Summer is the time of year when the stomachs of winter past become visible and when we look upon our midsections thinking, "True is it that we have seen better days". - As you like it (Act II, Scene VII). There is no hiding flabby abs behind tank tops, shorts and swimsuits. Most of us have tried to prepare for the summer unveiling with springtime crash diets and abominable exercises crying vehemently "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" - Macbeth (Act V, Scene I.)If you've followed this annual ritual but your gut still says, "I'll not budge an inch" -Taming of the Shrew Quote (Induction, SceneI.), it's probably because you've neglected important, but overlooked factors, required for success in the 'Taming of the Gut'. Digestion, Exercise and Posture.
Digestion -A beautifully toned and controlled stomach begins within. No amount of crunches or sit-ups will compensate for intestinal disturbances like bloating, poor digestion and GI tract disturbances. There are over 90 million in North America alone that suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms. Are you one of them? Do you often feel uncomfortable and bloated after eating or at the end of the day? No amount of crunches will tuck in a bloated belly. "Digestive disorders are common diseases that often originate in the food supply. Diet revision should be the primary therapy... Diet revision is the single, most effective treatment strategy and it is seldom recommended by physicians who prefer to prescribe drugs. (Reference below) So the first step to a flat stomach is a diet designed to maximize proper digestion.
Eat "A dish fit for the gods". - Julius Caesar (Act II, Scene I), filled with more fresh fruits and vegetables, less dairy products. Watch your consumption of sugar, alcohol and grains. Premenstrual water retention can often be relieved by including natural diuretics like as parsley, ginger and celery into your diet.
According to Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN. "To get a flat stomach you need to keep your intestines clean on a regular basis." Group recommends an oxygen-based cleanser to detoxify and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal ecosystem so that you can imitate
"Yond Cassius (who) has a lean and hungry look;" - Julius Caesar (Act I, Scene II). Creating healthier eating habits will not only keep your insides on track but also help eliminate excessive body fat, something exercise alone won't do.
Exercise. - Stay physically active throughout the day. If you're behind a desk, get up every hour and move about, go to the next floor up or down to use the restroom and take your break. Do the "100 Count Office Workout". Stretch, reach and flex your muscles. Then, for additional target work, do a regular set of exercises designed to work all the abominable muscles so, "that this too too solid flesh would melt, "- Hamlet. ACT I Scene 2.
Choose your favorites from among San Diego State University's study which determined the best abdominal exercises. At the top of the list was the Bicycle Crunch Exercise, but also included in the list were, Captains Chair, Ab Crunch on an Exercise Ball, Reverse Crunch, Half Curl and several others. With such a selection you might say "Can one desire too much of a good thing?". - As You Like It (Act IV, Scene I). Absolutely not!
It's imperative to develop a fitness routine that works for you and that fits into your daily life. Consistency is the key and with our busy schedules, a regular workout program has to be carefully planned to fit the needs of the individual. Most people underestimate what a few small movements can amount to when done periodically throughout the day. But remember, there is yet another factor in the taming of the gut.
Posture - Last in the threesome that will lead to the taming the gut is posture. This element has been overlooked by Nutritionists and Trainers alike. Sitting all day can lead to tight, stiff hip flexors and a tight lower back which manifests in hunched over posture and sagging waist. Have you looked at a slouched, fatigued figure sitting at a desk or in coffee shop thinking, "See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! -Romeo and Juliet- (Act II, Scene II).
Poor posture whether sitting or standing can cause your gut to become an eyesore. Kevin Cooper, DC, CSCS, says "Hip flexors... become tight, which pulls you into lordosis (excessive curvature of the spine). This often leads to back pain over time which then leads to a poochy stomach." Staying limber and flexible through stretches and practices like Yoga and Tai Chi, and getting regular spinal adjustments, all contribute to maintain and strengthen good posture which keeps the abs firm and under control.
By this time you may be thinking, "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.". -Hamlet (Act II, Scene II). So give it a try. We all want to look and feel good and one doesn't happen without the other. Learning how our bodies function from the inside out can equip us with the necessary tools to be healthy and look our best. So, when you see that you're losing control, remember to incorporate the three basics factors to a great gut - Digestion, Exercise and Posture. In conclusion, the 'Taming of the gut' requires you to eat well, move often and stand tall. Don't wait any longer; start now because "Delays have dangerous ends". -King Henry The Sixth Part I (Act III, Scene II).