1. Every exercise is an ab exercise. If you think you’re isolating a muscle group, think again. You use your core muscles to help you stabilize, lift, lower, coordinate, inhale and exhale, protect the lower back, cut, kick, shift, start, stop and everything in between. Without your abdominals, you’ll have a heck of a time getting things done. Make sure you’re engaging the core with every exercise, either by pulling the naval into the spine or tilting the pelvis forward; use it.
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2. Change your workout routine. It’s time to shock the system. You might have a schedule that really suits your life, but apparently not your needs. Make sure you’re mixing it up with different types of workouts. Incorporate a spin class, roller blading around the park with a friend, initiate lunch-time walks at work, utilize hills, stairs and tracks for intensity training and more. In addition, make sure your workouts include the following:
- Use correct form.
- Allow the body time to completely recover, or set up workouts for active recovery.
- Combine strength and cardio when you can.
3. Ditch the sugar. You’ve been focused on calories, fat and protein as you scan food labels, but what you’re probably skipping is the sugar level. Protein bars with 16 grams of sugar in them are a terrible idea. Do you know how much your go-to bar contains? In addition to checking the sugar content, look at how much fiber is in there. Fiber is often massed in with the “total carbohydrate” amount, so if fiber isn’t listed, look there. The ratio should be about 10:1 (total carbs/fiber to sugar). Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar and pushes the digestion process along; in fact, fiber isn’t absorbed or digested by the body at all.
When you eat extra sugar, your blood glucose levels spike and your body quickly reacts by getting rid of the excess sugar. How does it do that? It stores it in little tiny boxes called fat cells. Bottom line: more fiber, less sugar.