Lose Weight, Firm Up Your Abs - What the Infomercials Don't Tell You

You have decided to get in shape. You want to lose weight, look and feel good, and of course, you want tight, firm abdominals to show off at the shore come Spring. This is a good news/bad news scenario, and we will start with the bad news first:

Those ab machines, rubberbands, and other ridiculous contraptions you see in stores, on television, and at the mall kiosks, they don't work. Forget about them. Take it from someone who knows a little something about physical training - what you need is good, old fashioned exercise. Which leads us to the good news:

You can do it. And the process is relatively simple, too. First, a couple of facts: If you want to get leaner, and show off those abs, you can do all of the crunches and situps in the world. Go ahead. Really. But they won't help a thing, if you do not lower your body fat percentage to the point where your abdominal muscles become visible. And this means making some changes in your life, for instance:

  • Stop skipping breakfast. Like the rest of you, your metabolism needs fuel to run. Make this your largest, most robust meal of the day. Eggs, sausage, fresh fruits; whole grain breads; juice. Go extravagant. And include coffee or tea, if you want. You have all day to work off the calories from this one.
  • Snack between meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner...the three "hots" before the cot. Forget it. eat five, even six, smaller meals throughout the day. Start as above with a huge breakfast, then a small, light brunch. Make lunch a healthy proportion. Snack again before dinner on something healthy.
  • Keep dinner light. Go easy on starches, even to the point of avoiding them at dinner if you can. Watch the carbohydrates for a better night's sleep if your dinner is a late evening meal. Remember: The later the meal, the lighter the load. If you eat dinner after 6pm, make it snack sized. You will go to bed a little hungry, and wake up ready for a full meal.
  • Get some Exercise. But don't just go jogging. Jogging at a steady pace does very little for your metabolism. Try aerobics; get up on your toes, and hammer on a heavy punching bag for 2-3 minute intervals at a time. Keep moving throughout the exercise, and change your pace at regular "intervals." For instance, if you jog for two minutes, run hard for 30 seconds before resuming a jog. Do this throughout the run.
  • Take up Yoga or Pilates. These movements are no laughing matter. And they are not as easy as they look, either. Many of the movements learned in either Yoga or Pilates involve the core muscles of your abdominals and obliques (the muscles on your sides, which can also be toned nicely.) These movements work every bit as well as crunches, often better, as they place emphasis on sustained tension on the core muscles.

Try some of these options for getting lean. And remember, make your workouts fun. Otherwise you end up skipping the gym all together. Change things up regularly; vary the routine. And have fun!

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Mark Cruz
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Posted on Mar 11, 2012