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How to Finally Get Lean

When people fail to get lean, they very rarely take responsibility.

It’s hard to acknowledge that we’re not disciplined. Blaming our metabolism or hormones makes us feel better about ourselves. But deep down we know it’s out fault.

A calorie deficit always leads to fat loss. No matter if you eat carbs or fats, clean or dirty, 6 meals a day or 2 meals a day, no matter if you eat in the morning or evening, if you are in a deficit – you WILL lose fat.

Now, it’s true that metabolic rate does does go down when you lose weight. But never enough to eliminate a calorie deficit and stop weight loss. For example in the starvation study conducted at the University of Minnesota in 1945, 36 young volunteers were fed around 1500 calories per day for 6 months.

Guess what happened?

52260768-SmallThey all got to around 5% body fat, really close to death. These people lost 25% of their bodyweight and still their metabolism was not damaged. It did go down, but only by a maximum of 15% below what would be expected from weight loss. Not enough to offset the deficit.

After all this evidence, if people can’t accept that it’s their fault, there’s really not much hope for them. They’ll keep having the victim mentality and never change anything.

Taking Responsibility

But I think most of us do take responsibility for our results. We face a different problem.

We KNOW how to do better, we just DON’T UNDERSTAND why we’re not doing it.

You know how to create that deficit to lose fat. You know it takes time. You know you need to be disciplined. And yet you always find ways to convince yourself you can have a little bit more food, you find a way to convince yourself you deserve a cheat day. Or the most common excuse: you convince yourself you will make up for it tomorrow.

We know it’s wrong. Why do we do this?

It’s because of our mental programming.

Our Mental Programming controls our Life

We always do what we see ourselves in our mind doing, not what we know how to do.

I bet that at this very moment you know how to get in better shape, you know how to do your job better, you know how to be more productive, you know how to have better relationships, you know how to improve your results – but you don’t do it.

Why? Because it doesn’t feel like you, right? It doesn’t fit the way you see yourself in your mind. Your self image always corresponds with your results. Watch this video: (no really, watch it)

Let me give you my example. I never had an issue getting lean – I’ve always seen myself lean in my mind. But I couldn’t see myself big and strong. Why do you think I’m only this muscular after training for almost three years?

I wasted many months hopelessly trying to improve my results without changing my self image.

I would go to the gym, have a great workout and when it came time to eat and gain weight I would convince myself not to eat big because I could gain fat. So I stayed the same.

After setting a big PR, the next workout I would have these thoughts: “I’m just not feeling it today”, “I didn’t sleep well last night”, “What if I’m overtraining?” so of course, I missed the lift.

Everytime I got better results than my self-image, my behavior would unconsciously change to bring me back on track. Did I know how to do better? You bet, I was coaching others on how to train and gain muscle. And they got awesome results, I didn’t.

Your self image and your body fat

Your self image is probably the reason you can’t get lean. If I asked you: Picture yourself at the beach this summer. Do you see yourself with your current physique or your goal physique?

If you see yourself with your current physique I can guarantee you won’t get lean this summer. I don’t care how much you study or what program you follow.

Unless you change your self image every time you get a little leaner you’ll get these thoughts:

  1. I’m looking so flat, I should do a refeed (excuse to eliminates the deficit)
  2. I’m getting too small, I should go back to bulking (excuse to eliminates the deficit)
  3. I’m feeling weak, I should eat more (excuse to eliminates the deficit)
  4. so on…

These seem to be your logical thoughts but they really aren’t. The way your self-image brings you back to your normal results is through the voice of reason. 

Rationalize = rationing lies to the mind.

You need to recognize that those thoughts are created by your old mental conditioning, they are not yours.

How do you Change your Self Image?

You do it through awareness and imagination.

Awareness is transformative in and of itself. The simple fact that you now that your self image controls your life, you have the power to change. From now on you’ll no longer identify yourself with every thought you get.

And imagination is where you create your new life.

Take a piece of paper and divide it in two:

your new self image

On the left side write your current physique. Underneath it write your current habits. This is what you do daily that bring you these results.

On the right side write your goal physique. Underneath write all the habits require for you to reach that goal.

Now take a step back and look at the differences. You now see what needs to be changed in your life for you to reach your goal. Every time you get a thought rationalizing why you shouldn’t do something written on the right side, know that it’s a lie and ignore it.

Realize that the actions written on the right side need to become your normal behavior in order for you to have your goal physique in the long run. The actions required for you goal feel like dreadful disciplines, only when your goal is not your self image.

If your self image is your goal, they no longer feel like disciplines, they are your normal behavior. You’re just being yourself.

More resources on the subject of self image:

aggressive fat loss jpg

The Aggressive Fat Loss Program

This is the fat loss program that I use and recommend.

You know what’s interesting? Unlike me, Greg always saw himself big and muscular but never lean and defined. He failed to get lean over and over again no matter what diet he used.

Just like in my case, he succeeded only when he changed his self image.

This is why he included a self hypnosis recording in this program. So that people can reprogram their mind to accept their new lean physique.

I’m sure most people buying this course don’t even listen to it. But these are the same people that can’t make a lasting change.

I highly recommend you check out this program. In terms of practical nutrition methods it’s the best I’ve ever read. And on top of that it addresses habit change and mental reprogramming – in my opinion the missing link in most diets.

Click here to learn more about the Aggressive Fat Loss Program.


  1. Sunil on March 11, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Always enjoy the great guidance on getting slim, lean n mean. I’m using all the info n seeing good results.

    • ThinkEatLift support team on March 11, 2016 at 10:20 pm

      That’s awesome, Sunil!

  2. Bryce on March 11, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    Radu – yet another stellar video. You’ve come a long way man… in both strength gains and video/storytelling skills. It’s been fun seeing your progress over the past year or so.

    Keep it up!!

  3. John on March 12, 2016 at 9:54 am

    An incredibly usefull article ! Thanks Radu

  4. Leo on March 12, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Hey Radu , i have red all your articles and watched all your videos. I nreally need your help .
    I have been lifting for 9 months and i am 67 kg for 1m84. However i am 15% bodyfat.
    I really don’t know what to do . I know that your recommand cutting ehen we are at 15% bodyfat but don’t you think i to skinny to cut ?
    Thanks in advance

  5. Chris on March 13, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Thank you Radu, another great post. I like how I’ve not only learnt about exercising and diet but also how to change the way I think through your site/ebooks/videos (and Greg).
    Just wanted to say that your recent instagram post saying how someone said your physique is crap and some people do their first bodybuilding show in three years, that is great for them but you shouldn’t compare your journey and growth to them or anybody else. You’ve made great progress and should be proud of what you have achieved.

  6. Shreyas Nehru on March 16, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Hi radu
    I want to loose fat
    Can u help me with my diet program?
    Or what should I eat
    Weight 82kg
    Height 6″
    Age 17
    I’m taking grenade fat burner but there is not much result
    Can u please help me

  7. Ringo on March 16, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Hey Radu, you got me with the “I’m feeling weak, I need to eat more” excuse. I lost 40lb of fat on warrior shredded program. My strenght went up and have been cutting for over 6 months. I now weigh the 143 and I’m 5’8 and an at around 14% fat. I want to lean down to 8-10%. My daily calorie intake is 1728 (20% below maintenence) and have been feeling weak. Do you think this is normal? should i press on? Do you think it’s a mental thing?

  8. Mike on March 21, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Radu,

    is it normal that i can only workout 2x per week when im in c. deficit or eating around maintenance? Im on solid strength level(height 5’10) – examples: 80kgx5 Military Press, 80kg x5 w. dips, 60×4 w. chin ups, 200kg deadlift.

    When i try to workout more than 2x per week i feel like shit and cant see any progress in weights. My daily Macros P 25%, F 25-30% rest Carbs. My Actual workout routine: Workout A: Military Press, Squats, Rows RPT style Workout B: Chin up, dip, deadlift RPT.

    Should i workout only 2x per Week?


    • Radu Antoniu on March 29, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Wow !

      Yes I think working out 2 days per week is fine. You definitely can maintain muscle mass that way.

      You’re more advanced than me so I can’t speak from experience but when you go back in a surplus I would work on improving work capacity so you can handle 3 workouts per week.

  9. Matt on April 4, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Hey Radu,

    Greetings from the United States! I have followed you for a while, and I have to say that you really do a fantastic job of streamlining a lot of fitness information which can easily become confusing. I’ve been weightlifting seriously for a couple of months now, after having lost about 50 pounds over the past year. I’ve been having SO much trouble losing my last few pounds of stubborn fat to reveal my six pack and it’s really frustrating. This article and the video attached to it really put things into perspective for me, though. I appreciate the reality check, man. I’m still keeping at it.

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Great to hear it Matt! Keep me posted on your progress!

  10. needhelp on May 15, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Hey Radu, can i ask you a question ? I got AFL and Greek God (i combine them), just started doing it, how long do you think it will take me to get abs and get mascular? I am 70kg, 175cm, not much fat exepct little on belly ? I eat calories of my goal weight in pounds x10, and does it matter what i eat as long as i am under calorie deficit for weight loss

  11. Hail on June 4, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    why does your eyes look serious/sad in the pic?
    nice blog, btw!

  12. James Smith on June 13, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Radu! I’m from England and love your vids man keep it up, get well soon also.

    I want to start becoming lean. I’ve been counting my macros for a week or so, and my diet has been fine, and also because of you I am more knowledge. Compared to some other you tubers your videos are simple and have no crap in them!

    I’m currently 16 and weighing 160lbs, and I’m so determined to become lean and muscular.Your videos help me.

    I workout at the gym 3 times a week, and do HIIT cardio about twice a week, is all this enough? Also I see how you involve some craving such as chocolate in your diet, I want to do this but feel guilty if I do?

    Also, I want to ease myself into intermittent fasting. It just seems hard when I’m at home and starving, and to me black coffee is disgusting. Also does fasting not effect performance at the gym, or can it make me depleted off energy?

    Thanks man just wanted a few questions, keep it up and again make some more videos (maybe some focused on nutrition ideas/plans?) And again get well soon.

  13. snir on January 13, 2017 at 9:46 am

    I’m so happy I found your blog. It’s like the missing piece I’ve always had when it comes to fitness. Your articles are making so much sense, and now I know I can finally break through my plateuo…willpower can take you only this far. But your subconcious, your self image, is the other 80%.

  14. Siegfired on January 11, 2023 at 9:56 am

    I normally like your block, but I have to note: You cited the starvation study from Minnesota, but misunderstood/misrepresented their findings completely. The study showed that a decrease to 1500 cal induced severe psychological issues, such as depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis. Beyond the extreme emotional distress, during the starvation period as well as the rehab period subjects showed extreme preoccupation with food. Another finding being that the effects of the starvation period approximated the conditions experienced by people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
    So, in a world where you often read dietary advice advertising around 1200 cal and expecting people to “take responsibilty” this study shows that this is sheer insanity.
    I am not saying that this is your point here (metabolic rate returning to normal), but citing this study that clearly showed exactly the opposite from what you are advocating for (“victim mentality”) is either misinformed or even purposeful misrepresentation.

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