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Q&A Session – Your Most Popular Questions Answered

By Rachael Attard, Updated Aug 18, 2020

I think I’m going to start doing these Q&A blog posts more regularly because I get asked SO many questions every day. So if you have any questions you would like answered, please feel free to ask! I’m always happy to help with anything (there are no stupid questions!).

Here are some common questions I receive, plus a few questions I had by request. I hope you find them useful :) xx

What is your advice for an 18 year old that wants to lose weight and be healthy?

I remember what it was like being 18, first living out of home, wanting to be healthy but not exactly sure what to do. My advice to any 18 year olds, or anyone who is looking to become healthier is to:

Do something active 6 days per week. This doesn’t mean that you need to go running or hit the gym 6 days per week. I just mean something that involves getting your body moving and make sure it is something that you really like doing! Whether that’s playing sport, going for a walk with some friends, doing a fitness class, body weight circuit, yoga, mountain climbing, bike riding, or gym if that’s what you prefer! I always thought that I needed to do gym and cardio to get results and be healthy, but that’s not necessarily true. Any form of exercise is great and will burn calories!

Diet is the most important thing for weight loss. I never knew this back then and my idea of a “diet” was starving myself. This is not only unhealthy, but can actually backfire and cause you to gain weight in the future. What I mean is that you need to have a look at your diet and make sure that you’re eating healthy foods, eating typical junk food and processed foods like cereals, packet meals, etc only a few times per week, and also that you’re not overeating. Eating the right amount of food for your body is really the key for weight loss.

Please have a read of this blog post to work out your ideal calorie intake, and also have a look at this blog post for free clean eating guidelines which will help give you an idea on what type of foods you should be eating :)

A few more tips:

  • Planning and preparing your meals makes a HUGE difference and will really help you stick to your healthier diet. Please have a look at my blog post on meal prepping guidelines;
  • Also remember that alcohol counts as calories and will severely limit your weight loss if you drink a lot.

weight loss

How many times should you workout per week? How many times do you workout per week?

I think it’s good to try and workout 4-6 times per week if you can. As I mentioned, these don’t need to be “gym” workouts – it’s good to include a variety of workouts.

I personally workout 6 days per week. I try to go for a walk every day and then I do either a circuit or yoga class 3-4 times per week. So on some days all I do is go for a walk. I am battling a few health issues (i.e. hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue) which prevent me from doing any really intense exercise. But over time I have come to realise that I like this type of exercise better.

When is the best time to go for a run?

The best time to go for a run is whenever you can fit it in! The same goes for any exercise. But if you want to lose weight, running in the morning on an empty stomach could probably help you lose weight quicker, but only if you’ve eaten a low carb meal for dinner. Also the downside with running on an empty stomach means you probably won’t be able to run for as far or go as hard. Honestly I don’t think it would make that much difference to weight loss.

Will cycling make my legs bigger?

This really depends on your body type and how often you do it. I have written an extensive blog post on this so please have a read. In this blog post, I also cover other forms of exercise such as dancing, barre, stair machine, elliptical, rowing, running, yoga, etc and whether or not these make your legs bigger.

What is your advice when the weather is cold and you want to go for a run?

My way around this is getting a gym membership! Then you always have access to a treadmill when it’s too cold, snowing, raining, or too hot.

But if that’s not an option for you, then my best advice is to get some warm and comfortable tights, a wind proof exercise jacket and brave the cold! It could also be a good idea to check the weather at the start of the week and find out which days will be the warmest, and then schedule your runs for then!

Any tips on controlling portion sizes / binge eating / major hunger?

Portion size

Portion size is really just about being realistic. If you look at your meal and think it looks huge, then it probably is, and you’ll probably end up feeling really full and bloated afterwards. And similarly, if you look at it and it looks really small, it probably is, and you’ll probably still be hungry afterwards or end up hungry again after an hour.

If you really struggle with portion size, I would try counting calories for a little while (even 1 week) just to get an idea on how much food you should eat, and then try to spread it out throughout the day. So for example, if you need to eat 1500 calories per day, you could spread this out by having 400 calories at each of your main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), and then having a 300 calorie snack.

Please have a read of my portion size guide blog post for more detailed information.

Binge eating

Binge eating seems to stem from really restrictive dieting, which then leads you to binge. It’s not a healthy relationship to have with food, and can cause significant weight gain. The best way to overcome this is to STOP the restrictive dieting. Make sure that no foods are off limits because thinking something is “bad” and that you can’t have it, will just cause you to binge on this food when you do eventually have it.

I know a lot of women struggle with binge eating and I will admit I have been there in the past too. I have written two blog posts on how to overcome binge eating, and how to recover from a binge. They are older blog posts but have some really helpful tips!

I no longer binge eat and I think the main reason for this is that I am no longer very strict with my diet. I eat gluten, dairy, sugar, bread, rice, chocolate, etc. I just eat everything in moderation. I know that’s easier said than done, but mentally changing the way you think is really key.

Major hunger

If you are experiencing major hunger, it is because you are not eating enough. There could be other reasons such as changes going on with your hormones (i.e. menstrual cycle – I get really hungry a few days before mine; or pregnancy), or a medical condition. But the most likely explanation is that you need to eat more food.

If you are eating the right amount of food but are still extremely hungry, it is very likely that you need to increase your fiber intake. This will make a HUGE difference to your hunger levels.

Please have a read of my blog post on how to reduce your appetite for some extra tips and further explanations about fiber.

Could there be medical reasons that are causing me to gain weight quickly?

If you have gained a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, then yes it is very likely that there is a medical reason behind this.

I have written a pretty detailed blog post about some medical conditions that could be causing weight gain and difficultly losing weight, so I won’t go into more detail here. Please have a read of this blog post for more information on this.overtraining

Do you take any supplements?

I use a protein powder every morning in my smoothies. I love whey protein but sometimes it doesn’t really agree with my body. So lately I have been using a 100% pure pea protein (vegan).

Other than that, I don’t take any fitness type supplements. I take a few health based supplements such as a probiotic, iodine, a few things for my thyroid (which you can read more about here) and also a few adaptogenic herbs to help with my adrenal fatigue.

I have tried things like l-carnitine and fat burners in the past. But honestly they didn’t make any difference and I didn’t like taking them. Most fat burners contain high amounts of caffeine and because I don’t have any caffeine in my diet, I couldn’t handle them. They gave me diarrhoea, shaking, sweating, and I couldn’t sleep.

Do you avoid carb heavy foods such a rice and bread?

Not really. As I mentioned before, I eat everything in moderation. If I have been eating a fair few carbs throughout the day, then I might not have any carbs such as rice for dinner and I’ll stick to protein and vegetables. But if I’m quite hungry or I haven’t had many carbs, I’ll eat rice. In the afternoons, I’ll usually have a quick think about what I’ve eaten that day and if I need more carbs, protein or fats, I’ll try to include more of these for dinner.

I try not to eat too much pasta, but I will probably have it every 1-2 weeks. This is just because I don’t really make many pasta based meals, but I don’t completely avoid it.

What happens to body fat and muscle when we stop working out? Do our muscles turn into fat? What happens to our strength when we stop working out?

When you stop working out, your muscles will decrease in both size. If you keep your diet the same as you did when you were exercising, it is likely that you will gain fat. But if you reduce your calorie intake and still eat healthy, you might not gain any fat. This might also depend on your body type as some body types gain fat easier than others.

Muscle does not turn into fat. Muscle atrophies, which basically means it wastes away. Also, when you stop exercising, you will lose strength. In my experience, I will start losing strength and muscle size within a couple of weeks.

OK that’s all the questions for now! If you have any other questions or blog requests, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to answer them for you :)

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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56 comments on “Q&A Session – Your Most Popular Questions Answered”

    Irma says:

    Hi Rachael,

    I’ve been doing your program last year, March (2 months post partum) then I switched to weight training for a year until I fell pregnant again.

    I’m currently 6 months pregnant and although I stopped exercising during my pregnancy, I am still very active every day.

    Just wondering if it’s safe to continue your program now during pregnancy?


      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      The Lean Legs Program hasn’t been tailored for pregnant women. I’ve had women say they’ve done the program while pregnant with some modifications. Most of the workouts are low impact, so they should be safe to do during the first trimester. However, I would recommend checking with your doctor first so you can be 100% safe. I wish you all the best! Xx

    Carolyn says:

    Hi Rachael,
    I am hoping you can help. I have been following your program since the beginning of 2020, and I am extremely happy with the results. I will be 50-years old next month, and consider myself to be in the best shape I have ever been in. I am happy with my weight; however, I have always struggled with my lower abdomen. I have had two children via C-section, and no matter what I do, I cannot find the right exercises to firm that area. Do you have any suggestions?

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      The only way to get rid of this fat is to lose overall body fat which is done through consuming less calories than your body uses (eating at a calorie deficit). The workouts in the program will also help so keep going and be persistent! :) For more helpful tips please have a read of these blog posts:

      How To Lose Lower Bely Fat

      Favourite Ab Workout

      Best of luck! xx


    Nicole Galofre says:

    Hi Rachael I’m so happy I got to your page. I think you gave me the answer to many of my questions and no understanding.
    What do you think about rowing?, I think is a great sport and you don’t use extra weights. Let me know.

      Sanja - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thank you for reaching out! :)

      Rowing is a little deceiving as most people think it is purely an upper-body exercise. But you actually generate most of the force from your legs. So yes it can increase your leg size. As with other exercises such as cycling, doing it occasionally may be OK, depending on your body type – if you are a mesomorph or an endomorph, I definitely would advise against it.

      I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any questions! xx


    annalisa says:

    HI there! I’m loving the program so far and how different it is to other workouts I’ve seen. I just have two questions:

    I’m an avid runner and used to run 5-6 days a week prior to starting the program. WOuld you recommend I keep to the suggested amount of running especially considering I’m trying to lose some of the muscle/ ‘bulkiness’ in my thighs? Or could I possibly do a c ouple of extra days of moderate paced running?

    Reading through the FAQ’s I know it is advised to be running/walking on flat surfaces. I was wondering what you thought about the new trend of 3–12-3 (12 percent incline, 30 mins, 3mph). Would you still say this wouldn’t help in reducing ‘bulkiness’?

    Thank you!

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thanks for reaching out! <3

      Running is good because it burns a lot of calories but for some women, it can cause unwanted bulkiness on their legs because running actually builds muscle so it would be best to do it in moderation. If your goal is to slim down your legs, another cardio that you can try is power walking. Try to aim for at least 10,000 steps a day at least 5x a week.

      It is also important to walk or run on a flat surface because uphill walking/running (i.e hiking, taking the stairs, treadmill on incline) engages your quads a lot and can cause unwanted bulkiness. :)

      Hope that helps. If you have more questions, feel free to email us at info@rachaelattard.com


    Hanna says:

    Hi Rachel, I have a question. I‘m doing your 3 steps to lean legs. On Wednesdays instead of doing the HIIT workout (bulks me up) i do onenof your butt workouts. Will that bulk me up? And can I do an extra butt workout apart from the resistance training?

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      If you noticed that you bulk up from doing the HIIT Exercises, I would recommend to repeat the circuits instead and just incorporate the booty workouts if you have the time. :) I assumed that you’re following the mesomorph or the ectomorph version hun since you have the HIIT exercises. If you’re not sure about your body type, feel free to send your photos in fitness/ sports clothing at info@rachaelattard.com and we will gladly help you. Don’t worry because the photos won’t leave the email thread. We will change it to the endomorph version if need be since it doesn’t contain any HIIT exercises. <3

      Let me know if you have other concerns. xx


    Kim says:

    Hi Rachael, it’s so hard to keep macro/calories sometimes… I would be eating a good amount of calories for weightloss but then my carbs would be so high! What do I do on the days I go too far with carbs? Would my hour, fasted power walk be a waste the next morning since I went over my carb limits? Please provide your insight, thank you!

    Yolandé Van der Riet says:

    Hi Rachael

    I am following your lean leg programme and so far, so good :)

    A question has popped up though ito the daily walking portion.
    Irrespective of the speed (I religiously follow long duration, medium intensity, heart rate between 60 – 70% max): What is the best for leg shaping:
    a. Longer strides or
    b. Shorter faster strides?
    I feel like shorter faster strides provide more cardio, but it also seems though longer strides better involve all muscle groups, especially the inner thighs.

    What would you suggest?

    Many thanks
    Yolandé (South Africa)

      Marina - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thanks for reaching out! We’re so happy you’re enjoying our Program :) As for the strides, it doesn’t matter too much, it’s much more important to stay consistent and you seem to be doing a great job with that! I would advise you to walk in a way that’s natural for you – if you tend to make longer strides keep it that way and if you’re a quite petite and have shorter strides, that’s also fine :)


    Robyn says:

    Hi. I was wondering whether I could send a body photo in bathers, to work out which body type I am. I’m a bit confused. I took the quiz which says I am an endomorph but from the descriptions, I think I am a definite mesomorph. Would that be alright? Thanks so much.

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Feel free to send your photo to info@rachaelattard.com and I’ll help you figure out your body type. :)
      Looking forward to hearing from you! xx