How to Master Your Midsection
How to Master Your Midsection
Crunches, sit ups, side bends, twists, planks, etc…etc…etc…
One of the top 5 questions I get asked as a personal trainer is; “What exercise is good for my midsection? Or – How do I get abs?” Well the answer is never simple, or singular. Sorry to burst your bubble people, but it’s true. If someone gives you a one way answer – just do …blank, they’re uneducated on the topic, and you should most likely avoid asking them those kinds of questions in the future. If you want to know about fitness, consult with a fitness professional, seriously. If your car was making a screeching noise, you wouldn’t take it to a plumber….But that’s a topic for another day!
Here are my 4 components to mastering your midsection
1.Stress and How You Manage It
When the body becomes stressed, it taps into its sympathetic nervous system, also known as fight or flight. The body raises heart rate, shunts blood away from the skin and internal organs, and increases it in the heart, muscles, and brain. Digestion is reduced to almost a halt, and the liver converts stored glycogen into glucose, raising blood sugar levels. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a stress hormone, and keep us on high alert. If we constantly live in this state, our food won't digest properly, we won't absorb nutrients, our blood sugar stays high, which can lead to insulin resistance (fat around the midsection, and the inability to burn fat). Yikes. Sounds like you won't be seeing an ab for a long time.
So What To Do?
Well, the obvious first step is calm the F%$& down. Truly. Assess your life literally, what are you getting so pissed about? Keep a gratitude journal, and write down your blessings, I bet you have more than you think. Take a few deep breaths, for real. Deep breathing helps us tap into our parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest and digest mode- the opposite of fight or flight. Inhale slowly, counting to 7, hold your breath for 7, exhale slowly through the nose for 7. Repeat 3-4 times and you’ll feel much more relaxed. Eating a plentiful diet high in whole, unprocessed foods is a given, and making sure your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are in there too. Supplementing with Magnesium might be a way to go, being the rest and relaxation mineral most of us are deficient in, it could be a great help in calming down a little. 350-1000 mg, depending on the person, taken in the evening could help with relaxing you for sleep, which is my next topic. See my post on magnesium and other micronutrients for more information. Botanicals like ginseng and rhodiola are common for stress reduction as well. But remember, if you don’t learn how to control your mind, and its reaction to stress, everything else is a band aid solution.
What a wonderful thing most of us don’t get enough of. And if you want to master your midsection and shed those extra inches, sleep needs to be your close and personal friend. There are certain body processes that take place systematically while we are sleeping. When our sleep is interrupted, those processes are interrupted, resulting in imbalances in the body. To increase and improve your sleep, these steps are a must.
Reduce coffee intake
I am a coffee drinker, so I am not in any way bashing coffee, and I won't get into the pros and cons of coffee, that’s for another day, maybe. Coffee stays in our system for up to 12 hours. So, being a stimulant, if you have coffee at 3pm, it might be hard for you to get to sleep by 10, or 11pm. Keep the coffee for the morning, not drinking it past 11am.
Put the phone, tablet, laptop, blah blah blah away.
In order for your body to get sleepy, melatonin needs to be secreted. This happens at night when it’s dark. If you’re laying in bed with a phone in your face, this won't happen, sorry. Swap your tablet or phone for a book before bed, it will improve melatonin production and get you sleeping faster.
Don’t drink two hours before bed
Nothing sucks more than drifting off into that blissful sleep only to realize….yep, you gotta pee. Trust me, I get it. So cut the liquids off two hours before bed. It will help you stay asleep because you won't be running to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Meals before bed
This is something that may not apply to all, and in some cases, people need to eat before bed for medical reasons etc. But for some, eating before bed can prolong sleep, and, depending on what you’ve eaten, cause gas, bloating, and heartburn. These things can keep you awake. So, If you’re one of those people, shut it down two hours before bed.
3. Proper Nutrition
The term ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ couldn’t be truer. You wear what you eat. And if you are overeating, or eating a diet that constantly spikes your blood sugar, you can bet you’ll be wearing a spare tire. Fresh vegetables, fruits, good fats like nuts and avocado, and lean proteins are a must to have in your diet. Reducing sugar intake, fried foods and processed foods are a great way to help eliminate that belly. if you’re really serious about some abs, consult with a professional who knows their stuff!
4. Consistency of The Three Plus Exercise
I am incorporating two in my final point because exercise is definitely a component, combined with the other three points. But consistently executing a clean diet, exercise routine, sleeping well and managing your stress will yield you the best results.
Understand that things take TIME. There is no quick fix, and anyone offering you that is just trying to take your money. Think how long it took you to get to your current state, it wasn’t overnight that you became overweight or out of shape, it took time. And so will getting back into good shape.
Remember, every little bit helps. Incorporating small changes in your life consistently will make a huge difference. But never be afraid ask for help! (a professional of course).