Flatten your Stomach! (a rant)
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
It seems that every other day we see a post in the ‘Fitness and Exercise’ forum asking for the best exercises to get a flat stomach. Luckily, these posts are quickly answered by people like ARCHIMEDESII and MOTIVATED@LAST who explain that “we can’t spot reduce, and that fat loss is a whole body process. That the midsection is usually the last and most difficult place to lose the weight” etc.
This got me thinking why so many people are under the impression that if they just blast out one particular exercise, or use a specific piece of gym equipment, they will shed the weight from their bellies. I’m sure I thought the same thing a few years ago. It’s really not that difficult to see why this is the understanding of the general population, though, when we are bombarded with infomercials for exercise equipment that promises to ‘flatten your stomach and banish those love-handles’ in only a few short weeks. We see these fit, toned models effortlessly using the machines, their sculpted muscles bulging out with each repetition they perform. We think about how easy it looks, and for a short time we convince ourselves that we could commit to that program if it will give us results like that in a few weeks. What they fail to tell you, though, is that the models they use have less than 10% body fat, follow a strict diet and exercise regimen, and have probably never used this piece of equipment before in their lives. They fail to tell you that no matter how much you use the machine, it will probably have very little effect on reducing your body fat. Sure it will strengthen some of your muscles, but any form of exercise will do that. They fail to tell you that weight loss is 80% dependent on your diet and only 20% comes from exercise. That you would probably see better results by improving your diet and doing some light cardio and strength training a few times a week. They fail to tell you this because it’s very hard for them to sell “Improve your diet and get regular exercise”.
If anyone could flatten their stomach for just 5 easy payments of $29.99 without changing their lifestyle in any other way, we would all be walking around with six-packs and not an ounce of fat. The fact is, though, that getting in shape starts with education. We need to learn what our bodies need, how it uses the nutrients we give it, what happens when we feed it nothing but junk. We need to understand how muscles work, how the fat storage process works, what a calorie actually means to the body. We need to know how to read the nutritional information of foods, how to prepare healthy meals, how to exercise properly (all of this info can be found in articles and resources on SparkPeople.com, by the way). And if all that sounds like too much work, then maybe you just don’t want it badly enough yet.