I’ve had a few friends ask me, “So, should I sign up for Lean Eating? Is it worth the money? How much of a kickback are you getting for recommending them?”
Okay, okay… so the last question hasn’t come up, but the other two certainly have (and to be clear: no, I get no money from them if I sign people up … I have a give, give, give relationship with Precision Nutrition). And whenever I’m asked, I kind of chase myself around in verbal circles attempting to articulate my opinions.
After some time thinking it through, my rock solid answer is: MAYBE.
(you thought this would be easy? do I ever make things easy?)
The program in and of itself is nothing too revolutionary. You get a new habit every two weeks. You work out 5-6 days a week. You eat healthy food. Hard to believe, but if you follow healthy habits, sweat a little and eat good-for-you food, you become a more fit individual! Amazing!
For some, the habits and structure of the program are worth it. If you haven’t much introduction to the gym or to how to pick foods that are nourishing and not junk, this is an awesome program. Tons of support and everything pretty much laid out for you. Their whole motto is that as a client you shouldn’t be “worrying and wondering”, you should just be doing your best to be consistent with what they tell you to do.
But, if you have been an athlete and have been taught how to put together a healthy meal, the recommendation becomes much more ambiguous. You’re not doing it expressly for the knowledge — while good, it wouldn’t be impossible to put together on your own — but more for the support system they set up around the structure.
Let me lay out why I think this was a good idea for me, perhaps that’ll help explain:
Even though I’m pretty experienced in terms of training and nutrition, I like the structure. It’s nice not having to think about things. That doesn’t mean that I always do what I’m supposed to do, but when I stray, it’s always there to nudge me back on track. I can always go back to the foundation habits — eat to 80%, eat slowly — and the workout schedule is laid out so I can just go into the basement and get things done.
I really like that there’s no calorie counting. I’ve been successful in the short-term logging all my food, but find that I can’t sustain the effort and when I stop, all hell breaks loose. I like the idea of learning a lifestyle that will keep me fit and active long after the program has ended.
I like the accountability. Having a coach is good — though as I talked about in my other post, I haven’t taken advantage of that — but more than that is the small Google+ group that I belong to. We chitchat via our Google Community all the time, talking about ideas, asking questions, offering support and tossing out cries for help when necessary. We meet using Google+ Hangouts about once a week, and that just furthers the connection that I have with these women. Having them there makes me want to make good decisions and get things done so that I’m not all “yea, I’m a slug” at every video call (peer pressure really works on me!).
The other ancillary support systems are valuable as well. The forums are fairly well trafficked and coaches and mentors are always around to answer questions. The mentors, who are assigned smaller groups than the coaches, are good at keeping in touch. And the wider Precision Nutrition community has a wealth of information, too. You won’t have a question or a cry for support go unanswered as long as you voice it.
The mental work is really quite good, though there’s not much to force you to do it. I’m guilty of sometimes not putting in the energy when I should, but when I do make the effort, I get results in the form of a better understanding of myself. Sometimes the work is challenging, sometimes it’s downright frightening, but I find that if I can push through the discomfort, then I reap the rewards.
So, what’s my verdict? I’m glad I’m doing it — it keeps me honest and I’m learning a lot about myself. Could I have done it on my own? Sure, except that I hadn’t with any consistency and so “on my own” wasn’t working for me. Is it for everyone? Nope. I think there are plenty of people who could do this without the hand-holding. But, I think if you have mental/emotional issues in regards to food, then it could be valuable. Also, if you lack motivation to do things on your own, Lean Eating can be the push you need to be successful, but – again – you have to do the work. It’s awfully easy to kind of skate through the program without putting in much effort, but that doesn’t usually translate into success. The program isn’t magical (which was disappointing!), so you have to want it and make it a priority.
I guess my bottom line is that just about any system that involves training more and eating better will work if you can sustain it and transform it into a lifestyle. Lean Eating is just another system, but unique in the support system that it provides — and I believe that success is well within reach as long as you’re willing to do the work to get there.