Core rotation…How strong is your spring?

I recently wrote about the fact that spot reduction is a myth. Specifically, I used the example of doing crunches and sit-ups and expecting to reduce body fat from your midsection.

That said, I’m not suggesting that you never do any exercises to strengthen your abs, but only that those exercises alone won’t shed the bulge. I am a big proponent of core training. Many people narrowly define the core to mean the abs, but your core if basically your entire midsection with exception of your extremities. Developing a strong and solid core makes a huge difference with your functional ability. Every movement that you make, every step, every turn, lift, bend, and reach engages your core muscles.

How strong is your spring?
How strong is your spring?

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of exercises to develop core stability and strength. Several of my past articles have focused on planks and variations of planks. Today I would like to introduce another core exercise.

The responsibility of your abs is not to bring your ribcage and hips together, as in a crunching movement. Instead, their responsibility is to resist that motion along with forward to back flexion and extension and twisting, or rotation. Imagine your core as a spring. That spring always wants to remain in one position. Bend it to the side and it snaps back in place. That’s the job of your core muscles too. They’re trying to keeping the body in place. A strong spring will do a better job than a weak spring.

Today’s exercise is a core rotation. This exercise can be performed using a cable machine or using a resistance band looped around a stationary object as in the video below. Watch the video to learn the proper way to perform this exercise. Remember to keep the arms away from the body to get the maximum effect of the weight. Draw the hands too close and you lose the benefit to your core.

Add this exercise to your program and watch for more core training ideas to build a strong foundation.

You’ve Seen the Plank, Try the Side Plank

The plank is one of my favorite exercises because it engages so many muscles of the body and it’s so simple. 

After doing the plank for a while, you’ll find that you get more efficient at it and you’ll begin looking for ways to change it. 

You've Seen the Plank, Try the Side Plank
You've Seen the Plank, Try the Side Plank

One way to change the plank is to perform a side plank. The forward plank primarily focuses on the abs and low back while engaging stabilizing muscles to keep you steady. 

The side plank has you up on one arm, rather than two, with your body perpendicular to the ground. 

This position engages the obliques to keep gravity from doing it’s work and bringing your midsection to the floor. Hold the side plank as long as you can, switch to the other side, and repeat.

25 diet free ways to lose weight and feel better

Eat your Veggies
Eat your Veggies

Today’s post focuses on what is likely the most important part of any weight loss program.

Nutrition. 

No, I’m not going to give you a diet to follow.  If you’re trying to follow a very specific and restrictive diet plan from a book, website, etc., you’re likely setting yourself up to fail.  All those commercial diets want to make nutrition really complicated and most people don’t want to do complicated stuff.  In reality it comes down to the basics.

There are lots of experts out there who want you to believe that certain macronutrients alone are the root of all evil when in reality we need a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fats.  The argument that carbs make you fat is like blaming spoons for making you fat.  Too much of any food will make you fat.

Fad diets are everywhere and miracle weight loss solutions are in every grocery store checkout line.  We don’t put the weight on in 3 days, we’re not going to take it off in three days.  Fat burning pills? Really? Studies have shown that many of them actually burn fat, but at a rate that would cause you to lose an extra 3-4 pounds per year.  Trust me, the tips below will have you shedding more than that and you’ll still have the money in your wallet.

Instead, I’m going to give you 25 simple ideas that you can implement right away and get immediate results. So, read on:

  1. Eat from smaller plates or bowls. The bigger the plate, the more you’ll eat.
  2. Eat more frequently and in smaller amounts. The longer you wait, the hungrier you become and the more you eat at each sitting.
  3. Increase your veggie variety to decrease boredom.  More variety means you’ll eat that food type more often.
  4. Double the veggies at a restaurant instead of the potato or rice. It’s hard to get enough veggies, it’s easy to eat too much starch.
  5. Exercise during commercials. I know, it’s not nutrition related, but it’s easy to implement. The average American watches 2.7 hours of TV daily (I know, you’re different, you don’t watch TV…I hear that all the time). There’s an average of 20 minutes of commercials each hour.  Exercise during the commercials and you’ll get 45 minutes done!
  6. Try a veggie burger. They’re pretty tasty!
  7. Use spinach in your salad.  Popeye was ripped.
  8. Drink a large glass of water before each meal. It’ll help fill you up before the meal and you’ll eat less.
  9. Serve from the stove, not from the table. You’ll be less likely to go back for seconds
  10. Eat slower. Take your time and enjoy the meal. You’ll be less likely to go back for seconds when you take your time as well.
  11. Chew your food better. It aids digestion.
  12. Check the serving size. Check the serving size. Check the serving size.
  13. Make and take your lunch to work. You’ll make better food choices, you’ll eat less, and you’ll save a ton of money.
  14. Eat a real breakfast. A pop tart doesn’t count. Neither does the donut and/or cup of coffee.
  15. Use olive oil when cooking.
  16. Pack up half your meal at a restaurant before you begin eating. Restaurant portions are way too large, some of them can even account for a full day’s worth of calories or more!
  17. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the aisles. The good stuff is on the outside edges of the store. The processed stuff is in the aisles.
  18. Get salad dressing on the side and apply it yourself. You’ll monitor your intake much better.
  19. Fill half your plate with veggies. That leaves less room for the stuff that doesn’t help you get to your goals.
  20. Eliminate soda, sports drinks, and fancy coffee. We get 22% of our calories through drinks.
  21. Pay attention to sugar on the label. Low sugar is better.
  22. Eliminate white foods. White bread, white potatoes, etc.
  23. Keep track of everything you eat. If you don’t measure it, you’ll never know where you stand. On average, we underestimate the amount of calories we eat by 30% and overestimate the amount of calories we burn by 20%
  24. Have fruit as a snack instead of processed sugars
  25. Shop with a list. You’ll make better choices and again, you’ll save money.
  26. Get the kid size ice cream. Not the small, the kids size.

OK, so it’s 26 ideas. Consider the last one a bonus. Who doesn’t like ice cream?

 Put a few of these in place at a time. When you’ve mastered those, add a few more.  Let me know how these work for you!