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Today in Health & Wellness
FITNESS AND FUEL

Bridget Jones Diary: How Core Fitness Helped My Weight Loss Journey

By: Kristine San Miguel, MDBridget Jones Diary: How Core Fitness Helped My Weight Loss Journey

At the start of the New Year, 33-year-old Bridget decides to take control of her life – and start keeping a health diary.

When hormonal imbalance affected my weight and overall health amid the stressful workplace environment, I turned to core workouts to prevent further complexities to my physical state. Being overweight is constantly challenging because you have to understand the kinds of workout in relations to the size of your body in order to achieve your weight loss goals. What's even more difficult is the fact that the extra pounds stored within your body will lessen your strength because your muscles can only do as much as they are required to do.

At the beginning of my weight loss journey, I suffered more than a hundred injuries when I fell due to insufficient physical power and energy. My torso could barely handle my overall weight and it was during one of those workouts that I realized something was wrong. I knew I had to focus on building my upper body without neglecting any part of it in order to sustain an hour or two of working out.

More than the weight loss program itself, my focus was diverted towards strengthening my core. My jogging buddy told me that core exercises train the muscles of the pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen to work in harmony. It is also a good way to save money as it does not require any specialized equipment or a gym membership. As I read, I found out that with core strengthening exercises.

  • I will be a better runner. One study showed that athletes running 5,000 meters ran faster by 30% after six weeks of core strength training.
  • I can avoid injury. A physical therapist says that even though it seems like these activities are all about arm and shoulder strength, a strong core prevents these other muscles from straining.
  • I will achieve balance.  Core muscles support the alignment, which enhances one’s ability to perform everyday tasks—like crossing the slippery street wipe-out free—as well as more intense ones, like rock climbing and Pilates.
  • I will improve my breathing.  A recent study found that breathing from your diaphragm promotes relaxation and reduces stress. After athletes completed an intense workout followed by one hour of relaxing breathing, they had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • I will have better digestion. A yoga instructor told me that gaining flexibility along with my stability in the abs, back, and spine will refresh and rejuvenate the systems that help optimize metabolism, cleansing, nutrition, hormonal balance, and keep me looking and feeling your absolute best.
  • I will have fewer health problems. Though most belly fat is found right beneath the layer of skin, about 10 percent of the fat (visceral fat) settles in between the abdominal wall and organs like the liver and intestines. An excess of this fat can lead to tons of problems—from heart issues to dementia to breast cancer.
  • I will have better posture. Good posture helps preserve joints by holding the body in the least stressful positions. Mixing core exercises with a regular strength routine will have the best effect.

Learning from all of this, I now know that achieving a healthy upper body would mean building some better means towards losing weight. My original plan was to alternate core and cardio exercise to ease the process but eventually decided to focus on the core first. The whole idea of gaining balance and firmness led me to start with the generic core exercises mainly crunches and sit-ups. Since I opted to exercise at home, I did a series of abdominal floor crunches alternating them with torso twisting sit-ups for 20 minutes with a 5-minute interval in between execution. I, then, continued for another 20-minute abdominal floor crunches using exercise ball interspersed with bicycle crunches. In doing such, I never forgot to give myself a 5-minute break to let my muscles rest.  

Two weeks into the core workouts, I noticed how my upper body improved its strength. I also observed the significant difference in my agility in terms of performance. Remaining true to its meaning, core workouts preceded my weight loss journey and prepared me to the tougher cardio exercise.

On the third week of my slimming training, I slowly incorporated cardio workouts like jumping jacks and high incline treadmill running to the usual core exercises. The objective was to step up the stamina and burn more calories. The theory of executing core workouts before incorporating them with cardio exercises helped me build up more energy because the upper body already gained strength, thus, making the weight loss process easier.

Moreover, I realized that the outcome of my core training was determined by the level of determination and persistence I put into it. Remember that there are no shortcuts to success and it doesn't happen overnight, either. So, train more and push harder until you get better through it all.

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