DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness


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How to eliminate belly fat and get flat abs

DeAnnaDimmitt_sidePlank

Let’s talk about belly fat. What is it, why is it dangerous and what are you going to do about it?

What is it?

Belly fat is the common name for a condition known as abdominal obesity. There are two different kinds of fat: subcutaneous and visceral.  Subcutaneous fat tends to accumulate in the lower body (the pear shape) and is the type of fat that you can pinch.  Subcutaneous fat is problematic but is not considered to be as great of a health risk as visceral fat.  When there is a large accumulation of fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape), this is usually visceral fat.   While subcutaneous fat tends to be closer to the surface, visceral fat lays out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our organs.  In a nutshell: belly fat = visceral fat.

Why is it dangerous?

When the circumference of the waist exceeds the circumference of the hips, it poses a significant health risk regardless of total body fat.  Excess visceral fat has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.

In English this time?

Excessive belly fat is not only bad for the bikini, it’s very hazardous to your health!

What are you going to do about it?

Now this is the really loaded question but I’m sure you can guess the answer.  Is there a magic pill that will do the work for you while you change nothing? Short answer: No.  Diet and exercise, i.e., lifestyle change is what’s going to make the difference.

Diet

To quote Jillian Michaels, “You can eat your way through any workout”, meaning that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you still consume more calories than you burn.  Here’s the straight scoop. For the body to burn fat, it must use more fuel than it consumes.  This is referred to as creating a caloric deficit. It takes a caloric deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1, yeah – just 1, pound of fat.  In order to set a schedule of losing 1 pound a week it is necessary to have a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day.

Now before you flip out and decide that starvation must be the only solution, and me assure you that starvation is not the solution, it is important to understand that it takes a certain amount of calories for the body to function at all.  No calories = no function. Get it?  This minimum number of required calories is known as the Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR and is determined by your height, weight, age and gender. To determine your BMR, here is a handy BMR calculator http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

Your daily caloric intake should never be less than your BMR.

Here are a few diet tips to help you.

#1 The refined sugar has got to go.  This is including and especially referring to soda and other sweetened beverages like sweet tea or Kool-Aid and many sport drinks. Read labels!

#2 Minimize or eliminate Wheat Gluten. Did you ever see that movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? There is a wonderful scene where Scott (Michael Cera) is talking to Ramona Flowers about bread. Rather than explain, just watch this 7 second video

Yes, bread makes you fat.

#3 Limit caffeine.  I love coffee just as much, and probably more, than the average person but here’s the thing.  Excessive caffeine kicks your body into fight-or-flight mode. This would be a good thing if maybe you were being chased by a lion, not so good while sitting at a computer checking email.  While the adrenals are pumping out epinephrine and norepinephrine they set into motion a cascade of fattening hormonal actions. Your liver releases blood sugar for quick energy, your pancreas spits our insulin to counter the sugar, and your blood sugar dips because of the insulin. Also, your blood vessels constrict making you feel like your blood sugar is crashing even harder and what do you do? Head straight for the vending machine to find something, anything, to help you return to feeling normal.

#4 While I encourage everyone to do their own research, I am a fan of the Whole Food Diet.  Can’t go wrong by eliminating processed foods.

Exercise

Gonna say this right off. There is no such thing as spot burning fat.  What that means is that you can do ab crunches till infinity, and get some really ripped rectus abdominis muscles that no one will see because they’re still under all the fat.

While core strength is vitally important to every aspect of fitness and should never be ignored, most ab strengthening exercises do not burn very many calories.

Here are a few exercise tips to help you strengthen your abdominal muscles while blasting the heart rate and burning fat at the same time.

#1 Standing Mountain Climbers – Like running in place with high knees but add the arms in too.  Run in place while popping the knees as high as you can while at the same time reaching or “climbing” overhead with the arms.  Begin the move with the right knee and the left arm raised, then alternate.  Light hand weights are optional.standingmountainclimber

#2 Standing Pike Kicks – From a standing position reach both arms forward at chest level or higher and alternate front kicks. Kick as high as you can, try to kick your hands. Do this move as fast as you can while maintaining stability.

frontkicks

#3 180 Jumps – That’s jumping 180 degrees, not necessarily jumping 180 times! Like a jump squat but with a turn. Begin with the feet at shoulder width apart, drop down in the knees and jump, use your core to turn your body in the air and land facing the opposite direction.JumpSquats180

#4 Burpees –  Start in a standing position. Drop down, bending the knees and planting the hands on the floor. Jump or step back into plank. Jump or step the feet back up between the hands and stand up.  For extra fun, add in a jump at the end of  the move when you stand back up.burpees-henry-cavill-tabata-workout-09112011

Perform all of these fat blasting exercises as fast as you can while maintaining stability for 30 seconds. Intensity is the key to higher calorie burn BUT if you feel that you are losing your balance or are becoming light headed, listen to your body and SLOW DOWN.

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Sources:

Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide

ACE Fitness

Book: “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels

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Self Efficacy

Self-efficacy –  the measure of one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.

This is a tale about self-efficacy as it pertains to exercise.

So one day about 10 years ago, Rick ordered some fitness DVD’s from an infomercial on TV. We were staying in a cheap hotel in Carlsbad, NM and the TV in our room only got one channel. It showed the same infomercial for the entire duration of our stay.

There on the screen behind the 1-800 number and the Beach Body logo was Tony Horton explaining how to completely transform your body in 90 days using his system, Power 90. Now you probably thought I was going to say P90X, right? This was before P90X.

Tony appealed to Rick more than he did to me. At that time, I had no interest in fitness but Rick was enamored with the success stories.  I assumed Tony was a meat-head plus I was skinny and therefore saw no need for what I referred to as “unnecessary physical exertion”.

A couple weeks later, the dvd’s arrived and found themselves a comfy home on the shelf next to (not in) the dvd player and there they sat.

Eventually I got curious and decided to try one of the workouts. One morning, being absolutely naïve about the non-existent status of my fitness level (because I thought skinny equaled fit), I put on some shorts and sneakers and fired up Sweat Level 1-2. I didn’t eat or hydrate first (why would I need to do that?!?!) and I certainly didn’t listen to Tony while he repeatedly said “go at your own pace” and “listen to your body”.  I had no idea what those things meant, I just assumed he was talking to the other (out of shape) people and I thought, “I’m gonna match Tony!”

It didn’t go very well. Less than half way through the 30 minute routine I was dizzy and lightheaded, staggered out of the room and collapsed on my bed where I spent the next half hour or so begging god to “just take me now.” I felt like crap the rest of the day. And for a lot of people, myself included, this might have been the end of the story.

I tried.

I failed.

Game over.

I could’ve spent the remainder of the time between then and now, explaining to people how I’m just not strong enough to exercise, how I get dizzy when I exert myself too hard, how working out literally makes me sick. I could’ve created a convincing tale, which would include my stellar example of how exercise isn’t for me. I probably would’ve made you believe it too , because I certainly believed it. I would’ve wrapped the whole thing up in a tidy little bow by finishing with “…and besides, I don’t need to work out because I’m skinny and Tony Horton can suck it!” We would’ve laughed at this and patted each other on the back for being righteously sedentary.

To be honest, I don’t know why that didn’t happen.

What happened instead was exactly the opposite. Yep, I was embarrassed by my pathetic performance in the living room and, nope, I didn’t find that particular exercise experience to be enjoyable at all. What I did have was a hard core reality check. But instead of quitting, as was my plan, the next morning I awoke full of unexpected fire and determination. “I will not be defeated by an entry level fitness video!” No paraphrase, that is exactly what I said to myself.

Days and weeks and months went by. I collapsed more times. I got back up. I did the Sculpt Level 1-2 video with 3 lb weights, I tried hard to power out 3 or 4 little push ups from my knees, I had to press pause during the lunge squats. During the Sweat video, I willed (begged) my little stick legs to not break off during cross hops and during the power yoga warm up, I landed on my face during every single chaturanga. We won’t even get into the hilarity that ensued when I embarked on my first real yoga experiences with Rodney Yee.

By all accounts, I sucked at fitness. My only redeeming quality was this, I refused to be defeated and I kept coming back so Tony, Bob, Rodney, Jillian, Chalene, and Bryan could kick my butt, again.

Why am I telling you this? Because I didn’t just hatch out of some spontaneously magical fitness egg.  You can’t embark on a road to fitness expecting to already be fit and you can’t use not being fit as an excuse to stay home.  I’ve worked long and hard to achieve my current fitness level but I’ve not done anything that you can’t do.  No journey starts from the destination and, in truth, there is no destination, only a series of ever evolving goals.  You meet your goals, you set new goals. This is how life works.

Time goes by regardless if you get off the couch or not.  So why not make a push to better yourself?

Did you try a workout that exposed some truths you didn’t like? That’s ok, but I won’t indulge your story of “can’t”.

Get up.

Get dressed.

Try again.