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Want abs?

February 15, 2008


A question that I am frequently asked is “how do I get abs?”, or even “how do I reduce this body part?” (as the woman I’m speaking to points to her inner thigh/outer thigh/tricep, etc). You can do all the crunches, all the spot reducing in the world, yet if you do not do the appropriate amount of cardio, and if you are not eating well, you will never get the abs or toned body that you desire. I know you’ve heard this before, but for some reason, it is the hardest concept to relay to people, in my eyes.

When I taught sculpt class, I remember the same ladies attending the class week after week. I loved teaching the class, but I was surprised to see how few women picked up heavier weight or challenged themselves in new ways, despite my trying to tell them that it was necessary in order to achieve results/change.

I specifically remember someone asking me about her inner thighs and what she could do to improve them. I asked her if she was doing cardio and how clean she was eating. But of course, she didn’t want to hear those things-she wanted a quick fix! No such thing, sorry.

And then there is good old genetics. I had a room mate in college who had abs that you could bounce a penny off of. No fat, zero. She was genetically built that way. We are all built differently, and that is okay!

I think we must learn to love what we were given, not bash our bodies. Too many of us pick apart everything that we see that is flawed, instead of loving ourselves and our changing bodies (change is inevitable!). Acceptance is KEY.

But if you desire a flatter midsection, then along with weight training and abdominal work, you are going to have to pump up the cardio and eat extremely well.

And by cardio, I do not mean a mere 20-30 minutes on a recumbent bike or a leisurely walk. You must get your heart rate up, and get on your feet! Eliptical, stairclimber, running, for a minimum of 30 minutes, 45-60 minutes, 4-5 times a week preferred. Everyone has a different idea of how much cardio is truly necessary, and I do think that when you are in your maintenance phase, you can do less, but ONLY when you are in maintenance phase.

Don’t fool yourself, getting your body into shape is not supposed to be a walk in the park! ONCE AGAIN-IT TAKES HARD WORK!

Do intervals! Switch it up! Interval training alternates bouts of high-intensity exercise with that of low to moderate intensity exercise. It will add some excitement to your everyday cardio workouts, and it is more effective in burning a greater amount of calories.

And then there is CONSISTENCY. This one is huge. If you are not truly consistent with your diet, exercise, and strength training, you may not see the results that you desire. A healthy lifestyle is a full-time job. There are no shortcuts. And being consistent is so important!

We seem to think that we can get away with the weekend binge, slacking for a week or two, or cutting back on strength work, yet still have the body that we dream about. All these inconsistent behaviors DO affect your body, and they DO set you back. Would you take a week off of brushing your teeth? Probably not (I certainly hope not!). So, don’t do it with your diet and exercise program. Be religious-the consistency will pay off.

I also feel that alcohol is a big bummer when it comes to getting a lean midsection. Extra calories, void of nutrients, and interferes with hormone producing glands (and because most women are already stressed because of work/family juggling, which stresses out the body), the last thing you need is to create further havoc in your body by adding another stressor.

Practice extreme moderation in alcohol if you want to improve your midsection, especially if you are pre-menopausal or menopausal, since you will have a greater tendency to store fat around the midsection due to hormonal changes during this time.

And clean eating! What can I say? To quote Jack La Lanne, “a healthy diet is King”. Yes, he is right, and is 92 years old and still exercising 2 hours a day, still lean and trim. It can be a reality, folks.

So, there it is. The truth about abs. It’s pretty simple, but we complicate things too much. We all know what to do-now go out there and DO IT! :o)

All the Best!

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