PCOS stands for a highly common hormonal imbalance, which affects about 5 million women in US alone: the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This condition affects women of all ages, starting as early as 11 years old. When you have PCOS, cysts develop on the ovaries, which hardens them and alters the hormone production, so the body produces more male hormones. Apart from the reduced chances of getting pregnant, PCOS leads to a lot of other symptoms.
The struggle with PCOS
Women who reached the child-bearing age are most prone to suffer from PCOS, which increases infertility. Other symptoms of this condition are menstrual issues, acne, excessive hair growth and weight gain. Depending on the severity of the ailment, you may have one or multiple symptoms.
In many cases, PCOS is associated with other health issues, which makes it hard for doctors to diagnose it properly. As a result, there are many women out there who don’t know they suffer from PCOS until they want to get pregnant or they deal with other problems caused by one of the PCOS symptoms.
As PCOS is essentially a hormone imbalance, women who suffer from this condition easily gain weight, but they have difficulties losing it. On the long run, it’s important to keep your weight under control when you suffer from PCOS, because obesity and depression go hand in hand with this condition.
The more you postpone your weight loss journey, the more your are harming your already ill body. Right now is the perfect moment to start controlling your weight, so here is the essential information you need to know for a smooth and effective diet with PCOS.
1. Only eat natural, unprocessed food
Women who suffer from PCOS are highly sensitive to what they eat. Refined food and overly processed meals harm your body and lead to more weight gain problems, as they mix with your hormone imbalance. Gluten is one of the major enemies of your body, so avoid it as much as possible. No more regular flour, but coconut flour.
Your rule of thumb when it comes to eating must be “only natural products”. This also means more home-cooked meals. Each time you go to the store, pick the least processed foods, like fresh vegetables and fruits.
When you are trying to lose weight and you suffer from PCOS you need to rely on fibers for nutrients. Women need at least 25 grams daily, but most people only eat 15 grams daily. Fibers help you maintain a healthy bowel movement, relieve the hunger feeling and keep the blood sugar under control. All in one, fibers are great for your health, so make sure you do get your daily intake of 25 grams.
Eat them as cereals in the morning, make pancakes or bake your fibers – you can choose any method you want, as long as you meet your daily intake.
3. Low on the carbohydrates
Women who suffer from PCOS should lower your carbs intake, a recent studies found a link between PCOS and insulin resistance. However, don’t give up on carbs completely, as they are important sources of energy for your body. Switch regular cereals with whole grain cereals and go for non-refined carbs, which have a nutritional value, opposed to refined carbs, which only increase the blood sugar levels.
4. Eat more healthy fats
Healthy fats, such as Omega 3, can lower the level of male hormones in your body, so they are beneficial for you. Healthy fats also help regulate the menstrual cycle and decrease the severity of PMS. Another proven benefit of raising the amount of healthy fats is that Omega fats lower the insulin level. The best way to eat healthy fats is getting them from fresh salmon, mackerel or trout, but there are also supplements available. Apart from fish, you can find healthy fats in nuts and avocado.
5. Exercising as part of your anti-PCOS regime
Exercising is a must when you suffer from PCOS, as it helps you lose weight and burn calories. Exercising also improves insulin sensitivity. The form of exercises you do is up to you: from yoga to running or dancing, there are many activities out there which can help you achieve your goal. Don’t get stuck with something you don’t like.
Apart from these tips, getting enough sleep and checking with your gynecologist on a regular basis is going to help you control your weight. A healthy lifestyle is going to reduce the number of PCOS symptoms, while regular checkups will allow your doctor to act fast if any new condition arises.
Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Why is it important to train up our core strength?
There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.
This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.
Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.
In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.
One Exercise, multiple benefits
There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.
By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.
When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.
Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.
In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.
What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.
What will happen when you start doing planks every day
1. You’ll improve core definition and performance:
Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.
3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).
4. You’ll significantly improve your posture
Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .
A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.
A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.
On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.
5. You’ll improve overall balance
Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!- but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before
Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.
7. You’ll witness mental benefits
Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.
How to hold a plank position
Get into pushup position on the floor.
Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can.
Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.
Watch the video if you have any doubt!
Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:
How to improve your plank time gradually
Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.
Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?
You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:
After prolapse surgery
Pelvic pain conditions
Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.