Finding Fitness – “Sucking it in” Not just for Skinny Jeans!

For the last few months I’ve been mulling around the idea of sharing a little bit more about the health and fitness journey I’ve been on for the last 3 years.  It’s a journey that’s become a HUGE part of my life and the life of my family, and it’s something I’m daily growing more passionate about!

Last week I decided to throw it into the “world” of Facebook and see what you all had to say.  Not only am I thinking of sharing the journey but also some of the great things I’ve learned along the way.  I wanted to know, do you all care as much about this as I do?

Apparently you do!  It was a unanimous “YES” you wanted to hear/read it and I couldn’t be more excited!  How often/much I post will depend on the response I get from you on the posts.  I need to know if you like what you’re reading, if you want more/less of some information and what you think in general.  I spend hours reading through studies and books, trying workouts and gathering information.  It makes me happy, it keeps us ALL healthy and it’s one more thing I can do for my family and you!

So, without further adieu here’s the first of hopefully many health/fitness posts!

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How many times have you stood in front of the mirror “Sucking in” your belly?  Or tried to fit into your skinny jeans or the ones “someone” was trying to “help” wash that ended up in the dryer and are now like 42 sizes too tight?  How many times have you sucked it in, because you wanted to see if you got it in far enough your boobs would look bigger?  Never?  Oh, so that’s just me.

How many times have you done it for health purposes?

Believe it or not there are a great many other reasons to keep your belly pulled in tight (aka: engage your core) that have nothing to do with looking “skinnier”**.  These reasons are far more important that our outward appearance.

Before we get to the reasons to hold your tummy in, let’s practice doing it!

The Right Way: The easiest way to begin is standing up – so get up.  Now that you’re standing think about your belly button, slowly and with purpose try to draw your belly button up and back towards your spin.  The muscles in your core will automatically contract pulling your back up a little straighter.  You should be able to hold them tight and still breathe normally.  Voila, your core is engaged! 

TAKE HEART – this takes practice!

The Wrong Way: Still standing, you take a deep breath, suck your stomach in as hard as you can, all while holding your breath and trying to ignore the white lights now flashing in your eyes!  Push it out and BREATHE for heaven’s sake!

Ok, so now you’ve figured out the how, let’s get to the why we need to keep our core engaged ALL of the time!

Reason #1: Every movement you make involves your core! I’m totally not kidding!  Our core muscles are not just the 6 pack of abs we want desperately see on the front of our bodies!  Our core muscles run from the bottom of our ribs down to the tops of our thighs on the front and from our mid to lower back.   Every movement you make in your day from sitting up in bed to shoulder checking in your car involves your core.

Engaging your core muscles all of the time means you’re turning every single movement of the day into a bonus workout!  I know right?!  You can work those muscles going shopping, playing with your kids or while watching TV, getting a slight toning benefit without even breaking a sweat! (this DOES NOT replace exercise, ever.  It’s just a bonus)

Reason #2: You’ll prevent lower back pain/injuryOne of the reasons people injure their lower back is due to improper movement and poor core strength.  When you hold your core muscles tight you’re automatically engaging the part of your core that wraps around your back and instantly gives you added protection.  It also forces you to move and function in a safer way.

Reason #3: Workouts are more effective
Remember how I said we use our core in every movement?  Well, that includes your workouts too!  Regardless of what exercise you are doing, you’ll get a better workout when your core muscles are engaged.  Running, hiking, skating all those use your core and keeping it engaged means it’s getting worked too.

This tip is particularly important when it comes to specific core exercises.  Many of those movements can be either unproductive or even dangerous if you aren’t properly holding your core in tight.  Make sure that you perform each movement with caution, precision and your core engaged to reap the best benefits!

Reason #4: Let’s face it, I wanna look good too!
Yes, I have superficial motivation too!  I’m no different than anyone else, I want to look as fit on the outside as I am on the inside and holding in my tummy muscles really helps do that.  An engaged core allows me to not only look fitter but it makes me stand taller, automatically makes me tip  my head up straight and gives me an air of confidence even when I don’t feel it on the inside!

Learning all of this was mind-blowing for me!  I couldn’t believe the difference I felt and saw in my body.  My Mom (who’s amazing) reminded me often of holding my muscles in my tummy tight as I grew up, always making sure to affirm that it was for posture sake and I’m SO thankful!

It was a habit I had but I had no idea how HUGE it was until a few years ago.  On top of that, the more I work, the strong my core becomes and better this habit feels!

Ok, so that’s it for my first tip!  Please, let me know what you think! (It won’t be such a long post next time, I promise.  Maybe)  Do you like it?  Do you disagree?  Do you want more?

**While my journey and much of what I’ve learned has to do with weight loss, that is NOT my main focus.  A fit body, a strong body, one where the insides are as sexy as the outsides is what I want and what I want to share with you.  “Skinny” is NOT the goal**

6 thoughts on “Finding Fitness – “Sucking it in” Not just for Skinny Jeans!

  1. Love love LOVE this post! I’m on a journey myself and down to the last 7 pounds. That being said, I’m getting to the point where instead of watching the scale I have been measuring body fat and inches.

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