Accepting my Less-Liked Areas

 

No matter how fit I’ve been—or my age—I’ve always had a little pooch in my lower abdomen.

 

As my size has fluctuated, so has the pooch. I competed in fitness for a brief time, and while the pooch was tiny, I never got rid of it. For some reason, no matter how great I looked, I couldn’t stop focusing on that stupid little bit of extra fat. I’d look at it, pinch it and it seemed to grow before my eyes. Of course, it didn’t, but I thought everyone was looking at it.

 

I think a lot of us women focus on our perceived “flaws” rather than our attributes. Let’s face it, we haven’t seen a real woman in advertising in YEARS with all the photo shopping, contouring and Spanx.

 

We hold ourselves to an impossible standard, and are upset when we can’t achieve it. Well, let’s try and stop! I’m not saying that we can’t try to be fit, healthy, or in the best shape of our lives—but let’s be realistic.

 

Setting Goals

 

I’m 5’6” and when I was 19 I was extremely fit. I got a bad bout of the flu and dropped 12 pounds to about 118. My jeans were falling off of me and my hip bones were sticking out. I was too skinny—but I still had that little pooch. So, even if my abs are in great shape, and my body fat low and healthy, I’m still probably going to have that. I’ve accepted it.

 

So, setting a realistic goal would be to shrink my abdomen, strengthen my core and achieve/maintain a healthy weight and body fat. I’m not aiming for a six-pack—although if I get a four-pack I won’t be complaining about it. And being realistic, I have to realize I’m 40 now and my body has changed. It probably won’t look like it did—but I can look and feel great.

 

The Myth of Spot Reduction

 

Here’s another idea we all need to get out of our heads: you can’t reduce fat in just one area of your body without liposuction. Spot reduction is a myth. Doing endless ab exercises is not going to get rid of the fat over my abs, but it will strengthen those muscles, flatten them out and contribute to overall calorie burning.

 

It’d be great if we could pick and choose which areas we lose fat from, but we can’t. If we could, we wouldn’t lose our boobs along with our bellies!

 

Overall Fat Loss

 

When you reduce your body fat percentage, you slim down all over your body. Often, the first place you wish to lose it feels like the last place to go down. You need to do your cardio in order to see those abs you’re going to work on with the exercises below. Fat loss will come from a combination of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training and a healthy, balanced diet. You can’t eat whatever you want and expect miracles from your workouts. Eat those fruits and veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats and drink that water.

 

The Pooch Workout

 

To see the most benefit in time for summer, start this workout now rather than later. Perform the routine two to three times per week on nonconsecutive days. That day off will give your abs a chance to recover and get stronger and flatter.

 

Start with just one set through and see how you feel the next day or two. Build up slowly to three sets through. Rest between the exercises as needed, but keep it moving in a circuit as it gets easier. Start on the low end of the recommended repetition range as well, and build that up over time. Stay consistent, and by summer your abs will be in great shape. Keep on that healthy diet and cardio to really reveal them.

 

Planks

 

Hold for 30-60 seconds. Start with a straight arm plank from your knees instead of your toes if you are a beginner. You can also add some variations as you go along to keep your body challenged.

 

Reverse Crunches 

 

15-30 repetitions. Keep your abs pulled in tight, and keep the movement slow and controlled. Start small and gradually increase your range of motion. Do not use momentum.

 

Bicycle Crunches

 

15-30 reps per side. When you do these, the lower your legs are to the floor the more challenging the exercise. So, angle up toward the ceiling if you are a beginner, and lower down toward the floor as you get stronger.

 

Ball Pass 

 

15-30 passes. Now, this is done with a stability ball, but if you don’t have one you can still go through the movement. You just won’t be passing a ball.

 

Mountain Climbers 

 

15-30 per leg. If you are a beginner, you can place your hands on the edge of a bench or couch instead of the floor. Also, bring your knees in one at a time like you’re walking, instead of quickly in a running motion.

 

There are thousands of core exercises to choose from. These are just a few, so if you get bored, change it up! Try this to start, and give it three to four weeks before you try something else. I have to keep at it if I’m going to get rid of this “pooch” for good!

 

Bethany

Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.