The path to those abs: Getting fit the right way
MANILA, Philippines – Yes, we hear you. A lot of girls dream of having that bikini body just in time for the summer.
But what does it take to get there and to have a healthier lifestyle? And are those 30-day challenge posters on the Internet for real?
Rappler catches up with Women's Health Philippines Editor-in-Chief Lara Parpan at the Watson's Sun Up to Sun Down event where she gave tips on how you can get a toned, healthy body that's perfect for summer – and all-year round.
1. The one move you must master and do – everyday.
A lot of us often complain that 24 hours a day just isn't enough for your job,your family, and everything else you have to attend to. So queezing in a one-hour workout per day may just turn your schedule into a nightmare.
Ease into it by doing a workout that won't take much from your time but will target the areas you want to tone.
"I think the most important and effective exercise if you have just about a few minutes to spare each day would be to do a plank," Lara says. She recommends to try holding it for about 30 seconds on your frist try. Then the next time you do it, try to hold it longer until you're able to stay in that position for two minutes maximum.
"Doing it everyday strengthens your arms because you are supporting yourself with them. It also engages your core and your glutes (butt) – so it's an all over workout."
Lara reminds people to do a plank properly. To get optimum results. "The trick to doing the plank is you have to engage the core. If you engage the core, that's going to keep everything else in and you clench the glutes – that's the way you can hold the position and not injure yourself. And you're really working your abs."
She adds that in doing the plank, you have to feel your muscles burning as you clench in your abs and glutes – that's how you know it's working.
2. Don't stick with the easy part – take it to the next level
Ready for level two? Lara recommends side planks that will tone your obliques (bye, bye lovehandles!).
"Go on your side, support yourself on your arm. And that works out your obliques, a part of your core. you turn on your other side and do it on the other side. You can do it 30 seconds each, try 2 sets," Lara says.
3. A good workout we tend to overlook
Lara says another effective workout for toning the legs and arms: jumping rope. Even boxing champs do it.
When done properly, it can get your heart pumping and it will also strengthen your limbs.
Lara says doing it properly entails keeping a straight position, not jumping too high, and only moving your wrists throughout the workout.
The best thing about jumping rope is that you may not have to spend for it. You can borrow from your daughter, niece, or sister.
No little girl in the family? Lara says not to worry. Skip rope costs roughly about P200 at a sports store.
4. No excuses
Your number one enemy when it comes to becoming fit and healthier is yourself. Lara says that living a healthier lifestyle is a choice and a commitment one must make to his or herself and that such commitments are not made overnight.
"A lot of people fall off the habit after one visit, they get discouraged – it's too sweaty, too painful. But if you want to make fitness a part of your life, you have to commit. It's like brushing your teeth. You don't think about brushing your teeth – you just do it. But to get there, you have to build it as a habit for at least 2 weeks and after that, you'll feel like it's something you can do," she adds.
Lara recommends investing in a good pair of running shoes – get out there and run. Too hot? Run on a treadmill at the gym or do a few laps in the pool.
If you're a bit low on moolah and want to start lifting weights to tone your arms, Lara says she herself started out with 2-liter water bottles filled up with sand as her own makeshift dumbbells.
Incorporating bits of exercise in your daily life can help your body get toned faster.
"You live in a condo, climb the stairs. 6 flights, 10 flights, then down again. That's a workout. Going to the mall? Park your car as far as you can from the entrance or the elevator. That's a workout. So many things you can do. There is no excuse," Lara says.
5. Get fit with friends
One motivator to get into a healthier lifestyle and to constantly workout is to do it with friends.
"Find like-minded people who also have the same goals and [are at the same] skill level as you are or find a mentor –someone who can guide you," Lara says.
This way, you will have someone to cheer you on and you will end up motivating each other. Getting a personal trainer is also a good idea because he or she can draw up workouts tailored for your current body type and the results you want. But if that's too expensive, there are magazines with instructionals – tear off the pages and bring them with you.
6. Embrace fitness fashion
Another way not to fall off the wagon is to make working out feel less of a chore – make an occasion of it and dress up!
Lara says wearing something good to a workout will even help you look forward to it. Ditch the white shirt and jogging pants you wore to your Phys Ed classes 3 years ago. Go shopping for cute and affordable gym clothes which you would love to wear.
"You have to look good as you start feeling good – not frumpy," Lara adds.
7. You are what you eat
Lara and her team did a survey, asking women – what's the number one body part you want to focus on when working out? And the top answer was the flab on the belly. She says that a toned tummy with a nice set of abs doesn't just come from hundreds of crunches – you also have to eat right.
"Abs are made of 30% workout and 70% diet," Lara says. "You can be doing all the planks and crunches you want but if you don't eat healthy fats, good carbs and you're always eating junk food, it's not gonna happen. You really have to combine a healthy diet which doesn't mean starving yourself. you just have to eat right, real, fresh food."
So what does her daily food intake look like?
- Breakfast: Cereal with honey (no sugar!) and a banana.
- After workout: Protein shake.
- Lunch: One cup of rice (Yes! Lara says you can afford one cup a day!), a side of vegetables, and protein – meat or fish that is either steamed or boiled.
- Dinner: NO CARBS, just a salad.
If you find yourself craving for sweets during the day, why not try fruits? And instead of buying fruit shakes which could be laden with sugar, why not blend your own at home or just eat them fresh? They are great sources of vitamins and minerals which your new, healthier body will thank you for.
But don't worry, you can still cheat every now and then. Lara admits to giving in to some truffle fries once in a blue moon. But she adds that you have to keep cheating at a minimum – don't make it a habit.
"You have to ask yourself. how badly you want to be healthy not just to have the abs or to fit in that bikini – that's too short term. You have to think long term," she says.
Lara says that when it comes to fitness, the maxim is 'Nothing that lasts is ever easy and nothing that is easy ever lasts.'
If you do it the easy way, you will certainly get short term results but if you keep at it, make it a habit, the abs will stay, and the fitness level will stay for the rest of your life.
Exercising shouldn't just be about getting thinner and getting into a bikini body after all. It should be all about becoming a healthier you. – Rappler.com
Image of woman doing a plank from Shutterstock
Image of woman doing a side plank from Shutterstock
Image of skip rope from Shutterstock