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Common SenseWhy The Ab Obsession?
Abs are the center of your strength and power. Every time you lift, bend, twist, shift weight, or balance, you use your abs for both stabilization and transference of power. Strong abs are essential for good posture and a healthy lower back. The abs are also the center of physical beauty. Someone with a tight stomach automatically gets a check mark for having a good body. And the millions of dollars spent each year on "ab mania" confirms that everyone wants a trim and toned midsection. Because abs are the key to health and beauty, the obsession is understandable.
Ernest Hemingway said, "The best reason to tell the truth is because it's the easiest thing to remember." When it comes to abs, it seems like the powers that be don't want us to remember the truth. They surround us with so many misconceptions and myths, so many machines, routines, and miracle diets, that it's nearly impossible to remember a few simple truths.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Perfect abdominals have a history of being pitched like medicine-show miracle cures: girdle belts, plastic sweat suits, and belt machines that jiggle your love handles. And now we have a new generation of contraptions, the most popular being the ab rollers. The irony is you already have the best possible machine to train your abs to perfection -- your body. For almost every other body part you need weights or a machine; it would be senseless to train your biceps without weights to curl. But you are born with everything you need to train your abs. You don't need to worry aboutbuying any specialized equipment.
THE THREE KEYS
The truth for the vast majority of us is simple and easy to remember. It contains three key principles. To tone and trim your midsection you have to do three things:
- Specific exercises for your abs.
- Consistent aerobic work to burn calories and systematically reduce body fat.
- A low-caloric, balanced, healthy diet.
With so much focus on trimming the abs, the myth of spot reduction has become a mainstream belief It's as if we've forgotten the physiological fact: you cannot spot reduce. The body loses weight systematically and holistically, not one body part at a time. Think of a tennis player. He uses his grip and forearm muscles with greater intensity and frequency in his racquet arm. This makes his racquet arm more muscular than his other arm. But he doesn't have less fat on that arm. He doesn't have one fat arm and one toned arm. You can't lose fat in just your love handles or your lower abs. You will only lose it systematically throughout your entire body.
LIFE ISN'T FAIR
The abs are a natural problem area because we are genetically predisposed to store body fat in our middles. This is called the first and last principle. Our middle is the first place we store fat and the last place we take it off. So you can be in really good shape, eat a healthy, smart diet, and still be carrying a little fat around your belly. It's natural.
Yes (I know), this is discouraging in a society that emphasizes a perfect middle. It's just not fair; the one place your body wants to store fat is the one place you most want to get rid of fat.
This makes abs the perfect area to exploit for gimmicks and gadgets. For entrepreneurs, this well never runs dry. It is the problem that will never be solved. This is why the rest of your body can be slim, your face may even become gaunt, and your abs will still have the inch you can pinch. Take heart and know, this little pinch is natural and healthy, and to get rid of it takes extreme and unnatural methods.
This doesn't moan you can't trim and tone your abs. The important thing is to know what you are up against so you don't get discouraged and give up. Knowing the truth will better prepare you for battle.
In the battle of the abs, we are surrounded by deceptive and damaging media images. Everywhere you look (billboards, movies, and magazines) beautiful bodies abound. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman. It could be Calvin Klein underwear ads, Victoria's Secret catalogs, International Male, or any fitness or fashion magazine. You can't help being affected. You see these images over and over and at an unconscious level you literally become addicted to beauty. But these images are not the truth. They are fantasy created to sell products. The photographers shoot at the most flattering angles; they use light and shadow to accent the beautiful and hide the flaws. And they airbrush away any remaining imperfections to create their carefully manipulated sculpture.
On top of this, the models go through extreme and unhealthy measures to achieve their look. They often starve and dehydrate before a shoot. Plus, they have more time to work out. Staying in shape is their job. And if this is not enough, when the camera clicks the models are flexing and sucking in their abs. They may be smiling and looking casual, but believe me, down below they're flexing and sucking. A model can learn to cover up many flaws by mastering posing techniques. That's why they get paid the big bucks. The truth is, Mr. Olympia and supermodels don't look in picture-peak condition 365 days a year.
BE A REALIST/BE A DREAMER
Approaching abs truthfully means being a realist, an optimistic and positive realist. Being a realist isn't always easy, because it often means letting go of your fantasies. Knowing the facts, however, prepares you to reach your potential. Unrealistic expectations ultimately leave you disillusioned and discouraged because you never reach your goal...