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5 Steps To Get Lean In 2019

By Marc Perry / December 20, 2018

As the New Year unfolds, millions of men set goals to get a lean and fit body. But sadly, few are successful.

I’m very confident that after you complete each step in this article, you will have a master plan to acheive your goals.

You are about to learn a simple, but powerful framework to help you lose weight and get lean. It’s not smoke and mirrors, it’s not about promising you fast, easy results, and it’s not about crash dieting.

The BuiltLean 5-Steps framework works so well because it’s a systematic approach to change your habits. Right now, your body reflects your (1) genetics (2) previous injury history, and (3) your habits. We need to change these habits so that you achieve a stronger, leaner, and fitter body for the long run.

When I say “lose weight” or “get lean”, I mean lose fat without losing muscle. Losing weight and losing muscle is undesirable for reasons I describe in my Get Lean Guide.

Step #1: Self Assessment

“He who conquers others is strong. He who conquers himself is mighty”
-Lao Tzu

Successful weight loss boils down to changing your old habits and replacing them with new habits that will transform your body. So how do you change your habits which are deeply ingrained in your subconscious mind?

The short answer is be conscious of your habits so you can change them. One of the best ways to become more conscious of your habits is completing a self assessment to analyze your mindset and physical state.

A) Mindset Assessment
Answering tough questions about your exercise, nutrition, and your lifestyle habits can help inspire change. For example, if you don’t workout, why not? This seemingly simple question requires deep introspection and courage to answer. Yes, you may not have the time, but that may not be the real reason, or the root cause.


  • If you don’t workout, why not?
  • If you stopped exercising in the past, what were the reasons?
  • What kind of exercise do you enjoy? What about dislike?
  • In what situations do you overeat? What steps can you take to change this?
  • If you don’t get enough sleep, why not? What steps can you take to change this?
  • B) Body Assessment
    Next is the body assessment, which provides objective facts and establishes the starting point for your journey. A body assessment can also be a key motivator as well, because the results of a body assessment can be a serious wake up call.

    A typical body assessment is comprised of the following:

  • Body Weight (Monday Morning Weight Ins)
  • Body Fat Percentage (5 Ways to Measure Body Fat Percentage)
  • Body Measurements (waist, hips, thigh, arms, legs, chest, shoulders)
  • Photos (front, side, back)

    Step #2: Set Goals & Reason Why

    “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else”
    -Yogi Berra

    Creating a compelling goal along with the reason why that goal is important may take some time, but it’s worth it. Without a compelling goal, we have no direction and we may lack the fortitude necessary to achieve our goals.

    I bet the times you were successful despite big challenges, you set a specific goal and you had a reason why that goal was important to you that was so compelling failure was not an option.

    There are two different types of goals you can consider creating:

    (1) Outcome goals – Relate to an end point, such as losing 10 pounds, or completing 10 pull-ups
    (2) Process goals – Relate to a process that will help you reach your outcome goals, like exercising 3 times per week, or eating 2 servings of veggies each day.

    You can create a combination of outcome and process goals to help you stay on track. My personal favorite strategy is creating a primary outcome goal, such as losing 20 pounds in 12 weeks and a short term goal of 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week by using Monday Morning Weigh-ins.

    Step #3: Follow A Plan

    “Failing to plan is planning to fail”

    Having a plan is important because it channels your energies to help you get the best results possible. If you work hard AND have a great plan, it’s only a matter of time before you achieve your goals. Unfortunately, most people either (1) never create a plan, or (2) follow an ineffective plan.

    There are tons of exercise and nutrition plans that can be found on the internet. I believe BuiltLean® Transformation that I’ve been refining for almost a decade is an outstanding plan to help you get a lean, healthy, and functionally fit body in 12-weeks or less, but I’m slightly biased!

    You can also create your own exercise and nutrition plan, which is a time-consuming, but can be aworthwhile process. A plan does not necessarily have to be a rigid structure, it could be developing specific guidelines for yourself to follow.

    For example, your “Get Lean In 2019” Plan could be:

  • Full body strength circuits 3x per week
  • Eat less than 1800 calories per day – 3 meals and 1 snack
  • Eat 2 servings of vegetables per day
  • 1 drink of alcohol per week
  • In bed by 10pm 5 days a week
  • You may have realized I just listed 5 process goals, which help form the foundation of the plan; 1 exercise 3 nutrition, and 1 lifestyle. You can then drill down with more detail to flesh out each goal, which will put the finishing touches on your plan. When developing your body transformation plan, be sure to draw from the answers and results you outlined during your assessment.

    Here’s some more detail to consider when creating your plan:

    1) Exercise Details

  • Determine the number of times you want to workout per week
  • Determine the type of workouts you will complete
  • Determine how long each workout will be
  • Determine when you will workout
  • Determine how you will make your workouts harder over time
  • For more information on creating effective workouts, I have a hidden video on my facebook page that appears after you “like” the page: BuiltLean on Facebook.

    NOTE: Don’t forget if you want to maximize your results, you should have strength training, cardio, and flexibility components in your exercise plan.

    2) Nutrition Details

  • Determine the meals and snacks you will eat
  • Determine the foods you will avoid
  • Create low calorie meals and snacks to eat
  • Determine where and how you will procure these foods
  • Keep in mind nutrition is the difference in helping you get more visible results faster. You can exercise until you are blue in the face every day, but lose 0 pounds of fat if you don’t change your eating habits. Because 1 pound of fat has 3500 calories, you are going to have to do A LOT of exercise to burn off that amount of calories, but the easier way is simply eat fewer calories AND exercise.

    I do want to emphasize you need to eat less calories than you burn to lose weight. This may sound difficult, but a strategy of filling up on whole, natural foods that provide fewer calories but keep you feeling satisfied is a great strategy I highly recommend.

    To learn more about nutrition as it relates to losing weight, check out these 3 articles to help you refine your nutrition plan and vastly increase your knowledge of nutrition:

  • How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?
  • 7 Reasons to Keep a Food Journal
  • 5 (New) Food Groups to Get Lean & Healthy?
  • Following a clear exercise and nutrition plan is essential to help maximize the effectiveness of your time and keep you motivated along your journey to lose weight. In BuiltLean® Transformation, we have recipes already figured out for you with all the right amounts and calories of food.

    Step #4: Take Action

    “We must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.”
    Oliver Wendell Holmes

    This “take action” step may be self evident, but for some getting started and taking action is the hardest part.

    Starting off slow if you haven’t worked out in a while will make starting a program more manageable for you, which will make taking action easier. Maybe it’s going to the gym for 10 minutes, or cutting out drinking soda.

    Execute your plan without hesitation, but be sure to follow the next step.

    Step #5: Track Progress

    “Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”
    -Khalil Gibran

    Tracking your progress will help you identify improvements from consistent exercise and better eating so that you can link your efforts to positive results. It will also keep you accountable for the decisions you make regarding your health and well-being.

    Not tracking your progress is like playing in a basketball game and not knowing what the score is, how many points you scored, or rebounds you have. In other words, you have absolutely no idea how you are playing and if you are even winning.

    While there are several metrics you can track, here are 5 you can consider tracking:

  • Body Weight
  • Body Fat %
  • Body Measurements
  • Energy Levels
  • Strength Levels
  • For more information on tracking progress, check out my free Get Lean Guide.

    Now It’s Time To Get The Lean & Healthy Body You Deserve

    While there is a lot of information in this article, you don’t need to complete each step perfectly in order to be successful. Just do your best with each step and move on to the next step. For example, if you don’t have a body fat caliper, or don’t know any ways to measure your body fat percentage, that’s fine. You can certainly still get lean & healthy without knowing your body fat percentage. Do what you can, order what you need, then move on.

    An important theme I tell everyone who completes BuiltLean® Transformation is to “always move forward”. We all have obstacles in our way and we all make mistakes, but it’s how we deal with adversity that determines our success.

    Always move forward and best of luck in 2019!


    • ritz says:

      it was so useful to me and if u can post a workout routine it would be much better

      • Marc Perry says:

        @ritz - I do have a workout routine in my BuiltLean Program, but I do plan on adding A LOT more workouts in 2012, so thanks for the feedback and stay tuned!

    • Zalaba says:

      Challenge accepted:)

    • Zalaba says:

      Marc,what do you think about cocoa powder? It is said that it got 1protein,3carbs,1fat and 1.6 fiber on a tablespoon...

      • Marc Perry says:

        @Zalaba - I don't think much of it. Like many other foods (I' assuming the cocoa is natural), in moderate amounts it can provide certain health benefits and it also provides calories like other foods. In other words, from a fat loss perspective, it has calories, so just need to budget it in.

    • John Ross says:

      I like step 4 take action. There are many people reading and searching about weight loss but they actually never start a diet or start exercising leaving it all for another day. That's way many people are searching for magic pills that can take the burden of taking action away from them, but unfortunately no such thing exists.

      • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

        @john ross - That's very true. I also get emails all the time from beginners to advanced trainees who get into the "Analysis Paralysis" and instead of just trying something, over analyze it. Taking action, and preferably MASSIVE action is an absolutely critical step for success in any endeavor.

    • T.I. says:

      Working out is the best way to loose weight but many of us start working out and leave it after a week or so. That why eating wisely keeps you healthy as well as fit.

    • Sam Mathews says:

      You summed it up perfectly when you said, “Successful weight loss boils down to changing your old habits and replacing them with new habits that will transform your body”. I would also like to add that the weight loss program that consists of only dieting is incomplete. You have to keep in mind that a total weight loss program combines both diet and physical exercise. As most doctors will advise you, eating less and exercising more will help you trim down your body size.

      When looking for a weight loss program, look for one that offers physical exercise as a form of recreation rather than hard work.

      Along with daily workouts one can also consider the following to lose weight naturally:

      • Drink a glass of hot water with lime and honey first thing in a morning to shed the excess fat and lose weight.
      • Eating horse gram dal (lentil found in most Indian Grocery Stores) regularly helps to keep your weight in check and burn fat.
      • Drinking barley water helps you lose the water weight.
      • Cabbage salad and cabbage soups help you lose weight.
      • Eating garlic regularly helps you burn fat and lose weight
      • Drinking ginger tea regularly helps you maintain a healthy weight
      • Green tea is an excellent fat burner and helps you with weight loss.
      • Eating mint helps with weight loss.
      • Chewing on curry leaves helps you lose weight
      • Drinking Dandelion Tea helps you lose water weight.
      • Low fat yogurt helps with lose weight
      • Turmeric is an excellent home remedy for obesity. Add it to you diet regularly.
      • Eating tomato in empty stomach is believed to help with weight loss.
      • Drink lots of water and keep hydrated to maintain a healthy weight


    • razzaq says:

      your conclusions to reduce wt are absolutely correct. one can reduce wt if he eats less

    • uncadonego says:

      I just want to thank you for all the excellent information available on builtlean.com. By implementing as much as I can in my life, a bit more all the time, I have lost 30 lbs. in 59 days so far. The nutritional guidelines and various articles have helped me to never feel hungry or regret having eaten something. The proper diet and exercise advice on this site has helped me so much. I was taking one Robaxacet mixed with one Robax Platinum for back pain every day just to get through work, every four hours, sometimes working almost with tears from the discomfort. I haven't taken or needed any pain medications since I got started. The sensibleness of everything in the program has made it easy, although I've worked hard, if that makes any sense.

      Thanks again Marc, and continued success.

      • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

        I'm really happy to hear that, thanks for sharing!

    • Nat says:

      Hi Marc,

      I'm a 35 year old man in Australia. I've lost 25kg in 18 months. From 35% body fat to 15%. I have also worked hard on my flexibility. I believe I have done everything naturally. I refuse to take any 'supplements' or shakes of any kind. I have also removed dairy, wheat and gluten from my diet. My genes are not the best, I have low testosterone levels. I go to the gym 3 times per week with a full body work and HIIT each time. I eat right.

      I have really enjoyed reading many of your articles. I have some questions and comments to make however:
      1. My understanding of losing weight naturally is not having protein shakes, creatine or any other vitamins. I believe anything produced by the body should not be taken externally as well. Do you agree with this opinion?

      2. Do you have any tips for men with low testosterone levels?
      As I've said I work out pretty hard but my body only looks like I've been working out for a few weeks or months.
      I have read in one of your articles 'that some people can put on muscles by just looking at weights'. From my experience of going to the gym all the other men there surpass my perceived fitness level (muscles appearance) within a month or so of going. It is difficult to keep up that motivation.

      Thank you for your time.

      • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

        @Nat - I'm sorry for the very tardy response. I wrote a lengthy answer to your question but for some reason it didn't get published.

        1) That's a really interesting question. I agree with you that losing weight naturally implies not taking supplementation, but with that said, as much as I don't love supplement (See my article on dietary supplements - http://www.builtlean.com/2011/11/10/dietary-supplements/), some of them do serve a purpose and can help people maintain their health (fish oil for example). Not sure what you mean by "I believe anything produced by the body should not be taken externally as well"

        2) Regarding low testosterone levels, of course you can have a conversation with your doctor, which I'm assuming you have. Lifting weights combined with relatively higher protein/fat has been shown to increase testosterone. We do plan on writing an article about this as it's in our article database. Consider focusing your workouts a couple days a week on legs. Your legs can have a powerful hormonal effect. Combine that with proper rest and decreased stress, my hope is you testosterone will bounce back.

        Good luck and apologize again for the late response!

    • Nat says:

      Hi Marc,

      Thank you for your response.

      In Australia we are generally more relaxed about replying so no problem at all with the response time. No need to apologize.

      You have very interesting articles. I will take your advice regarding leg workouts, thanks.

      I have read 'Dietary Supplements 101: Definition, Benefits, Risks, & Regulation' and found it very educational.

      What I meant was (and I'm no expert on this at all) I believe anything produced naturally by the body such as amino acids, proteins, creatine etc should not be taken externally as well via supplements (like iron, zinc, magnesium, glutamine, creatine) other than what occurs naturally in food. Maybe I'm just a purest. I eat gluten free, wheat free, dairy free and only organic fruits, organic vegetables and organic meats, but that's me.

      I'm really looking forward to your next article.

      Keep up the great work!