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Abs. It seems like abs are a badge of good health and fitness these days. Everybody wants them, if they don't have them they are trying to get them. Something I always think is interesting is seeing very thin people who lack definition. Theres a difference between losing the fat around your middle and getting toned and sculpted around your mid section. Im not a pro by any means but heres what I do, and it's worked well for me! If me, (the chubby girl in high school) can go from having chub to what now actually resembles pretty toned abs I assure you, you can to! It takes some work but if you stick to it you'll be seeing results in no time!

This picture is a bit extreme but it really puts it in perspective for me. Absolutely no disrespect to marathoners (usually the ones I know look 1000 times better than this fella on the left) But what you see here is the marathoner, he's taking long runs burning tons of calories a day and hes skinny for sure, but you don't see that definition that you do in the sprinter. The sprinter is doing shorter bursts of higher intensity exercise. (HIIT training) as I will go into detail later. These high intensity runs work his muscles harder than longer more moderate running.

To uncover your abdominals you first need to start out by lowering your overall body fat. You can do crunches and sit ups till your blue in the face and while you may feel like your abs are getting stronger, it will show no real difference in the way your tummy looks (if you aren't also losing body fat in the process.) Losing body fat means obviously eating right, and CARDIO. Running is a great way to lose overall body fat. Really any exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat will help you to shed the fat that is surrounding your abs.

Now I mentioned before that sit ups won't give you toned abs....sit ups  or crunches ALONE that is. Once you get into a good cardio routine, begin to incorporate abdominal strength exercise to your workouts to beef up those muscles so that once you start to lose the fat surrounding them, you'll have a nice toned up muscle to show through underneath!  One way I have found to do this most efficiently is cross fit type high intensity interval training. (known as HIIT training) This type of exercise works your heart while also working large groups of muscle at a time. Think of exercises like squat jumps, burpees, push ups, mountain climbers, ones that are used to build muscle but are also really good at making you sweat and getting your heart rate up as well! These exercises work double time to chisel off the layer of fat while strengthening up the muscles underneath which is what will give you nice defined tummy. 

There are usually 3 reasons why people who work out fail to get the results they want in their midsection. As I said before, if the chubby girl in highschool can get anything that resembles abs, I promise you can too! 

1. Some exercisers can be too focused on the cardio aspect. Think of  runners. (While there is no doubt running IS good for your abs) Runners usually have low body fat, super great muscular legs and  flat tummy's but sometimes they are a bit more lax on strength training when it comes their abs, so while their tummies are flat they are sometimes not as defined as their counterparts who include strength exercises after their runs! For quite a while that was me....i'd run miles and miles a day and once I would finish I was only able to give my strength training maybe 10%. A few months ago I started getting serious about my strength training and I've noticed what a difference it has made in just a few short months! The first picture is me as a runner and the second is me after 2 months of HIIT training and soon after starting a program that offers HIIT classes in my area called Eupraxia. Going to the class has been great because it forces me to push myself and also has given me more variety which is so important when you are looking to get results. Your body eventually gets used to running. If you run everyday your body eventually will adapt and you won't get near the fat blasting results you did when you first began. If you live in my area and are interested in trying Eupraxia and familiarizing yourself with HIIT training just shoot me a private message on facebook! https://www.facebook.com/hillary.twite


                                               Runner Hilly                             HIIT Hilly

Here is a link to an introduction to some HIIT training exercises. Give it a try you'll be amazed what a great stregth/cardio workout you can get in just 20 minutes

2. The opposite of the runners are people who focus only on trying to strengthen their abs! They do crunch after crunch after crunch followed by sit up after sit up just trying to lose that belly pooch. The problem is, ripped toned abs arent very satisfying if they are covered up by a layer of fat. The bottom line is this. Balance. If you want abs you need to put time and effort into a combination of cardio and strength training while eating right. 

I love this picture

Remember this ^ You can work your butt off but if you are sabotaging your workout with all kinds of junk food, sugar and white flour it will be that much harder to reach your goals! 

When it comes down to it you can't spot reduce any place on your body....if you hate your thighs working them might make them stronger but they won't look better, same goes for your abs!   Your body is one single unit. It all works together. Its quite simple when you think about it, make it work, make your muscles work make your heart work make it sweat and feed it healthy food and you are well on your way to a tummy you can be proud of! You've got the whole winter to work on your summer body. Start today. You won't be sorry! <3

Abs. They are for anyone.

Friday, September 21, 2012

For a quite a while now I have been an exercise enthusiast, it wasn't until a few months ago that I really started to hone in on my diet. I was able to achieve most of my goals through mostly exercise and continuing my 'healthier than most' as in, I usually stayed away from soda and junk food but I basically ate whatever was available for meal times. So not 'bad'--- but not 'good'. Recently I've discovered I really enjoy cooking, so the last few months I've found a couple excellent tasting and best of all healthy substitute recipes for my husband and I. These recipes I am about to share are tried and true and YES, husband approved :) Fall is the time of year for rich cozy comfort foods, instead of going without them this year, try these slimmed down versions! Just as good sans the guilt! ;)

*These arent my own personal recipes but they are ones that I have found on the internet and made and liked that are definitely worth giving a try!

Skinny chicken enchiladas! So great! Mexican food is normally super high in calories and if your in the mood for it, this definitely hits the spot! Simple changes like using greek yogurt in place of sour cream to gives it a great creamy texture! This recipes is an awesome skinny alternative! You won't feel jipped! I also use whole wheat tortillas (which they didnt in this recipe!) Even less guilty! :)

Another high calorie meal that is a definite favorite of mine---Pasta Alfredo! I've known the calorie count of this dish for years so I've tried to stay away for the most part, but now I have discovered the secret! Avocado! My husband is a pasta snob and very Italian and I'll tell you this- it's even Italian pasta snob approved, now thats good! 

...And all this time you've thought chocolate ice cream was off limits......


Spaghetti? You got it! I didnt feel a bit unsatisfied using Quinoa instead of spaghetti noodles. I love this because I can cook up the quinoa in the rice cooker, its done in 10 minutes and then I just pour the sauce add a little parmesan cheese on top and wa-la! Healthy "spaghetti" lunch or dinner!
(another good alternative for spaghetti is spaghetti squash I'll post a link on how to prepare that below!)You'd be surprised how much a squash can taste like pasta!

Light Pumpkni cheesecake.Satisfy your cheesecake and pumpkin spice cravings here. Light fluffy and delectable!

This last one I didn't find online I just sort of stumbled upon it while having a major chocolate craving one morning.  I named it 'Almond Joy Oatmeal', and oh what a joy it is to indulge in its chocolatyness!

*Prepare quaker oatmeal (not the packets--lots of added sugar in those) then add unsweetened cocoa powder a teaspoon to a tablespoon, its up to you! Next throw in some coconut flakes and almonds and ENJOY!

As an end to this post I wanted to post this photo that was posted by a fitness studio I attend. Normally I wouldnt post a picture of ladies backsides on my blog but this is so true and it really gives you perspective. Remember--- to get the body you want, you have to include all the components of a healthy lifestyle. Its not about JUST eating better or JUST working out...its about changing your entire way of living. Eating better, moving more, and letting your body get the rest it needs to be at its best! If you baked a cake with a third of the ingredients needed, it might turn out... but it wouldn't be the best. Same with your body. To build your best body you need 3 main ingredients: Diet, exercise and sleep. The recipes simple. :)
Be encouraged! Keep up the good work! 

Naughty foods made Nice

Wednesday, September 19, 2012