Can I have cake and stay Lean?

Today is our fitness contributor and resident nutrition expert Sean Lerwill’s Birthday! So we took the opportunity to ask him how he keeps on track with healthy eating during celebratory periods.


sean lerwill men's fitness cover

For those of our readers that don’t know you Sean. You’ve graced the cover of a number international fitness magazines. Do you hold back on your birthday and other days compared to other people?

Funnily enough I have a cover shoot in two days time and I had a best friends wedding two days ago but I’m not one to let that ruin me letting my hair down. In my mind we should all eat around 5 meals a day. Over a week that’s 35 meals. I would say anyone can afford to have 10-15% of those “imperfect”. So if I decide to have an unhealthy day for my birthday it just means I will be extra good the rest of the week.


You say you will be good the rest of the week. What does “good” mean to you? As I’m sure in most peoples minds that means boring plain chicken and veg.

On the contrary, what I choose to eat is as varied as the next person. However I do avoid C.R.A.P by which I mean Carbonated drinks, Refined Sugars, Artificial Colours/alcohol(A stands for both and Processed foods. By doing this my diet when being “good” consists of meats, fish and dairy, nuts and seeds. Oats, rice and quinoa, vegetables, fruits, berries, olive oil and some protein supplements. Some people would probably look at my diet and consider it relatively repetitive however as I was taught in the military we humans are creatures of habit. I just ensure my habits are good habits food wise.


So if you tend to be quite repetitive in you r meals how do you ensure that isn’t boring?

Wherever I cook I have a cupboard full of the little pots of herbs and spices. I’m a bit of a trial and error freak but then being an ex-royal marine there are not many combinations I have put together that I cannot stomach. I would urge anyone trying to eat healthily to get themselves a myriad of herbs, spices, chillies, and peppers and marinade meats fish and veg in them but above all avoid adding sugar and sugary sauces.


Are you someone who will try to counteract the unhealthy birthday treats with exercise on your special occasions?

Unfortunately for some yes! But that is more because I’m a self confessed exercise addict. It makes me happy, distresses me and sets me up for the day. I have had a plyometric leg session with my beautiful girlfriend planned for the morning before letting her take me to the places she has planned. I believe there is cake, chocolate and vesper martini’s planned.



Is it really that beneficial to do exercise before a day off the straight and narrow?

In my opinion it does help people a great deal. Physically speaking the excess calories and carbohydrate will be utilised by the body to refill glycogen stores in the muscles(the muscles stored energy which will have been used in the exercise session). The excess calories and carbs will also be used to repair and build the muscles exercised. With no exercise the excess calories would simply be used for energy on a rainy day i.e. stored as body fat. Mentally speaking doing exercise prior to some celebratory eating can help any guilty feelings and allow those who do have trouble letting their hair down relax more easily.


Thank you for being so honest Sean. If you could give three pieces of advice to our Chicks reading this on how to eat and live more healthily with performance aesthetics and health in mind, what would they be?

1.Don’t follow fad “diets” or crash/last two weeks before going on holiday diets.

We live in a society where your smart phone provides you with answers to anything within seconds. I believe this has led to an even greater impatience for achieving anything. Unfortunately achieving health, aesthetic  and performance goals take time. Crash diets will ultimately lead to rapid weight gain when a more “normal” resumes. Anything worth achieving takes time and effort. therefore when it is achieved it’s all either the more worthwhile.

2. Try to take regular exercise, most importantly resistance based exercise.

Too many bad sources of information still make people believe that doing 100 crunches and running 3 times a week will produce a Victoria’s Secret figure. The honest truth is that it won’t. Without going into great detail, you need to stimulate the muscles into working for you to burn more calories when you are sleeping, working and socialising. Running(cardiovascular exercise) will not do this but resistance exercises like weights, body weights and bands will do. Ideally 5 hours a week which out of 7 x 24hrs = 168 isn’t much.

3. Treat your body like your most cherished possession. Which if you really think about it, it is.

What is your dream vehicle? Is it an Aston Martin(like mine – if anyone reading this wants to donate one to me please feel free) Is it a Porsche, Lamborghini, range rover vogue, Harley Davidson etc? If you got one would you put the cheapest fuel, oil, lubricants etc you could find at the grotty end of the high street? Or would you put the best fuel lubricants oil etc as per the manufacturers guidelines to ensure that vehicle has a long and prosperous life span. If your answer is anything but the latter option I suggest my example is the wrong one for you. The point is just because you didn’t pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for your body doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of it to the very best of your ability: Don’t go to the chicken shop, the fast food restaurant or the trans fat aisles(crisps, cakes, biscuits) then wonder why you feel sluggish, tired, unwell and depressed.

On a positive note the human body is an amazingly adaptable organism. It is never too late to start making a change. So considering today is my Birthday how about doing me a favour and choosing today as your day to start looking after your body.


 Thank you and Happy Birthday Sean!