With spring among us and summer just around the corner, the talk about abs buzzes in a lot of people's minds and is the topic of every fitness magazine on the shelf.
One truth I always stress is that your abdominal definition is a direct reflection of your diet. Some may have even heard "abs are made in the kitchen." While this does mean your own kitchen, it also means making smart choices when dining out.
This week, I have some tips for healthier choices when dining out, as well as some of my favorite abdominal exercises.
I often get asked if I have a sweet tooth. And my answer is always the same: "I would way rather have a burger and fries than a cookie." However, it's not like either of them will do me any good.
There is this awesome burger place near my house. I go there once a week because the quality of beef they provide is really great, but those benefits are outweighed with all of the high-calorie and high-fat toppings that contribute to the entire burger.
If you are a burger lover like me, one tip would be to ask for yours to be wrapped in lettuce or on a bed of lettuce -- and always ask for extra veggies. Beware of "house" or "special" sauces because those can be loaded with fat and calories. Skip the cheese and add avocado instead for some healthy fats and heart-healthy omegas.
Sweet potato fries would be the healthier option, but when ordered at a restaurant, they are still fried. The best way to have them is to buy the frozen variety and bake them at home when you have healthy burgers.
My second tip is to always order water when dining out, even if you decide to have another beverage. Being adequately hydrated is great for your metabolism and can help prevent overeating.
Avoid sugary soda drinks at all costs. If you are eating out and having a meal with oversized portions, is it really necessary to top it off with unlimited refills of soda?
It is no secret how horrible soda is for our bodies, and with the warmer months fast approaching, it is much better to get into the habit of staying hydrated with water.
Now that I've given you a couple of items for better eating to help stay healthy and keeps those abs looking better, here are some workout tips:
My two favorite abdominal exercises are planks and bicycle crunches. Pretty much every time I work out, I do a bunch of planks. I set the timer on my phone and switch plank variations every 30 seconds to one minute -- until I can no longer hold myself up. It is fun to have competitions with myself, my friends and my mother (the planking queen).
Bicycle crunches are really effective when you mix up the tempo. Switch from 10 slow bicycle crunches to 10 fast bicycle crunches until you get to 50 or even 100. You will definitely feel the burn, especially in that transition from slow to fast or vice versa.
It's impossible to implement every "beach body" trick the fitness world has to offer. So start adding a tip each week and you will start seeing results sooner than you may think.
You don't have to completely isolate yourself to be healthy and fit.
Just know when to make the right choices and things to look out for when dining out at your favorite -- yet not-so-healthy -- restaurants.
Start incorporating more core and abdominal strengthening exercises, such as the plank and bicycle crunches, into your workout to tone the muscles that you're working on as temperatures heat up.
Keep focused and centered this week.
Lunden Souza, a Merced native, is a personal trainer, health and wellness coach, and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.