Body By Kit: How To Whip That Core Into Shape
by Kit Rich
Published Jan 29, 2012
I want you to picture yourself on your dream day. Are you walking the red carpet? Is it your wedding day? Are you receiving a humanitarian award in a fabulous little black dress? Whatever your vision may be, I can guarantee that you never picture yourself not being able to fit into the perfect outfit that matches that perfect occasion. I call it: “Looking the dream.”
As a woman who gets clients prepared for these events, I am fully aware that the stomach tends to be first on the “get in shape” list. I am often asked for tips on how to lose inches and tone a stubborn stomach. These questions usually come with years of frustration attached—which is understandable, considering that the stomach is one of the first places to gain weight and one of the last to lose it.
Training women all day long, I have a deep appreciation for the core and understand its physical and emotional significance. A strong core is the foundation of a strong body. But from my perspective, it is also the foundation of who you are. When I teach Pilates, I teach the basic principle that all movement should begin from the core. I find this so applicable to life since often when you are asked to make a decision, you are told to “follow your gut.”
Our core is the center of us, literally and figuratively. Physically, our core holds all of our female organs. It expands to carry new life. If the core is strong, it allows us to protect our backs and keep good posture well into our elder years, so that we move with ease and grace. Emotionally, our core can hold regret, memories of fear, love, doubt and nervousness. Studies have shown that working and strengthening the core helps release endorphins and improves our moods. I was reminded of this the other day when I took a yoga class and the teacher decided to do 30 minutes of abdominal work. She then said, “If you are feeling anger while doing this, or are annoyed at me, there is a reason. Our core stores and holds all of it. Let it out! Let it go!”
But even with this understanding, the fact remains that your self-confidence goes up when the size of your waistline goes down. This is where fitness becomes one of your greatest tools to cultivate a higher level of self esteem.
So follow these tips to help you strengthen, tone, and tighten your waistline and, hopefully, learn to find a deeper appreciation for your core and all the blessings it holds.
Remember, friends, everything in life starts with your attitude towards it. As I mentioned before, women tend to react very negatively and hold a lot of anger when it comes to their stomachs. But it is important to never approach anything in life with anger and disgust since your body holds onto that anger. It’s not easy to suddenly just pretend to like something that has caused so much frustration. That is why I use the tool: “fake it till you make it” attitude. At the beginning of my journey I used positive affirmations about my stomach even though I didn’t necessarily believe them. I convinced myself that I was going to get the stomach I always wanted and my actions started following accordingly. If you find that too difficult, try to go deeper, beyond physicality, and focus on your appreciation for your overall health. This is a process, but it’s a great start.
Okay look, I will never be the fittest person I know, even though I know how to be. My life is just too busy. I train people all day long, and I write articles a lot while sitting on my butt. But I do the best I can, and I keep very fit. With that being said, I have developed a deep appreciation for my body just as it is, and I try to keep my goals realistic. Yes, you can have a body you’re proud of when you look in the mirror, but it is a step by step process. And the process must fit into your life so that it becomes an integral part of your life.
Most women approach food as though it’s their Last Supper and devour their meal within the first 10 minutes. The problem is, the stomach may be full and you keep eating! This causes an over consumption of calories and a disruption in the digestion process. If you’ve read articles that I have written previously, I always talk about listening to your body. It takes roughly 20 minutes for the body to send signals to the brain that you are full. Typically if you are taking your time eating you will get a good sense when you are about to be full. At that exact moment, when you are about 80% full, stop eating!!!! This will make a huge difference in the look of your stomach and your overall energy levels. It will also help you connect more to your body’s needs and limitations.
Plyometrics (jumping exercises) and standing core exercises are great tools to whittle down the waistline. Try this routine and see how you feel! (Remember: perform this same routine three times in a row and up to four times a week)
ROUTINE: TOTAL TIME 15 minutes
Standing tall, with arms above your head, start by lifting your right knee up and pulling your elbows down towards your knee. Then switch legs. Do eight each leg for a total of 16.
Hints: Exhale as you lift the knee. Try to get the knee as high as you can! Pull the stomach in and feel the stomach lifting the knees.
Perform the same action but now the arms and knees go out to the side to work the side of the body. Do this eight times each leg for a total of 16.
Placing your hands onto your hips. Run in place as you lift the knees as high as you can up towards your chin. Perform this eight times each leg for a total of 16.
Hints: Exhale as you lift the knees and use all your might to lift those knees! If you need to modify, please don’t jump. Just simply lift each knee as high as you can.
Coming down to the floor, onto your hands in a plank position. Hands are directly underneath your shoulders and feet are hip width apart. Your entire back should be in a neutral position. Imagine yourself as a table and someone is trying to balance coffee on your back. On an exhale pull one knee in between your hands, and then switch legs. Do this at a pace that is appropriate for you. You can go fast or slow but either way, push yourself! Perform this eight times each leg for a total of 16.
Hints: Try not to lift your butt up into the sky. Keep your butt low as you pull the knees in. Exhale as you pull the knees in and keep your shoulders over your wrists.
In your plank, lift your right leg off the floor. Then pull right your knee in (with foot off floor) and create a big circle to try to hit each elbow. Exhale as you pull in and circle. Repeat eight times in each direction. When finished, hold the knee in the center, and sway the knee from right to left slightly twisting your hips. Inhale out to the right and exhale to the left. Perform eight times.
Hints: Keep arms over wrists. Keep your butt in line with the rest of your body. Pull your belly button into your spine.
Keep your arms where they are but twist your hip to the right and cross your right foot over your left. Your shoulders are still facing the floor. On an inhale lift your hips up into the sky pulling your shoulders back behind your wrists, and on an exhale come back into your twisted plank. Perform eight times.
Hints: Focus on the side of your body. Pinch the right side of your body on the way down. Keep your arms strong, try not to sink into your shoulders.
Perform the same action you did with the right leg but now with your left.
Perform the same action you did with the right side but now do on your left side.
On your back, extend your legs to a 45-65 degree angle. Lift your head off the floor, extend your arms and pump your arms up and down ten times. Exhale with every pump pulling your belly button in to your spine.
Hints: Sensitive backs, please keep knees bent. Keep back firmly planted into the mat.
Keeping your legs straight, pull them up to a 90 degree angle. Place your hands behind your head to support the neck with elbows out to the side. Slowly drop one leg, engaging core and then switch legs. Repeat five times with each leg for a total of 10.
Hints: Try to keep your legs straight. If you need to bend the knees, that’s ok!
Perform the same action except now we are going to twist. With the left leg in the air, on an exhale, twist the right shoulder to the leg. Then alternate. Repeat five times with each leg for a total of 10.
Hints: In you need to modify, please bend legs. Engage the abdominals and try to keep elbows are wide as possible.
BREATHE!! Perform this entire routine three times total.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness