I am the kind of person who likes to see results right away, otherwise I feel like that 1 whole hour of hard work is not paying off. I blame it on being a Generation X’er. I’ve tried to dismiss that mindset throughout my wellness journey and more importantly over these past 2 weeks. About a month ago I hit a wall. To change this feeling of not moving forward, I’ve made it a point to focus on a new regiment, eat when I’m hungry, snack on healthy stuff when i’m not so hungry, and not beat myself up if the scale fluctuates. I also recently joined an affordable 24 hour privately owned gym, Urge Fitness, 3 blocks from my house with state of the art equipment and unlimited classes so there is NO EXCUSE not to work out!
I’ve been focusing on my core/abs in addition to lifting weights regularly again. Historically, I’m the worst at regularly working my core area even though it’s the most important area to focus on and strengthen. I usually bitch and moan and complain to anyone trying to help me, saying that it’s too difficult, it hurts my back, and I don’t want to “bulk up” my middle. I realized today that those were pretty lame excuses to not work hard and in fact, my back has never felt better. This is a pretty sad realization since I’ve always known that a strong core helps alleviate back pain and help with posture. I was just too lazy and too impatient to put in the time. In addition, over these past weeks my abs and other core muscles have never felt stronger which is surprisingly a more rewarding feeling than slimming down my mid section. Who knew!??
I’ve focused on very basic core/ab exercises (crunches, side reach heel touches, lower abdominal leg lifts, kettle bell swings) in preparation for the hard “core” techniques of today (bridges, planks, twists, thrusts!). I only recently started doing kettle bell swings (pictured below) which have become my new obsession. I feel they have made a HUGE difference in my overall strength and I use a very low weight kettle bell. Just look at all the muscles one single exercise can help strengthen!
If you google “Core Exercises” a slew of results pop up. I’m still not at the point where I can hold a plank or bridge for 30 seconds, but I have finally attempted to at least try. That is a HUGE deal for me! After laying the ground work with beginner exercises, I finally feel well prepared to start trying more intense core techniques. Core exercises are very intimidating to a larger woman like myself who has a lot more weight to hold up than the average sized human. I’ve set a goal for myself to be able to hold a plank (without and then with arm raise) or lateral bridge for more than 2.3 seconds over the next couple of weeks. Not so surprisingly, I can rock the Glute Bridge like no other. I will then add different intense core exercises over the course of the next couple of months.
For me, 2 weeks seems to be the point of clarity. When I stick to a routine for at least that amount of time, I can start to see and/or feel small results that make me feel like the sweat, pain, and frustration over the past weeks wasn’t for naught. In addition to my lower back pain being practically nonexistent due to my core work and religious stretching routine, I’ve felt my muscles responding to the weight training. I feel stronger, I feel definition, and I feel that the weight I’ve gained is healthy and not worth getting depressed about when the scale numbers creep upward.
If you have lower back pain and it’s not due to a bulging disc or any other medical condition (as always check with your health care physician) take a gander at these Princeton University Athletic Medicine exercises and stretches. I plan to try some new techniques and the page categorize them ranging from easy/medium/difficult. I also came across core exercises geared specifically towards runners and thought it could be of use to some of my friends and followers.
All this being said, I do not want a 6-pack. I do not want to look like a body builder. I just want to feel strong and healthy and fill out a nice pair of jeans.