Abs & Energy: The Secrets to Success

Posted on December 13th, 2011 by Amy Hunt - 1 Comments

Spokane Fitness Blog by Amy Hunt

It doesn’t matter who they are, where they’re coming from, how “in shape” they already are.

Every consultation I have ever done at Physzique, I sit down and ask my clients what their top three goals are…where they want to see themselves in one year. It’s a good test because as the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any train will get you there.”

Without fail, every single person I’ve ever worked with has one (or both) of the following goals:

  • “See my abs” “Tone my stomach” “Get a six-pack”
  • “Have more energy”

Universally, these two issues plague so many of us, men and women alike…from the skinny high school cheerleader to the mom of 6 kids; from the chiseled athlete to the desk bound salesman.

Let me ask you… Do you want great abs? Would you like more energy?

I’d like to break down for you a few of the key points you need to know in regards to reaching these goals. Since nearly everyone answers yes to one of these, market researchers have spent small fortunes testing and advertising hundreds of products and diets to help you reach that goal.

But there is so much advertising done in relation to both of these topics, that it shouldn’t come as much surprise that there’s a lot of misinformation floating around. Fortunately, you’re about to learn the real facts about abs, as well as what foods you can eat to naturally boost your energy:

Question #1: How Do You Get Great Abs?!

We all have different reasons behind the WHY, but most of us can agree that we want tight, toned abs to show off (or just in general, feel good about). Out of every muscle group, abs are the ones targeted by the most misinformation.

Let’s look at a couple common misconceptions about getting definition in your abs is this…

  1. “I need to do more targeted exercises to improve my abs!”

Although there are plenty of products that claim you can get great abs by doing a daily 5 minute workout, the truth is abs are just as much about what you put in your mouth as the types of exercises you do. If your body fat is above a certain level, then no amount of crunches or flutter kicks will give you the definition you want!

  • FOR MEN: You’re not going to see much of your abs until you get down to at least 15% body fat. At this point, you’re still not going to have completely ripped abs. The full definition of your abs won’t come out until you’re between 6% and 10% body fat.
  • FOR WOMEN: The noticeably visible range starts around 18%. For fully defined abs, you’ll need to get down to the 10-12% range. (But please take care: it is not healthy for a woman to sit beneath 15-18% body fat for any length of time…this messes with your female hormones!)
  1. Anyone can get the same look with the same exercises!

Regardless of your body fat percentage, not everyone has abs that look exactly the same. Two people could follow the same diet and ab workouts but still end up with stomachs that look different.

As a result, it’s important not to get too caught up with worrying about your abs. Instead, focus on losing weight and improving your overall strength and you will start to see abs that make you feel good.

  1. If I find the right “secret exercise” and do it every day, I’ll get the abs I want.

As much as I wish it were true, this is definitely NOT the case. In reality, just like you should do with the rest of your body, it’s best to vary the ab exercises you do. Taking a balanced approach will help you get the best results. No ONE exercise is going to give you the definition you want. You might “feel the burn” from certain exercises, but if you repeat only those ones over and over again, you’ll eventually train your stomach muscles to adjust and stagnate.

Conclusion: Great abs come ONLY through meticulous nutrition and overall body fat reduction. There is no secret recipe to flat abs, no single exercise that will get you there and no guarantee your abs will look like Daniel Craig, Jillian Michaels, Brad Pitt or LeAnn Rimes. Focus on being the best you can be and the abs will come!

 

Question #2: What Foods Can You Eat for a Natural Energy Boost?

Everyone wants more energy.

This is why people now buy more than $700 million worth of energy shots like 5-Hour Energy each year! Whether you’re hooked on these drinks or an old school energy seeker who prefers coffee, we all know that these sources of energy do come with a price.

Not only will your body eventually develop a tolerance to caffeine, but if your body becomes dependent on caffeine, not getting it means you’ll have to endure withdrawal symptoms like serious headaches. (Not to mention the serious toll certain energy drinks and gimmicks will take on your overall health!)

When caffeine doesn’t quite do the trick, many people are quick to also reach for a sugary snack.

While these types of snacks can provide a quick boost, that boost is generally very short lived. It doesn’t take long for it to lead to a crash that leaves you feeling even more tired than before. What’s even worse is if you get in the habit of eating these types of snacks, it can ruin any weight loss progress you’ve made.

Although many people assume that they just need to find the perfect cocktail of boosters to get the energy they want, the truth is that hitting a slump in the middle of the day is actually completely normal.

This feeling can be caused by a wide range of factors that include a bad night’s sleep or falling blood sugar levels after a lunch consisting of processed carbs.

Since this feeling is normal, the good news is there are healthier ways to deal with it than pounding an energy shot or chasing a sugar high.

The key to naturally boosting your energy is to give your body real fuel. This fuel should take the form of protein and fiber. Not only will this provide you with a natural boost of energy, but it will also leave you with a sense of feeling full.

Energy boosting sources of fiber include…

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Raw almonds
  • Raw walnuts

For a convenient source of protein, consider a hard boiled egg.

If you want to add a quality source of fat to the mix, consider olive oil or avocados.

In addition to all of these quality sources of natural energy, you may be wondering if the rumors you’ve heard about dark chocolate are true. In case this isn’t ringing a bell, dark chocolate is commonly called out as a natural energy and mood booster.

So, is there any research to support this tantalizing claim?

Surprisingly, there is. Research has found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate can actually be beneficial.

However, keep in mind that just like the potential benefits of red wine can be negated by chugging too much of it, the same is true for dark chocolate. Having more than a square or two will go from giving you a natural boost to adding more calories than you’d like to your daily count.

To avoid the temptation of scarfing down square after square of dark chocolate, it’s a good idea to cap off your protein and fiber snack with just enough dark chocolate to satisfy your taste-buds.

These are just a few of the natural ways you can boost your energy levels.

The last important point you might consider is (naturally!) exercise. Believe it or not, getting the blood flowing through your body through physical exertion is the #1 best formula for combating the mid-day crash! When you feel it coming on, take a break from the job and practice a few minutes of quality stretching, jumping jacks or other light cardio exercise to get the oxygen and blood flowing again.

What do you currently do when you need a boost of energy in the afternoons?

One Response to Abs & Energy: The Secrets to Success

  1. Michael Fulton says:

    i used to think that the hiphop abs exercise video was effective but once I gotten used to it, it just became like a cardio workout video.

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