One of the most common questions I get from people is how to lose belly fat and get defined abs. Since a tight midsection is one of the most enviable and desirable body attributes, I am never surprised by these inquiries. I have noticed that there is a relatively common misconception that defined abs come solely from exercise, which is definitely not the case. While a certain amount of development in the abdominal muscles must be present for the washboard appearance which many people covet, an individual’s food choices often interfere with the quest for six-pack abs.
If you really want to see abdominal definition, you need to eliminate the following foods from your diet:
Processed foods (including crackers, luncheon meats, cheese, chips, breads)
Foods high in saturated fat (red meat, fast foods)
Though it may be difficult at first to eliminate the foods listed, you will notice over time that your palate will adjust and that food cravings will subside. That’s because processed foods and sugar set up a vicious cycle in which you crave more bad foods when you consume them. Cut them out of your meal plan, and your cravings will subside. Another benefit of avoiding these foods is that you will avoid the rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin which they trigger. Why is this important? Because sharp spikes in insulin release promote increased fat deposition in the midsection.
Another dramatic change which you need to make is to drink plenty of water daily. My general rule is to buy an attractive 1 liter bottle, fill it 3 times during the course of a day, and drink all the water you put in that container.
If your abdominal muscles haven’t seen a sit-up in years, you should also incorporate abdominal exercises into your regimen. Here are my three favorite abdominal exercises which work for everyone, from beginners to advanced athletes:
If you are consistent with making healthy food choices and getting regular exercise, chances are good that you will see a toned tummy if you are already at a normal weight. If you are overweight, the healthier food choices will help you to slim down and get rid of belly fat, putting you on course for a tighter midsection.
I put this video together last year, so I am actually approaching my 53rd birthday now…
Last December I severed ties with the gym that I had been a member of since 2004, and it honestly felt like a bad breakup. I had been feeling very dissatisfied with the gym ever since ownership and management changed hands in November of 2017. Members had to deal with constant construction and renovation, which meant that some areas would be closed off for extended periods of time. When equipment broke down, the management would leave the machines sitting in a state of disrepair. The management removed great equipment and replaced it with new, yet cheaply made items. I was also quite frustrated when the management decided to remove the prone leg curl machine, citing two different possible reasons:
1. Female members were getting upset about male members staring at their asses, or
2. The wrong machine (a second seated leg curl) was delivered, and the management decided to keep it.
Both explanations are completely lame. If the management was so concerned about men staring at the gluteal regions of the female members, then why would they keep the butt blaster machine? Another reason why the first explanation especially irked me is that the promotional video which constantly plays throughout the gym features a rather mannish Spin instructor who has several closeups featuring her sweat-laden, exposed, muscular decollete. I have always found this footage offensive, and I will always refer to the instructor as Miss Sweaty Boobs. It’s disgusting. And if the wrong machine was in fact delivered, then I would think the company from which they purchased the machine would take responsibility for the mistake and switch out the wrong machine with the correct one. It was bizarre trying to talk to staff members, not unlike speaking to a spineless, lying, cheating lover who can’t get his stories straight.
Another very frustrating thing which occurred was that though I had been paid up through the old owner for membership through 2022, the new owners decided not to honor that, instead telling me that they would be “generous” and honor membership through the end of 2018, provided I paid two “enhancement fees” of $25 each at different intervals during the year to keep the membership active. It didn’t matter that I had paid so much money up front to ensure that my membership would be paid for well in advance.
I honestly feel that NONE of the changes the new owner and management made were beneficial to members. The renovations to the facility are STILL NOT FINISHED! When I inquired about membership renewal, I was told what the monthly rate would be, which made me snicker because it was rather high. In addition, I was told that I would have to pay a $54 activation fee, yet another employee told me this would not be a new membership, but just a renewal. More lies in a toxic relationship were being fed to me. The last straw was when they ran my card for duplicate charges, yet wouldn’t issue a credit for the duplicate charge back to my card.
At that point it was time for me to break up.
I severed ties with the old gym, and signed up with two other gym groups. What’s funny is that the total charges for the two gyms I signed up with are less than the amount I would have paid at the old gym. How’s that for a toxic relationship where I got stuck paying for a high maintenance partner?
I love the new gyms I work out at, and what’s even better is that both gyms are part of chains, meaning I can go to other locations when I am traveling. I can visit a network of over 400 clubs with one group, and over 80 clubs with the other. That sure beats going to ONE busted up, half-finished gym which only cares about money.
There was one final incident which really upset me, which occurred the day after Christmas. Keep in mind that my membership at the old gym was valid through December 31st, 2018. I went to the gym and worked out, and when I was on my final exercise for the day, the manager approached me and asked me what I was doing there. She stated that she was quite sure that my membership had expired on December 24th. She told me she was going to have to check my account. Fine. When she didn’t return, I knew that she realized her error, and was probably too embarrassed to admit that she was mistaken in her assumption.
Has anyone else dealt with a similar situation?
Sheila Olson is at it again with another fantastic article which I am sharing here. Let Sheila guide you towards optimal well-being!
Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being
by Sheila Olson
Being healthy is a goal that we all have, and we are frequently exposed to countless trends that promise to drastically improve our well-being overnight. Of course, that isn’t realistic on any level. What our minds and bodies need is long-term commitment. If you’re interested in improving your entire well-being, check out the following tips.
When left unaddressed, stress can occupy our thoughts throughout the day and leave us restless at night. Unfortunately, our physical health is directly connected to our mental health. After all, stress can disrupt sleep, impede focus, and leave us with a host of physical issues. Yet, with the right tools, you can learn the proper ways to manage it.
A good starting point is meditation. Mindfulness habits can balance our emotional states, leaving us physically and mentally healthier as a result. Beginning a practice can be as easy as spending 10 minutes in a quiet place every day. Thanks to the internet, you can also use guided tutorials to help you learn that process. How you explore meditation is up to you. You may want to focus on breathing exercises, or you might prefer a room dedicated to emotional centering.
Clean Your Air
It’s natural to assume that our homes are a refuge from pollutants, but sometimes that isn’t the case. We may have pets that shed, or we use cleaning chemicals that do more harm than good. This decline in air quality can cause many health issues, such as asthma or allergies. Fortunately, you can drastically cut pollutants by investing in an air purifier. These devices filter air at the microscopic level. They won’t purge our homes completely of contaminants, but you can notice marked improvement in both your health and air quality. Before you choose a specific model, learn more about the products on the market. There are several different kinds of purifiers available, so know what you need before you buy one.
Being active shouldn’t be a chore; if it is, then you need to find routines that you enjoy to make healthier living more sustainable. Don’t rely on bruising sessions at the gym to achieve your goals, as this can lead to burnout. Instead, remind yourself that all activity counts. That might be walking through a park or playing basketball with a group of friends. Do you work out best with others? Join a sports team, or take up regular jogs with your buddies. Above all, give yourself manageable goals that you can work toward, and make sure you follow through with them. By having a positive mindset, you can keep your fitness moving forward.
Focus on Sleep
Having a good night’s rest is easier said than done. However, sleep recharges one’s emotional and physical batteries. So, get to the root cause of any restlessness and find a solution. Do you drink caffeine? Limit it as best you can, and consider a cutoff point in the early afternoon. Are you using electronics? They may seem ideal to help you unwind at the end of the day, but they can override your body’s sleep processes. Don’t overlook your environment, either. If it’s bright, invest in blackout curtains. Likewise, keep your room cool to help your body prep for sleep. Identifying the source may mean replacing your mattress or changing your decor. Whatever the cause, though, you can rejuvenate your health with sleep.
Embrace Positive Living
Unhealthy habits can be a significant obstacle to wellness. They are hard to stop, but doing so can be transformative. Negative habits can have various underlying causes, so it’s important to determine what they might be. This can help you understand certain patterns and avoid them in the future. However, don’t just try to drop an unwanted habit “cold turkey.” Instead, challenge them by adopting positive alternatives. If you smoke when you’re feeling stressed, find a substitute that you can use to manage your anxieties. Don’t end your nights on a stressful note by checking social media or email. Positive living is a strategy that adds up over time and can become a central part of your day-to-day life.
Good health is not a fad. It’s perfectly achievable by making easy adjustments to our lifestyle and outlook. Make your well-being a priority every day.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Check out this informative article by Sheila Olson of FitSheila.com
Whether you have to travel for work or you are about to enjoy a vacation, spending time to improve your physical fitness while traveling should fit into your schedule. The more time you take off from your fitness regimen, the harder it will be to bounce back once you settle back into your normal life. That being said, traveling is a great opportunity to switch up your fitness routine and challenge your body to work in a new way. Exercise variety is key when it comes to burning fat and calories while improving other elements such as balance and flexibility.
Check out these tips on ways to incorporate workouts into your travel plans and itinerary so you can stay fit on the fly.
Try Out a Local Class
Boutique fitness studios are popping up everywhere nowadays; surely there are a few not too far from wherever you are staying. Scout out your options and walk in to see if they have any deals for first-time students. Often, these places offer the first class for free or at a discounted rate in hopes of encouraging the person to sign up for more.
When picking out a class to try, always lean toward the beginner’s level, even if you consider yourself fit. The latest fitness crazes always throw in some kind of twist to make them more difficult– like this Dallas studio that has you do basic bootcamp exercises, but on a suspended surfboard. You never know what you are going to get with a new class, so you might as well start out slowly.
Tour the Town
There is always something to explore, no matter where you are. And if there is something to explore, there is a way to do it while also breaking a sweat. If you have time to see the sights wherever you travel, get as much of them in as you can by running, skating, or biking around the area. Not only will you be fitting in a workout, but when you hit the pavement, you get a taste of what life is like for a local.
Even if you don’t have the time to burn running around the city, you can choose to be more active by walking wherever you need to go. While it doesn’t burn many calories, there are still health benefits to walking. Try to get at least 12,000 steps in each day– Plexus recommends tracking them with an app on your smartphone. Be sure to go the extra mile with the little things like taking the stairs instead of an elevator or getting off the subway one stop early if you have the time to stroll.
Diet is just as important as exercise, and don’t let anyone try to tell you differently. If you spend your travel time eating junk, it’s going to come back to haunt you once you are home. Maintaining a wholesome diet while you are on the road is really more important than fitting in exercise. If you walk a lot and eat well, you may lose some of your recent gym gains, but your bounce back will be swift.
● Avoid all processed foods and stick with snacks that are composed of a few ingredients at maximum. Some great options include fruit and nuts.
● Buy groceries and make your food rather than eating at restaurants. Food you make at home tends to have less fat, sugar, and sodium in it. Chefs tend to put those ingredients in their food to make you come back for more.
● If you are flying, bring an empty water bottle with you. Once you are through security, fill it up at the water fountain. Drink plenty of water throughout your trip to prevent dehydration.
Travel is no excuse to forgo fitness. Stay on top of your workout game by trying a new class and seeing the sights in a way that also breaks a sweat. Also, don’t neglect your diet while you travel. Eating a poor diet makes bouncing back that much more difficult when you get back on your fitness track at home.