How to have a Smaller Waist…
The Holidays have come and gone, there has been much celebration, quality time spent with families and lots of memorable moments. As we roll into another year filled with hope and determination and a fresh list of New Years’ goals in our sights, ninety percent of us probably included a goal regarding health and exercise. Which area do you suppose it is? What is the one area on the body that by making another area larger it looks smaller? Okay I’ll tell you the waist. By increasing the size of your shoulders and back you can create the illusion of having a smaller waist.
Now granted this is fantastic if you are a bodybuilder and don’t mind your latisimus dorsi (back muscles down the sides of your body) looking like Bruce Lee. Men may not have an issue with that idea but most women aren’t going for that look. While lifting weights specifically for your back and shoulder muscles will help to give the illusion of a smaller waist, in this article I will address other ways to achieve the goal of reducing your midsection.
The first step is to make peace with the body type and waist size you were born with and then take the appropriate steps towards shaping up what you have. Your waist size is essentially predetermined by your ribs and hip bone skeletal structure while the rest of your waist size is a result of how much fatty tissue surrounds the area. No one likes to hear that you must lose the fat to gain the prize because we all know it means things in our lives have to change.
How many of us happily gravitate towards change? Yes, it’s true change is hard, but without change, things, including your waist measurement, will stay the same. The reality is that the body has a mind of its own when left undisciplined. But with a bit of discipline and some old fashioned hard work you can become the master of your body. A smaller, tighter midsection and stronger core are all within your reach if you are ready to do what it takes. Before I discuss what you must do to reduce your waist size let’s dispel some misconceptions that exist regarding this topic.
How to get a smaller waist?
1. Breathing exercises will shrink your waist
While it is true that breathing and diagrammatic exercises will tighten your tummy they will not reduce the body fat that expanded your tummy to begin with.
2. Electronic Abdominal Exercise Belts will give you a six pack
These belts do nothing more than reduce the size of your wallet. Fortunately, most of the companies that lied in their claims on TV infomercials are now being sued in a class action suit for their false claims.
3. Hundreds of crunches a day will give you a smaller waist
As a competitive fitness model, if this were true I should have the smallest waist on the planet. Unfortunately, I do not. I was born with wide hips and thus the size of my waist is proportionate to that fact. No matter how many crunches or leg lifts you do you cannot crunch your way to a tiny midsection. The fat around the waist needs to be shed before you will ever see the results of all those crunches.
Now that we know what doesn’t work for obtaining a smaller waist, let’s get to what does work.
Choose A Goal to get a Smaller Waist Size
First you must choose your goal. I will always sing the praises of goal setting. Why? Because it really does work. Okay, now that you have chosen a goal, write it down! Remember, seeing it in front of you each day in black and white makes all the difference. Do you want to lose five pounds overall? Do you want to just get a smaller waist so your pants aren’t so tight? Do you want a smaller waist but also a stronger core (abdominal and back strength as a unit)? What is your goal? Whatever it is, choose it now.
Every goal in life usually takes hard work to get it and this is no different. If it were easy, America wouldn’t have the obesity epidemic it has and everyone would have a waist the size of Pamela Anderson or Cher (and no I don’t believe the rumor that she had a rib removed to reduce her waist size). So if you are ready to commit to the work here are some action steps to help you achieve a smaller waist.
The most important thing is not to skip meals so that when you finally eat you eat large unbalanced meals. Ideally, you should graze throughout the day. Small but frequent meals are one of the keys to a smaller waist. If you continuously train your stomach to expand with large meals, eventually it will permanently extend to accommodate this eating pattern. Small meals throughout the day (3 to 4 with a snack in between) will keep you satiated and your stomach won’t have to keep expanding to allow room for the overabundance of food.
Also, eat slowly. Chew your food as this will aid in the digestion process. The slower you eat the sooner the brain will be able to register when you are full. You must allow time for this to occur. We tend to overeat when we eat in a rush. Try to make meal times relaxed. Be sure to eat a diet full of vegetables, grains, lean proteins and some good fats.
One last great tip, eat your last meal 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This will give your body time to begin the digestion process before you lay down for bed and all your bodily functions begin to slow down. This simple habit will truly make a difference.
Probably the most important element on this mission to a smaller waist is that you begin to include exercise, cardiovascular as well as weight training, to your daily routine. If you want a great beginners weight training routine, refer to our last issue of this magazine in my column or go online and look under exercise programs for beginners or whatever level you may be at.
Obviously, if you are carrying excess body fat around your waist the only way to make your waist smaller is by losing that fat. You must begin an exercise routine right away. Additionally, cardiovascular exercise needs to become your friend. Whether it is, walking at a brisk pace, jogging, biking, tennis, hiking, whatever it is, you need at least three days a week for thirty to sixty minutes a day to make a dent in the fat loss goal. Please be rigorous and ask yourself these questions as you do this cardio exercise. Are you working up a sweat? Are you feeling challenged? Are your glad when it’s over? If you answered yes to these three questions, chances are your doing the cardio work at an appropriate level to encourage fat loss and changes in your body. Otherwise, why bother. Don’t just go through the motions, do the work and the results will be yours!
Area Specific Exercises
I know in the beginning of this article I said all the crunches in the world wouldn’t give you a smaller waist but once the excess fat is gone from your midsection, yes, abdominal exercises and core strengthening moves will give you the finishing touch to a tighter and smaller waist. I will describe three excellent exercises for working the midsection and core strength. Of course there are many others, but start with these and add others as you progress. Include these exercises 2-3 times per week with your new fitness program.
Basic Crunch (front abdominal)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently clasp your hands behind your head. Never pull on your neck. Slowly, curl up bringing your shoulders off the floor about 6-10 inches. Consciously tighten your midsection as you lift. Be sure to exhale as you curl up. Slowly lower. Repeat 15-20 times. Do three sets.
Twisting Crunches (side abdominal)
Begin in the same position as the basic crunch but this time bring your knees up, feet off the floor. With your hands clasped behind your head twist your upper body so your right elbow meets your left knee. Squeeze, then return to starting position. Now twist your body so that your left elbow meets your right knee. Squeeze and return to starting position. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. Do three sets.
Plank (core strength)
Lie face down on the floor. Place your hands and wrists directly under your shoulders. Press your toes into the floor. Firmly with total body strength, press up until your arms are locked out straight and your body is in a nearly straight line (as if you are about to do a push up). This is the movement. Simply hold this position for 15 seconds to start with. Then slowly lower down to the floor. Repeat three times. Work up to 30 second holds. This movement is an excellent core strengthener and will tighten many muscles if done regularly.
Follow the above suggestions and you should be well on your way to obtaining the waist size you desire, providing it’s a realistic goal. Remember, there is no magic pill to any health and fitness desire. The only way to get there is through hard work, commitment and discipline. There is truly no better feeling than reaching your goal and knowing you did whatever it took to get there. So go for it’s start today!