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11 Reasons To Not Give Up On Exercising

11 Reasons To Not Give Up On Exercising

As it’s summer and a lot of people are getting “beach ready” these days, here are a few words of encouragement for those that try hard but simply can’t seem to lose weight (as fast as they may like).

Deciding to lose weight – or to start exercising – is the easy part. Keeping it up week after week, month after month is where things get hard — especially if you don’t see the results you want.

I know, I have been through it myself. For most of my life, I have been big. It started when I was about nine years old. From one day to the next, I just ballooned out of nowhere. The rest of my life I spent getting rid of this excess weight, and it was not easy.

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Over the years, guided by experts and determination, here is what I learned.

1. Some bodies simply lose weight slower

If you do not see results in the first few weeks, it doesn’t mean you are not losing weight. That was the lesson I learned, and even though annoying, there is nothing you can do except keep going.

2. More is not always more

When you lose weight slowly, it is tempting to add more and more exercise in the hopes of losing weight faster. It does not work, it burns you out, and you’ll lose motivation. Think up a doable exercise plan (preferably with the help of an expert) and stick to it.

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3. There are other benefits aside from weight loss

Even if you do not lose weight, there is always a benefit: you get fit. Daily exercise keeps you in great condition and you will feel healthier.

4. You can keep it fun

The worst thing you can do is choose something you don’t like simply because you think it’ll bring fast results. It won’t. You’ll do it for a week or two then give up. Choose something that works for you and that you can stick with.

5. You aren’t gaining weight

As long as you exercise, you are not gaining weight, which is a result in itself.

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6. Variation is key

Don’t do the same exercises day in and day out. Your body will adapt to these exercises and will burn calories slower.

7. You can check in with experts

If you feel you really should be losing more weight than you are, check with an expert to see if they can help you. Maybe you have been doing the wrong exercises – an expert can help you find what’s right for you.

8. Even walking is beneficial

Walking is key with slow burners. A short walk a day makes you happy and keeps your digestive system working.

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9. Starting the day with a brief burst is a wonderful thing

Starting the day with a short energetic moment — climbing the stairs, that walk I just mentioned, or any other brief outing — is wonderful. It clears your mind, gets you going, and kickstarts your digestive system.

10. Taking a day off is a good thing

Training non-stop all day every day is not good for your health, and could even lead to breaking down muscles instead of growing them. It is also mentally unhealthy to never have a day off. Your brain will enter a “there is no end to this” mode and you will start resenting exercise. Overtraining is harmful for the mind as well as the body. Take some time to rest and recover.

11. There will be results in the end

I stuck to it, trained every day, and – despite not seeing results as quick as I hoped — found that one day my trousers kept sliding down. Then I found all my clothes were wider. Without even noticing, I had gone down several sizes. I stuck to it and eventually got results.

Patience, variation, finding the right exercises, and taking enough rest is what brings the best results for everyone. Remember: Exercising is about getting fit and healthy. As long as you achieve that, the rest will take care of itself.

Featured photo credit: Curtis Mac Newton via unsplash.com

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Dannii Cohen

PsyD in Psychology, professional counsellor, life coach and self-help expert

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Published on July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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