By Leo Babauta
You may never have heard of the Unbelievable Lightness of Being Club, a health and fitness group, but I know you’ve heard of most of its incredibly beautiful members. That’s because there’s only two members: me, and my wife Eva.
Also, I should add that we just started it a couple days ago.
Here’s the background: as you know, I just finished my second marathon, and I’m focusing now on strength training (while building my running back up and still trying to flatten my belly some more). I’ve never been real consistent about strength training, so this will be a good challenge for me. I’m looking forward to it. My wife is trying to get back in shape after not exercising consistently for a little while. The both of us are having a church wedding in June — she wants to get in shape to fit in her dress, while I want to look good for her for our Thailand honeymoon. I know, these might be ego-type goals, but hey, it fuels most of our fitness goals, no?
So here’s what we did: we create some “light eating” rules, and some “light workout” rules as well. They’re aimed at getting us lighter, and fitter. Hence the club’s name, a play on the title of the excellent book by Milan Kundera, of course.
So here are the rules we created — and I recommend them to anyone trying to lose weight, get leaner, or just get healthier and fitter.
The Light Eating Rules
- Eat when you’re lightly hungry. Not when you’re ravenous. That means eating every 3-4 hours, and paying more attention to your hunger. If you’re getting hungry, eat. Action steps: plan meals every 3-4 hours, be more aware of your hunger, pack snacks or meals for on the road.
- Eat light foods. Nothing too heavy, except cheat meals. Lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans and nuts. Fresh food much better than processed. Action steps: make a list of healthy meals and snacks with real, whole foods. Stuff you like that’s healthy. Turn them into meal plans — several days worth of meals and snacks.
- Eat lightly and slowly. Savor the food. Don’t cram it down. Eating slowly will help you not to get overfull, and will help you enjoy your food more.
- Eat until you’re lightly full. Not stuffed. Stop before you’re really full, and wait 10 minutes to see if you’re really still hungry.
No dieting, no restricted foods, all good stuff. This plan is really about learning how to eat healthier, and to feel lighter all the time. I do pretty well, but I’m trying to take it to the next level. One step at a time!
The Light Workout Rules
- Start light. Start your workout plan as easy as possible until you’ve learned to stick to it. Gradually increase once you have. For me, that means starting my strength training light — I won’t start too heavy and I’m just doing 2 days a week (full-body workouts) of 6 exercises (mostly compound exercises – squat, bench press, standing row, shoulder presses, pullups, and bicep curls). I’ll only be doing 1 set at first, and adding more later once I’m used to it. I really want to focus on being consistent for more than two weeks. For other exercises, limit your minutes to a small amount for the first 2-3 weeks.
- Rest light. Take a rest day when you feel like you need it– but never two days in a row. Feel free to skip a workout, but you have to do tomorrow’s workout! Rest days are important, but you don’t want to get out of your program.
- Let the light shine. Keep a strict workout and eating log, and make it public. Share with as many people as possible. Let the light shine where once there was darkness, and that accountability will motivate you.