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5 Simple Steps to a Healthy, Sexy, Toned Body

November 25th, 2013

“Get lean.” “Get toned.” It’s funny how women’s magazines all use code words to avoid saying things like “Get strong” or “add lean muscle mass.” Because really, that’s exactly what they’re saying.

The result is that I receive questions from readers and listeners using the same terminology. “How do I get lean and toned?” To which I reply, “What does your diet and exercise look like?” Of course, even if they have their nutrition dialed in, they explain how they’re running a lot, doing spinning classes, yoga, and so on.

Really sexy bodies — the ones pointed out by women and men alike — are athletic (another code word for strong). I’m not talking about ultra-thin, photoshopped Victoria’s Secret women. That’s the body image the media promotes but it’s not the body image most people would choose. At least, I hope not.

But even the super athletic bodies that are applauded are still unrealistic for most people. That’s not what the majority of women want for themselves either. And the truth is that getting to a body fat percentage that gives you that look takes a ton of work and dedication.

If you want a six pack, you’re going to live, eat, and breathe dedication to food and training. Is that a healthy mindset? I can certainly say it’s not for everyone.

So the goal lies somewhere in middle. For most, I think they’re happy with looking amazing in clothes, looking good naked, and doing both in a way that’s sustainable and doesn’t require that they focus on food and fitness every waking moment.

I suppose this is as good a place as any to mention that your body image has nothing to do with your self-worth. It’s fine to set goals and try to achieve them, but it’s not healthy to believe that you’re worth less until you get there.

Back to the question at hand:

how do you get lean and toned? I’ve got five recommendations:

Step 1: Dial In Your Nutrition

Overthinking is not required here. Eat real foods, avoid ANTI foods, and learn to listen to your body. Intuition should be the goal because it improves your relationship with food. Absolutely avoid calorie counting and macronutrient tracking as those things cause excessive eating observation and lead to disordered eating.

Step 2: Lift Heavy Things

Remember, “lean” is codeword for “muscle.” The best way to achieve that look is to lift heavier. For women, there’s no reason to fear becoming bulky — it takes an inordinate amount of training for women to achieve a bulky look. If you simply adjust your resistance training to include heavier weight, you’ll start to see more noticeable changes in body composition.

Step 3: Shred Excess Fat with High Intensity Interval Training

Ditch all chronic cardio. Learn to love intensity instead of duration. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) preserves muscle mass while helping you drop excess fat. HIIT will have a positive impact on your hormones, your mitochondria, your metabolism, and thus your body composition. There’s also a reduced risk of overuse injury.

Step 4: Audit your stress

Create a list of the most stressful aspects of your life. Are any of them preventable? Can any of the people on that list get booted? What changes can make? Stress is counterproductive to your efforts. Aside from general stress, getting more sleep of higher quality should be your number one goal.

Step 5: Accept yourself and your progress

A “sexy, toned body” could be a number of things, including being considered unhealthy. A “healthy, sexy, toned body” is different. “Healthy” is the main qualifier. Perfection is not healthy. Trying to reach an arbitrary goal so you can love yourself is not healthy.  Loving yourself has to come first because that will allow you to accept all of your progress and place healthy limits on what you’re trying to achieve. Ditch the scale and work on improving your relationship with yourself so you don’t end up going overboard or derailing yourself with negative self-talk. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Spreading the word

As we work through the holidays and into the new year, there’s going to be a lot of people setting weight loss and fitness goals. Do you know anyone who might benefit from this article? Share it with them and consider talking with them about being an accountability partner with goals based on this article. That would benefit both of you. I’d also love for you to share your thoughts in the comments.


This is a guest post by Kevin Geary, founder of The Rebooted Body, where he teaches people how to reprogram their body and mind for sustainable fat loss, vibrant health, and peak performance. As a free gift to Paleo Secret readers, you can download Kevin’s handbook, “The Truth is Not Radical” by clicking here.

Photo ofChad Walding
Chad Walding
Job Title
Doctor of Physical Therapy
The Paleo Secret

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