Achieving Lifestyle Lean
Today, you'll learn the exact process my online client Madison implemented over the last 11 months to get Lifestyle Lean in time for her wedding:
→ Every single diet adjustment we made to help her lose 10 inches from her stomach
→ Her training & cardio strategy
→ How we applied the science of macros & nutritional periodization to create incredible (and sustainable) results
→ And much more...
Madison started online coaching with me May 2019 (11 months ago).
Before taking anyone on as a client, I make sure you're crystal clear on why you MUST change starting immediately.
The pain of staying the same must be greater than the pain of changing.
I remember hopping on our initial call and knowing almost immediately that Madison was going to take full ownership and absolutely crush the process (which she has).
→ She felt she had watched her physique AND confidence deteriorate over the last few years.
→ She was afraid of what the future held for her body & her confidence if nothing changed.
→ She was worried she would hate how she felt & looked walking down the aisle for her 2020 wedding.
→ She wanted to build some lean muscle (with a lower body emphasis), and feel strong and defined. She said that her physique reminded her of Gru from Despicable Me. (Haha only time I've EVER heard anyone make this comparison.)
This quote is pulled straight for her initial questionnaire:
"I am ready to make health/wellness a priority in my life and make it a lifestyle, not just a phase. Health is at the center of my career and I would like to lead by example and live a healthy life. Along with that, gaining confidence/comfort in my own skin, having more energy, feeling better about myself, and getting into a consistent routine where nutrition/exercise are a staple in my life."
Madison started coaching ready to play the long game.
She wanted to learn how to maintain a flexible lifestyle, and a body she felt confident in, forever.
Over the last 10 months, Madison has been incredibly consistent - with filling out her daily accountability tracker, with logging her training sessions, and with tracking her food. It makes me incredibly proud and happy to be able to write this case study today, thanks to all her hard work.
The Starting Point ⤵
Initial Body Stats:
These are Madison's first progress pictures and body measurements, taken right after our initial strategy call. started online coaching with me May 2019 (11 months ago).
Her biggest struggles with nutrition & training were:
1. Work Schedule & A Lack Of Training - "I work three or four 12 hour shifts a week, and rotate between day and night shifts (6:45-7:15), so it interferes with my sleep schedule because I have to switch back and forth. It’s tempting to eat at the hospital cafeteria, which doesn’t always have the healthiest choices. Also, in the middle of a stretch I am tired and it’s hard to find motivation to cook meals, so it’s more convenient to grab something quick. As far as training, I don’t work out right now so it doesn’t really interfere at this point."
2. Consistency & Structure With Nutrition - "I have tried tracking calories in the past, but it doesn’t last long (a couple days at most). I try to cook during the week, but I’m not great and have a hard time mixing things up."..."Biggest struggle: The temptation of the convenience of going out to eat/grabbing takeout. Also, lack of knowledge of what to eat/how much."
Basically, she knew she wanted to build a lean, strong body she felt confident in, but was frustratingly missing the education, structure, and accountability needed to transform with her crazy life.
Initial Training & Cardio Prescription (Week 1):
- 3x/Week Full Body Training + 8,000/Day Step Goal
We started Madison off following a 3x/week full body training split.
We knew that from her very limited experience following a proper training program, she could get great results training just 3x/week. (A full body, 3x/week training split is what I've found works best for most women that are relatively new to training.)
All 11 months, she's been following conjugate style of training periodization that blends strength and hypertrophy work. (Another favorite for most of my online clients.) Madison wanted to feel like a lean, strong badass - I like this style of periodization for her, because it allows her to focus on both building strength and lean muscle simultaneously.
Throughout this entire process, we've kept her cardio very low. We work some conditioning work into her program in the form of finishers to make sure that we're keeping her aerobic system healthy. But like most transformations, we knew that most of this was going to come down to proper nutrition and training.
Now, while I won’t give you her specific customized training program, you can create a free, full body training split similar to what Madison follows HERE.
Initial Nutrition Prescription (Week 1):
A big part of what Madison wanted to achieve was a flexible lifestyle - she wanted to be able to feel great in her body, and enjoy her weekends.
For clients with goals like this, I really like tracking calories + protein.
Studies have shown us that as long as we control calories & protein, the ratio of carbs:fats really doesn't matter that much when it comes to fat loss - so we knew she could get great results following this.
Madison was new to tracking & structured nutrition. I knew that having her track all her macros (protein, carbs, and fats) immediately would likely be overwhelming. For 99% of the population, the simpler we can keep your nutrition, the easier it will be to stick to... which is exactly why I like only tracking calories + protein for so many of my clients.
The #1 rule to creating a successful diet in my coaching practice is: We MUST use a method that's sustainable long-term for you as a client.
In Madison's case - simple + flexible = sustainable.
To determining her actual calorie & protein goals, I first had her do a nutrition assessment (like all my new online clients do). She tracked everything she ate for 4 days, and I used her food logs to determine her estimated maintenance.
Most new online clients I like to start in a Prepare Phase, where the goal isn't fat loss yet. The goal is preparing you for fat loss (check out my P3 Fat Loss Method for a deeper understanding of this).
Madison's maintenance intake from her food logs was lower than I would like. But over the next few weeks of the Prepare Phase as she improved measurement accuracy and food quality (whole foods are easier to track accurately), she started to lose at a solid pace while STILL eating 1,600 calories.
^This is a SUPER common scenario with new online clients - the Prepare Phase teaches you how to measure food accurately & better nutritional habits. We'll often find that what clients initially thought was 1,600 calories was being mis-measured, and was more like 2,100 calories.
The Prepare Phase keeps us from having to cut your calories to 1,000 right out of the gate.
For anyone looking for body recomposition like Madison was, the goal is always to eventually get you eating 1-1.2g protein/lb of bodyweight daily. That said, Madison's average protein intake was pretty low, so I knew that bumping her to 140 grams of protein right out of the gate would be TOUGH. So it made sense to start her at 100 grams.
And right there, you have the foundational principles my online clients follow to get lifestyle lean & strong:
1. Control calories
2. Drive up protein to ~1g/lb bodyweight
3. Improve food quality (80-90% whole foods)
4. Follow a smart training program 3-4x/week
5. Leave room for dietary flexibility.
We didn't change a single thing, nutrition or training.
As you'll see from her body stats below, Madison was seeing SOLID changes in the prepare phase. All we were focusing on here was:
1. Getting her consistent with protein intake
2. Getting her consistent with her training
3. Educating her on how to track food accurately (this was a big difference maker)
Right from the start Madison was SUPER consistent with everything I asked of her. That's exactly why she started to see results so quickly.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-4):
We STILL didn't change anything.
Madison's biofeedback and strength in the gym were both improving drastically, and she was seeing solid decreases in measurements & weight.
When an online client is losing .5-1% of their bodyweight per week, and seeing improvements in the gym, it's pretty rare we'll change anything. For most of us, this is the ideal scenario - we want to take advantage of it as long as possible.
This is situation I see quite often when new online clients start coaching with me. Once you're empowered with education and structure on how to do things the right way, you can take it and run with it. Most people are just missing the accountability, education, and structure.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-8):
Ok, we finally made some adjustments.
Madison had her protein intake on lock, so it made sense to go ahead and increase it for a few reasons:
1. Protein has the highest thermic effect - Basically, your body burns a lot more calories eating protein than any other macro. So by keeping her calories the same but increasing protein, Madison would be burning MORE calories daily. (And losing fat quicker.)
2. Lean protein is the most satiating food - To help keep her hunger low as she continued to get leaner, bumping protein a bit was a must. One of the BIGGEST things I focus on with you as a fat loss focused online client, is teaching you how to habitually select foods that are HARD to overeat. This makes it a lot easier to achieve truly sustainable results, than always being hungry & relying on willpower.
Over the next three weeks, Madison's weight was fluctuating between 126-129. Here measurements were also at a standstill.
After working through the stalled fat loss checklist I talk all of my online clients through before decreasing calories...
We decided it was time to decrease calories.
I had a hunch that we didn't need to decrease calorie by much, and Madison told me that here adherence would likely take a hit if she couldn't maintain higher flexibility on the weekends.
So, we implemented a modified version of the 5 | 2 macro split. Weekly, she had 5 lower calorie days and 2 higher calorie days.
Now normally, we would have increased the calories on her two high days more. It's been shown that 48 hours+ of eating at maintenance (~1900 calories for Madison) can help slow metabolic adaptation (the process of your metabolism & hormones adapting & decreasing over a diet).
But in Madison's case, we knew she had a diet break coming up soon. We made the mutual decision to push her fat loss for the last few weeks before her break.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-12):
It was time for Madison's first diet break (Adjustment 1):
Like we've talked about, one of Madison's biggest goals for coaching was to get results that she could sustain permanently.
So we knew the science of nutritional periodization would be essential to her long-term success.
When you start online coaching with me, it's NEVER just one long, drawn out diet.
Taking diet breaks, maintenance phases, and even time to focus on eating more a building lean muscle is a key part of what we do.
^This allows you to achieve your end result with a better metabolism & hormones, more lean muscle, and a great understanding (plus time practicing) all of the habits you need in place to maintain your results long-term.
The science shows us that diet breaks are a GREAT tool for adherence, and reverse many of the negative adaptations to dieting - returning the hormones leptin, ghrelin, and the thyroid hormone T3 to more normal levels. Basically, they help you "reset" your body (not entirely, but lots of benefits) and make weight loss easier, more sustainable, and healthier when you go back to dieting.
The length of a diet break can vary A LOT. Typically 10 days to 4 weeks.
But, just spending about 2 weeks at your estimated maintenance (in Madison's case, 1900 calories) is a good rule of thumb.
I like to implement these every 6-14 weeks for most online clients. (I use biofeedback like hunger, cravings, mood, motivation, and adherence as my main signals for when a client is ready for a diet break.)
Most clients are SCARED going into their first diet break.
Many of us have been trying unsuccessfully to lose fat for years. Now we're FINALLY doing something that's working, and I'm telling you to eat MORE?
Exactly. Because to make all of this sustainable, we also need to make sure you know exactly what your food choices, daily movement, calorie intake, etc. need to look like to MAINTAIN your results. Which is why taking diet breaks every 6-14 weeks is smart.
This ISN'T just a time where you eat whatever without tracking.
Think of it as practicing maintaining (a crucial skill to have mastered when we get you as lean as you want - that's what makes your results sustainable.) I HIGHLY recommend sticking mostly to the foods you normally eat, just in greater quantities. When you try to work in too many calorically-dense foods, you can easily eat MORE calories but be less satiated than when you're on your diet.
After two weeks at maintenance, Madison was feeling more energetic, less hungry, and ready to hop back into the diet. And so we made...
Right back to what was working for her before the diet break.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-16):
By this point, Madison had made a major mindset shift - she now liked going to the gym & training.
This moment is always a HUGE win for clients. When someone enjoys training, I know they'll stick to it long-term.
She stayed as consistent and accountable as ever, and the results kept coming.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-20):
STILL no adjustments.
By this point, Madison's rate of weight loss HAD slowed - which is to be expected. She was now getting pretty damn lean at 120lbs, and continuing to build strength & lean muscle in the gym.
In situations like this, it makes sense to shift focus away from weight loss, and more towards measurement changes.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-24):
Madison was due for another diet break... but we did things slight differently this time.
The holiday's were fast approaching (we implemented this adjustment right before Thanksgiving), and we decided that after 6 months of dieting, Madison would benefit from an extended period of time at maintenance.
From the all-important sustainability perspective, the holidays are the HARDEST time for most people. It's a time when many pack on fat, and undo months of hard work.
^This is exactly why I love to give my clients maintenance phases (think: longer diet breaks, with the goal of "practicing maintenance") over the holidays.
The goal of online coaching is to empower you with the knowledge & skills to be successful on your own in the future.
One of the best ways to do this is coaching clients through a maintenance phase over the holidays.
When January 2nd comes around, and you realize you were able to...
1. Enjoy the holidays
2. Eat good food
3. Maintain your results
...it's incredibly empowering. That's when most clients realize that they WILL be able to sustain their results long-term.
Madison was one of my many online clients who took an extended maintenance phase over the holidays.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-28):
After 3 weeks at maintenance, Madison decided she was ready for another fat loss phase.
I was honestly surprised by this one, as most of my clients want to sit at maintenance through New Years.
I don't think I ever once have heard Madison complain, and I knew she would follow everything I recommended to T. So I wanted to make sure she didn't in any way feel like she needed to start dieting again if she didn't want to.
But, yep - she was feeling super motivated by all of her previous progress, and ready to get back to dieting (with an untracked day on Christmas).
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-32):
Post-holiday, we saw another lull in measurement changes.
With the goal of having Madison feeling SUPER lean & confident in time for several bachelorette parties in early spring, we knew we needed to get more aggressive.
This was only the second time we decreased calories in 9 whole months.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-36):
With last month's calorie decrease, and Madison's ALWAYS solid adherence, she was seeing great changes again.
Body Stat Changes So Far (Weeks 0-40):
THE FINAL PUSH!
Her first bachelorette party of the spring was just a few weeks away, and Madison was so close to her goal leanness. So we decided to give it one last push, and have her feeling supremely confident and as lean as she wanted going into the party.
The End Result ⤵
Needless to say, she absolutely crushed it.
And just look at these measurement changes...
The FINAL Changes (Weeks 0-44):
To say that I'm proud of this girl is an understatement.
→ She took ownership & committed to putting in the work daily for ELEVEN MONTHS.
→ She was incredibly consistent with her tracking, with her training, and pushing herself.
→ She lost 10 INCHES from her navel measurement alone, 20lbs, and built a LOT of lean muscle & strength.
→ She took the time to do this the right way, allowing me to teach her the science of macros, training, and nutritional periodization. We have NO DOUBT she'll be able to maintain these results... she's already practiced doing just that for months.
Madison was sick of feeling insecure in her body, and was scared of what the future held if she DIDN'T change.
So she decided to take back control of her body and her confidence.
She got accountable so a smart, individualized nutrition & training strategy, and was consistent as hell for 11 months.
As a result of her had work, she's created a leaner, stronger, much more confident version of herself. One that'll will stick around long-term.
You're just as capable of transforming as she was.
If you're ready to change, CLICK HERE NOW to apply for online coaching with me.
About The Author
Jeremiah Bair is a certified nutrition coach, strength coach, and owner of the online coaching business Bairfit.