How I Stay Lean Year Round

Since I am not a competitor, for me, there is no "off-season". I am able to stay relatively lean year round. 6 pack lean? No, but that is not my goal and is unattainable for my body type. I have NO desire to be shredded, just to look muscular and athletic.

My goal has been to build muscle for, like,...well, basically my whole life, and I have been able to do so without doing the whole "bulking" thing and gaining tons of fat in the process. Maybe it has been a slower process because of that, but I'm okay with that!

I actually like the way I look now and am at the point where I'm not wanting to gain TONs more muscle(more in the glutes would be nice, though!) or lean out any more. I mostly just want to maintain my current look while being able to eat foods I love, enjoy living life and not have to eat super strict ALL of the time.  Here are a few things that I help me do that:

*Lift heavy. First and foremost, I lift heavy. None of this metabolic conditioning or circuit training stuff with high reps and low weight. I've never done that. My reps are usually between 3 and 8, and up to 10-12 on some isolation exercises.

*Finishers. Along with heavy lifting, I also include short "finishers" after my workouts about twice a week, usually consisting of 5-10 minutes of kettlebell swings, battle ropes, prowler sprints, or jump rope. I do NO traditional cardio besides walking for 10-20 minutes on my off days.

*Nutrition. Of course, you can't stay lean without eating right, so that is a big part of it. I don't follow any sort of diet or nutrition plan, and I'm not paleo or high carb or low carb or anything like that. I do eat pretty "clean" most of the time, and by that I mean eating mostly whole, natural foods, BUT I don't feel that you have to be miserable and eat nothing but chicken and broccoli to be lean and healthy. To me, having to live like that just for the sake of having 6 pack abs or being super ripped is not living.

*Watch portion sizes. I have tracked calories and macros some in the past, but I found that that just made me obsess over food too much and gave me anxiety. I am now able to pretty much know how much of each food group to have in a day and at each meal. I do watch my portion sizes, especially with fats and carbs, and I make sure that every meal includes a protein source.

*No food "rules" or restrictions.  Seems like nowadays everyone is gluten free or dairy free or whatever. If you have an allergy or don't function well from a certain food, then eliminate it, but if not, don't do something just because everyone else is doing it! I don't restrict myself from any food group and allow myself to eat foods that I enjoy. Restriction only leads to cravings and bingeing! There was a time when I lived by certain food rules, such as only eating carbs early in the day. Now I know that it doesn't really matter when you eat, but what your overall calorie intake is over the course of the day.

*Treat myself. I always have one free meal a week to eat whatever I want, but NOT a whole day. In addition to that, I have a post workout "treat" once or twice a week, like a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich or my favorite cereal, and I also have a piece of dark chocolate or a Hershey kiss almost every day! Doing those things and not eating super strict helps me to stay on track and never feel like I am dieting or that I "can't" have any certain foods. It keeps me from falling off the wagon, as they say, and keeps me sane!

When it comes to nutrition and training, it's so important to find something that is sustainable, something you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, not something that makes you miserable(unless of course, you're prepping for a show, and that is a completely different thing). It's really about finding what best works for YOU, which may take some time and experimentation.

Just remember, this is a lifestyle, and you are in it for the long haul! So don't look for something that will give you the fastest results possible-if it's not sustainable, then really, what's the point?

I'm frequently asked how I eat and train, so hopefully this will answer some of your questions!  Feel free to message me with any questions you may have about training or nutrition!


  1. Love this post, Lindsay! You are such an awesome role model :)

    1. Thanks so much, Tara! I hope that I am. I truly do want to influence women in a positive way by getting them to see the power of the weights and not being scared of food!

  2. Thanks for this. I was thinking the same thing about being lean yr round. I have noticed that there are seasons though. :)

    1. I think it's fine to go though times of being a little stricter with your eating and then times of letting loose a little, but not to the point where it gets out of control! Doing a few important things consistently help to keep it dialed in.

  3. I really appreciated reading this--thank you! Looking at other fitness sites can make me feel VERY overwhelmed and anxious.

    I have about 60 lbs. to lose and wondered if you'd make any recommendations about what would be a good ratio of protein/carb/fat for fat loss. I am tracking my food (more to keep me accountable for what I'm eating--not about being obsessive over amts. of macronutrients) and exercising 5x/week (home workouts of mostly cardio with some weight training videos).

    1. It is very overwhelming at times. I don't recommend any specific ration. I have done 40/30/30 carbs-protein-fat, 25/30/35 carbs-protein-fat. It comes down to experimenting and also the types of food you enjoy. If you like carbs, a higher carb ratio may be best, or if you really like fats, then lower the carbs a bit. One thing that should stay pretty constant is the protein.

    2. Thanks for writing back, Lindsay! A couple more questions if you don't mind: 1. Do you eat the number of grams of protein equal to your weight? I see alot that recommend that; others that say that is too much protein.
      2. Is it true that the higher carb percent will help build muscle, while a lower carb percent will help drop fat? I'm sure that's probably overly simple... but I'm looking for a good starting point to try. Thank you again!!!!

    3. I probably eat more than that, more like 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. I don't think it's too much. Yes, you do want more carbs to build muscle, but don't completely take them out if you want to lose fat. Losing fat is more to do with taking in less calories than you burn, so you can lose fat while still eating a good amount of carbs. Hope that makes sense.


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