IN SEARCH OF A FLAT STOMACH
by Dr. Darrell M. Schreyer, D.C.
Who actually likes to do sit-ups? Lets face it, they aren't a lot of fun. I know people that do 200-300 a day to keep their stomach flat, which in society today is very desirable. Take for example, any model in a magazine or television commercial. A "spare tire" doesn't sell anything these days. Not food, not holidays or vacations on the beach, not even beer.
So people eventually look in the mirror and begin their quest for the "trim tummy", "the smooth stomach", or the "washboard abdomen". They usually start this journey by starting some aerobic activity such as jogging, bicycling, swimming, or aerobic dancing. This is sometimes followed by going to the gym and lifting weights. If a weight workout is or isn't part of the personal formula for success, some type of abdominal workout usually is. After all, our goal is to attain a meager midline.
The abdominal musculature helps with movements of the torso (primarily flexion), as well as protection of the body. They run from the bottom of the ribs and attach to the top of the pubic bone, thus shielding the internal organs of the abdomen. The abs are also essential for good posture. They act in unison with the spinal erectors to hold your spine upright, much the way opposing ropes support a tent pole. At least, that's what they are designed to do.
Weak and out-of -shape abdominal's do little supporting or protecting - nor do they add much to your appearance. It is important to understand that poorly conditioned abs are not the culprit behind most bulging midsections. The culprit is excess fat.
In the stomach region, as in all areas of the body, a fat layer covers the muscles. The thicker this layer of fat, the harder it is to see your abs no matter how well developed they are. Getting rid of unwanted fat (if that is your goal) is really rather simple. It is simply a matter of adjusting your diet and activity level so you can burn more calories than you consume. This is sound advice that most people know but only a few follow. This number grows amazingly during the first few weeks of January every year, but we all know that New Years resolutions don't last long.
Still, it's rather easy to understand. Doing muscular work requires that the body spends energy. Your body draws that energy from the food you eat and from your stored fat. If you can decrease food intake and/or increase your energy output, you'll lose fat.
Many people believe that they can burn fat from around their stomach by merely doing ab exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, leg-raises, etc. The truth is that this spot reducing doesn't work. Performing exercises for any single muscle or muscle group doesn't burn enough calories to noticeably reduce fat. When fat is removed from the body, it comes off from all over - not just from the area being worked. To rid yourself of excess fat, regardless of where it is, you must do exercises involving as many major muscle groups as possible and you must do them consistently over a period of time.
It should be a challenge to anyone reading this article to not wait for January 1st to begin their dream, but start today. Set a year long plan for losing weight. It is very important to set monthly goals for yourself, or you will soon get bored with this schedule. Use these goals to see if you are on track for your final goal. Picture yourself making your own holiday or vacation commercials on the beach.