Many people are under the impression that in order to stay fit, you need to eat less and move more. In point of fact, staying fit isn’t all that black and white. Nor, for that matter, does the development of a strong core entail caloric restriction and billions of sit-ups. It may require a few simple substitutions within your core food groups, and working your core in some unique and (fun!) challenging ways.
Since many of us eat before we are physically hungry, we don’t have time to detoxify our digestive tract from the chemicals we take in with processed foods. In order to avoid toxic levels in the blood, the body produces fat cells to store the chemicals, where they can be released slowly. Here are some ways to eliminate this problem:
- Replace processed foods with organic foods to avoid toxicity. Organic produce is also higher in antioxidants than produce treated with pesticides. Toxic chemicals hamper the speed with which the digestive tract can break down food for energy. The more water you drink, the more quickly you can flush toxic chemicals from your system.
- Eat a diet rich in fiber. A diet high in fiber will aid in the expulsion of waste before the body starts producing fat cells to fight the toxicity.
- Complex carbohydrates like oats and grains prohibit the body from breaking down too much glucose at once, which keeps your metabolism going strong, unimpeded by insulin. The result is hours of clean energy with no crash and no toxic buildup.
All of the tactics mentioned above will increase your metabolism, yielding you more energy, but why would anyone need more energy? For more core exercises, of course! There’s no way to get out of it. You have to perform rigorous core exercises in order to have a strong core. Here are four core exercises that you’ve probably never heard of.
- Plank Circles Start in a plank. Lift your right knee to your abdomen and rotate it five times, first clockwise, then counterclockwise. Repeat with your left knee, starting with a counterclockwise motion. Do three sets of ten, four times per week.
- Pike Plank This is one has a tendency to be particularly grueling and should not be tried until you are comfortable using your core to support your entire body. The exercise should be performed on a hardwood floor. Start with your hands under your shoulders like a push up. Your legs should be straight out behind you with a towel under your feet. Using your core, extend your hips as high as they will go, pulling your feet closer to your hands. Return to your starting position in a slow, controlled manner. So three sets of ten, three times per week.
- Kung Fu Crunch Lay flat on your back. Pull forward into a crunch and raise your legs about a foot off the ground. Hold this position for as long as you can. Do three sets, three times per week.
- 360 Degree Core Rotation Sit straight up with your arms out in front of you. Spread your legs out in front of you to a stretch that you are comfortable with. Contract the muscles in your abdominal wall, lean forward and rotate clockwise ten times. Repeat going counterclockwise. Do three sets, four times per week.
Your Turn: What do you do to keep your core in shape?