Crunch Time: How to Flatten your Stomach

Everyone sets out in the New Year with a certain set of goals in mind, to lose weight, to get in shape, and to finally get that flat stomach to show off once the warm weather approaches.  There are five simple rules that apply to all of those: diet, exercise, diet, diet, and cardio!  What this article will examine is the “exercise” aspect of those steps.

You might be an avid gym veteran, just picked up a new membership, or decide to tackle your goals at home.  In any case, what you’ll find here is a way to attack your midsection no matter where you are (I don’t suggest plopping down on the floor in a general public area).  That exercise is the good, ole’ fashion crunch.

Find a flat surface, preferably clean and comfortable, and lie down.  For the first set, you’ll want to make sure your thighs, your heels (with toes pointing up in the air) and your back are touching.  Place your fingertips so that they are barely touching the side of your head.  Lift your shoulder blades off the ground, keep your eyes looking directly up, and then return to the starting position.  Make sure not to move/bend your neck during this attempt.  Do this as many times as you can and then rest for 1 minute.  The second set is very similar except in the position of your legs.  You will want to have your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent.  Again, do as many as you can then rest for 1 minute.  For the final set, you will want to keep your feet off the ground, bend your knees so that your calves (lower legs) are parallel to the ground.  Do as many crunches as you can and then repeat each of the sets until you’ve completed 3 sets of each position.

Note: Personally I found that using a high-quality massage gun helps loosen up my abs.

A couple other items to consider.  The speed to which you perform each repetition.  For the first 3 sets, you will want to do a 3 count (slowly count 1…2…3) as you lift your shoulder blades up and perform the crunch, then a 3 count down as you return to the starting position.  For the next 3 sets, you will want to do a 3 count up, but then hold for 10 seconds before you do your 3 count back to the starting position.  For the final 3 sets without moving/bending your neck, do each crunch as fast as you can. Try doing this 3-5 times a week as your only abdominal exercises for 4 straight weeks.

Once you’ve set your focus here, you can then cut these exercises back to 1-2 times per week and throw in other abdominal exercises to keep your muscles from adapting and allowing more continued growth, strength and definition for a flatter and more firm stomach.

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Acupressure Massage: The Top Spa Double Treat

Acupressure is ancient healing in which firm pressure is applied to the body’s pressure points and meridians. Preceding acupuncture by at least a millennium, acupressure emerged more than 5,000 years ago. Because of ancient Chinese medical traditions emphasizing minimal body contact between patients and physicians, years ago acupressure fell out of favor. Acupressure was also considered inferior by the higher classes because of its resemblance to manual labor. Consequently, acupressure became a lower pursuit among Eastern academics.

Acupressure was held in higher regard in India and among Middle East traditions, and eventually, its importance in Chinese medicine was restored. Two factors contributed to its rise in status: 1) the Communist revolution, at which time China became a uniformly poor country with few Western-trained physicians; in addition, little money was available for modern drugs and therapies. To cope with this situation, the country’s administrators encouraged the resurrection of traditional hands-on-medical knowledge, including acupressure; 2) an interest in the West of traditional Chinese medicine, which elevated its status.

Acupressure Points

Acupressure points are located in patterns on the surface of the body and are connected by pathways or channels called meridians. The Zang-Fu organs are the internal destinations on the meridians. The network of 12 meridians connects the entire body together in a manner similar to the blood circulation system of veins, capillaries, and arteries. The meridians begin at the fingertips, connect to the brain, and then connect to an associated organ.

Energetic substances called Qi (energy), Jing essence (inherited source of reproduction and development), Xue (Blood), and Jin Ye (nourishing fluids) flow continuously through the meridians in a single direction. According to traditional Chinese medicine, blockages in the meridians lead to disease. Qi that circulates near the surface of the body, Wei Qi, serves as the body’s first line of defense against external pathogens.

Acupressure Technique

Acupressure stems from the word ACU, which means care or precision. Acupressure points are grouped along the meridians in a way that pressing on points on a meridian affects the flow of substances in the entire channel. According to meridian theory, the channels pass through the limbs of the body and link up to the internal Zang-Fu organs.

Acupressure therapies use different methods, such as massage, to stimulate the points. The goal is to stimulate the points and enhance circulation in the meridians and promote the function of the internal organs and the limbs, which the meridians traverse. Acupressure aims to adjust two kinds of abnormalities, conceptualized as congestion and weakness by clearing away congestion and supplementing weakness (tonification).

Acupressure Massage

Acupressure massage is available at many spas, especially spas versed in traditional Chinese therapy. Acupressure therapies use the same points on the body as acupuncture to treat or prevent disease. Practitioners of acupressure apply pressure to these points with fingers, thumbs, knuckles, elbows, feet, and a number of acupressure tools, including acupressure sticks. Acupressure may also involve stretching techniques.

The massage therapist uses a variety of techniques, including rubbing, kneading, percussion, and vibrations, varying the degree of pressure as needed. Acupressure massage can be performed with fully clothed clients sitting, standing, or lying down. Specific bodywork techniques include shiatsu, tuina, jin shin does, and Swedish oil massage.

Benefits

  • Acupressure can restore and increase the function of the internal organs and enhance immunity to disease.
  • Acupressure can relieve pain, including headaches, toothache, menstrual pain, and arthritis, and enable the body to relax.
  • Acupressure regulates opposing forces of yin and yang (negative and positive energy respectively).
  • Acupressure relieves digestive disorders, dizziness, nausea, including morning sickness, digestive disorders, stress, depression, and fatigue.
  • Acupressure stimulates the body’s own recuperative powers and helps restore homeostasis, perhaps through its ability to increase endorphins.
  • Acupressure greatly improves overall health and helps prevent disease.
  • Because acupressure restores balance to the system, it can treat both subtle discomfort and more serious disease.
  • Acupressure relieves muscular tension and promotes blood circulation.

Precautions:

Acupressure massage should be avoided if the treatment is in the area of cancerous tumors or if cancer has metastasized to the bone; in rheumatoid arthritis, spinal injuries or bone diseases that could be worsened by physical manipulation; in patients with varicose veins; in pregnancy, because manipulation of certain points can induce contractions. However, with your doctor’s permission, acupressure can be used to alleviate nausea resulting from cancer therapies or morning sickness.

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Getting In Shape: How To Maintain Your Motivation?

Have you made the big and wise decision to get back into the sport? This in itself is a great idea, but did you know that the real challenge is to persevere rather than just getting started in physical activity? Here are some practical tips to help you keep the fire going.

It is well known that maintaining good health depends in large part on adopting a healthy lifestyle. Regarding physical activity, its health benefits are well established.

Who has never subscribed to a sports centre and then lost their enthusiasm? It happens to many people. In fact, it is estimated that more than half of individuals who begin an exercise program quit within the next six months. Here are some tips, so you don’t fall into that statistic.

Set realistic goals

Knowing exactly where you’re going usually helps to get there. Setting specific goals will motivate you to take steps to achieve them. It can be beneficial to display them in strategic places: on the refrigerator door or your bedside table or on the screen of your smartphone, for example. Ideally, go for goals with measurable results, such as how many pounds to lose within a certain time frame. It may be good to set a final goal and intermediate goals that will give you additional motivation.

Love what you do

First, find an activity that you enjoy doing. There’s no point in wanting to swim if you hate water or signing up to a gym if being confined indoors turns you off. Do you like to dance? Sign up for aerobics or Zumba class. For older people, a social dance class can be a great way to maintain flexibility and coordination.

Discuss your approach with those around you

Because there is strength in unity, it will be advantageous for you to be able to count on the encouragement and support of those around you. Discuss your process with your family, friends and colleagues and let them know your goals. Also, determine what type of athlete you are. Do you prefer to indulge in your sports activities alone or in a group? Who knows, maybe some of your loved ones will want to accompany you to your sessions.

Focus on consistency rather than intensity

When starting a new physical training, it is a good idea to adopt the principle of “slowly but surely”. Take it slow at first; you will add more difficulties (more miles, more pool lengths, etc.) as your body gets used to your new way of life. If you wonder too much at first, you may be tempted to give up when an obstacle or injury occurs. Remember to recover well between workouts.

Go for variety and novelty

The best way not to get bored is to vary the activities. So walk, run, swim, dance if you feel like it! Fill your weeks with a multitude of different activities that charm and inspire you. Are you more inclined to appreciate regularity and routine or, on the contrary, diversity? The simple act of changing the course can allow a runner to regain his motivation. Avoid weariness; it is the enemy of perseverance.

Give yourself rewards and moments of rest

Taking care of yourself also sometimes involves giving yourself moments of respite. After a particularly active week, why not relax while watching a movie in a great company? Or enjoy a good, well-deserved meal at the restaurant? You must reward your efforts; how you do, it is up to you. Show your imagination and surprise yourself! Choose your rewards in advance; this will undoubtedly be a powerful motivator.

Anticipate and accept the ups and downs

The fact that your motivation falters at times is undoubtedly inevitable. Over time, you will find yourself wanting to deviate from the good habits you have taken. First, be tolerant of yourself; don’t judge yourself. If you are feeling less motivated, instead ask yourself why you want to slow down. Then try to find concrete ways to remedy the situation: going to bed earlier, finding a new activity, using the services of a personal trainer, etc. Ideally, try to plan strategies that you will use when motivation drops occur.

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