Muffin-top days well and truly numbered

Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 01:00

RUN CLINIC:Running regularly is, without doubt, going to reduce the flab around your middle, writes RUTH FIELD

I’ve been running since April and have noticed a real difference both in the way I feel and look. However, my muffin top just won’t go away. Is there anything I can do while running to fight that bit of flab?

The good news is a resounding “yes”. You have been running for only four months and it may have taken you two months to get to the stage when you could actually jog without stopping for roughly 45 minutes. So really you are only just beginning.

Your muffin-top days are well and truly numbered because running regularly is most definitely going to reduce the flab around your middle. It is one of the best aerobic activities for fighting that spare tyre so do stick with your running programme and watch it gradually diminish.

There are, however, other things you can usefully do to accelerate this process and further strengthen and tone those muscles while you are at it. All you need to succeed are commitment, grit and a good sense of humour.

Focus on your posture. Posture is often one of the main reasons for an unnecessarily unsightly paunch. Think of those celebs whose tummies we envy – they always have immaculate posture: holding their stomachs in, shoulders back, lengthening their torsos – like ballerinas.

Grit Doctor Exercise: Get naked and take a good long look at your posture in a full length mirror sideways on.

Don’t do the classic “mirror pose” and hold everything in, in a way that you only do when looking at yourself in the mirror.

To avoid doing this, first close your eyes, relax and imagine you are in the kitchen with the fridge door open or up the road buying a pint of milk.

Now open your eyes. Chances are, this is what you will see: shoulders slouched, back curved and stomach sticking out. So, pull those tummy muscles in, and feel your back straighten and lengthen. Do this while looking in the mirror.

See what a huge difference this makes?

Next time you sit down to a meal or to work, or are walking down the road, remember your mirror image and readjust your posture accordingly. Bad posture is simply a bad habit that we can train ourselves out of.

Keep running regularly. Do the odd interval run (fast then slow bursts) or hill run – mix it up a bit. When running, hold your stomach in and focus on maintaining a good posture (bring to mind your mirror image and realign your body accordingly). Running while holding in your stomach will really work those abs.

Grit out some sit-ups or stomach crunches. I am a fan of the old-school sit-up but there are lots of variations on the theme and a simple Google search will come up with all sorts and some will have videos to help you get them right.

Exercise: How to sit-up: Lie down with your legs spread to about shoulder-width apart, knees bent and feet on the floor. Put your hands by your ears and elbows out to the sides – your hands are not supposed to pull you up at all, your core is. Look straight ahead, chin off your chest to keep your neck relaxed (you don’t want to be developing neck muscles – it’s not a good look).

Place the small of your back into the floor and using your core, breathe in and lift your shoulders, neck and head off the ground to about 30 degrees, hold for a second or two and then breathe out and return to the starting position. Easy. Repeat up to 20 times if you are able. But don’t overdo it.

If you have never done a sit-up before, this may prove difficult, so don’t try to run before you can walk. The key to this exercise is smooth slow movements where all the effort is felt in your abdomen.

Be realistic. Healthy women are not meant to have entirely flat stomachs. Some fat is necessary to protect our reproductive organs.

Since all this “ab flashing” during the Olympics there is not a woman among us who has not despaired of their middle and its distinct lack of six-packed tone in comparison. But these are elite athletes. Which means they are super human.

The reason celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna have similarly perfect abs is because they are probably doing a million sit-ups a day while personal trainers inject green tea into their thighs.

Be honest about your diet. Eat less crap and drink more water. This will have that muffin deflating instantly.

The Grit Doctor says:

Muchos muffins maketh a muffin top: Eat less. Move more. Sit up straight. Do stomach crunches.

Ruth Field is the author of Run Fat Bitch Run. Tweet your running query to Ruth at: @gritdoctor.

See also: irishtimes.com/bodyandsole

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