Please check out Heidi Jo Medina’s article on fab abs in the August 12, 2016 edition of the Pensacola News Journal which includes me as one of the featured experts in her engaging article. I absolutely love Heidi Jo’s fantastic tips for getting amazing abs!
For convenience, I have copied and pasted the article here, but please also click on the link below to read the article from the source.
Many thanks to Heidi Jo Medina and the Pensacola News Journal for this feature!
Medina: Hit the peak of fitness with fab abs
Heidi Jo Medina, News Journal correspondent 4:51 p.m. CDT August 12, 2016
Getting that six pack is the highest mountain to climb on most people’s fitness journey. To help you make it to the peak, several bikini pros tell us how they maintain their hard bellies.
Christina Heine, a graduate student in health promotion and assistant for the exercise science and health department at the University of West Florida, loves to work her abdominal muscles with planks, hanging leg lifts and reverse crunches. Her cardio routine incorporates high intensity interval training on the stair stepper or stadiums. The 31-year-old National Physique Committee (NPC) competitor switches between two minutes of high intensity and one minute of low intensity until she has reached 30 minutes.
She recommends incorporating white fish, egg whites, plain non-fat Greek yogurt into your diet. (This is ab-friendly for some people because it has natural probiotics which supports healthy digestion, but for some dairy-sensitive people it can cause bloating.)
Jessica Vetter, 36, of South Dakota, works her abdominals with ball crunches, decline crunches and double crunches. Her resume includes International Federation of Body Building (IFBB) figure pro and American Muscle & Fitness personal trainer.
“Being consistent is very important in getting and maintaining abs. Hold yourself accountable to what is put into your mouth,” she says.
For cardio, Vetter uses the stair stepper or elliptical. She says stair steppers are her favorite, as they use every muscle in the lower body, and are perfect for building lean muscle while burning fat. It is a low-impact exercise that can burn more calories than high impact, as you have to lift your entire body weight with every step you take.
Vetter only trains abs twice a week.
“If you are eager to have abs, your best strategy is to pay closer attention to your diet,” she says. “There are multiple factors that can contribute to storing fat around your belly. Focusing on eating healthy will make it easier for your body to reveal abs.”
Vetter’s diet incorporates ab-friendly foods such as fish, chicken, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, greens, coconut oil and egg whites.
“Watching labels is key,” she cautions. “Look at the grams of sugar, saturated and trans fat, and carbohydrates. The list of ingredients is also very important, and understanding what you are reading.”
Stacey Naito, 50, of California, has eliminated processed foods and refined sugar from her diet in order to sustain a lean midsection.
The IFBB pro, board-certified physician and nutrition coach suggests you stick to whole foods like lean meats, eggs (including the yolk), vegetables, almonds, and grains like quinoa and brown rice.
Naito only trains abs once a week for five to 10 minutes. She likes to incorporate planks, flutter kicks on a bench, and decline bench crunches.
When asked what kind of cardio she integrates into her workout regimen, her reply was, “Cardio? What’s that?”
Naito says she hasn’t done cardio in months and her body is actually leaner as a result.
“The body can become very efficient with cardio, meaning that it becomes resistant to the supposed fat-burning effects of cardiovascular activity,” Naito says. “The solution? Dial it down! Too much cardio can destroy a body.”
She suggests that you don’t over do it and just keep it simple. In fact, Naito says the best way to get chiseled abs is to drink plenty of water, take nutritional supplements like magnesium if you think you may be deficient, and eat clean at least 90 percent of the time.
Genetics will always play a role in your body shape and fitness achievements, but if you are only eating healthy 60 percent of the time, just like in math, that is a failing grade. Abs are made in the kitchen. The best ab exercise out there is to stop eating so much junk.
Amazing ab tips
1.Utilize a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Along with eating four to six small meals a day, try to consume your carbs first thing in the morning to give you sufficient energy through the day.
2.A consistent combination of cardio and weight training will enable you to burn fat and stay lean. Weight training burns calories after the workout and throughout the day while cardio burns calories during the workout.
3.Staying properly hydrated will help you burn the most amount of fat and will speed up your metabolism. Try to drink six to eight glasses a day.
4.Adjust your ab routine often. This will help to maximize results as diversity and confusion to the muscle show more development than a stagnant routine.
5.Breakfast kicks off your metabolism so don’t skip it. Include lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates in your first meal. Steer clear of unhealthy fats and foods high in unhealthy carbohydrates.
6.Don’t skip cardio. Losing fat will make your abs more prominent. Cardiovascular exercise is much more effective in the morning as well since the body is refreshed.
7.Getting eight to nine hours of sleep will help boost metabolism. Lack of sleep will cause the body to release the stress hormone cortisol which promotes fat storage and will derail your ab efforts.
8.Cardio in the morning is much more effective since the body is refreshed.
9.Engage your abdominals during compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and rows which demand a lot of core stability. These big moves will rev your metabolism and burn calories.
10.Don’t forget to breathe. Muscles need oxygenated blood to work properly and holding your breathe will hinder you from generating strength. Inhale deeply before performing a movement and exhale as you perform the crunch or lifting movement. Exhaling will force your abs to contract and engage your inner oblique muscles.
11.Cheat! Once or twice a week throw in a cheat meal to keep you sane and to throw your body a curve ball. This will keep your body from adjusting to healthy eating and slowing down your metabolism.
Every single year I watch nationally qualified competitors duke it out onstage in hopes of finally making it through the bottleneck and achieving Pro status. Some competitors get smacked down repeatedly, yet keep hitting the national circuit for so long that they must compete against new blood, further limiting their chances. There are times when I shake my head in wonder over the outcome of a national or Pro event when individuals who clearly should have been in first callouts were neglected. I know that feeling all too well because it has happened to me a number of times. Every year the national level events get bigger, which results in even more pressure and more competition to get through that level and into the big wide world of Pro status. When a competitor finally gets pushed out of the bottle and glides into Pro waters, he or she will bask in it, enjoying the victory, but the majority of Pro competitors soon discover that becoming a Pro doesn’t mean that life will become any easier. If anything, it becomes more difficult, because the bar is set much higher.
Those of us who compete live in a bubble. In fact, I will go as far as to say that when we escape the bottle, we end up in a fishbowl instead of open water. Please don’t interpret this to mean that I lack appreciation for being a Pro, because it is indeed a great honor. But the world at large is a vast ocean which bodybuilding leagues really don’t connect to, similar to the artificial environment which a bowl provides for a pet fish. Bodybuilding is its own world, and though I may love it, I also know that it won’t make me a superstar. Even the biggest bodybuilding legends (except for Arnold) don’t have the full global recognition which they deserve, because bodybuilding is such a niche industry. The only bodybuilders who are household names are the ones who became thespians.
I will admit that when I finally got my Pro Card (after 14 Pro qualifiers), I was relieved and ecstatic because I had finally reached a goal I had set for myself. However, I also fully realize that it wasn’t entirely up to me when or if I would ever get that card, so I always tried my best not to berate myself when I fell short of that Pro card goal. A number of competitors who have been on the national circuit for a very long time have built up a tremendous following on social media channels and have so much power and influence, yet they sell themselves short because they focus on the Pro Card chase as a singular goal. These are precious gems whose shine is only dulled by the disappointment they experience when the sport of bodybuilding edges them out of the winners’ circle.
If you have been competing for a very long time and are getting weary from slipping in national placings or just missing that Pro card too many times, it’s time to take a good look at where your passion truly lies. If your true passion lies directly in the experience of stepping onstage, then by all means continue. However, if you are broke, exhausted, sore and dejected, and you have a true passion beyond the stage for inspiring others to reach fitness goals, then why not BREAK the bottle and swim into the wide ocean? If you build a name, a brand, and a following, you can establish a presence in the real world which will enable you to impact others in the truest sense. In addition, you might stand to make some decent money from nurturing your passion for fitness. Honestly, how much money have you made from competing? Just saying.
If you’re like most people these days, you barely have a moment to catch your breath as you power through your day. You may be powering through meetings, working feverishly on projects, taking your kids to their activities, making dinner, etcetera, without pausing to wonder WHY you are doing all of those things. You just DO them, because you’re supposed to, right? You probably also tend to expect everything to run smoothly, which of course may topple over at any given time.
The thing is, if you never stop to wonder why those little glitches occur, you may be missing an important message. Sometimes things just line up in the oddest ways, and what you might think is a disaster is actually a wonderful opportunity to start fresh. Wonderful, magical, serendipitous things are always occurring, and if we pay attention a bit and slow our roll just a bit, we can begin to appreciate how amazing and frequent those moments are. Like a chain reaction, one small event can cause a cascade which opens many doors, changes your focus and direction so that you explore something you might never have thought to explore before, and enables you to grow as a person.
Pause for a moment, pay attention, and observe.
Summer is almost upon us, which means that more skin-baring outfits will appear, and the pressure to look as good as possible will be greater than ever. So what do you do if you’ve been cozily hiding under a layer of winter storage fat for the last few months or years? There isn’t much time to strip that away, but it definitely IS possible to reveal a trimmer, more toned you for the warmer weather that is right around the corner.
The first and most important thing to do in order to build a body transformation strategy for the summer is to define your goals. Make sure that they fit the SMART criteria: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, RELEVANT and TIMELY. Let’s look at each aspect more closely.
SPECIFIC: The more specific you are in defining your summer transformation goals, the more likely you are to be successful in reaching them. A good specific goal could be losing body fat.
MEASURABLE: Let’s look more closely at the body fat reduction goal that I mentioned above. What if you set a goal of losing 5% of your body fat? By doing this, you have now made that goal measurable.
ACHIEVABLE: Make sure that you can actually reach the goals you put in front of you. For example, if you have an excessive amount of storage body fat, it would be unreasonable for you to try to lose 15% of body fat by the beginning of July. However, an achievable goal of 5% is much more reasonable and completely attainable.
RELEVANT: The goals you set should match up to your abilities and interests. For example, if you have been a complete couch potato for years, it would not be relevant to your lifestyle or skill set to aim to prep for an Ironman competition by July. A relevant goal that would still enable you to successfully reach a higher level of fitness would be to prep for a 5k walk/run in July.
TIMELY: In the above examples, I mentioned early July as a timeline marker. By setting a target date, you will establish a framework upon which you will build an action plan.
When I perform nutrition and fitness assessments, I always advise my clients and patients to follow the SMART acronym. Another thing I love to suggest is the development of a vision board. A vision board can be as simple as having a photo of a celebrity or other person who has the kind of physique that a client covets. In some cases, the photo may be of the client from earlier, leaner days. In either case, the photo serves as a perfect carrot to chase after. I always suggest placing the photo on a bathroom mirror or a refrigerator door. Another clever and very effective place for an inspiring photo is to use it as a computer or phone wallpaper design.
If you really want to get creative and inspired, you can create a larger vision board, either digitally or via old-school printed photos and inspiring quotes and messages. Just make sure that whatever you create, you believe 100% in what is on the board, and that you can attain it all.
Here is the color version of the black and white image which I posted a few days ago.