belly fat

Get Abs by Summer!

Want abs by Summer?  You better get working! Here are some important things to keep in mind when working toward your goal of having summer abs.

#1:  Abs are made in the kitchen. Because no matter how big your muscles are, you won't be able to see them if they are insulated in a thick layer of fat. 

#2: Your abs consist of the entire core. Doing 100 crunches every day will get you abs just as fast as flapping your arms really really fast will get you to fly. 

#3: Just like any muscle, your abs need focus and attention.  Doing a few sit-ups for a week and expecting to have a six pack all summer from this minimal effort is akin to making a wish. 

#4:   Your core should be a part of every workout you do. Most people should do at least 3 cardio-centric and 3 strength training centric workouts a week. All of them should include a focus on improving your core strength and stability. 

#5:  Plank holds. Do them. Love them. Master them. This works the entire core (plus pretty much everything else). 

#6:   Abs are made in the kitchen (Deja Vu?). The fact is that there is one hormone in your body that tells your body to store fat, this is insulin. So foods and drink that spike your blood sugar also spike your insulin. Stick with foods that are low on the glycemic scale, proteins, healthy fats and leafy greens. Complex carbohydrates such as root vegetables and legumes should be limited, but because of the high fiber, are usually ok on the glycemic scale. Having two cups of fruit in a sitting may seem healthy....but I am sorry to report most fruits contain just as much fructose as a candy bar, so that means your insulin will be telling your body to store fat. Minimize fruit and stick to small servings of berries if you really want fruit. Sticking to a low glycemic index diet will keep those insulin levels low and in turn, your body will be happily burning fat for energy. Your visceral fat (which is normally the fat that is around your middle) will be the first to burn away and before you know it, you are going to see those abs make an appearance! 

Copyright Fire Team Whiskey 2018. All rights reserved. 

So you think you can "target burn" fat?

Many people think that doing more exercises in a specific area will burn the fat in that area. This is not how the body works. Sure, doing a million crunches will help you burn calories, which can, in turn, lead to burning of body fat, but the body doesn't just burn body fat in a specific area. We all have the genetics to blame for a tendency to accumulate more body fat in certain areas of the body, and there is no way to exercise that specific area away. 

The best approach is to do the things you need to do to have the body start using body fat stores as energy. This will not only reduce stubborn belly fat, but also reduce body fat in every area of the body (even the fat you can’t see that is the most dangerous kind of fat, visceral fat, which greatly increases your risk for dangerous health conditions). Here are three tips for getting your body to effectively and consistently burn body fat. 

#1: Track your food.  The biggest mistake people make is not tracking what they are consuming every day. Research shows that people greatly underestimate their calorie consumption if they are "just winging it".  There are a ton of apps you can download to your phone and easily and quickly track what you consume on a daily basis. The app should give you a range of suggested daily calorie consumption based on your goals. As a trainer, I suggest that you also track your macros (percentage of protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and keep your daily carbohydrate percentage under 30%. This will keep your insulin levels lower, thus sending the signal to your body to burn fat for energy. This leads to the next tip.

#2:  The only hormone in your body that tells your body to store fat is insulin. Most Americans daily food consumption keeps insulin levels high (a diet comprised mostly of carbs). Think of it like this…you want your body to stop “hearing” the message from insulin to store fat. This means you have to stop insulin form talking to your body. This means you have to stop inviting insulin into your body. Shifting your diet to consuming protien and healthy fats and very little carbs keep the gag on that chatty insulin. The more time you spend without high levels of insulin in your body, the more time your body is spending time in fat burning mode. So you think snatching a candy from your workmate’s candy jar 6 times a day in harmless? Think again….each time you spike that insulin, it can take up to 2 hours for the insulin levels to lower. If you do this 6 times a day times 2 hours, you are spending 12 hours of the day in fat storage mode. Point made.

#3:  Work smarter not harder. As a former endurance athlete, I can attest to spending a ridiculous amount of time each week working out. And I can attest to the fact that my body fat levels did not reflect those hours. I was like many of you thinking the more time I spent in the gym, the more calories I would burn. This is has been by science. A major study research study released in 2017 determined that  humans burn about the same number of calories regardless of activity level.  In other words, exercising more does not significantly increase your daily calorie burn. The body is very good at adjusting and preserving energy. So bottom line is, if you are relying on exercise to “make up for” poor nutritional choices, you are out of luck. Yes, exercise is very important for overall health and does help improve important things related to weight loss, like insulin resistance, metabolic rate and body composition, but it will not be the factor to make you lose a lot of body fat. The only way to do this is with nutrition. You may be feeling very defeated about this news, but I see it as a positive. This means you don’t have to spend hours in the gym! You don’t even have to go to a gym. My rule of thumb is to do something active every day for at least 30 minutes and ensure I am getting some sort of strength training at least 2 days a week. Not because I am relying on it to lose weight, but for the health benefits that come with exercise. So if you hate the gym, that’s ok. Go for a long walk. Try something new like a ballroom dancing class, an indoor rock climbing gym, or try that pole dancing fitness place. Whatever floats your boat and makes you sweat for at least 30 minutes, do it!

© Fire Team Whiskey, LLC, 2018, All Rights Reserved. 



#1: Eat, don't drink your calories. Most people needing to lose weight consume a significant portion of their daily calories in their beverages. Let's look at an example day:  

  • 6:00 am: Venti Mocha:  380 Calories
  • 7:30 am: Breakfast: 8-ounce cup of orange juice: 110 Calories
  • 12:00 am: Lunch: 12-ounce Sweet Tea: 70 calories
  • 2:00 pm: Afternoon slump coffee with 4 TBS of  flavored creamer: 140 calories
  • 6:30 pm: 2 8-ounce glasses of red wine with dinner: 386 Calories 

Total beverage calories for the day:  1,086!!!!  This should be convincing enough to say bye-bye to belly busting beverages. 

#2:  The best quote I ever heard from another fitness professional was "If it had a life, you can eat it. If it didn't, it's not food and you shouldn't be eating it." This is a fantastic principal to live by in order to ensure you are only eating whole, real foods. Whole real foods tend to have less calories and no added sugars compared to their processed counterparts. Did that candy bar have a life? No, there are not candy bar farms out there with candy bars grazing in pastures awaiting to be on your dinner plate. Vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, fish, whole-unprocessed grains, beans, and nuts were living and may still be up until the moment you eat them! 

#3:  Failure to plan is planning to fail. I have been in the health business for 18 years and the #1 reason for a person's failure to attain their goals is that they set themselves up for failure. So many people want behavior change to magically happen. They have a real hard time understanding that they are the Captain of their own ship. If it runs into the ground, there was only one person steering that boat! If your goal is to reduce your calories by 500 every day, then plan out every single calorie. That way you are guaranteed to achieve that daily goal. Saying you will "just wing it" or  I will just "watch what I eat" is certainly a plan. A plan to fail. So let's just be honest and instead say, "I am not willing to put in the extra effort and work at this time in order for me to attain this goal" and leave it at that. 

#4: Sugar. Sugar. Sugar.  Nothing is more detrimental to your weight loss goals than sugar. Food producers are very good at adding and hiding sugars in products that you would otherwise never expect to see sugar. Have you looked at the ingredients in your favorite salad dressings, marinara, and bread. I bet they all have added sugar. The bottom line is that sugar triggers a hormonal process in your body that tells your body to store fat. As we get older, those cumulative effects are worse and worse. Let's say you were born before the internet and cell phones. You probably have already noticed that you cannot eat the things you used to eat and not gain a pound. For most of us, if we ate like were in our 20s again, we would probably gain 50 pounds in a year. This is because of something called insulin resistance, which sugar and yes, carbohydrates are the primary culprits. Try an experiment. Go 2 weeks without eating anything with added sugar. First of all you will realize how addictive the stuff is because you will most likely want to murder someone for a jelly bean about 2 days in. After the 2 weeks evaluate how you feel. I bet you notice you are sleeping better, your skin looks clearer and healthier, you may even notice your pants feeling a bit looser.

#5: Let's talk shit. Literally. Many people's inability to lose weight is found in their gut. More and more research is coming out every day about how important our bowel health is and sadly, most people abuse their gut! Think of your bowel as a very sensitive garden. You need to make sure its appropriately watered (hydration), fed the right foods (non-inflammatory foods that move well through the bowel), and manage those pests (bad bacteria can overgrow like weeds and wreak all sorts of havoc and good bacteria can die off from starvation or medications that made them die). Just like a garden, you must put time and effort into managing your gut health. Start with taking a probiotic every day. Also eat foods that grow good bacteria very well like onions, garlic, live culture yogurt or Keifer, kimchi, fermented vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. 


© Fire Team Whiskey, LLC, 2018, All Rights Reserved