Every new client at Total Fitness receives a thorough health assessment. Why? The failure to achieve the look of a fit body is often due to underlying, unappreciated health issues. One of the biggest overlooked health issues that interfere with the look of cut, defined midsection is poor digestion. As a Lifestyle and Nutrition Coach, I spend countless hours helping clients understand what they should eat. But it’s also important to think about how your food should be eaten. If your stomach and intestines are bloated due to fast eating and overloading your digestive system, even the best abdominal routine in the world will not help you look better. How you eat also predicts a lot about your future weight. Years ago, a client of mine slaved away to lose 50 lbs. The success was undeniable—he looked trimmer, he had gotten stronger. Then he joined my husband and I on a bike trip. When it came time for lunch, he stuffed his mouth quickly, without chewing. There was nothing relaxed about the process. Because he clearly had not made peace with food, I wondered how long he could maintain the weight he had already lost. Follow these suggestions about how to eat:
Eat when you are hungry and stop before you are full. Once, when I was going over the food diary of a naturally slender client, I asked her why she had eaten only one hard-boiled egg for breakfast. “Because that was all it took to make me full,” she said. Her mind-set was so remarkably different from my clients who are constantly dieting, who are looking to me to tell them what portion size or calorie count they should have at every meal.
Relax. Make your food a meditation. Relaxing when you eat helps the digestive process. When you are upset, your body stops making the enzymes to digest your food . Meditating on each bite also helps you feel satisfied with a lot less food.
Avoid drinking cold drinks with your meal. Cold drinks dilute the digestive juices. Better to drink your water between meals. If you must drink with your meals, use hot liquids like herb teas.
Never eat concentrated food greater than the size of your fist. Make a fist—look at it! That is the size of your stomach. If you eat proteins, fats and/or carbohydrates greater than the size of your fist at any meal, you will probably experience bloating and indigestion. You can eat a few more vegetables and fruit because they condense down to fiber and water.
Eat slowly, then lie down or take extra time to relax after eating. Many of us eat at our desks or in our cars, then rush off to the next appointment, wondering why we burp or pass gas the rest of the day and why there are no exercises that can flatten our abs. It can take 1 hour or more to complete the process of digestion. Give your body time for the beneficial results!
Great Abdominals: The True Story
Once you have stopped stuffing yourself, rushing when you eat and/or rushing off after you have eaten, you can begin to achieve definition in your midsection. One of my hobbies is going to bookstores and enjoying reading the latest magazine stories about six-pack abs. A fitness friend of mine put these magazines in perspective for me long ago. “They should call these Muscle and FICTION magazines,” he explained. I especially like to look for workout routines most likely to injure clients should they have the poor judgment to follow any of the advice listed. Here is one of the best exercises we use at Total Fitness to help our clients achieve actual results:
Purchase a blood pressure cuff. This has nothing to do with your blood pressure—this has to do with defining your midsection.
Place the cloth part of the cuff under your belly button, with the two tubes to the side.
Hold the meter in one hand. Pump the cuff until you start the pressure at a reading of 40.
Pull your lower abdominal muscles tight until the pressure reading reaches 70. Hold there for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times.
As you progress, you can make this exercise harder by adding variations, such as extending your feet away from you or lifting and lowering one knee at a time while maintaining the contraction in your midsection.
Eat Like a Yogi or a Qi Gong Practitioner
Many years ago, I remember going to my first yoga ashram. As a stressed-out, fast-eating city dweller at the time, I was completely unprepared for lunchtime. Approaching the dining room, there were hundreds of ageless-looking yoga practitioners eating slowly and in silence. No newspapers were permitted because nothing upsetting was supposed to be discussed. Years later, I went on my first Qi Gong retreat to study this form of Chinese martial arts. After lunch, we took 100 steps (according to Qi Gong, a little movement helps digestion), then lay down outside in the sun, where we were instructed to rub our bellies and visualize the food we had just eaten nourishing every cell in our bodies. A short nap followed. I have seen plenty of fat aerobics teachers, weight lifters and walkers, but not many fat yogis or Qi Gong practitioners. Even if you never have the opportunity to study yoga or Chinese martial arts, you can choose to eat all your meals more mindfully—and find yourself eating less, digesting better and making better progress with your workouts in the gym.
Looking for a Nanny? Alba Adrian to the Rescue
My longest-term yoga student, Alba Adrian, is looking for a new position. Alba’s yoga practice has helped her overcome asthma and chronic knee pain. While others come to yoga to manage job stress, Alba has never complained because she loves taking care of children. For the past 20 years, Alba has been a professional nanny. Her child-rearing expertise exceeds that of many parents. If you are looking for someone to help you in your home, please contact Alba at 404-634-8603.