Thrive learned to surf this week…and got a lesson in building a strong core and “surfboard worthy abs”–(from the inside out).
My dream of surfing finally came true. (The movie “Blue Crush” changed my life).
This past week Thrive made an appearance to City Surf—one of Austin’s newest fitness studios in town where surfing is NO LONGER just confined to the coastal shores of California.
Group classes, consisting of strength, conditioning, yoga, pilates, and barre happen…on surfboards.
Strapped to an exercise step, every individual has their own surfboard during class to ‘surf’ on, with the training goal of making you stronger—both mentally and physically.
Ryan’s signature “City Surf” class definitely challenged my own stamina and core stability—something I didn’t think was an issue, until I found myself…
- Running in place “on the beach” for several 30-60 second splits, and standing on a wobbly board to complete lunges and squats.
- Trying my best to prevent falling on my face, I hovered and wobbled and cautiously proceeded through a lunge and squat sequence;
- Performing sets of 5-10 push-ups on the board without using my knees;
- And paddling my way to shore between sets to also work those shoulders.
Nevertheless, I SURVIVED…and I gotta say, it was one of the most fun group fitness classes I’ve tried in awhile.
Part of Thrive’s mission with fitness encourages you to “find what moves you” and “discover joy in movement”—varying it up from your usual routine (after all, variety is the spice of life).
While CrossFit, or weight lifting, or Zumba, or Barre may be “your thing”—there is definitely value and lessons to be learned when we mix it up–both physically and mentally.
Exercise goes FAR BEYOND contorting and shaping our bodies (a byproduct of working out).
When we make the focus of fitness MORE aesthetics-based (and less about the joy in the movement itself), fitness can easily become a chore, a body war or never ending pursuit of an ideal.
And what is that ideal ANYHOW?
My drop-in to City Surf got me thinking about summer–and beach body season (after all, we were on surfboards)
If I was to ask you, “What do you love most about your body?”
…How would your respond?
More than likely, there would be a pause and some reflection (you may even hear a PEN DROP).
BUT, if I was to ask you,“What do you dislike most?”
In fact, these are the TOP 3 “most trouble” spots for most women—and in a recent poll Thrive conducted, 70% of women named their stomach as their NUMBER ONE problem area.
In our culture, a flat stomach is the “ideal.”
Look at any ad of a Victoria Secret model, fitness magazine cover or Instagram newsfeed, and you will surely see abs of steel (or,abs of airbrushed steel). Flat stomachs all around.
In fact, i recent years, the desire for perfection for particular body parts (like our stomachs) has intensified even more by our sheer amount of online exposure:
Nearly 2 BILLION photos are uploaded and shared every day on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
In addition, the average woman reports that she spends four-and-a-half hours a day online, and more than two hours just on social media alone—much of this time bombarded with images, ads and “dangling carrots” for fit, sexy, lean, thin, beautiful bodies.
Even though we KNOW that these images (and ideals) get us all twisted or hating on our own bodies, the struggle is REAL!!!
BUT Is it a crime to WANT to feel good in your own skin?!
Is it bad to have a stomach you “approve of”, legs that are sleek and toned, a butt you can declare, “I’m all about that base”?!
The short answer: No.
The issue we run into though is when we are constantly striving (and striving and striving) for that bit of perfection that we NEVER can achieve (EVER). You know what I am talking about:
- Our tummy that has always been the thorn in our flesh AND something we over think and feel self-conscious about (every day).
- Those “thunder thighs” or inner thigh jiggle that never seems to whittle (no matter how many reps we do on the adductor inner-thigh machine, or strict we are with our sugar intake).
- Our butt that is flatter than a pancake (no matter how many squats and lunges we do), or droopy—not perky (like Kim Kardashian)
When was the last time that you looked at your body in the mirror and declared, “Hello gorgeous?!”
It is EASY to look back on pictures of ourselves from highschool, or “10 lbs. ago”, or “that time in our lives,” and think, “Man, if ONLY I could be HER again…”
But the harsh reality is that, during those “good ol’ times” (more than likely) you STILL were not completely, 100% satisfied with your body.
When we keep going down this path, thinking ONE DAY we WILL be happy with our body “when I _____” (You fill in the blank: “I lose 10 lbs.”, “I finish this program”, “Workout consistently,” or “I stick to my diet)…
We will continue to remain STUCK on that path towards perfection: STUCK IN OUR MINDS.
Keeping this in PERSPECTIVE, as we look forward to ANOTHER summer (another season of baring more skin and thinking about that bikini body), what are some PRACTICAL ways we can actually feel confident and begin to love the “less than ideal” body parts we see in ourselves?
Over the next few weeks, we’re talking Developing a Bikini Body AND Bikini Mindset.
Bikini Body programs and guides are a DIME A DOZEN–often times with the same old advice:
- Count your calories
- Do more cardio
- Suck in
- Eat lots of fiber
- Cut the carbs or eat low-fat
- Get off the couch
- Do more crunches
- Eat 6 small meals throughout the day
Sound like a broken record?
Over the next few weeks, we are ALSO talking UNCONVENTIONAL WAYS to develop a bikini body AND bikini mind.
Today’s topic: A Bikini-Body Stomach.
3 Unconventional Tips for Surfboard Worthy Ab
“My stomach” is most women’s LEAST favorite body part. Whatever the reason is for hating on your abdominal region, here are TWO (less-known) of ways to boost your bikini body stomach.
1. Increase Your H-C-L.
In layman’s terms: Stomach acid.
Stomach acid is good for you. And when we DON’T have enough of it, we experience belly bloat, reflux, gas, constipation and leaky gut—to name a few side effects. Since the process of digestion initially happens in your stomach (after passing through step one, in your mouth), stomach acid is crucial to break down the food you eat, killing bacteria that enters your gut and stimulating the production of digestive enzymes to continue the digestive process.
How do you know if you are low or not?
Common indicators include:
- Heartburn (often thought to be caused by too much stomach acid)
- Bloating, belching, and flatulence immediately after meals.
- Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.
- Undigested food in stools.
- Hair loss in women
- Many food allergies
- Iron deficiency
- Weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails
- Chronic fatigue
- Dry skin
- Various autoimmune diseases
What to do about it?
A handful of easy steps:
- Add lemon to a 8-16 ounces of water every morning (and let that be the first thing you drink before anything else)
- Eat 1-2 servings of fermented foods each day (like sauerkraut, water-based kefir, fermented yogurt, 2-4 oz. of low-sugar kombucha), or a probiotic supplement 1-2 times per day
- Consider HCL supplementation with protein-based meals to boost stomach acid. A natural way to do this is by adding 1 tablespoon of applecider vinegar in water before meals. As for supplemental versions, I like Biotics’ Betaine Plus HP and Thorne’s Betaine HCL. A nutrition practitioner can help you figure out the right dose.
- Eliminate “diet foods” and incorporate nutrient-dense foods into your diet. Quest Bars, Lean Cuisines, Muscle Milks, many protein powders, Crystal Light, sugar-free ice-cream and pudding, fat-free yogurt–many of these fake processed foods contain gut irritants that your body does NOT recognize. The most basic step you can take is to evaluate what nutrition you really are fueling your body with–and aim for real, whole foods AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
2. Stress Less.
I know: Easier said than done. After all, there’s no getting around it–every single human will experience varying types of stress our their lives.
However, stress works against us (body composition included).
When you have stress, your body releases certain “fight-or-flight” stress hormones, that are produced in the adrenal glands: cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. When stress and cortisol levels are high, the body actually resists any steps you think are positive, working towards a healthy body (i.e. “healthy eating”, dieting, exercise, etc.). Your body thinks times are really hard and you may starve, so your metabolism slows down, and it holds on to any fat you have—particularly in your abdomen which has more cortisol receptors.
In addition, if you happen to have impaired digestion too, this only complicates things. If you aren’t digesting your food well, this raises cortisol levels, thereby raising your blood glucose (blood sugar levels).
It’s a vicious cycle.
A key to a healthy body (that you can feel confident in) often times boils down to the simplicity of addressing stress.
How to stress less?
Make a list of your top 3-5 stressors–areas of your life and lifestyle that have you (and your body) out of sorts (such as: lack of sleep, impaired digestion, chronic cardio, complicated relationships, job stress, saying “Yes” to everything).
From there, begin by picking ONE of these areas to focus on, and think up at least 2-3 actionable ways you can begin to eliminate that stress (such as: “I will go to be 30-minutes earlier every night this week”; OR “I will replace 2 intense cardio sessions with one group fitness class instead that helps me reign in my knack to kick my own butt on that StairMaster and over do it”).
You’ll find that often times, it’s the littlest things that can make a BIG difference.
Turn off or un-follow the people and feeds on Instagram and Facebook who are constantly forcing you to compare yourself (often times unbeknownst to you in the moment). What we see and choose to read, watch and consume on a daily basis impacts our minds (subconsciously) more than we think. While the magazines and movies get a lot of flack for causing this “body image war” we as women face, much more common today is the comparison we have with other girls and women in our OWN SPHERE of influence and our own realities. Think about ALL THE TIME you spend on social media, OR simply reading, thinking and overanalyzing food, fitness, body image, appearance? Really think about it…it’s a time SUCK!!! What could you do in your life with all that energy and time you give to reading magazine articles on how to whittle your middle, calculating your calories in My Fitness Pal, planning out your meals for the day or week, thinking about your next workout, etc. Food and fitness can be wonderful things–but they are simply mediums for helping us thrive in our own lives (outside the gym and the kitchen). (P.S. I recently stumbled upon this blog called “Compared To Who“. You’ve got to check out: All about breaking free from our striving to compare ourselves to others).
Get it? Got it? Good.
Here’s to your bikini body—inside and out.
Keep up over the next few weeks as we explore more tips and tricks for developing a bikini body AND mind.
Got questions or comments? Don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail:[email protected].