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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Great Abs are Made in the Kitchen?

This is a phrase I often see on Beachbody's forum. Maybe it's one of their phrases used often by Team Beachbody coaches or termed by one of their instructors. I'm not sure. "Great abs are made in the kitchen." I do know that it means you can do all the ab work/ core work in the world, but if you're eating poorly, you'll never have toned abs or a slim core. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "never." There are obviously teenagers, young people who's eating habits haven't caught up to them. But that isn't the case forever. And that's not who I'm talking about anyway. I'm talking about most people who don't naturally have abs like this:

As much as I love Cathe Friedrich, I've never sought after those six-pack abs like she and so many fitness experts have. I like this Fit Couture ad with just strong lean abs -- not necessarily all muscle-y. That's never really been my goal. But I would like to be as lean in my core as I am in my hands and feet. Marilu Henner calls it in her books "the animal you were meant to be" as she talks about watching a mountain lion or horse move -- they have these amazing strong bodies that move with agility and grace. They don't have excess fat slowing them down. They are the animals they were meant to be and we can be the same. Each of us has a different shape, but can be lean and strong within that shape. I have a small frame -- small bone structure. So even though I may look lean with clothes on, I still have a few more inches I'd like to lose in my abdominal area. Dr. Mehmet Oz talks about how the excess fat on our waists is a greater indicator than overall weight in our health risks. It's not just about how we look or how comfortable we feel in our clothes anymore.

So back to the kitchen statement. Is that where great abs are made? It could be. The point is that food affects your abdominal area more that sit-ups, Pilates, or stability ball exercises (as great as all of those are for your core muscles). I find that the decision with eating comes earlier than the kitchen. For me, great abs are made in the grocery store. If I can convince myself NOT to purchase certain foods at the store, I have a much easier time making smart choices in the kitchen. If my pantry and fridge are filled with foods that our "just for my kids" or that are to "have one hand for occasional treats," I'll quickly change those intentions for those foods once I'm home and will eat far more than my share. The best example of this are the Clif bar products. I've bought Luna Bars by the cases, intending to only have one every so often when I'm not eating raw or when I'm travelling or to have them for my daughters to take to high school for snacks or lunches. And I'll eat 3 in a day! What a waste of money and a disservice to my body. That soy protein isolate is not the healthiest choice - - especially in excess. I've had digestive problems to remind myself (yet do I remember?) The same is true for regular Clif Bars, Builder Bars, and Z Bars. If I have them around, I eat them. I've bought them for Christmas stockings and will eat the stash far weeks before Christmas arrives.

Thus I've had to control myself at the store so I don't have to deal with the temptation once I get home. I used to fight this with ice cream or chocolate chips. I'd have to avoid those aisles at the store because I knew I'd buy some and eat them when it was causing my body all sorts of problems. Now I've been away from those foods for so long that I can handle walking down the aisle if I need something else nearby. I'm not quite there with the Clif products yet, so I have to stay away and really work on it at the store. I think I've gotten past it with Kettle Chips (and Boulder Chips or any other yummy natural potato chips). I used to by those for "picnics" and the like, then would eat them on the way home from the store. Couldn't handle the temptation.

I guess I'm a healthfood junkfood junkie. But I'm recognizing that weakness and am handling it at the store before it even has a chance to get to my kitchen. I still have to make wise choices in the kitchen, but if I can make good decisions in the store when the package is closed, I won't have nearly as much to battle in the kitchen - - just a wide array of whole foods to eat and enjoy.

I'm also realizing post-40 that the more I bake, the more I weigh, regardless of how I exercise. So I have to limit my baking too. I love to bake. I love the warmth and the aromas. But I also love to fit in my jeans. If I weigh this in my mind before I turn on the oven, I do better than weighing that when the bread is coming out of the oven. Great abs are made in the early stages of eating - - in the store, in the planning, in every step of the way -- but the earlier, the better.

I love seeing how I've grown in my journey to better eating. I'm still not perfect with it and may never be. But I get stronger and better with my choices as time goes on. That's nice to see.

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