Admit it: half the reason we all watch Lost is because the main characters are just so great looking. They all have those ripped abs and defined arms that every guy and gal wants. Guess what? It’s not as tough as you’d think to look like Kate or the Doc (oops…lest I start yet another “which guy for Kate” debate, Sawyer, too).
The big myth about getting a sleek, jelly-free belly is that you have to do endless stomach exercises. Hence the never-ending procession of rollers, riders, crunchers and other fitness gimmicks that never give you the washboard you want.
You cannot roll, twist, or squeeze your way to a sexy stomach, no matter what the infomercials tell you.
Here’s why: you already have abs! They might not be as developed as the dude on the cover of Men’s Health, but you already have abs. The problem is that fat is covering them up. Get rid of the fat, and your abs will show up just fine. Believe me, they are there.
Doing stomach exercises is important for further developing those muscles and building core strength (more on that in a moment), but the best thing you can do as far as your torso is concerned – not only for improving confidence, your looks, and your comfort with your body, but your health – is to shed fat. Midsection fat is the most harmful kind of fat to your health and is a critical indicator of stress.
Flex your stomach – even if you’re a couch potato, there’s a little muscle there. Now, if you are flexing and you can still grab abdominal fat in your hand, that’s exactly how much is surrounding your precious internal organs – and that’s a dangerous thing. Fat on your backside? Not so much.
So by all means, crunch away – but your middle will actually get bigger if you don’t simultaneously shrink the fat. Spot toning without overall fat reduction is the wrong approach to getting flat abs, but it’s what most people do. (And notice, nothing changes much, and we all have to suffer through yet another magic abs infomercial with way too much spandex.)
I’m a big proponent of taking care of your torso, not so you can look like a Lost extra (though that’s not a bad thing), but because a healthy middle means reduced chances of obesity (duh), diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and sleep problems.
I’ll be bringing you tips on cutting fat in upcoming posts, but here’s a quick suggestion: cut out all refined carbs, sugar and alcohol for two weeks. I guarantee you’ll see a major reduction in bloat and midsection fat. Although excess calories are what adds the poundage, sugar is the culprit that goes right to the gut. It’s incredibly difficult to have a spare tire if you are primarily getting your calories from protein and produce.
Be sure to check in tomorrow when I’ll be posting a discussion I recently had with Russ Suchala, a fitness colleague of mine and top L.A. physical trainer. You’ll get tons of helpful insights on core health and yes, getting those ripped abs.
My secret: I never do a sit-up. I just think about having great abs, and poof, there they are!
No, no, just kidding. I do a lot of ab work, but 90% of nice abs = avoiding excess weight from empty calories.
Most Popular Posts
The popularity of blogging and social-networking has reached an all time high and people are beginning to realize that these tools can be applied to personal healthcare. It seems like every day another site pops up that is designed to bring people together and help them achieve health and well-being. We have brought you a number of health sites with a social-networking bent in the past like OrganizedWisdom, Daily Plate, and Traineo, but we can hardly keep up with the surge!
Here are our latest favorites:
Revolution Health: Chairman Steve Case’s (co-founder of AOL) rally call for the site is ‘Let’s revolutionize health care!’ We are right there with you on this one Steve. Personal profile pages, dozens of health and fitness tools, help finding the best doctors and insurance plans, info on medical conditions and treatments. This site aims to have it all and does a pretty bang up job. It is still under construction, but offers a thorough preview in the meantime.
Daily Strength: Here you can keep a wellness journal, make friends and share advice and personal stories, and join support groups. This site is not nearly as comprehensive as Revolution Health, and is also in a preview stage, but is definitely worth a look.
Sermo: This site is ‘by physicians, for physicians’ so it won’t apply to everyone, but the objective is so laudable it is well worth the mention. Additionally, if their goals are achieved we all win by receiving better healthcare from more informed physicians.
Sermo is a forum for healthcare providers to collaborate on the latest clinical findings and discuss their experience from their daily practice. This collective knowledge can then be used to apply more accurate and precise diagnoses to patients. All physicians out there should be using this resource.
The next three sites provide communities and support for specific groups of people: dLife for those managing a life with diabetes; Real Mental Health for those dealing with depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions; The Wellness Community which provides support and education for those affected by cancer. The format, design and philosophy may change slightly from site to site, but they all have a few things in common. They challenge us to be the masters of our own health destinies. They encourage us to arm ourselves to the hilt with the latest health information, so we can make informed decisions. And they want to see us connect with one another to share our personal experiences and advice. As you well know, these are just a few of the goals found here at Mark’s Daily Apple.
The social-networking revolution for healthcare is no longer on its way. It is here! We are happy to be at the forefront of this change – bringing useful, humorous, enjoyable, and easy-to-digest health information to all. Viva La Revolución!
Thanks to Diabetes Mine for sharing great new Web 2.0 health information.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
We’re going to preface today’s mix with a quick mention of the hot headlines. Yes, in the UK, Viagra is going OTC for Valentine’s Day. Yes, once again, Spain has a problem with skinny models (eat some paella, already). And yes, HPV vaccines for children are still causing a big ruckus.
Now that we got that out of the way, there were also some really important discoveries reported today, and they’re not even boring. They’re just not about Kate Moss. They’re about you!
Here’s the best of it, because you probably won’t see it on the news tonight:
1) Yes, but what causes diabetes?
Huge news: scientists have identified four genes which predispose people to developing type-2 diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus, also known as the scourge of modern society, also known as unnecessary in the majority of cases).
Mark believes adamantly in fighting diabetes through lifestyle choices. So many cases of diabetes can be prevented or mitigated with healthier choices – it’s truly a tragedy that this epidemic is striking so many (particularly children) because exercise and healthier eating habits, among other factors, can undo much of the current problem. Most cases of diabetes (about 3/4) are not type 1, but type 2. Though type 2 can’t always be prevented, diabetics who take appropriate healthy measures almost always see their symptoms relieved – even eliminated.
(There’s also a tragic socioeconomic dimension to diabetes – the lack of access to quality food, good medical care and education all contribute. We’d like to see a charity that helps educate disadvantaged families about inexpensive healthy food options and preventive health measures and provides solutions. Do you know of one?)
What this study reveals is not that there is a genetic cause for type 2 – rather, with 70% accuracy, scientists can determine who is likely to develop type 2. This has huge implications for preventive treatment. How great would it be to take a test that determines if you happen to be at a higher risk for diabetes? If so, people could take proactive lifestyle measures to avoid the disease. Read about it.
2) Drool, no extra charge
Those Mediterranean homeys just don’t stop. First, it’s olive oil. Then it’s wine. Next it’s antioxidants. Then fish. Now, scientists think the naps are why Italians, Greeks and other Southern European nations have lower rates of heart disease. If companies can’t or won’t provide health care and daycare, we’re not sure if you should hold out hope for nap time, but it sounds pretty healthy!
3) The power of intention
Everyone’s in a big hot fuss over The Secret these days. Bend your mind a little further: here’s some fascinating brain news, just out today, about the power of intention. Muy interesante!
4) We are really, really fat
74% of Americans are overweight. This creates huge (yeah, yeah) economic and social burdens. Not to mention it makes us live in sheer misery. Who feels sexy, has energy or wants to enjoy activities (or can, for that matter) when one’s very body is an encumbrance? The emotional, mental and social tolls are staggering. Just let it sink in for a minute.
- Ever felt embarrassed in a bathing suit?
- Felt pressure to look a certain way?
- Had a hard time running up a flight of stairs?
- Needed medication to address health problems that are a result of excess weight?
- Wished you had more sexual stamina and drive?
- Felt drained, tired and stressed?
- Suffered from anxiety, insomnia, restless legs, sleep apnea?
- Felt bad about yourself?
These are all problems that have a solution. Truly, they do. Isn’t that great news? Best of all, the solutions are free. They are easy to learn about and implement. You’ve probably heard the opposite – but it doesn’t take trainers, money, gyms and expensive food to be healthy and maintain a good weight. Those things are nice, and they help, but they aren’t necessary. An overhaul is great, but just four or five consistently-applied changes can radically change your health.
We want people to be healthy and happy. We don’t want to be in the top 10 fat countries, which we are. Who is fatter? Well, hardly anyone, but Kuwait and Samoa are slightly bigger. Slightly. We’re Americans, dammit! We have money, optimism, and we invented the internet (sorry, Al), which is loaded with health help. Plus, we have great teeth. Why are we so unhealthy and overweight? That doesn’t sound like something America should be leading in, does it?
You can’t change everyone, but you do have the power to change your own health. If you’re someone who needs to and wants to, we hope you’ll take heart and begin the steps necessary to do it. Have faith! There is a whole world of support online – free. Stick around. Learn. Act. Make the first click.
“Soon we’ll be away from here, step on the gas and wipe that tear away. One sweet dream came true today.” – The Beatles
From one choice a new life is born.
Yo, Apples! It’s time for a little pre-spring cleaning. This week’s challenge is to clean out the (kitchen) closet. Empty your fridge, your pantry, the cabinets, and the deep freeze out in the garage. If it’s not healthy, if it’s not recognizable, if it’s older than the Clinton administration, toss it.
Don’t save unhealthy stuff “for the kids”, either. They don’t need that junk any more than you do. If you feel it’s wasteful, donate the items to your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
One of the easiest ways to be healthy and lose weight is to avoid turning your home into a minefield of temptation. Restaurants and movie theaters aren’t going to change anytime soon, but you can control what goes on under your own roof. So from now on, fill the freezer with frozen chicken breasts and veggies. Stock the cabinets with vegetable-based soups, low-sodium broth, canned tomatoes, almond butter, and olive oil. And make sure the condiments in the fridge are low in saturated fats, salt, preservatives, and sugars. As always, ask the Bees for help if you’re unsure about a particular item.
All you runners out there need to sprint on over to Runnersworld.com to take advantage of the numerous free training calculators and coaching tools. This site offers a pace converter and a cool tool that projects your finish times for a number of distances based on your current time for a given distance. It also provides a tool they call SmartCoach that will put together an entire training program for you depending on your level of fitness, what your goals are and how long you have to attain them.
Whether you are training for a full marathon, or are a beginning jogger with aspirations to simply finish a charity 5 K, these useful tools can help you realize your goals.
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