“I want to become skinny fit…so that I can easily tuck my white shirt into my blue jeans and look confident, strong, and sexy without living the abnormal life of dieting…and focus my energy on things that truly matter.” This is one of the visions women have shared with me in the past. And if your goal is being skinny and fit in the healthy way that lasts, I’m going to share with you some best-kept secrets which has helped my clients create that result for years.
What Is Skinny Fit?
Skinny fit is being in shape and toned, and feeling energetic, healthy, and capable of performing the activities that you desire to do.
SECRET 1. Set The Right Goal.
I’m not talking about the basic goal in terms of X pounds to lose in Y months. Instead, I’m talking about the PERSONA you choose to tune into next. Your IDENTITY.
A dieter and a holistically skinny fit, healthy person, even if they are both 130 pounds, are two entirely different species. This is because their bodies function differently. Their mind operates differently. And their hormones, metabolism, and digestion are working differently. Needless to say, their eating is also different, which determines their every single choice and decision closely or remotely related to food are are different. What that means is these two people live their lives on different dimensions.
Therefore, it’s very important for you to realize this:
Being a better dieter and becoming a holistically skinny fit, healthy person are two entirely different outcomes.
The question is which one you want to obtain — because the pathway to one won’t lead to the other.
The FAD industry only teaches you to be obedient dieters and it has been doing so for decades. The better you are at being a dieter, the harder it is for you to become authentically healthy, happy, and fit.
Getting onto a diet? Think twice if it’s what you really want.
SECRET 2. Stop Working Hard On It.
Here’s the “Smart People Syndrome:”
The harder you work on losing weight and dieting, the more diligent you are at analyzing the metrics, and the more loyal you are to the diet rules, the more difficult it is for you to lose weight for real.
And eventually you are sitting there wondering “how come I’m not able to accomplish this after working so hard on it?”
Here are 2 iron truths that most dieters don’t realize:
- Losing weight is not your job, it’s your body’s job.
- Your body has the natural instinct to correct its weight and maintain it.
And what that means is: weight loss is a cruise when you STOP interfering with your body and messing with how it’s supposed to work. After all, balanced eating, digestion, and metabolism are instincts that are well executed by your highly sophisticated neurological system. These are as intuitive as breathing. And think about it: when was the last time you had to count the seconds of your inhale to make sure you aren’t overeating oxygen?
To my clients, losing weight no longer felt like climbing Mt. Everest as soon as they realized this. The next thing they know? Watching their body shed the pounds on itself AFTER letting go of the useless dieting efforts. You can watch this to get a sense of what the experience is like.
Also, on this page, you can see more of my clients losing 20, 30, 40 pounds in the*cruise mode*. Despite the differences in their age, gender, and background, they all shared the same commonality of trying all types of rigorous diets for years with no real results. One of them did a 90-day diet program with her fiancee right before sustainably losing 40 pounds with me. She lost NOTHING throughout 90 days even though she was strictly eating 1200 calories a day. She almost stopped believing her body could lose weight at all.
There are quite a few stories like that. It’s not their bodies not working, it’s the approach they used leading them to the wrong experience. And when they were working with the wrong approach, they couldn’t get there no matter how hard they tried.
Once they’ve lost the pounds, there was only minimal maintenance efforts because they didn’t do the crazy things to lose the weight to begin with.
So again, getting that kind of result isn’t about working HARD but working SMART.
And it’s critical for you to realize this so that you can trust your body again.
The FACT is: chronic dieting puts your body in a resistance mode when it comes to losing weight. For instance, I’ve talked about how it lowers metabolic set point, making you burn less calories than you should. I’ve also talked a lot about how restrictive dieting deteriorates your innate biological, chemical, hormonal, and digestive functions, creating strong barriers to lose weight.
Restrictive dieting is hands down harmful. The more you do it, the more your body becomes less capable of gaining real results — emotionally, metabolically, and neurologically. With all the negative patterns going on, your body loses its ability to self-correct and self-manage.
So if you are working hard right now, ask yourself the following questions:
“Am I turning my body into working against me or working for me?”
“Is my way of working aligned with my goal in Secret 1?”
SECRET 3. Restore Your Skinny Fit Instincts.
I’d like to give this one another name, which is ‘Turn Your Body From Working Against You Into Working For You’ following our previous discussion in Secret 2.
I just said losing and maintaining weight is your body’s natural instinct. It’s one basic function that your body is 100% capable of. And there are many instinctive abilities that, when fully re-enabled, work together while you are awake and asleep to help you maintain your best body shape.
Three instincts that immediately impact your results are the following:
Instinct #1. Tastebuds.
Are you wired to prefer highly sugary, salty heavily processed junk food vs. healthy, authentic, naturally grown food?
I explain this concept in extensive detail in Sugar Addiction Treatment: Stop Sugar From Controlling Your Life. I also told a mini story in it that when I first came to the US, I was shocked at how intolerable the sweetness was in your typic ice cream — to the level that I couldn’t even swallow it. It not only happened to me. Almost every international student I knew who came from Asia and some parts of Europe had the same idea. You have no clue how skewed your tastebuds have been after years and years of being trained to eat junk food. And that makes the FOUNDATION of your chronic unhealthy eating habits.
And it doesn’t just apply to sugar addiction but also addiction to any unhealthy food. For instance, most of my clients will find the heavily process food which they used to think of as delicious treats barely tolerable after a few weeks of reconditioning work. That makes them naturally stay away from them, which they could’ve never imagined before.
Still think stopping eating junk food and sugar is a matter of willpower? It is not.
Instinct #2. Satiety.
Can you feel hunger precisely and timely before you overeat? Some of my clients couldn’t accurately gauge satisfaction and hunger when they first came in. Others couldn’t remember what satiety or hunger means because they are either stuffed or overstuffed.
If you are experiencing this, it’s mostly because you’ve been dieting and prioritizing numeric metrics like calories and carbs so strictly that you suppressed your body’s true feelings. The outcome is desensitizing yourself from your body’s core senses, including the sense of hunger and satisfaction.
And without reactivating the sense of satiety, you are always inclined to overeat and go out of control on food.
Instinct #3. Metabolism.
As I mentioned in Secret 2, our metabolism could’ve been impaired as you’ve dieted and gained weight.
Firstly, chronic dieting can slow down your metabolism. One of the classic examples is lowering your metabolic set point, which is the amount of calories you are supposed to burn by functioning daily. This is a mechanism your body uses to save you during the (imagined) famine, which it perceives as you starve yourself. And the core of that is preserving energy to make you survive vs spending it.
Meanwhile, if you have chronic inflammation which is very common among overweight people, that’ll further reduce metabolism by producing less leptin which is one of the messengers for your brain to regulate metabolism.
Also, ongoing unhealthy eating can slow down your metabolism for the long run too. Healthy eating habits, such as drinking green tea and other healing foods daily, can generate the opposite effects.
The problem with slow metabolism: extra effort needed to lose weight without necessarily gaining the results. And if you are following strict CICO diet, creating a calorie deficit but not seeing results, consider your metabolism first.
And let me say this again: you can’t lose weight if your body is wired to work against you and have lost the instincts that help it self-manage.
Without these instincts re-activated, you’ll keep wanting to eat the wrong types of food, overeat, and retain fat.
SECRET 4. Self-Control Is Also An Instinct vs. A Willpower Game.
This one belongs to the Instinct Section above but is worthy of having a stand-alone section of its own.
You think healthy people have self-control when eating because they are good at disciplining themselves? 80% of the time, it’s not the case.
In many situations, healthy people can sit in front of an opened bag of chocolate without needing to take any mostly because:
They aren’t feeling triggered, tempted, and fixated to it from the beginning.
Because they aren’t hormonally and chemically wired to experience a lot of excessive cravings for the chocolate to begin with. Again, it’s their bodies’ internal environment that gives them full calmness and detachment from what you see as “triggers.”
I summarized this fact in this 22-second video below:
So it’s not willpower after all. It’s their bodies behaving as they are supposed to be. And you are feeling the need of extra willpower to follow good eating habits because your bodies haven’t been ‘corporative’ yet.
Meanwhile, because these people haven’t deprived themselves either, they don’t feel obsessed with these food or think about it all the time. I’ll elaborate this in the next secret. For now, just remember, good self-control is a result of the cravings muted before they come up.
SECRET 5. Satisfy Yourself — To Mute Cravings Before They Come Up.
Studies have found out that the #1 reason for someone to have food addiction is that his brain is experiencing less dopamine than he needs.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which makes you feel satisfied and joyful. Therefore, when you deprive yourself, you are actually making your brain to experience less dopamine. And by doing that, you are commanding your brain to experience more cravings and ultimately, food addiction.
This is why restrictive diets never work. Physically, they harm your metabolism, your core senses, and instincts as discussed earlier. Mentally and neurologically, it induces food cravings and addiction.
The only way to stop this vicious cycle is to stop depriving yourself. And when your instincts are fully at work, you are able to satisfy yourself with just the right amount of food, and feel fully satiated and happy, while losing a whole bunch of weight.
A lot of time, our cravings are made true by ourselves. And stopping emotional eating is 50% of a mind game.
I said it’s made true by ourselves because when we anticipate the craving, the perceived craving will manifest. This BBC experiment with 12 pairs of twins split in two groups drinking exactly the same drink that are labeled differently tells the story really well. One label says “rich vanilla,’ auto-suggesting high calories. The other label says ‘skim,’ auto-suggesting low calories. Guess which group feels very hungry after a few hours unanimously? The one which thought they had the ‘skim’ version.
Satisfaction helps you reduce cravings. Self-deprivation triggers cravings. Stopping to deprive yourself should be your first step to become skinny fit for life while changing your relationship with food.
After all, pleasure food is an essential part of healthy, balanced eating. Don’t believe it? Let me show you what I have in my awesome fridge.
SECRET 6. Eating Well To Become Skinny Fit Is A Simple, Intuitive Thing.
How many times have you heard yourself saying “I don’t even know how to eat now!” Because of all the diet myths you’ve learned, you’ve made eating way more complicated than it is.
Eating well while managing weight is a simple, intuitive thing. You’ve been able to do it very well until the day you started dieting and learning all the harmful diet rules.
To learn more about intuitive eating, read my 7 Intuitive Eating Principles That Make Eating Stress-Free and the Mindful Eating Exercise That Helps You Put Down The Donut Easily.
SECRET 7. Set Simple Food Routines.
Simplicity is KING.
To give you an idea, my clients spend about 45 minutes a day preparing two straightforward, highly satisfying, and slimming meals. Simplicity and satisfaction are why you can sustain the routine easily. If your routine is a hassle, you won’t be able to keep it off no matter how many pounds you lose initially.
When starting a new regimen, ask yourself “will I be able to do this for life?” And even better — “is this something I want to teach my children?”
SECRET 8. Eat Worthily.
Do you think the food you are eating is a good match with your identity?
Throughout years of coaching, I’ve found lots of people, other than having a weight problem, also have a self-worth issue. We can conveniently assume that the self-worth issue came from the self-image problem. But it’s not always this case.
A lot of time, people make poor choices and decisions for themselves because they don’t realize how worthy they are.
Here’s an example:
“I’m going to make sure my children eat well and I can just grab some McDonalds later because apparently it’s more important for them to eat healthy and I don’t really think much about myself.”
You should never be the last one you care about.
“I’m such a contributor but often treat myself like a napkin.”
And for countless times I’ve heard people saying “I always binge on junk food.”
When you think highly of yourself (which you should), you may not think the junk food you’ve just grabbed today is worthy your attention anymore.
And when you’ve recognized your true worth, you’ll feel this sharp misalignment within you when feeding yourself heavily processed and artificial junk.
This misalignment you feel from your stomach will repel you from treating yourself badly. And of course that includes eating junk food all the time. Not long ago, I watched one of the richest business women in China being asked to promote some $5 snacks to the TV audience as a part of her partnership with the brand. The host asked her to take a bite of the snack which she meant to promote, yet she did not even touch it no matter what the host said. Her ‘this will give me diarrhea’ face expression was the hottest topic of the day all over China.
You know your worth, so you won’t want to contaminate and risk your body with heavily produced chemical junk. It again goes back to that IDENTITY you choose to tune into mentioned in Secret 1. And since we all subconsciously desire to feel aligned, that desire itself makes sure you are on the right track.
It means a strong sense of self-respect, self-love, and self-worth automatically lead you to desire high-quality experience in everything including food, relationships, hobbies, etc.
The key here is feeling worthy first.
What you can do today to get started:
Write down 10 MOMENTS in your life when you’ve achieved things that others didn’t, do things others couldn’t, and give things to not only yourself but other people that really helped them.
Then, stock your fridge with high-quality, fresh, whole foods as it reminds you of how much love and care you want to give to yourself. That’ll help create the great habits of cooking healthy, delicious food for you and your family. And the habit isn’t a product of discipline but pure desire to be the best of you.
Also, when buying chocolate, go get the best kind because you deserve it. When you are fully aware it’s the quality that you are pursuing whether it’s food or relationships, the psychological fixation to quantity fades away.
SECRET 9. Set The Right Expectation — On Both Timing And Progress
Want to lose 50 pounds in 3 months? Not going to happen healthily.
Want to steadily and healthily lose 50 pounds in a year? Very doable.
The amount of weight lost is only one thing. What matters more when it comes to sustainability is how it is done. For example, losing 50 pounds over 12 years means 4-5 pounds of weight loss on average every month. You can for sure do that in a healthy, holistic way. And when done right, you can maintain easily while living a normal life.
However, progress is far more than the scale number. Some people lose inches but not weight first for a while, which usually means your body is highly effective in losing fat. The key is:
Are you looking and feeling a lot better in your clothes? Are you feeling much more secure with food and eating much more confidently?
Is your food routine very satisfying and simple to maintain (remember I just said satisfaction and simplicity are key to long-run success)?
Are you happier? More energetic?
Do you feel lighter?
Are you able to focus on things that matter in life vs. food and calories?
Can you do things that you couldn’t because of the weight now?
Here watch me coaching my clients LIVE on what transformation really means:
All of these factors should be counted as progress. And the happier and more stress-free you are during the process of losing it, the easier it is for the results to last forever.
SECRET 10. Don’t Let Weight Dictate Life.
When one of my clients first joined, she told me he was very frustrated because he felt their life was dictated by her weight.
Weight loss will happen on its own as you are following the right approach. However, if you keep messing with your mind by falling for the same mindset pattern the obsessed dieter you used to have, you’ll sabotage it. Without doubt, the best way to sabotage your progress is being mentally fixated on your weight, including weighing yourself too much.
Now let’s go back to the persona and identity discussed in Secret 1 for a moment. When you’ve become the holistically and authentically healthy, skinny fit person, will you think about weight and food all the time? 1000% no. Then why not practice being that identity now?
What will that person do for herself and her loved ones?
How will she spend her time?
Will she study something?
Will she do something special with her significant other?
Create that life now and get used to trusting your body and living that identity as much as you can. Regarding your weight, measure your progress as defined in Secret 9. Watch yourself getting better and better day after day. And enjoy the moment by being present to the work you are doing and the people you spend time with.
One day, you’ll be like me, accidentally standing on the scale and WOWed by the 50 POUNDS disappearing.
And one day in the future, you realize that it’s been 16 years of effortless maintenance. And no matter how much you enjoy food, you aren’t gaining weight easily.
Leslie Chen is rated as Top Weight Loss Coach by Coach Foundation. For 8 years, her Lean Instinct Formula™ has helped people lose weight left and right while gaining unlimited food freedom via long-standing food and health wisdom from Asia.
If you are READY to start losing weight consistently and sustainably to become skinny fit without dieting, book a clarity call.