Healthy Living with Jilisa Ghareeb: Whittle Your Middle

STOP what you are doing and give me 20 crunches. Now stand up and check the mirror, do you have 6 pack abs yet? Didn’t think so. Honestly even if you did crunches every day for a month, you wouldn’t have that washboard stomach.  You might whittle your middle a little, but not as much as you think (or want).  If you want a flat tummy or 6 pack abs you are going to have to spend 70-80% of your time in the kitchen.

Quick go check way in the back of the pantry or maybe in the bottom of the deep freeze, I swear that is where they are!  On your way toss out the processed high sugar foods, pop, and a whole lot of other items.  The ab reveal happens in the kitchen, but you will also need to spend time in the gym.

There are a few layers to your abs and most people only pay attention to the top layer, which is the rectus abdominis (the 6 pack show muscles).  The other layer that you can see is the external abdominal oblique (those are to the left and right of the 6 pack).  The 2 other layers are the internal abdominal oblique and the transverse abdominis.   The show muscles are the muscle that people tend to focus on but more importantly you need to be working on the go muscles.

I have always wanted 6 pack abs and I have always been under the impression that I could just crunch my way there.  It wasn’t until about 4-5 years ago that I learned what I needed to do to get them (if you know me you can obviously see that it is a work in progress).  And it wasn’t until very recently that I learned that I shouldn’t be solely focusing on my show muscles but on my go muscles and that it is way more than just the ab muscles.

The go muscles that I am talking about are your core.  The part of your body that keeps you standing, walking, and sitting, but also plays a big part in your stability and balance.   These muscles include not only the 4 abs I mentioned above but also your lats, paraspinal muscles, hip flexors, and glutes.  Whoa baby!  That is a lot of muscles to work on and I am here to tell you that it is not going to happen overnight.   Let’s talk about these muscles for a moment. Your lats start at the underside of your arm and wrap down under your shoulder blade.  Your paraspinal (or thoracic) muscles are on your backside and run from up in your neck all the way down to the bottom of your spine.  Your hip flexors are on your front side, and you can feel them at the top of your hips.  Last and certainly not least are your glutes. I am sure you know where those are.

There are exercises you can do to work these specific muscles, but your best bet is to follow a program that includes total body moves and incorporates weights.  Also including stretching, mobility, stability, and flexibility moves.  And one of the most important tools you will need…TIME!

Is there anything wrong with working to reveal those show muscles?  Of course not, because even by doing that you will inadvertently work on the go muscles.  If you are going to put in the work to do that you might as well as move a little of that focus to the go muscles. And I believe that the most effective way that you are going to be able to get those and show them off is by what you eat.  You must eat on a nutrition plan that minimizes inflammation and bloat, which means little to no processed foods and sugar and lots more whole foods, good clean protein, and healthy fats. Remember that abs are created in the gym but revealed in the kitchen.  Let’s head to the kitchen and make a delicious yet simple meal.

Tacos or a taco bowl are probably my most favorite food of all time.   A handful of years ago I would load up on the cheese and sour cream.  My tacos now don’t even have those 2 toppings.  I discovered that I don’t even need the taco meat.  The flavor comes from the seasonings.  Give this simple recipe a try and let me know what you think.

¼ medium mashed or sliced avocado
2 tbsp fresh pico de gallo (or clean fresh salsa)
1 ¼ cup black beans and rice (or pinto beans and rice) see recipe below (super simple)
¼ cup cooked corn kernels
1 small corn tortilla or mixed greens

Assemble the ingredients anyway you see fit.    I like to add mine to a plate of mixed greens.

For the beans and rice:
½ can black or pinto beans, drained
¼ tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 dash ground chili powder
1 pinch ground cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Bragg liquid Aminos or Himalayan salt (to taste)
¾-1 cup rice (brown, jasmine, or basmati) (cooked to your liking)

Minus the rice place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat through.  Fold in the rice.

Besides working hard in the kitchen, add this move to your repertoire and work all those core muscles.

There are many ways to do a plank.  I suggest the modified version if you are new to this move. Start with your knees on the ground and make sure your wrists line up with your shoulders.  You want your spine in a straight line.  If you feel good and stable in the position, try lifting your knees off the ground, remembering to keep a straight line.  Keep your neck in a neutral position, do not tuck your chin to your chest.   Work your way up to holding that plank for 1 minute.

Considering trying the side plank to work your obliques even more.  Again, keep your knee on the ground if you are just beginning.   Keeping the spine in a straight line and not falling into your shoulder.   Work your way up to 1 minute on each side.

Jilisa Ghareeb has been a Beachbody coach for 6 years.  Her favorite part of being involved with fitness and nutrition is watching her clients change and open up a whole new world.  As a coach, she is able to help others by introducing them to a change that is often scary, intimidating, and full of “what ifs” to an encouraging and inspirational lifestyle full of “I cans”. She uses her own story to show others that everything is possible with hard work and determination.  If you’re interested in reaching out to Jilisa for more information you can contact her via email, on Instagram, or Facebook.


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