional stress, digestive complaints, chronic pain, etc……..and people were experiencing relief!  I found myself reading research studies on Doterra essential oils and was pretty fascinated by the facts. With a background in healthcare, research  and quantitative studies- these studies carry significant weight.
Research showing how oregano and melaleuca inhibit MRSA, studies indicating how orange and lavender reduce anxiety and stress, lavender reduces fluid in the lungs and inflammation in bronchial asthma sufferers, melissa has shown to inhibit herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2,  and on and on..  I also noticed and increasing number of healthcare providers incorporating Doterra oils into their practice and providing education for their patients on how to use these volatile, aromatic compounds. Many embracing the idea that wellness should take a prevent and promote model as opposed to a repair and restore model.
This means that a body in balance is able to heal itself with natural plant extracts that the body doesn’t recognize as a foreign matter but rather a natural element similar to our own cells. A natural compound assimilates and is metabolized by our cells as opposed to a synthetic substance or medication that needs to be metabolized by the liver and serves as a ‘bandaid’ solution to our ailment or health issue. When I understood this concept, it clarified so much. That’s the fun part of learning about essential oils and their respective properties. So if i experienced a compromise of my immune system, I would ingest the powerful antibacterial and antiviral oils. Thus was a game changer for me. For  the first time in years I was able to ward off a bug that would’ve had me down for days or weeks normally.
So learning to use these potent oils involves a little learning but offers tremendous rewards.
It’s a shift in what we may be accustomed too. So many moms administer Tylenol or NSAIDS for fever or body aches. What if you had a few oils on hand that offered relief… some peppermint applied topically to naturally and safely cool the body and reduce fever without the dangerous side effects of the meds? Or some Ordgano diluted and applied to the feet to offer antibacterial effects, or melissa, a powerful antiviral oil? Antibiotics are unable to penetrate the cells of our body whereas essential oils have the capacity to do just that… that may be the reason that people report feeling better sooner as they take immediate effect.
The key with essential oils is to use less… only a few drops at a time but more frequently than you would ingest or apply a medication.

One other area of study is the effect of essential oils on our emotional health. Well over 100 emergency departments are diffusing essential oils to reduce the stress level of the staff in these very stressful environments. The results are astounding. Documented results have shown significant decrease in stress of the staff.
With this, behavioral health centers and many practitioners are incorporating doterra oils aromatically, topically and internally to reduce anxiety and calm patients.

Doterra scientists are continually studying the efficacy and safety of essential oils and their active components in topical applications, aromatic use and in personal care products. Recent findings show their ability to promote protective cellular responses, support proper inflammatory responses and induce healthy structural remodeling. Essential oils support sleep and relaxation, mood management, respiratory health, joints and muscles, focus and mental clarity, effective digestion, immune function and addressing seasonal threats.

I hope to serve as a resource in your journey toward natural health.
Happy , healthy holidays!!!


Is Your Food Treating You Right?

Have you ever thought about your relationship with the food you eat?

What does your food do for you?

You do a lot for your food.

  • You spend money on it, money that you work hard for..
  • At times you obsess about it
  • You travel distances to get it
  • You do wonderful things to it

So… whats your return?

Try to think of it like a real personal relationship. Just for fun.. I’ve outlined below the most toxic relationships you can have. We do it for people… why not food.

Sugar:  Sugar is that sexy guy in the bar. Wow he looks hot, has all the right answers and my god you swear he is radiating energy and life- he’s effervescent . He brings you in and you were right WOW he is the bomb. You hang in that high for awhile and ride that energy wave then “POOF” he’s gone. Left you low and depleted and shaking for more. And don’t even get me started on Mr. Faux Sugar.. you will find him next to sugar all the time, acting like the safe alternative- but watch out. Hang out with that shady Mr. Faux Sugar too long and you better head to the doctor as disease will most likely follow

How Sugar Addiction Effects Your Body:

Eating sugar creates a surge of feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Certain drugs do this too (cocaine). Your insulin immediately spikes to control the excess in blood sugar. Once insulin has done its job-you get to experience that sugar low and if you are to survive the day, you start the cycle again.  If you have been doing the sugar cycle for awhile, you will have shaky hands, feel faint and be working your way quickly into Type II Diabetes. Additionally, the processed sugar is added for sweetness only (unlike the sugar in fruit) and has ZERO nutritional value! Think fake sugar is any better? Think again, studies have shown repeatedly that fake sugar causes the same addictions and cravings for real sugar, plus most sugar substitutes contain known carcinogens.

Processed Food: Everyone knows that Frenemy Processed Food, so easy to be with.. an answer for everything.. Want more acai that’s cool, your frenemy even wraps it in some Mr. Sugar to make it palatable, he’s easy and slick like that, you know..  also this frenemy is everywhere (how does he do that?), just when you need him, offering up the easy path, oh so available.  You know you should find new friends but, this frenemy has become your habit and its hard to break. The problem with your frenemy Processed Food is well, he’s skin deep- always pretending to be someone else, you think he has your back..but does he? Look inside Frenemy Processed Food and the ugly truth is revealed.

How Processed Food Habits Reek Havoc on Your Body:

Processed foods are foods that have been compromised by the addition of hormones, additives, preservatives, unnatural genetic material or other chemical or heat treatments that alter or destroy the natural healthy enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

The main goal of food processing is to lengthen the shelf life of foods so that larger amounts can be sold over time but there are sacrifices in quality and your body will suffer the consequences. When eating processed foods you are most likely getting very little of the nutrients in the original food items that  the processed foods are mimicking. Want more bad news, processed foods are designed for “crave-ability”  they want you to eat more.. and studies show you do!

Superfoods: Not everyone knows Mr. Superfoods, he’s kind of elusive -you can’t find him just anywhere.. you really have to search -its an obsession. But both you and he know how super he is so you even check him out online, he’s in demand you know- I think I saw him on Dr. Oz… He makes sure you know that there is no substitute and you need nothing else but him! The problem with Mr. Superfood is well, he’s all hype, after awhile he is just too hard to deal with, he’s great yeah, but he just doesn’t hang well with anyone. He’s expensive, and he gets more expensive, especially in January when he is the most elusive and only the very lucky (or those who work at Wholefoods) can get to him. The other thing about Mr. Superfood is he often ends up hanging out with Mr. Processed and well it gets really ugly from there.

Why Super Food Obsession is a Waste of Your Time:

We  Americans are obsessed with so-called superfoods, drawn to the promise of berries, roots, or seeds that can singlehandedly prevent disease, help us lose weight, improve muscle and skin tone, enhance our sex life, and even help us live longer. Really? Sounds a little far fetched doesn’t it? The truth is, yes some of these foods are great for us but they come at a price, and most times it’s just not worth it. Practically everything in the produce department is a superfood that has fallen out of the limelight.. Kale anyone? (oh yeah, now its chard..)  And there is that one aisle at the supermarket – the Health Food aisle -this is where often times super meets processed and like I said, its ugly – just read the label!

Sooo… whats a girl to do in such a toxic environment?  Sorry – as any therapist would advise – You Need to BREAK UP!

~Let me introduce you to Mr. Healthy Whole Food: I know,  he doesn’t sound very exciting, but wow he is life changing. He’s finally the real thing- he’s good for you, you feel satisfied and suddenly you feel better inside and out..your skin, your hair, your weight, your energy—your life dammit. 

Do it Marry this one! 

Want some help match-making your next relationship with food? Contact me, I’m kind of a food yenta 🙂

Jenifer Zeno

Co-Owner Energie Pilates and Fitness Spa
Creator of Lean Lifestyles Weight Loss Program
Precision Nutrition Certified L2 Weight Loss Coach
Pilates trained through Balanced Body University at Body Evolve in Highland Park, Illinois
WITS (World Instructor Training Schools) Certified Personal Fitness Trainer

Jenifer and her partner Sheila Grace, are owners of the fitness studio, Energie, Inc., located in Energie Pilates Fitness Spa, 18 W. First St., Hinsdale, IL. In addition to their signature Demi-Bar Pilates class, Energie also offers Group Reformer Pilates, Yoga, Circuit 5.0, DaVinci Board, TABATA, Yamuna and TRX classes. Private and semi-private personal and reformer training is also available.

Contact Jenifer directly at 630.432.9793 or
Owner, Energie Pilates Fitness Spa

7 Reasons Your Exercise Routine is not good for you..

  • 1-You HATE going there. -and I don’t mean the “oh I would rather stay in bed” feeling. I mean, “I dread everything about the place, the people, the work…EVERYTHING!!
  • 2-When leave you feel spent, but not happy. -exercise should make you feel at some level, good about yourself. Think “wow, that was hard, but look at me..I did it YAY 🙂
  • 3-You are not seeing results. It takes time people, so make sure you give the workout you like at least a month to six weeks to kick in!hot trainer abs
  • 4-You don’t feel welcome, -trust your intuition.
  • 5-Your Instructors have little to no training. -While having a microphone and a six-pack does provide ample eye candy it does not a great Instructor make!
  • 6-Your joints hurt when you leave. back pain
    Muscle hurt is a little good, joints…not so much. -When you wake up the next day or two you should feel your abs and glute muscles, but still be able to function!
  • 7-The Instructors are abusive instead of supportive. Say no to negative talk from the trainer!

Want some great exercise in Hinsdale? Check out www.http://demi-barpilates.combest of Hinsdale

Health Made Easier! We couldn't have said it better :)

By Coach Stevo

What if there was an easy way to lose weight that guaranteed you would show up to the gym multiple times a week; make small, permanent changes to your diet; and change the way you thought about health and fitness (from a temporary challenge to a lifetime of experimentation and enjoyment) without guilt, shame and ever really having to “try?”

Well there very well might be. And no, this is no silver bullet or magic pill. It’s just about how human beings learn things.

Humans are social animals. It’s baked in. From how to walk to how to share, we learn just about everything by watching the people around us. We even have special brain cells called mirror neurons packed into our prefrontal cortex for learning from creatures that look like us. Now that’s baked in!

One of the most enduring models for how we learn is called “Social Cognitive Theory,” which was developed over decades of experiments by Dr. Albert Bandura, a professor of social science at Stanford University. At the root of whether or not we do something and keep doing it depends on how confident we are that we can do it. Here’s how we assess whether or not we can do something (like diet and exercise):

Personal Experience: “Have I done this before?”
Vicarious Experience: “Well if that person like me can do it, I can do it.”
Social Persuasion: “These people cheering me on seem to think I can do it, so I bet I can.”
Physiological Factors: “Is my body up to this? Are those butterflies in my stomach good or bad?”
The power of self-efficacy as explained by Social Cognitive Theory is what health psychologists call the phenomenon of “a new normal.” That’s when you meet new people and start viewing your own capabilities differently. Or when you decide to do something with friends and learn confidence from each other’s struggles. In my opinion, this is the most powerful collection of forces someone new to health and fitness can exploit for themselves. The ultimate bio-hack is simply doing new things with others.

And I know this because it’s not only how I work as a coach, but also how things worked for me. In 2007, I lost 60 pounds in 292 days just like I described above. I met new friends at a gym in San Francisco’s Castro district and although I worked hard when I was at the gym, all the other choices in my life started to become easy. I would talk about them with my new friends; they would ask me about how I was doing; and I could see how well these healthier choices were working for them. It was like I was cheating, but it was just self-efficacy. It was just learning a “new normal.”

Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So make that choice wisely and, thanks to Social Cognitive Theory, everything else might just get easier
Coach Stevo
Coach-Stevo-Logo.pngCoach Stevo is the nutrition and behavior change consultant at San Francisco CrossFit. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago and an MA in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. He teaches habit-based coaching to wellness professionals all over the world and he contributed to Intervention by Dan John in 2012.

You Need A Plan for YOU! ~Jenifer Zeno

As a Nutritional Coach and Trainer, as well as an owner of our studio, I often get to meet clients when they are first changing their routines. They come to our studio looking the best way to impact their fitness and diet. I love my job, I love that I meet so many different people, I feel lucky!

Clients come with many preconceived notions, some amazingly correct and some…well not so much. There are so many mixed messages out there, just google weight loss or fitness and start reading, its overwhelming!

The conundrum for many is where to start, what is right for do I not waste time?

The answer is multifaceted and not so simple.You see, there is no one answer for all, no canned workout and diet that works for everyone. What you need is to customize your exercise and your diet for you, for your body type, for your enjoyment, for your likes and dislikes, for your goals. For instance, do you want to tone, or get buff? Do you want to lose weight or just clean up your eating to feel better? The answers may be vastly different for different clients with even the same goals.

And do not forget you need to find a plan that you can adhere to, this is big people! Let me restate YOU NEED TO FIND A PLAN THAT YOU CAN ADHERE TO! Sorry to yell, but trying to get through. I see too many clients (at this time of year in particular) doing crazy things to try to meet a goal quickly.

Want to make changes in your lifestyle? Maybe the Dr. ordered it, or maybe you just don’t feel right in your skin at this moment. Life happens and fitness and nutrition often take a backseat to burning issues at home. Reflect on you, decide to make sustainable changes. Remember you only have one body, one place to store your mind and your soul at the moment and its your body. Treat your body well, feed it well, exercise it thoughtfully and enjoy your life, that is what it is all about, right?

Come see us at Energie check our our Lean Lifestyle Group Contact: for more information

The Answer is Pilates!... now what was the question? ~by Jenifer Zeno

I found out not long ago that I am the butt of a joke between my 17 year old daughter and her friends. It’s okay, I’m her mom and I expect to be made fun of..occasionally ;).

As their little joke goes… anytime someone complains about anything and I mean anything..the answer is “You know what will help that? Pilates!” You name it homework troubles, a dented fender, lacking a date to Homecoming..”Pilates” ~Kind of like that movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with the windex! Apparently, quite often when asked for advice, I answer -Pilates could help that. Well the truth is, in most cases it is true!

My back hurts..Pilates can help that, I want to run faster, jump higher, last longer in my chosen sport, not get injured, the list goes on.

Now that Pilates is more of a mainstay in the fitness world, its a little less sexy as there is always a “hot-new” workout available. Don’t get me wrong, I love the “hot-new” workouts, they are what keep people interested in fitness! What I get concerned with is the all or nothing workouts. Pilates to me is like dental work, try ignoring those teeth for awhile and see what happens…

So yes I know, Pilates is the answer again. Keep doing your Pilates people, it will make you:
-Run faster and last longer on the treadmill at Shred 415
-Increase the velocity of your tennis serve
-Help you hold those Yoga poses with out hanging on your ligaments
-Keep you limber for paddle tennis
-Loosen your back for your golf swing
-Help you jump higher in dance class
-Save your back when lifting heavy weights at CrossFit
-Oh and you will also look better in your Lululemon ;).

See you in Class!

The Problem with Dieting, by Jenifer Zeno

It’s almost January 1st and maybe you are pondering some big changes…some life changing resolutions.  Of course the number one resolution is always, lose weight and get in shape.  Starting a diet, geesh, what a pain and the problem with a diet is the moment you start it, you can’t wait to end it.  And there in lies the problem with dieting..the diet ends and the weight comes right back.  If you really worked hard for those weeks and really starved yourself to drop those pounds, you most likely killed your metabolism too.  Your post diet picture will be worse, your body has entered starvation mode and will fight to hold on to any fat it can for a good long while.  So plan to gain a few extra pounds too.

There is another way though…  Maybe this year you learn how to eat to lose weight, slowly, like your body needs.  You could correct your metabolism and watch the scale start to drop.  You could make healthier choices everyday, which will lead to a healthier more energetic and lighter you!

So before you put your resolutions in stone, check out our Lean Lifestyle program You will lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week, you will learn how to eat to keep losing, you will lose real weight and you will empower you metabolism to be your best friend, not your worst enemy!

Let us help you make 2015 the year for you!!


The Cost of Getting Lean!

Is it really worth the trade-off?

By Ryan Andrews & Brian St. Pierre

Six-pack abs. Tight butts. Lean, vibrant, flawless health. That’s the image the fitness industry is selling. But have you ever wondered what it costs to achieve that “look”? What you have to do more of? And what you really have to give up?

Make no mistake, there are real trade-offs as you attempt to lose fat and improve your health. Let’s talk about what they are. So you can consider how to get the body you really want while living the life you really enjoy.

[Bonus: We even created a cool infographic that summarizes this article. Click here for: The cost of getting lean illustrated. Is it really worth the trade-off?]


A tale of two clients

Not long ago, one of our successful clients — we’ll call him Bill — came to us with a question.

Now that he’d lost thirty pounds (going from 22% body fat to 15%), he could run up stairs and haul heavy bags of garden soil without getting winded.

He could genuinely enjoy weekend bike rides with friends. He could wear clothes he used to be able to fit into but had long given up as hopeless.

But what next?

“Don’t get me wrong,” Bill said. “I’m happy with the way I look and feel.”

It’s just that he also wanted six-pack abs.

“Oh, I don’t have to look like a cover model,” he mused. “It’s just that I’m really close to looking… awesome.”

Bill figured that with just a little extra work, and a little more time, the abs would start popping and his physique would be “finished”.

Meanwhile, another client, Anika, had the opposite concern.

She just wanted to lose a little weight, and get a little more fit.

But she worried that in order to do so, she’d have to give up everything, become a “health nut”, and make massive changes.

Changes that probably included 6 AM bootcamps, kale shakes, lemon juice cleanses, and 1000 situps a day… forever.

“No way,” thought Anika. “That’s too much work.”

Two common misperceptions

Our two client stories reflect two common misperceptions:

Myth #1:
With just a few small, easy, hopefully imperceptible changes to one’s diet and exercise routine, you too can have shredded abs, big biceps, and tight glutes, just like a magazine cover model.

Myth #2:
“Getting into shape” or “losing weight” involves painful, intolerable sacrifice, restriction, and deprivation.

Of course, neither of these are true.

Reality #1:
The process that helps you lose “the first 10 pounds” isn’t the same one that’ll help you lose “the last 10 pounds”. Indeed, it usually takes a lot more work as you get leaner.

Reality #2:
If you do aspire to “fitness model” or “elite athlete” lean, you might be surprised. Images are photoshopped for effect. Bodybuilders only look like that for competition. And achieving that look comes at a high cost; one most people aren’t willing to pay.

Reality #3:
However, if you’re okay not being on the next magazine cover and aspire to be “lean and healthy” even small adjustments can — over time — add up to noticeable improvements. Sometimes these improvements can change, perhaps even save, lives.

Do more of this (and less of that)

With that said, we’re about to share something a lot of people in fitness and health don’t want you to see.

It’s a chart outlining what it really takes to lose body fat, improve your health, move from one fitness category to the next.

Some fitness people think you’re too afraid. Or too weak. Or that you won’t buy their products and services if they’re honest with you.

We think otherwise.

We think it’s necessary to weigh the pros and cons so that you can make informed decisions about your body and your life.

Let’s start with the benefits and tradeoffs with each fitness level.

precision nutrtion cost getting lean benefits table The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade off?

Now let’s talk about what you might consider doing more of (and less of).

precision nutrition cost getting lean do table The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade off?

Bonus: We even created a cool infographic that summarizes this article. Click here for: The cost of getting lean illustrated. Is it really worth the trade-off?]

Your body, your choice

At some point, many of our coaching clients decide that being severely out of shape costs them too much energy, health, quality of life, and longevity. So they choose to change their behaviors and choices. With our help.

Other coaching clients decide that they want six-pack abs. Then, they discover that this option costs them something too. Some folks are willing to pay that cost. But most aren’t.

Even if you think you’d like that six-pack, it might turn out that you actually want something else a little bit more. And we wouldn’t blame you.

Here are the two basic principles:

1. If you want to make further changes to your body, you’ll need to make further changes to your behaviors.

2. The leaner you want to get, the more of your behaviors you’ll have to change. 

What you decide to change, and how much you decide to change it, is up to you. What’s most important here is that you understand what it actually takes to do what you want (or think you want).

What’s a healthy level of body fat, anyway?

First, for the sake of context, let’s take a look at some numbers.

Data tell us that most men can be healthy somewhere between 11 to 22% body fat. For women, its between 22-33%.

Right now in the U.S.,  the average man is about 28% fat, and the average woman is 40% fat.

In other words, the average adult in the U.S. (and throughout most of the West) is carrying a lot of excess body fat. Unhealthy levels of body fat.

Getting the process started

The good news is that it’s not that hard to go from over-fat to the higher end of “normal”.

You can do it with a few relatively small, easy-to-implement changes.

For instance:

  • drinking less soda or alcohol each day
  • not overeating desserts and fast foods (instead, just eating them in reasonable amounts)
  • taking a daily walk or adding a yoga class

Assuming there are no other factors involved (such as a chronic health problem), if you make a few small changes like these, and do them consistently, in six months to a year, your body fat percentage will drop and fall into a much healthier range.


Now of course, not every change will feel simple, small, or easy. Especially when you start out.

You’ll need to put a little extra effort and energy into making those changes happen every day. And having a trainer or a coach support you — and hold you accountable — will probably help you feel more confident and on-track.

Nevertheless, if the changes are small enough, and you practice them consistently, you’ll probably find that eventually they’re just part of your regular routine.

In fact, one day in the future, you might even say, “I just don’t feel like myself without my daily walk!”

“Overweight” to “no-longer-overweight” to “lean”

Suppose you’ve made a few changes like this.

Maybe you pack an apple in your lunch instead of apple juice. Or you include a salad with dinner, or you stick to one or two drinks with friends.

And you’re feeling good! Your knees have stopped hurting, plus your pants now button comfortably.

Now you’re somewhere in the zone of “a little extra padding, but not too bad”. You’re more mobile, healthier, and high-fiving yourself.

What’s the next step?

Well, if you’re a man who wants to reduce body fat from 20% to 14% (or 14% to 8%), or a woman who wants to go from 30% to 24% (or 24% to 18%), you’ll need to make some bigger changes.

You’ll need to invest more time, energy, and effort. You’ll need to plan more.

And you’ll also have to make some trade-offs.

From “lean” to “leaner”

If you’re a man and you want to go from 20% to 14% body fat, or you’re a woman and you want to go from 30% body fat to 24%, it’s all a question of doing more…and less.

You’ll probably need to do more stuff, such as:

  • get more exercise and daily-life movement, and perhaps make that exercise more intense
  • eating more vegetables and lean protein
  • choosing more whole foods
  • doing more meal planning
  • getting serious about rest and recovery
  • learning your physical hunger and fullness cues

You’ll probably need to do less stuff, such as:

  • drinking less alcohol and other high-calorie beverages
  • eating less processed foods
  • not eating when you’re not physically hungry

And you’ll need to make these small changes consistently, over a period of time.

Many folks will decide that these changes are worth making. They want to look and feel better, get a good night’s sleep, get off medications, and so forth. So they’re ready to compromise.

Other folks will decide that they’re not yet ready to make more adjustments. And that’s fine too.

The most important thing is that you realize: In order to change…you have to change.

What it takes to get “super-lean”

At next stage — going from athletically lean to bodybuilder lean — the tradeoffs get even more serious.

Here’s something that you may not realize:

Elite bodybuilders getting ready for a contest and models getting ready for a shoot are basically in a slow starvation process.

Adhering to an extremely strict and precise regimen of eating and training (and perhaps adding some drugs into the mix) is the only way way they can drop their body fat to extremely low levels.

Males can get to body fat levels under 6% with this process, and females can get to under 16%.

But this process is not for the faint of heart.

It goes against biological cues. It requires exercising when exhausted. It demands ignoring their desire for food in the face of powerful hunger cues. It involves intense focus and dedication.

And it often distracts from other areas of life that these athletes might enjoy and value.

Imagine all the practical things that are involved in very strict dieting and training.

  • You have to make your own food and measure every meal down to the last gram.
  • That food is generally very plain — lean protein, steamed vegetables, plain potatoes or rice, etc.
  • You have to carry that food with you so you can eat at a precise time.
  • You cannot eat in restaurants.
  • You have to do a specific workout on a given day, exactly as specified.
  • No sick days, no slacking.
  • You’ll probably be training 2 or 3 times per day.
  • You have to sleep and recover precisely.
  • No parties or staying up late.
  • You can’t think straight because you’re always hungry and tired.
  • Your whole life revolves around making food, dieting, training, and recovery protocols.
  • Did we mention you’re slowly starving?

So forget having a sex life, social life, parenthood, school, and probably a regular job.

Is that level of leanness worth it?

Having a six-pack doesn’t automatically make you healthy. In fact, getting toolean can be actively unhealthy.

You might end up with amenorrhealow libidodisordered eatingbones like Swiss cheese, social isolation, and a host of other problems.

Some elite bodybuilders rely on drugs like stimulants, diuretics, and other drugs just to keep themselves going.

Many folks even rely on cosmetic surgery. Which creates its own health risks… and certainly doesn’t add health on its own.

In short, being really lean has almost nothing to do with being really healthy.

Indeed, being too focused on getting lean may lead you away from good health.

precision nutrition getting lean abs The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade off?

Meanwhile, on the subject of six-packs, it might surprise you to learn that even among the super lean, not all abs are created equal.

That’s right. Strip away all the excess fat, and some people will never reveal a magazine cover set of abs.

Why? Because — quite apart from that airbrushing we referred to earlier — we’re all built differently.

Some folks have staggered abdominals. Some have angled abdominals. Some people might really only have four abdominals that are visible no matter how lean they get.

Don’t believe us? Go to any amateur physique competition for a first-hand view.

Who knows? The experience might prove enlightening. It might even contribute to greater body acceptance and self-compassion.

Because what you’re sure to notice is that in real life, nobody’s “perfect”.  Not even elite bodybuilders and fitness competitors.

Getting clear, getting real

Clarity is essential in change.

If you think you may want to change how much body fat you have, start by getting a clear idea of where you’re at.

  • Figure out your goals and priorities. If you don’t know what your priorities are, now’s a great time to explore that.
  • Decide what you’re willing to do right now in order to serve those goals and priorities. Why?
  • Decide how often, and how consistently, and how precisely, you’re willing to do those things.
  • Decide what you’re not willing to do right now. Why not?
  • In the above steps, be brutally honest and realistic yet compassionate with yourself.

Now you have your action plan.

And you know where you are on the cost-benefit continuum.

In the table above, we’ve provided rough estimates for what it might take to achieve specific levels of leanness or muscularity — or even simple health improvements, like getting off medications.

This is just a general guide. It’s a start. Something to get you thinking.

You may need more tailored guidance or coaching. Age, gender, genetics, medical conditions, and pharmaceuticals can all affect what you’ll need to do to get and stay lean.

If tracking your body fat is important to you, make sure you have a valid way to do it, such as a skinfold caliper measurement by a trained professional. If you don’t care, and use other indicators like your belt notches, that’s cool.

What to do next

1. Take the long view

Whatever change you want to make, remember: It will take time.

Eating one big, rich meal won’t make you wake up overweight. Fasting for 24 hours won’t give you six-pack abs.

A simple plan followed consistently is better than a complex plan followed intermittently.

2. Review what’s involved

To reduce your body fat from unhealthy to healthy levels

You only need to make a few changes, and follow them about 80% of the time.

To go from normal to reasonably lean

You need a few more changes, and a bit more consistency.

Now you might need to eat protein and veggies at every meal, and get 7+ hours of sleep 85% of the time.

To go from lean to very lean

You’ll have to put in more time and more effort. Plus, you’ll need to follow your plan even more consistently — with almost obsessive accuracy.

This means adding a few more habits, such as monitoring fat and carbohydrate intake, and exercising at least 5 hours per week 95% of the time.

For instance, if you eat 4 meals per day, in any given month you’ll need to ensure that 114 of your 120 precisely calibrated meals are perfectly executed, in order to achieve your desired level of leanness.

That’s a serious commitment right there.

3. Get clarity on what YOU want

Review the “getting clear, getting real” list.

What matters to YOU?

What are YOU willing to do… or not? Why?

There’s no right answer. What’s most important is that you understand what it takes to get a certain outcome.

And now YOU have the power to choose. Healthy, athletically lean, or super lean: It all depends on your priorities and goals.

Now you can make the decisions — and get the body you really need, while still living the life you want.

[Bonus: We created a cool infographic that summarizes this article. Click here for: The cost of getting lean illustrated. Is it really worth the trade-off? If there’s someone you think might benefit from seeing it, please pass it along.]

Be Honest! By Kiki Vale, Lean Lifestyle Group Member

Lets-Be-Honest-ABEWhen I started this blog at the beginning of 2014 my motivation was, and still is, to develop a Sound Mind in a Healthy Body, all the while sharing my research, findings and applications with you so that you too will enjoy a healthful life!  Upon beginning, and incidentally in your endeavors always remember what Aristotle said, “Well begun is half done,” my goal was to gain strength and vitality as a result of losing excess.  My bullseye was hit a size 8 from a 10 by exercising a ton via training for a duathlon.  This training would allow me to burn lots of calories and simultaneously get me to my size.  I did train, and I did complete my duathlon, but I didn’t reach my target number because of a back injury which forced me to significantly reduce my workouts.  In a serendipitous manner, my injury led me to the truth about food, its consequences & what our body requires to survive effectively.  It also forced me to evaluate myself honorably.  Today’s blog is about being honest with yourself and how you treat your one and only body.

An injury will set you back, but you have to get back in the saddle one step at a time.  That was my intention between July and September, to get back to my intense workouts so I could burn calories and lose weight.  My healing endeavor involved physical therapy, epsom salt baths, stretching, Pilates, water running, massages and slow walking.  All these actions helped in the moment, but not in the long run.  After 3 months passed by, I was starting to feel a little hopeless and then one day, someone who remains unnamed, told me the truth, “Your back and legs are carrying too much weight.”  Ughhhhh, I had been in denial that extra pounds would have such a harmful effect on my body, and as a result I couldn’t move fast enough to get the metabolism up and the weight down.  In this moment, I wanted so badly to get pain free that I firmly decided to formally get on an eating plan that would allow me to rid my body of flubber and toxins and return to a healthy back.  Mind you, I have been on dozens of eating plans and programs in my life, but now I needed accountability & a lifestyle change, not because I wanted to be in a smaller size, but because I wanted RELIEF!! On September 15th I signed up for Precision Nutrition- a program with purpose, education and simplicity.  Day one was to weigh in and measure body fat.  Before I went for the dreaded reality check on the scale, I hadn’t been on one in 2 years, I had guesstimated my weight.  My guess was 10 pounds too light, and I was actually devastated that the number had crept up to where it had.  Jenifer, who runs the PN class, also took pictures of me and those alarmed me as well.  When I reach my goal I’ll share my weight and pics with you!  To date I have dropped 9 pounds, and honestly my back is 50 percent better.  Can you imagine what another 12 pounds off my joints will do for relief?

Precision Nutrition has been refreshing to say the least, and it totally supports my mission to develop a Sound Mind In a Healthy Body; here is why: the food choices are lean and foster a lean body, the choices are a result of thinking and planning which develop clarity, the amount of food is just right and doesn’t leave a feeling of bloating and heaviness and the content of food helps you run a clean engine.  Incidentally, the food is a blend of veggies, proteins and good grains/fats.  Nothing fancy or new, just balance and a combo of foods that fuel our bodies. Incidentally, I believe the only way to keep a healthy eating lifestyle is to eat fresh, organic and delicious.  Thats  where recipes come into play.  Preparing clean foods with herbs, spices and flavoring will keep your taste buds dancing and interested.  We have to eat to survive, but we should eat foods we enjoy and foods that allow us to perform well in life!

Honestly, food is a large and important component to feeling robust and living in a healthy body.  An approach I’m taking to food, and will forever more take with food, is; where does this food come from and what nutrients are in it to help me live stronger?  Is this food jammed with ingredients that my body cannot digest, or ingredients that rot my liver?  Does the food I’m eating live on a shelf or a refrigerator?  Non foods can exist for weeks and months and even years on a shelf.  These items are detrimental to your well being.  Foods that are grown from the earth (greens, plant life, veggies) are super good for you.  Meats and proteins grown organically are good for you.  I’ve recently learned that eggs and meats that come from animals loaded with hormones and antibiotics transfer those toxins to the person eating them.  There is so much to learn about our food today, but remember this:  When eating, only consume what is good and safe for your body.  We can explore the organic way next time, but for now, remember to eat clean and lean foods that fuel your body, not harm it.  AND- begin to avoid excess sugar, according to Tosca Reno, sugar is enemy number one.  The effects are negative, and cause side effects.

Also- be aware that when you get frustrated with eating lean and healthfully, don’t feel isolated because our society perpetuates thoughtless choices.  The offerings are centered around eating large quantities with empty calories.  It takes planning and thought to eat healthfully.  Daily, we are eating faster and at random.  During one of my past radio interviews with Dawn Jackson Blatner, Food and Nutrition Expert, she reiterated the importance of sitting down to a meal with a plate, fork, knife and fully balanced meal. No standing and eating, and no eating on the go.  Certainly that old adage about, it takes twenty minutes for your head to tell your body it is full is accurate.  On the subject of habits, Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard, found when examining data from a long-term study of the residents of Framingham, Mass., health habits can be as contagious as a cold virus. By his calculation, a Framingham individual’s chances of becoming obese shot up by 57 percent if a friend became obese.

Additionally, it may not be only what we are eating; it may also be what we are not eating. “Are we doing something positive, or is it the absence of something negative?” Gary Taubes is a founder of the nonprofit Nutrition Science Initiative and the author of “Why We Get Fat” (and has written several articles for this magazine). “One explanation why people live so long is they eat a plant-based diet. Or it could be the absence of sugar and white flour. For example, from what I know of the Greek diet, they eat very little refined sugar, and their breads have been traditionally made with stone-ground wheat.”

Besides these helpful habits, I have discovered that when I eat foods that are clean, organic and fresh, I am naturally yielding mental clarity and physical soundness.  My body reacts to the food I give it.  It’s a simple formula.

Once you are sincere with yourself about the status of your body & the effects of your food choices, you will automatically begin to desire real food that tastes delicious & eliminate food and drink that is harmful, consequently allowing  you to achieve the body you deserve-honest!

Men's Journal... We Couldn't Agree More!

Is Sugar the New Tobacco?


You already know that eating too much sugar causes your teeth to rot and can lead to diabetes and obesity. But could it also trigger high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and possibly even cancer? That’s the theory of a group of progressive medical researchers, who argue that sugar acts as a toxin in the body and is responsible for not only our rising rates of diabetes and obesity but also increasing incidences of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illness. Because sugar is so prevalent in food today – in obvious items like ice cream, cookies, and soda, as well as in “healthy” foods like crackers, energy bars, and salad dressings – experts contend that most people are living in toxic overload.

“Sugar is the biggest public health crisis in the history of the world,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, whose 2009 speech “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” has received more than 2.5 million hits on YouTube. In an opinion paper published earlier this year in the journal Nature, Lustig and colleagues provoked debate when they stated that sugar is so harmful, it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco. “Every substance of abuse – cocaine, heroin, you name it – has required personal or social intervention,” says Lustig. “For sugar we have nothing, and my prediction is that we will need both.”


At first blush, this antisugar advocacy may seem alarmist. But Lustig and his University of California colleagues argue that sugar is harmful in significant amounts – not necessarily because it’s high in calories but rather because it triggers a toxic chain of reactions in the body that produce harmful fats, hormones, and other metabolic by-products.

RELATED: Steve Nash on Living Sugar-Free

Sugar is found in nearly every food except meat, oil, and butter. But there’s a big difference between the sugar that occurs naturally in raw, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, and whole grains and the type added to prepared or processed foods. Added sugars include every sweetener imaginable: white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, honey, agave nectar. It’s these added sugars that experts say are the root cause of our sugar problem because high amounts of them are found in almost every food we eat, most of which are also high in calories and devoid of nutrients. “Nature made sugar hard to get,” Lustig and his colleagues wrote in Nature. “Man made it easy.”

Among all the different types of sugar, fructose may be the most harmful, many experts believe. Fructose is found naturally in small amounts in fruit, but is also combined with glucose (the other basic sugar molecule) to make nearly every type of commercial sweetener, including table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Why is fructose so harmful? “It’s unique,” says Dr. Miriam Vos, a gastroenterologist at Emory University. “It’s primarily metabolized by the liver,” so when you eat it, it’s processed and then stays in your liver and starts producing harmful blood fats called triglycerides.


Sugars that don’t contain fructose, on the other hand, like pure glucose and corn syrup, are processed by the liver and then sent out into the bloodstream, whether you need the fuel or not. Eat enough fructose and build enough triglycerides, and the result can be a fatty liver and insulin resistance – when the body can’t produce enough insulin to break down the sugar you eat.

Read more:
Follow us: @mensjournal on Twitter | MensJournal on Facebook