Ask Jen

Shape (Malaysia) - - Contents -

I was ex­cited to get this ques­tion on my In­sta­gram, but it re­ally de­serves a deeper dive here. We of­ten over­look the im­por­tance of tak­ing a more holis­tic ap­proach to los­ing ab fat rather than solely track­ing calo­ries in and out. In fact, fo­cus­ing more on your hap­pi­ness can be just as key to achiev­ing a health­ier waist­line.

Stress arises in our lives pretty reg­u­larly, and it’s the X fac­tor that can (and will!) man­i­fest it­self in your body in var­i­ous ways. For one, it can lead to higher lev­els of the hor­mone cor­ti­sol, which en­cour­ages the body to park fat in the ab­dom­i­nal area— de­spite your ef­forts in the gym and the kitchen.

But don’t fret! How we han­dle, process, and move through stress can make all the dif­fer­ence. It’s about find­ing the calm­ing re­set but­ton your body will re­spond to. One tech­nique to feel im­me­di­ate calm is to switch off what­ever de­vice is in front of you for two quiet min­utes. You can also build re­set time into your day, so you know you’ll have a re­lease wait­ing for you, like a kick­box­ing class. My key stress re­liever has be­come nest­ing my home and work space. I get or­gan­ised, cre­ate ac­tual phys­i­cal space by de­clut­ter­ing, and write to-do lists.

Your hap­pi­ness is tied deeply to your health, so con­sider those ev­ery­day re­sets as im­por­tant as do­ing your work­out.

I’m very lean, but I can’t get rid of that lower-belly pooch. How do I get it gone?

Do­ing HIIT can burn off fat more ef­fi­ciently than steady car­dio, but also make sure you’re work­ing those four to six inches of mus­cle be­low your belly but­ton to firm and tighten the foun­da­tion be­neath that so-called pooch. My go-to moves are low-leg scoops (sit at the end of a bench, knees bent in to chest in table­top po­si­tion; scoop legs in a down­ward mo­tion, then cir­cle them back to table­top) and con­trolled can­dle­sticks (ly­ing faceup on a bench with hands grip­ping the bench be­hind your head and legs ex­tended straight up, lift and lower hips off the bench).

Jen Widerstrom, your monthly get-fit mo­ti­va­tor, is a mem­ber of the Shape Brain Trust, a fit­ness ex­pert, a life coach, and the best-selling au­thor of Diet Right for Your Per­son­al­ity Type.

CHANGE YOUR VENUE Walk out­side for five min­utes to put some men­tal dis­tance be­tween you and what’s stress­ing you.

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