Eat Your Way to GREAT Abs!!!

When it comes to creating incredible abs, even the most effective workout programs can only bring you so far. That’s because you can’t get a flat, hard midsection without losing body fat. No matter how much effort you put into creating a six-pack, no one’s going to see it if it’s covered by a layer of flab.

If you’re following the dietary guidelines of a Beachbody fitness program, you’ll automatically be eating the right foods to lose fat as you get in shape. But the following seven principles can give you an extra edge, and will help ensure that the effort you’re putting into your abs will bring you the results you want.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.13.27 PM

1. Get plenty of protein
Eating enough lean protein promotes fat loss and muscle gain, the two most important elements for developing great abs. It also helps keep you from getting hungry while you’re eating right. You don’t have to gobble down 12-ounce steaks—just eat a normal portion of lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, or vegetarian protein with every meal, and make sure your snacks contain some protein, too. If you still have a hard time getting enough in your diet, a daily Shakeology shake can be a perfect addition.

By the way, protein is especially important in the morning, when a lot of people don’t get as much as they should. A protein-rich breakfast will help keep your blood sugar steady for hours, preventing the dips that can lead to cravings later in the day. (Try some low-fat chicken sausage, or an omelet with one whole egg and three egg whites, along with fruit or whole-grain toast.)

2.Reconsider your carbs.
Despite the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the average American meal is still too high in sugar and fast-burning starches to bring body fat down to ab-baring levels. It’s time to say goodbye to sweetened soda, ditch the Doritos, and save the cake for your birthday. If your fitness plan calls for a sports drink before a long cardio workout, or a carb-and-protein recovery drink after resistance training, that’s fine. But the rest of the time, stick with foods that are on the low end of the glycemic index (refer to GlycemicIndex.com for more information)—these foods burn more slowly, so they won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.

3. Have fun with fiber.
Something about the word “fiber” just doesn’t sound appetizing. But high-fiber foods can actually be quite delicious: fresh berries and other fruits, salads loaded with colorful produce, your favorite steamed vegetables or vegetable soup, stews or chili made with beans, chewy whole-grain breads and cereals…You get the picture. (These foods just happen to be loaded with nutrients as well.) High-fiber foods keep you fuller with fewer calories, and they help keep your digestive system working at its best—a double-whammy for getting rid of belly bulge.

4. Enjoy some yogurt.
Probiotics, the healthful bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods, have been proven to help reduce belly fat. In a recent study in Finland, new mothers who took probiotic supplements averaged smaller waist circumferences—and lower body fat in general—than those who didn’t take probiotic supplements. And while the topic is still controversial, studies have found that eating lots of calcium-rich dairy foods like yogurt may increase overall weight loss.

5. Don’t forget to eat.
Tempted to lower your daily calorie count by skipping meals? Don’t. Going hungry can raise your levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, which research has found can increase belly fat even in otherwise thin women. And eating too infrequently can lower your metabolism and energy levels, while increasing the chance that you’ll get too hungry and decide to chuck your meal plan entirely. If you’re eating the right foods, regular meals and snacks will keep your body fueled while you’re working toward that strong core.

6. Drink more fluids. Hydration is important when you’re on a fitness plan, but drinking plenty of water has particular benefits for your midsection. It helps keep your stomach full, so you don’t overeat, and it helps flush out excess sodium to prevent belly bloating. (Eating more potassium-rich foods, such as tomatoes and bananas, will also help in this area.) Plain ol’ H20 can’t be beat, but you can also switch it up with flavored waters, iced tea, and anything else you like to drink that isn’t full of sweeteners. How much do you need? The old rule of 8 glasses a day is a good start, but everyone is different: drink more if you’re exercising or it’s hot out, and drink less if you’re running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.

7. …With two exceptions.
It’s time to cut down on those mood-altering substances, coffee and alcohol. Too much caffeine raises your cortisol levels and can impair your sleep, which can lower the production of fitness-promoting hormones. Meanwhile, the proverbial “beer belly” isn’t just the result of extra calories—alcohol actually makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize carbs and fat. Booze also stimulates your appetite and lowers your inhibitions, which can lead to bingeing. The best road to flat abs is no alcohol at all, but if you really like a drink now and then, just have one at a time (and no more than a few a week), and stay away from higher-calorie beers and sugary mixed drinks

If you add these rules to your fitness plan, you’re sure to see faster improvements in your midsection. Of course, there’s an added bonus to eating this way: it’ll keep you healthier, too. That may not be as big an inducement as great abs, but we’re throwing it in for free.

Authors

Advertisements

Needing LESS and Feeling MORE

I want to talk about the topic of being “perfect” and thinking that “getting more” and “doing more” is going to make us “more”.

That’s a ridiculous word but so many of us are stuck thinking that “if only” we did this or “if only” we could do that…our lives would finally be a success.

We know it’s ridiculous and yet we still worry incessantly about minor details which have nothing to do with our true selves.

Who are you?

I have been doing some deep reflection over the past few years. I am a firm believer in self growth; just as much as I believe in exercise for my body…this is exercise for my mind, spirit, development, belief and more. This is everything I had been missing for years.

Through my learnings recently, I had an epiphany that all of the past few years were actually a blessing in disguise.

Now if you had dared to utter that sentence to me earlier, I would have bitten your head off.

A blessing???

Moving across the world, not once, but TWICE  in less than two years time. From being financially secure to struggling to pay off credit card debts and working to get ahead after the recession hit; not to mention how expensive it is to move overseas.  The stress on our family, the unknown of what was going to happen and where we were going to settle in. The emotions, the guilt, the arguments, the fact that now we are living with a small amount of our “belongings” as most of our stuff is still sitting in a storage box overseas. Why? Because it costs another small fortune to bring it back, plus the fact of getting the grunt work set up to pack it all up and move it when we aren’t physically there.

I know we will have the rest of our “stuff” back. I know we are happy to be where we are, finally free of the unknown and imbalance within ourselves of what we truly agreed upon within ourselves. Life is a struggle all it’s own. So adding this ginormous topic was a heavy burden to carry.

But it was a blessing.

I can now say that with confidence and clarity. First of all, because I see within my children, the joy and understanding they have within their hearts and souls that I could never have taught them on my own. I see my husband, put all outside issues away to focus in on his immediate circle and grow himself in many ways. I see how I’ve also grown and learned to understand areas that I was incapable of accepting before.

So, we don’t have our “stuff”? This was a topic I had been complaining about for the past year or so…until I recently heard a woman’s story that sounded oddly similar to ours. She also moved to another country with her husband and children, and in doing so, SOLD all of their belongings, except for what would fit into a suitcase to move.

IMG_0402

We didn’t SELL all of our stuff.

But instead of complaining about this fact, she now writes about minimalism and how it’s changed her life. Here, I’m complaining that I need my “stuff” and she is proud that she doesn’t have a lot of “stuff”. Their family has also moved back again and now keeps their stuff to a minimum.

But what about my photos, my wedding album, my china, my everything else??

This is what I had been complaining and stressing about. What was this woman saying? She said that they had sold everything except of course, what they could pack into their suitcases and she also saved her china and wedding albums. These items, they put into storage before they moved. Now that they have moved back, she has yet to open the storage and use these “saved” items. She shared that she now asks if that had been a wise choice to save these “things”.

Wow.

I was blown away because this was the complete opposite of what I was saying. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still would love to bring back my wedding items and photos and “stuff”; but the reality is it’s not what is truly important.

The important things are not “things” at all, but are my husband and children, and they are with me now and have been with me the entire time. I had been looking at it wrong because of the outside stresses and elements and unknowns.

The important lessons have been learned and we continue to grow and thrive in these blessings that occur. I now understand that stuff is just stuff. I haven’t seen the stuff in over two years and I’ve been getting along just fine without them. Seems that we tend to put a lot of undue importance in things that don’t really have much to do with our daily lives.

IMG_6210 IMG_6211 IMG_7557

Amen. I see it now and it has calmed my need to be “perfect” and have all of my “things”.

Does Yoga Make You Cry?

so today was yoga day in my program, The 21 Day Fix Extreme.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.49.49 AM

I love yoga days because it’s usually a break in my challenging workouts during the week but also it helps me to lengthen my muscles that have been tightened to the extreme, and can tend to hold on to kinks and resulting in minor issues later on.

Stretching just makes life better, right? And if you don’t already currently do any stretching because it “hurts”…for crying out loud, You need it more!!!!

Anyway, keeping to my “mellow” mood of the morning and not wanting to already let go of my calm and zen; I’ll reflect a bit on what exactly went on during my practice this morning. It was an epiphany of sorts, and a deeper understanding of me and life.

I’ll be honest and say that we all go through our stresses in life; our ups and downs; our highs and lows…and so on and so forth. It is something I am currently learning to deal with in a higher place of understanding when I am confronted with crappola.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.45.04 AM

And that is what has happened throughout the past decade or so of my life. (which I’m sure we can all agree for each of us, right?) Now, I’m not one to condone complaining but for the sake of this blog post; just hear me out.

I’ve had some major life “stuff” (for lack of a stronger, less “family-friendly” word) thrown at me (or should I just say hurled my way) in the previous 10+ years. Not all the same stuff, but lots of unbalanced and unhealthy and spirit & mind & faith crushing stuff.

I had a realization at one point (and it was at that point, I was curled up on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out and just feeling sooo sorry for myself) when I looked up and saw my two young children peering around the corner of the room to see how mom was doing..or maybe what the heck is mom doing????

It hit me like a ton of bricks. This life isn’t just about me anymore. (was it ever???) It’s about so much more. It’s about the family and friends I have right in front of my face. It was one of those moments where you just have to peel yourself up from the lowest of lows and will yourself to go forward.

one. step. at. a. time.

And so I did. I vowed at that moment to not let my pity party overtake the more important things of my life. That meant that my children and hubby were the central heart of those “important” things of my life.

After that moment of truth, I went on to deal with my “stuff” and just appreciate the blessings I had; versus looking at what I currently “didn’t have”. We can all get caught up in that type of mindset, and I believe it’s because we’ve been taught to do just that. The only way out of that negative process is to focus on what we want MORE of in our life.

Life did balance out and I was a happy camper once again…but it wasn’t all butterflies and rose gardens, to say the least.

And you know what? so what????

That’s right! So what??? I’ve been blamed for things that had nothing to do with me, I’ve been hurt, betrayed, disrespected, and more…. and tell me, who hasn’t at some point or another?

but so what?

Who am I to give power to people who don’t understand, respect and honor the person that I am today? I know in my heart that I do my best and love on people as much as I possibly can (sometimes TOO much so) but if there are those who already have a perception about me and don’t see the real intent I have; SO WHAT?

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.44.17 AM

And that brings me full circle back to my yoga practice today. I feel like my level of understanding my own limits; and those of people around me, make me a better person. Pushing my limits of fitness, understanding, love, spirituality and more is what my life is all about. In my practice today, I used that focus and decided to just be in the moment and stop limiting myself or judging my limitations. Just be and be grateful for that journey today. This made me actually cry through my practice and I know that proves that I am working on expanding my body (through flexibility and strength); my mind (through the personal growth I am working on improving every day) and my spirit (of just being grateful for today, no judgments or criticisms).

 

There is crying allowed in yoga, by the way 😉

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.48.40 AM