When I was out shopping last week, I bought scales. I’ve never owned scales and only ever witnessed the psychological games they play with people’s minds, yet I went ahead with the purchase anyway. In the same week I cleared out the sweet and snack cupboard and made plans to get back into exercise in a serious way, despite some serious sleep deprivation because of my 6 month old baby. Was I just doing the typical January thing, because that’s what I normally do at this time of year? Then why did it feel odd and a little out of date. Was I following an old pattern or just doing what I thought was right? Then it struck me that the reason why it might have felt odd was because I hadn’t really given my body a say in the matter. If you truly listen to your body’s wisdom then you be surprised about what you might hear.
With time your body changes and therefore the way you look after your body ought to really change with it. I sometimes think back to the days where I trained many clients, trained myself and taught a number of exercise classes. I had the energy to spend for 10 people, was able to survive very happily on a few hours sleep if I needed to and I would put myself through many regimes of some sort. But that was before huge life changes such as having children and also many years ago.
If I truly listen to the wisdom of my body then exercise and healthy eating is no less important than before, but somehow my body seems to say “go easy with me”. Instead of going at it hard and making a workout or eating strategy a punishment, my body seems to say “let’s work together”. It is no longer just about being able to fit into certain clothes, it is about investing into my health and taking great care. For that reason other aspects of keeping fit have become more important such as yoga, stretching in general and meditation. I take great care to not become a victim of stress and to turn my back to negative influences. Instead of lean meals, I take great pleasure in making wholesome, healthy and nourishing meals for my family. Listening to my body’s wisdom also implies having a conscious mind and having a good balance between the two.
If you were to take a couple of minutes and took time to listen to the wisdom of your body, what would you end up doing differently? What would you change immediately and what would you change over time? It is a cliché to say that you only have one body and most do not appreciate it fully until things go wrong, but sadly that does hold a lot of truth in it. Use the power of the mind to go inside and connect to the parts of your body mentally that may need some care, almost as a kind of “checking in” exercise. It is all too easy to be based in our worrying brains day in day out, yet you can tap into your body’s wisdom if you want to and do what is good for you.
Over the years the most burning question on people’s lips when talking about physical fitness, has always been “how can I get a flat stomach?” Often people are filled with assumptions and myths about this topic, like “you either have a flat stomach or not”, or “if you have had a baby it’s impossible to get your flat tummy back” or “doing sit ups will create a flat stomach”. This blog piece will give you some information and simple tips so you can start caring for your tummy muscles to create a flat stomach.
Firstly, the muscles that we are talking about are the abdominal muscles, although many refer to them as stomach muscles. The stomach is an organ and aside from filling it modestly with nutritious foods, you really do not want to work that stomach in any other way. The abdominal muscles cover the front of the body and most importantly they allow you to bend the trunk and they work in synergy with the back muscles in order to protect your lower spine.
Many people these days have sedentary jobs, which means that they sit for hours a day. As a result many suffer lower back problems and pain due to lack of activity and weak abdominal muscles. Whilst sitting at a desk there is no need for you to contract or control your abdominal muscles in any way and often people slouch in their chairs exacerbating the problem. People in professions who stand for long periods of time, or need to lift, or mums who carry their children are all at risk of lower back problems and postural injuries. The body wasn’t meant to sit/stand in the same position for long periods of time. Add to that mounting stress that many people experience, all contributing to tense muscles and tired bodies. It is essential to have a postural awareness and work postural muscles especially the abdominal/tummy muscles in order to prevent injury.
Often people have told me that they do a few sit ups a day or they tell me excitedly that they manage to do 100 sit ups in one go. The sit up is a difficult exercise to get right technique wise, but quite aside from that there is no point in doing excessive sit ups if your posture is poor. So to begin with (and you can do this almost immediately), you need to build some postural awareness.
Caring for your tummy muscles to create a flat stomach takes time and patience. It isn’t something you can do occasionally, but something you need to exercise every day and all day. It doesn’t require exercise equipment or a gym, but mindfulness and awareness. Place reminders all over the place until it becomes second nature, or tell a friend to point it out if you have bad posture.
I will go into abdominal exercises in a further post, but as aforementioned they will have little effect until you have a real awareness of your posture and corrected any issues with it.
If you –like me- just had a baby, then take it easy to start with. It has taken 9 months for your body to change completely, so do not expect thing to ping back into place overnight. In fact by pushing and by being impatient you could do more harm than good. When your body indicates that it’s ready then follow the above mentioned tips to re-address your posture and find your core stability again. Be patient, but take care of yourself when lifting your baby and when you are feeding or carrying the baby. Those are all good opportunities to pull those muscles in to protect the lower back, whilst waking up those tummy muscles.
Good luck. More abdominal tips to come!