PSST, Wanna Get Lean? Paul Akers’ Lean Health Can Get You There, If You Are Willing To Put In The Work

The good news is that I’ve lost 120 pounds over the last ten years.

The bad news is that it’s the same 20 pounds six times.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. It’s just that I’ve never been able to keep it off.

Now comes Paul Akers, an expert on Lean, a manufacturing process most closely associated with the way Toyota manufactures cars and trucks.

One day when Paul was in his mid-50s, it hit him that the same Lean principles could be applied to the human body, so that he could be just as, well, lean as the manufacturing principles he espouses at work.

So he built out a program for himself that he describes in his book, Lean Health, and I read it and I fell in love.

If you want to get lean, here are Paul’s suggestions:

• Eat 80% fruit and vegetables, 20% animal protein, and then some nuts and cheese to mix things up.

• No white flour, no white sugar, no white anything. And no processed foods.

• Start the day with 100 sit ups, 100 pushups, and 100 trunk twists — you can watch videos of Paul in action online.

• Download the Fitbit app and get in 10,000 steps a day.

• Get enough sleep — ideally 8 hours. Don’t live in a state of sleep deprivation.

• Write down everything you eat — what gets measured gets improved.

• Don’t look for sudden, massive weight losses, which are typically followed by equally sudden, massive weight gains. (Amen to that). Instead, plan on losing around a pound a week.

• Don’t lie to yourself — deception keeps you overweight.

I didn’t say the program would be easy, but it’s certainly doable. What I like is that it combines things that I am already doing, or used to do, or wish I were doing, into a single unified program.

There’s also an holistic nature to his suggestions — the guide is tied to your movement, your movement is tied to your rest, and your rest is tied to everything else. It all counts.

Akers offers an app of his own on which to track all of your daily positive habits — once again, anything you measure improves.

A friend and author, Keith Cunningham, makes the wonderful point that “you cannot out exercise a bad diet.” I do triathlons, marathons, and tons of hot yoga, but I’m still overweight, because I measure my eating not in terms of calories per day, but, once I get going, calories per hour.

As I like to say, it’s not the 2,000 calories a day that’s the problem. It’s the 6,000 calories at night that are killing me.

The other thing that’s wonderful about Paul’s book is his high energy, which radiates from the page. It’s hard not to get caught up in his enthusiasm for his new body. The fact that he doesn’t have any notions, potions, or lotions to sell you gives him an added layer of credibility. It’s also heartening that Akers came to his new program at a relatively advanced age — he was 55 when he put all the puzzle pieces together for himself. So the message is that a lean, fit body isn’t just the provenance of the young.

There are some other fun things to do in Akers’ world — such as taking photos of what you eat and texting them to fellow Lean Health buddies. I sent Paul a photo of my first breakfast shake and got a nice email back from him.

Akers has to be the happiest fitness author I’ve ever encountered. A week and a half into his program, I feel pretty happy, myself.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.