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The Crisis of Enablers

Q

"Hello! How do I get rock hard abs when my wife keeps feeding me such tasty (and unhealthy) food all the time?

- Jamie F."

A

You are preaching to the choir buddy. If it is not the wife doing it, then it is often your girlfriend, your mother, your mother-in-law, or even your grandmother - they all seem to want to 'fatten you up' on purpose, as if that would somehow be healthier in their mind's eye.

There are a number of ways you can get those "rock hard abs" you are dreaming of, but it is going to require a lot of work, a great deal of self-control, and a few dieting tips never hurt either.

Here are some tips that will help you.

Healthy Diet Vs The Enabler Spouse

#1a. If your spouse is spoon feeding you things you know to be unhealthy start limiting your portion sizes. Yes, okay, eat some of their cooking - it tastes good and it is polite - but don't pig out on it. Same thing goes for anything being pushed at you from in-laws.

Case in Point - This past weekend I went to Catholic baptism and the party afterwards - which had a great deal of food. One of the relatives apparently thought I needed more food and brought me not 1, but 2 beers to quench my thirst - and he brought me an extra helping of pasta without me asking for it. I did eat the pasta, but I did not finish my rice or the beef patty. In this case not finishing my plate basically signaled that I did not want any more - he did try and come back offer me more food, but I had the unfinished food still on my plate so I had a valid excuse for not accepting his ever generous offer of fattening me up.

#1b. So take that as a lesson. If you don't finish your plate it will be easier to limit how much you are eating when people try to give you more.

#2a. Eat when you are hungry and do not eat when you are not hungry. This is an easy one to follow, in theory. The problem however is that many people have a tendency to crave snacks when they are bored. I am craving a snack right now while I am writing this, but I have the smarts to realize that I have spicy kimchi in the house. So I eat something spicy and suddenly I don't want to eat any more. Instead now I feel thirsty. And once I have drank something, I don't feel hungry any more.

#2b. Spicy snacks are good - especially healthy spicy snacks. However filling up with water and spicy food is not always a solution. But healthy snacks in general make a great solution.

#2c. Thus if your spouse is pushing a snack towards you and it is a healthy one - and you are hungry - then go ahead and eat it. If it is an unhealthy snack then try a small portion of it, provided you are hungry currently. If you are not hungry then say so. "I am not hungry right now." Easy. Their feelings will not be as hurt as you might think they are.

#3. Know what you are eating. Know your enemy. If it tastes good, find out what is actually in it so you have a better idea of how healthy or unhealthy it is. Vegetables or fruits, it is probably healthy. If it is covered in sauce, gravy, sugar-coated or syrup then it is probably unhealthy. Knowing what things are good for you and what things are bad is half the battle.

Exercising to get those "Rock Hard Abs"

#4. Don't do ab exercises if you cannot even see your abs under a layer of fat. Why? You will be basically wasting your time doing weightlifting exercises to build muscle, when what you really need to be doing is cardio exercises in order to shed fat off your entire body. You cannot lose fat through "spot treatment". Spot treatment works for building muscle, it does absolutely nothing for losing fat. If you want to lose fat, then you need to be doing cardio exercises.

#5. When it comes to cardio exercises the more intense, the longer the duration, the better they will be at shedding fat from your body. It is really all about burning as many calories as you can during your workout period - and the longer your workout is, the more intense it is, then obviously you will be burning way more calories. Thus running burns more calories than jogging, but if you can only run for short periods of time then jogging can actually burn more because you can jog for longer distances and longer periods of time because of the sheer length of time. Running for 3 minutes vs jogging for 10 minutes, which do you think burns more calories? The answer is jogging. So imagine how much more you will burn if you jog for 57 minutes and the sprint for the last 3 minutes?

#6. Learn how to alternate high intensity exercises with low intensity exercises. This is actually really simply. Walk for 3 minutes, run for 1 minute, walk for 3 minutes, run for 1 minute, continue doing this for 60 minutes total. What is the benefit of this? It boosts your heart rate dramatically and gets the Afterburn Effect going. If you can trigger the Afterburn Effect you can burn double the fat for your efforts. Your metabolic rate goes up, you feel energized, your body starts burning fat stores like crazy, you don't feel hungry as much. This is a great way to burn fat in a hurry.

#7. Pick cardio exercises that you love doing. eg. If you love bicycling, then you need to be doing that more often. Every day if you can. Find exercises that you love to do and then keep doing them as often as possible. For me, my favourites are archery, boxing and swimming. And in the winter I also enjoy ice skating. But for you? What are your favourites?

Sometimes the Biggest Enabler is YOU

#8. Learn to control your own cravings. Sometimes it is not the spouse or significant other or relative who shoveling food in your direction. Sometimes it is you that has lost control. This means you need to control your own cravings, learn to measure your intake of food - and learn to make smarter choices with what you are eating.

The real trick here is realizing that you have self-control and that it is not the cravings that control you. It is you who makes the mistakes of giving in to your cravings. You still have control, but many of us choose not to exercise that control. It is not like the bacon has you in an arm lock and is forcing you to eat the bacon. You can choose not to - and you can also choose to eat 2 or 3 pieces and then stop at that small portion instead of eating the entire package of bacon.

#9. When faced with a enabling crisis (whether you are doing it or someone is giving it to you) what you need to do is ask yourself what do you want more? That pound of crispy bacon stacked high between two slices of bread, in what is an unholy combo of carbs and grease? Or that body you've been wishing you had but have always lacked the willpower to go after it? You can choose to eat smaller portions, you can choose to exercise more, you can choose to make lifestyle changes - permanent ones - that ultimately benefit you in your goal. It is a choice.

#10. Don't blame others for your downfall. Nobody is force feeding you. Yes, there are family members and friends who act as 'agents of enabling', but they are not forcing you to eat the things placed in front of you. You choose to do that of your own free will.

Blaming them is just an excuse. You need to take responsibility for your own actions and then act accordingly. You are not overweight because someone else is forcing you to eat and not exercise enough. You are overweight because you make a choice to eat too much and then not exercise enough to burn off the extra calories.

And burning extra calories takes extra work.

Take responsibility.

Do the work.

Eat small portions.

Stick with it for longer periods of time.

Don't give up easily just because the process is more difficult than you thought it would be.

Find ways to make exercising fun.

Stop worrying about the food your family members or friends push in front of you. If you make the effort, you can eat healthy, lose the fat, and achieve real change.

And then once you can actually see your abs then you know you are ready to do ab exercises to make them stronger and "rock hard".

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