I've been a fashion model for 10 years and over that time I've been surrounded by skinny people from all over the world, men and women from 15 to 50. Some of them, typically girls, battle their way to being thin in very unhealthy ways — starvation or a diet of carrot sticks and nicotine. This is a sad reality of a competitive (and in some ways perverse) industry.
That said, many models are naturally lean and live very healthy lives that embody vitality. I have many friends who maintain incredible physiques with seemingly little-to-no effort. I wouldn’t consider myself one of these people.
As a chubby teen and somewhat of a glutton, I attribute my leanness to excellent nutrition, discipline, a love of exercise and years of hard work. So it's no wonder that I've spent a great deal of time observing and ruminating over what makes these blessed guys and girls naturally lean.
I've deemed the following eight traits to be the most common among "naturally" thin people. Of course these are broad generalizations and there are many, many exceptions. Not all lean people share all of these habits and even if you show none of these traits you can still be lean.
Not all of us are model thin, nor should we be. But we can all learn something from any healthy traits of those "lucky" naturally lean people.
Here are eight habits of those who appear to be effortlessly lean:
1. They enjoy food but don't obsess over it.
Lean people tend to have a healthy attitude towards food. They eat when they're hungry, sometimes for pleasure, but generally not for emotional reasons. They aren't impulsive. They don’t feel guilty after eating sweets or snacks and never try to hide their eating from others.
2. They're active.
I’m not talking about regimented exercise routines or training here. I’m referring to everyday movement. Lean people tend to walk more, take the stairs, fidget, enjoy the outdoors, and they enjoy physical activity and play. Conserving energy and lazing around are not high priorities for the lean.
3. Food isn't always at the forefront of their minds.
Because these people let themselves enjoy and don't obsess over food, it's not always at the forefront of their minds. Lean people don’t tend to snack throughout the day and often go many, many hours between meals. Effectively some lean people practice intermittent fasting by accident.
4. They don't diet.
It's so rare to see naturally lean people obsess, weigh, pinch and measure themselves or actively try to lose or manage their weight. Maybe this is because they don't need to, but I also think it speaks to an ability to trust and listen to their own bodies when it comes to eating habits.
5. They eat slowly.
This isn’t always true but rarely do you see a lean person scoffing down their food like a wild boar. Fast eating is typically the realm of the overweight.
6. They have one plate of food, and often don’t finish it.
My Italian family always lays out all the food at the table like a grand banquet. We keep helping ourselves until we're physically stuffed, or until the food is all gone. Add in my scary Nonna yelling "Mangia! Mangia!" and it's not exactly a weight-loss facilitating environment.
Compare this to lean Anglo-Saxon families who typically plate a reasonable single serving in the kitchen before sitting down to an empty table. They often don’t even finish that one plate.
7. They delay gratification.
During my time in hospitality, I worked at many lavish dinners. Typically these have an hour cocktail party serving hors d’oeuvre before the three-course sit down meal. Lean people acknowledge that there is a big meal awaiting them so they take it easy on these calorific hors d’oeuvre. They delay gratification.
8. They have a positive body image.
Dieting "success" is an elusive and often futile goal. When you most desperately yearn for success is when you are the least likely to achieve it. By contrast, when you relax and make peace with yourself and your current situation success tends to find you.
If you truly love your body, you will come to manifest your natural, healthy physique!