The Mental Shift That Gets You Lean Permanently

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If he can change his thoughts, he’ll finally be able to stay lean.

There was a time when I struggled with my weight. It’s not that I was overweight, per se, but I was definitely carrying more fat than was ideal for me, especially as an athlete (I competed in Karate for 14 years).

The main issue was the weight fluctuations.

I’d get myself down close to my target weight (never quite there) and then I’d struggle. Maybe a special event came along that triggered a week’s binge on treats. Or I’d go through an emotional time and I used food to comfort myself.


“The solution’s in the fridge…I’m sure it is.”

This cycle would repeat itself over and over.

I’d diet by “eating clean” and avoiding any “junk foods” and then after weeks or months of deprivation I’d cave in and totally blow my diet.

Any of that sound familiar?

It’s a common scenario for many people, and it’s a struggle that goes on for years and often for decades. I recently went through some old handwritten papers in my files from my late 20s. Written into my goals for the year was, “Get my weight down to 145lbs and stop fluctuating”.

At that time, I was also pursuing an acting and modelling career and my size was tied strongly into my self-confidence in this endeavour.

I never felt like I was good enough.

I resisted putting myself out there  because I didn’t feel ready until I was a certain size.

I’m now able to maintain my weight in the 135-138 pound zone (at a height of 5’10), with what feels like no effort. So what’s changed now, over a decade later and after having a kid?

I’ve changed my whole thought process around food.

chimp-mental-shift“I can have that banana…if I REALLY want it.”

No food is banned from my nutrition plan.

If I really, really, really want a particular food I have it, but in much smaller quantities than I would have in the past when deprivation would lead to a binge. It’s now rare for me to eat mindlessly, stuffing myself with sugary foods to try to feel better.

I LOVE FOOD and I recognize that it’s part of my social and family life.

The shared experience of having great food with people I care about is something that I value. Yet I know that food is only one of the pleasures of life. Food doesn’t heal pain and overeating makes me feel physically ill and lacking in energy afterwards.

Banning particular foods makes you more likely to crave them.


“I want this chocolate SO BADLY, but I can’t. I just can’t.

And craving foods means you become obsessive and then overdo it when you do end up consuming those treats.

Getting lean isn’t about excessive restriction and constant hunger.

It’s about developing a way of eating that nourishes your body, satisfies you, and doesn’t make you feel deprived.

It takes time and experimentation to develop the skill, but if you pay attention to your desires and your psychological state when eating then you’ll have more control over the food you eat…and it won’t feel so hard.

No nutrition plan is perfect and denying yourself foods you love will only cause you more stress.

Changing the way you think about food is the mental shift that will get you lean and keep you lean.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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