The ABCs of Killer Abs

The ABCs of Killer Abs

When it comes to abs, the older we get, the harder it is to keep your abdominal area flat. Many of us have the “pooch,” “love handles,” and the dreaded “muffin top.” But don’t worry. Uncovering your beautiful tummy is easier than you think. It incorporates working three muscle groups: the Rectus Abdominis, the Obliques, and the Transverse Abdominus.

Working these series of muscles are the keys to a trimmer tummy. In today’s video, I will show you how to incorporate simple moves that will give you powerful results!

Here’s to your health!
Kathy Smith

The Cellulite Solution

The Cellulite Solution

the-cellulite-solutionTabloids love to expose celebrities’ less-than-perfect derrieres or thighs because they, like a lot of people, have cellulite. Of course, no one wants to have cellulite, but chances are most of us do, at least to some degree.

Just because so many of us have cellulite doesn’t mean everyone knows what it is, much less why it occurs. But even more importantly, do you know what to do about it? It can be confusing because there are a lot of myths and misnomers out there.

Well, I think it’s time to know the truth about cellulite.

What is it?

First of all, it’s not a medical condition. Cellulite is nothing more than fat lying directly beneath the skin. What happens is there’s only so much room for these fat cells and they get pushed up toward the skin. This action puts pressure on the surrounding fascia.

Fascia is a web of connective tissue surrounding muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Think of it like the netting of a tennis racket with the strings representing the fascia. Over time, though, those strings or tissues lose their collagen and elasticity or too much fat develops and the fat gets pushed through the netting. That’s what gives a dimpled appearance, or what we call cellulite.

Cellulite doesn’t just appear. There are different grades or degrees:

• Grade 1: Detection at this stage is nearly impossible with the naked eye because it’s happening on a microscopic level.

• Grade 2: Some symptoms appear, such as a loss of elasticity in the skin and a cooler temperature to the touch.

• Grade 3: This is the look we most commonly associate with cellulite because there’s visible dimpling, but it has the other characteristics, too.

What causes it?

There’s no one answer to this question, but here’s a list of contributors:

• Hormones:
The naturally occurring chemicals estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin have been linked to cellulite creation.

• Genetics:
Did your mother, aunts, grandmothers have cellulite? Then chances are you are predisposed to it, too.

• Lifestyle:
The more sedentary you are the greater the likelihood of developing cellulite. Also, smokers run a higher risk for cellulite.

• Diet:
Because cellulite involves fat cells, it only makes sense that what you eat would contribute to its buildup. Too much fat, carbohydrates, and salt, which leads to water retention, are the biggest culprits.

How do I banish it?

There’s an entire multimillion-dollar industry of creams, pills, and procedures claiming to remove cellulite; however, none of these has passed the scientific community’s standards. In fact, some are designed to treat unrelated conditions, like asthma, and others may cause serious side effects, like allergic reactions. Some methods, like massage, have temporary benefits, and others simply hide the cellulite, like compression garments. The keys words here are “temporary” and “hide.”

The good news is that there are three key ways to effectively minimize cellulite for the long-term:

1. Increase circulation

2. Maintain a healthy weight

3. Eat high-fiber and diuretic foods

• Increase circulation

Let’s face it, we just sit too much. It’s not enough to work out for 30 to 60 minutes at a time, we need to keep blood flowing to the lower body throughout the day. If your job demands you sit at a desk, get up to walk around every 20 minutes to increase you circulation. Or swap out your chair for a stability ball. Just sitting on the inflated ball requires you to engage your core, but with every slight movement, you have to shift to regain your balance. This constant balance challenge gets your body moving much more than sitting in a traditional office chair that does the balancing for you.

Strength training keeps cellulite from settling in, too. Because it tends to form in the buttocks and thighs, I like the Pop Squat: Lower into squat position as if you’re sitting down in a chair, abs engaged and making sure your knees don’t pop out past your toes. Push yourself to standing, but don’t stop there: Without locking your knees, add a little jump into the air. When you land, lower yourself right back down into the squat. Grab weights for added difficulty. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Also, certain foods help boost blood flow. Circulation Journal reported that dark chocolate (yes, chocolate), which is full of natural flavonoids, improved blood circulation compared with white chocolate. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are known to increase circulation, too.

• Maintain a healthy weight
The more weight you carry the more fat cells pushing through the fascia. Losing weight can result in a noticeable reduction of cellulite.

• Eat high-fiber and diuretic foods
When the body holds onto extra fluids, it adds more pressure to the fascia. If I’m feeling bloated before a photo shoot, I eat something I know will help my body get rid of extra water—my favorite is egg whites and asparagus. Well, if you’re feeling like your cellulite is more noticeable or you’re getting ready to wear something that shows a little skin and you want to minimize dimpling, then fill your plate with foods high in fiber or natural diuretics.

Fiber-rich foods take longer to digest and will keep you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to reach for a sugary or fatty, salty snack. Diuretics help the body release excess water, usually through urination. Some foods serve double duty, both high in fiber and a diuretic, such as steel-cut oats and artichokes. Even flavor enhancers, like parsley, ginger and garlic, assist the body in getting rid of water. Finally, green tea, one of my all-time favorite beverages, can give relief from bloating.

On the other hand, not enough fluids or dehydration also contribute to cellulite. So stay hydrated throughout the day.

While you may not erase cellulite completely, being active and eating healthfully is the best way to control it. And as ReShape subscribers, I’ll provide you with delicious and healthy recipes as well as effective exercise suggestions.

Make it happen!

White Jeans For June

White Jeans for June

How To Whittle Your Waistline For White Jean SeasonLast weekend marked the unofficial start of summer. Did you spend Memorial Day barbecuing with friends and family? Or did you go through your wardrobe pulling out all your summer fashions? After all, it’s okay to wear white now.

But, it’s been a long winter, so maybe, after trying on a few outfits, you wish your favorite pants, shorts or summery skirt looked more flattering or felt more comfortable, especially in the lower belly area. You know the region; it’s what some people call “muffin tops” or “love handles.” This is an area a lot of women find so hard to firm up. But when it is toned and tight, not only does it make your stomach look awesome, but your hips, butt, and legs look fantastic, too.

Even if your endgame isn’t a six pack, but just a nicely shaped midsection, the key to fabulous abs is a combination of toning, cardio, and nutrition.

Old-school, but effective

The truth of the matter is you’re not going to get great abs from crunches alone. That doesn’t mean you should completely forget about these exercises. They’re actually a great starting point because they target all the right muscles.

Did you know the abdominal or core area consists of three different muscle groups plus your back muscles? The rectus abdominis are the “six pack” muscles running from ribs to hips. The transverse abdominis hug or wrap around your midsection.

It is the obliques, though, that are responsible for any love handles…or lack thereof. These muscles run diagonally from the ribs to the front of the pelvis. When out of shape, they can slack and rest on top of the waistband of your jeans or shorts, giving name to the infamous “muffin top” look. When worked out and made strong, the obliques cut inward creating a defined and sexy waistline.

The key to targeting this set of abdominal muscles is to include a twist, literally, like a rowing crunch.

Rowing Crunch

  1. Sit on the floor with knees bent.
  2. Lean back as far as you comfortably can while keeping a straight back.
  3. Pull your belly button in toward your spine to engage the abs.
  4. Clasp hands together in front of you with elbows pointing out.
  5. Keeping your back braced, twist to the left bringing your elbow slightly down toward the floor, but not touching it.
  6. Then come back to center before twisting to the right. Return to center after each twist.
  7. Repeat the whole move for 15 reps.

Cardio concentration

Toning the underlying muscles is only one part of the vanishing-ab-flab formula. Most women have a layer of fat covering our abdominal muscles. That’s why crunches alone rarely ever lead to flat stomachs. To melt away this fat so you can show off the muscles hiding behind it, you have to get moving. Yes, I mean sweat-producing, calorie-burning cardio.

You don’t have to become a competitive runner to get great cardio results. Even better than running at a steady pace for miles or just full-out sprinting all the time is alternating between the two intensity levels, or interval training. When you switch from a moderate pace to a higher intensity that cardio burst kicks your metabolism into high gear. The best part is that your metabolism stays in that super-productive mode for an extended time, even after you finish your workout. That means prolonged calorie burning.

Walk Your Way To A Flat StomachIt’s easy to get started with my Pump Up the Pace (P.U.P) Walking Workout for a Flat Stomach.

  1. Warm-up: 4 minutes walking at a steady state—fast enough to get your heart rate up.
  2. 90 seconds moderate (on a scale of 1-10, keep the pace at 4-5)
  3. 90 seconds at level 7
  4. 90 seconds recovery (level 3-4)
  5. 90 seconds at level 8
  6. 90 seconds recovery
  7. 30 seconds at level 8-9
  8. Cool-down: 4 minutes steady
  9. Go through the full cycle FIVE times.

Nutritional know-how

Want even more ideas on how to look great in your white jeans this summer? Here’s one that we don’t think about too often: water retention. When our bodies hold onto extra water, it emphasizes that pouchy look. Here’s how to keep belly bloating to a minimum:

• Swap water for sugary or alcoholic drinks.
Not only will water taste refreshing on hot days, but soda and alcohol add extra calories to your daily intake.

• Cut back on salt.
This mineral naturally makes us retain water, so ease up on it, especially on hot, humid days.

• Load up on fiber.
If you’re craving summer salads, add dandelion greens or spicy arugula for flavor and fiber. Another high-fiber favorite of mine is avocado, which is great in salads, with eggs, or spread over a piece of toasted whole-wheat or multi-grain bread.

• Drink your vegetables.
If you have a juicer at home, throw in some kale, spinach, cucumber, and celery with a little apple or lemon. No juicer? No problem. Skip the creamy smoothies and ask for a fresh green juice at your local juice bar.

Get ready white jeans… here we come!