Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Ask for Christmas Abs

An idea recently settled on my mind - an idea that must've blown in on the first chill breeze of autumn. This idea jostled about my brain for a few days, and then blindsided my consciousness like a ninja saddled to a seeing-eye dog.

The idea is simple: the perfect Christmas gift is a set of abdominal muscles that you can take home with you after the holidays. The best scenario would be to have that gift on Christmas Day, there hiding under your clumpy sweater... before the presents are even opened. In this case, your New Year's resolution wouldn't be to "lose weight," it would be to "maintain the health level I accumulated through the end of last year." Goals you say? Golly!

Sure, I could give this gift to myself, but that would be about as fun as calling Santa for phone sex. Instead, I think I'll give it to a few people around me, and hope that one of them gives it back. If not, I'll give them dead puppies for Christmas to go along with that flexing armadillo under their ribcage.

I think the best way to give this gift is as a loose collection of constraints that slowly tightens around the waist as Holiday chimes draw nigh:
  1. No TV during daylight hours. This is one constraint that will actually loosen. As daylight hours lessen, you'll find this rule easier to follow. Of course, by then, you might have enough of a routine established with any of the following alternative activities that you may not have time for TV.

    Alternative Activities: Walk the dog (yo-yo or bark-bark). Read a book. Write a letter to an old friend. Attend a free class online. Watch a TED talk. Bite a few bulletpoints off that bucket list. Scrabble. Scrobble. Scribble.

  2. Make your own lunch 4 days a week. If you forget to pack, hit up Subway for $5 footlongs. Use the money you save to buy something health related (pedometer, Groupon exercise class, massage).
  3. Don't sit down, sit up. Move every 30 minutes. Sitting is for babies and their sitters. If you sit at a desk all day, feast on this. Start with 20 minutes of abdominal exercises a week. Increase as it becomes easier. Exercises are included below.
  4. Walk or run ~3 miles 5 days a week. On days when you end up moving a lot throughout the course of the day, a short walk should suffice. If you were more sedentary, go for a jog or a take a longer walk. 
  5. Feed with intent. No one else is to blame for what you put in your body. Unless you are a 2-year-old with a craving for blended peas, you should take a few minutes everyday to tell yourself "I choose what, when, and how much I eat. No one forces food down my throat." I find it inwardly amusing and socially grating when someone who has just inhaled their food needs to seek out others to point out that they haven't cleaned their plates or that it looks like they are "struggling to finish." As I said, you choose what, when, and how much to eat; no one else.
  6. Feed to your need. If your are eating for longevity, health, and maintenance, 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat should be just fine. For steady weight loss, increase the amount of protein by stealing some percentage from carbohydrates. It should be noted that consumed carbs should be free of trans fats and processed as little as possible. No sodas, juices, flavored chips, crap snacks... you know the drill. I and others have had moderate to great success using a 4-Hour Body style diet; very high in protein 6 days a week, 1 "binge day" where anything goes and you are encouraged to overeat.
  7. When you do bad, do it all. Then erase. If you are going to have a binge day, try to fit all the stuff you wouldn't do outside of that day into that 24-hour time frame. If you are going to drink heavily, do it then. If you are going to snort cocoa powder, do it then. Whatever you do, don't bring it back into your living space. Externalize those actions and material needs and cravings, internalize the great stuff during the rest of the week. Do everything with intent.

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