Tummy Time

This week we've got two pieces of the hard truth. To get your body ready for the summer, you need to do two things:

1. adjust your meal plan big-time
2. focus your workouts

Adjusting your meals! 
The fat cells around your waist (in the front with men, creating the "gut" and on the sides and hips for women) are the most prone to size increase and replication. This means that if you are eating more than you burn off, particularly if what you eat is high in fat and/or empty calorie-laden, you are going to develop this belly fat. Calories that are not worked off, get converted to fat, so the first important step in eliminating the gut is to re-evaluate your diet.  Here are four challenging but results-oriented tips, and we want you to try them at least for the next week:

 - Completely rid your diet of processed foods (refined sugars, foods containing trans fats, saturated fats, large amounts of sodium & sugar).  Anything made with white flour should be eliminated, and never buy anything in a store whose package contains two or more ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Seriously, check the ingredients on any package
 - Opt for fresh root vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, legumes, lean dairy, and nuts at most meals. If you eat meat or fish, do so ONLY ONCE per day.
 - Think about how your food will look if you wear it around your waist. If you are used to eating big plates of really wonderful food but know that you overdo it (read: you need to lose weight), consider this visual imagery. Try to picture in your mind what that meal will look like ground up and looped around your waist like a belt, because that's where it's headed. Get into the detail - dripping butter, flakes of pastry sticking to your clothes, a buckle made of bones. 
 - Throw the rule of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out the window.  Eating 5-6 mini meals, with the final two meals the smallest during the day, is one of the keys to keeping your metabolism revved throughout the day. Always eat within an hour of waking; in fact, you might target a half hour window in order to adjust your mind. Have breakfast at home, right when you wake up. At least 250 nutritious calories. That could be two hard-boiled eggs with a small salad or cup of fresh fruit. If you must do something bigger, and you'd normally opt for toast or a bagel, prepare some quinoa or barley the night before and have that with your eggs.

Focus your workouts
Start rethinking the way that you approach exercise. Plenty of men and women alike successfully hit the gym several times a week only to belly ache season after season of unsuccessful weight loss. If you truly tackle the easier of the two tips above about food, you owe it to yourself to adjust your exercise regimen.  

Follow these three:
1. Exercise in the morning, five days per week. And if you need to lose more than 20 pounds, plan to exercise again in the evening 2 or 3 times. No two workouts should be the same, and do strength training and core work before any cardio.  High intensity intervals with active recovery are an excellent way to approach all of your sessions. The team at inSHAPE specializes in this type of workout, and we would be happy to consult with you if you have any specific needs, so please let us know how we can help.

2. Engage the core by pretending that you have a marble in your belly button that you don't want to fall out. As you draw in your naval, you lift up, which in turn lifts your rib cage. You also want to and intensely on the contraction of the muscles at work. Don't just move - move with purpose. All functional exercise uses, therefore, works, the core. Focus on control through your movements, and every single exercise that you do will help build strength and tone in the abs and back.

3.The best way to remember correct breathing during weight or resistance training is to EXHALE on EFFORT. Exhaling at the sticking point, or peak of each exercise is the correct breathing technique and if performed effectively can help your muscles perform at their optimal level.

Exhale when pushing, pulling and pressing. When you do a push up, inhale deeply as you bend your elbows and lower your body towards the ground. Exhale as you push away from the ground and bring your body back to the start position. When you are pulling or rowing, exhale when the weight comes toward you and inhale as you return to start. Finally, when you press (like a shoulder press), exhale when the weight is pushed away from your body and inhale as you bring it back towards you. Remembering this will make your workouts more efficient.

By addressing both your diet and your workout patterns, you could start to see results in about a week, just in time for the summer. Memorial Day will be here whether you are ready or not, so get started tomorrow.