The myth: If I really focus on working my abs, my tummy will go away. Or, I’m going to hit my abs to get rid of this pouch. Short answer, false. No really, doesn’t work that way. So all those Ab Rollers and Body By Jake gadgets that look more like the Jaws of Life and artist easels are really good for is one more place to hang your laundry. I’ve seen apartment building gyms that look like repositories for these things. What’s funnier is that all the flat, lean tummies in those infomercials were not even made by using these gizmos. They were made by people who, as least as far as their fitness goes, think with their minds, not their brains. What am I talking about? In terms of fitness, I mean, my brain says I want cheese cake, my mind says it’s not good for me.
Enough with the psychology, let’s understand the physiology of the fat and muscle and how to achieve a kinder, leaner core. In one of my previous entries, the “muscle will turn into fat” myth, I explained a bit of the physiology of fat and skeletal muscle cells. To expand on that, we have a finite number of fat and muscle cells. They either get larger or smaller 안전놀이터 depending on what the body needs them to do, or in the case of an overweight person, not to do. When a person is fit, lean looking, their fat cells have reduced in size and their muscle cells have increased in size. We can see the muscle, we can not see the fat.
The opposite is true in an overweight person. Crunches and sit ups are excellent ways to train the abs, but they will not reduce what I affectionately call, the Fajita Tumor.* They will make that part of your core muscles stronger, indeed. They will also have a hypertrophic effect (increase in size) upon those muscles. This is good for the fit guy and bad for the fat guy who wants a quick fix. Fit guy will get stronger and leaner because he is using ab training as only part of his workout plan, fat guy will actually increase his waist size because he is increasing his abdominal muscle size, and not eating properly and aerobically training – Fajita Tumor not going away. *(I must give credit for that term to my guru Dr. Thomas Sattler, Ed.D.)
Why is this not happening? Every has heard the one about spot reduction; can’t be done, in the gym, that is. It CAN be done in a surgical suite. Enter….. your dermatologist – he can perform liposuction, change all that, and you are all set, right? Here’s what she wont tell you; we have a finite number of fat cells, yes? When you take away some of those cells, i.e. liposuction, your brain recognizes the loss of those cells, which your body really does need, and compensates by increasing the SIZE of fat cells elsewhere in your body to make up for that loss.
This sets the stage for a Michelin Man look if you are not really on top of your diet, strength, and aerobic training. Your body is a network of systems which need each other in order to operate effectively and efficiently. If you take away fat cells, because it needs a certain amount, it will get them back somehow, and you wont be to thrilled about where the deposit is made. This is similar in physioLOGIC to the calorie cutter diet; your brain recognizes the caloric loss and actually slows metabolically in order to compensate for that loss. So now that we have taken Ab Rollers and elective cosmetic surgery off the table, let’s look at an effective solution.
First, the immovable object: genetics. I am not a genetic engineer, but I do know that the human genome has not changed in 20 years. What has changed is our behavior. In that last 20 years Americans’ waists have expanded like Chia Pets on steroids. Technology – email, XBox, On Demand, eternal shelf-life food engineering, and shoddy parenting have allowed us to become lazier and bigger. Genes do play a major role in the type of body we have, but they are not destiny. Genetics gives us the gun, but we can decide to pull the trigger. Sometimes, unfortunately, nature pulls that trigger for us.
“Each of us, a cell of awareness, imperfect, and incomplete.”
Each one of us, within our DNA, possess some proto-oncogenes. A proto-oncogene is a normal gene that can become an oncogene (cancer causer) due to mutations or increased expression. Scientists believe that oncogene expression can caused partly by a poor diet Proto-oncogenes can actually be expressed, or awakened through unhealthy living. Yes, you might be a candidate for heart disease or cancer because your father and grandfather and great grandfather had it, but there are ways to break that chain. In the words of Dirty Harry, “you’ve got to ask yourself one question;” do I eat well and exercise, live and act as if to prevent these genes from waking up, or do I want to give oncologists more work?
There’s your genetics lesson. Keep the good ones awake, and keep the bad ones asleep.
Second, the irresistible force: Frappachinos and breakfast burritos.
Some of us are blessed with a very efficient metabolism and some of us are not. I have 18 personal training clients. One of them, ONE has got that fantastic efficient metabolism. She could drink whole milk, eat bagels for breakfast, pecan pie for lunch and toss a fifth of Jameson a night if she wanted. Yes, it would eventually burn out her liver and plug up her coronary arteries, but here’s my point. She doesn’t even bother touching ANY of that stuff. Maaaybe once in a while. Instead, she lives as if she IS a candidate for obesity, coronary artery disease and wants to prevent those things from happening. I call it PRE-hab. Pre-hab good, re-hab bad. Pretty wise approach. I’ve grown tired of clients telling me that this or that runs in their family. Maybe that’s the problem – maybe nobody RUNS in their family. Assume that you are a candidate for “this or that” and get ready to make the changes necessary to create a more resistible (to those bad genes that is,) you. The single most important factor in getting fit and shrinking that Fajita Tumor, is a plan of action based on the tools you have.