By Binu Dhindsa @zumbawithbinu
The summer months sure come with body challenges. We all start the summer feeling great, thinking we can control what we eat and keep up with our fitness routine, but slowly and surely we start enjoying the outdoor barbeques and forget to keep on top of the great habits we created in the spring.
I often get specific questions from my fitness participants and this is the one that tops the list:
What exercise can I do to reduce this rim around my belly?
I have put together some tips to motivate you to take control of that ever so popular problem area.
How to Keep a Slim Rim
To keep that belly slim and trim we need a balance of both fitness and eating habits. It’s not an even balance though; it’s heavily weighted on the eating habits. Think about it as 80% food choices and 20% fitness. The regular aerobic activity and eating choices will help to reduce the belly flab; the core strength exercises will work the muscles beneath the flab.
As South Asians, we are surrounded by naan and roti and rice, which in excess go right to our bellies! So what do we do?
I decided to check in with Maslamommas Nutrition Specialist Zannat to see what she could add to help this ever so popular trouble spot.
“Getting rid of belly flab means dealing with overall flab. To keep your eating in check, focus on getting enough protein at each meal and snack. Protein helps curb your hunger and makes you feel satisfied. Think eggs, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, meat, poultry, dairy as great ways to get your protein.”
I’ve observed the South Asians around me lately; our parents, our children, our aunts and uncles. What I notice is that we as a culture are not getting enough protein, especially the vegetarians. We may be eating the protein, but not enough of it and not often enough. We end up eating too many bread products and too much rice which eventually shows up as flab around the midsection.
How to Build a Strong Core
In addition to eating the right foods and the right amounts of food, we need to exercise those core muscles to get that tightened look and feel. This doesn’t mean you need to do crunches until you run out of steam! Crunches only work the front part of your mid section. We all need to strengthen the front and back to create a strong core. So doing exercises that work both the abdomen and the lower back are the best exercises. Core muscles include our abdomen, hips, lower back and pelvis. All of these muscles need to be strengthened for increased balance and stability, whether for playing specific activities or in daily activities.
Strong core muscles help you with everyday activities, from reaching a glass from the top shelf to digging deep while gardening. Weak core muscles leave our bodies open to low back pain, poor posture and injuries.
What exercises are the best?
I have my favourites that I have descriptions of below. By all means if you have your own favourites, then go ahead and use them. You can never go wrong with any exercise for your mid section. It will only strengthen and help to reduce injuries in the long run.
The Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Pull in your abdomen and lift your hips. Now drop your hips 2 inches and lift back up. Repeat 5 times and take a break. Work your way up to 25 reps without a rest. This move can be done in an advanced fashion with lifting one leg up and lifting and lowering the hips. Then switch to the other leg raised to balance out the exercise.
The Plank: Lie on your stomach. Raise yourself up so you are on your knees and your forearms. Align your head and neck with your back, keeping your shoulders above your elbows. Pull in your abdominal muscles and take 5 deep breaths. Rest and repeat. Work your way up to holding the move for 30-45 seconds. The advanced version is pulling your knees off the floor and performing the move on your forearms and toes.
Knee Rotation: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Keeping your shoulders on the ground, lift your feet off the floor and let your knees fall slowly to one side. Stop where you can hold your knees off the floor comfortably and hold for 3 deep breaths. Bring your knees back to the centre and repeat on the other side. Repeat each side 5 times.
Work on creating a lifestyle of moving your body and strengthening your body and eating well. As you create new habits you will see the belly flab melt away! Just remember, when doing any of these exercises, keep your deep breaths going through the moves.
If you are new to core exercises and have an injury or any pain in your lower back please consult your health care provider before attempting any of them.
****Caution: Before starting any fitness program always consult with your family physician.
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