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Sometimes, you just have to suck it up...

posted Oct 20, 2015, 1:28 AM by SueJ Ashman-Smith

Bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger knew how to fake a tiny waist: by performing a stomach vacuum. It is a simple trick that involves isometrically contracting the transverse abdominus. This corset-like muscle lies deep within, behind the more visible abdominal muscles. It is very important to posture, and to preventing lower back pain. In some people, particularly women who have been pregnant, the fibers of the rectus abdominus, which run vertically, can thin out and leave little structure to contain the abdomen. Part of rehabilitating this condition, called diastasis recti, is to call upon the inner fibers of the transverse abdominus, which run horizontally. There are several ways to practice the stomach vacuum. It is perhaps easiest to learn to control the muscle by lying down on your back, placing your index fingers within your navel, and trying to pull the navel downward toward the spine. The actual vacuum exercise can be easily performed sitting. Start by taking in a full lung-and rib-expanding breath. Now blow out all that air, and as you do, strongly pull the navel in and toward the spine. Feel those muscles of the transverse abdominus contract. Tighten them down hard, and hold for about 10 seconds. You can and should continue to breathe while you hold the muscle contraction; that is where the real control comes into play. Repeat 4 times. Do this exercise 3-4 times a week, working up to 20, then 30, then 45 , and then 60 seconds hold and up to 8 repetitions, Remember, you won't lose abdominal fat by exercising the abdominal muscles; you don't burn that much energy doing so. But you will begin to feel your abdominals holding you and helping you in nearly every activity you do, making you stronger and more resistant to injury, more competent and graceful and balanced. Your posture will improve, and with proper diet and cardiovascular exercise, your abdomen can take on the enviable taper bodybuilders crave.

Burning up

posted Oct 20, 2015, 12:57 AM by SueJ Ashman-Smith

Most very young children are driven to move. They seem to always have a desire to touch this, try that, take the world in great gulps and grabs and adamant steps. My beautiful cousin beat the weight that seemed resistant to her workouts by following her toddler for hours every day, It is the consistent demand for more heartbeats per minute over a challenging period of time, or spurts of activity that briefly require an unsustainably high heart rate followed by moderately-paced recovery intervals, that helps build a strong engine and a metabolism that works for you, rather than against you. Alert your body to the coming changes by feeding it only what will support that energy demand, and with time and tweaking you will have the fine machine you were meant to command.

Coffee with Butter?

posted Sep 6, 2014, 12:44 AM by SueJ Ashman-Smith

Have you caught up with the trend of drinking coffee with butter? Its roots can be traced back to Tibet, where the national drink is tea with clarified yak butter, called ghee. Inspired by this, fitness guru Dave Asprey popularized the notion of adding ghee or butter along with an extract from coconut oil into coffee and blending it well. He calls this Bulletproof Coffee, and claims it provides superior mental function without the jittery side effects of coffee. Many other fitness experts are feeding into the frenzy for buttered coffee. Asprey's recipe is very specific, but some followers simply use whatever they have on hand to substitute for high-quality ingredients. Some people have found it cuts their appetite and allows them to  function well into lunchtime. 

While coffee and butter hardly qualifies as a nutritious meal  substitute, research has shown that coffee increases fat oxidation. Adding milk or cream introduces carbohydrates to the drink, which stimulates insulin release and can counteract the metabolism-raising effects of the caffeine. However, black coffee alone can slightly decrease insulin sensitivity, while creamer can increase metabolic rate over what coffee alone can do. So what is the upshot of the coffee-and-weight-control-discussion? Well, come people will find they enjoy it and experience greater control over their diet with no loss of function, while still consuming appropriate portions of nutritious foods. For those coffee lovers, whose doctors support their indulgence, coffee with or without butter and in moderation can be a small part of a healthy lifestyle.

Asprey's recipe can be found at:


posted Mar 17, 2013, 7:34 AM by SueJ Ashman-Smith   [ updated Oct 20, 2015, 12:57 AM ]

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