The L.E.A.N. lifestyle program is an acronym for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition.

Developed by Dr. Bill Sears — a renowned family practitioner, author, and adviser (popular with “Ask Dr Sears” readers), the L.E.A.N. program benefits us because of the principle of synergy — the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Each part of the L.E.A.N. program is valuable by itself, but in tandem with the other parts, gives us a greater physical and emotional boost to keep us self-motivated. Being lean doesn’t necessarily mean being skinny. Rather, it means having just the right amount of body fat for your particular body type and shape. It also means shedding unhealthy habits while simplifying a lifelong program of wellness.

L is for LIFESTYLE. We can trim away any undesirable habit or aspect of our lives that isn’t promoting optimal health. Habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, too much sitting, and even spending too much time with people who are critical of a healthy lifestyle, are examples of what can be trimmed. Avoid energy-draining people and activities, as well as an overwhelming amount of work that leaves no time for rest or play. Take time to relax and rejuvenate with music, massage, meditation, spending time in nature, and enjoying humor.

E is for EXERCISE. Making time for physical exercise that we enjoy is one of the best ways to prompt us to follow-through with the other aspects of L.E.A.N. There’s something about moving our bodies that brings about the kind of energy that propels us toward all sorts of healthy choices. A regular, brisk walk outdoors can do wonders for both our physical and emotional health.

A is for ATTITUDE. We will begin to feel better physically as we shed all the stuff in our minds that may be interfering with our happiness. Let go of past hurts and dwelling on life’s little annoyances. Use prayer as a help for learning to let go of grievances. Adopt a positive outlook, and focus attention and energy on solutions to life’s problems instead of the problems themselves.

N is for NUTRITION. To get and stay trim and healthy, the best nutrition advice is to simply eat real food. Natural, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are nutrient-dense, and offer the most satisfaction for the body. These foods contain needed fiber and nutrients which nourish both the body and mind. When we eat sugary, nutrient-poor foods, our cells aren’t being fed properly and will send a signal to eat more even though our stomachs may be full. Given the opportunity, our taste buds will learn to love the deliciousness of real food, instead of being tricked by man-made foods that don’t satisfy in the long run and are harmful to our physical and emotional health.

By consistently practicing the principles of the L.E.A.N. program, we will soon find that our lives are filled with healthy habits, relationships, work and activities that combine to contribute to optimal wellness.