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15 Lifestyle Weight Loss, Health And Fitness Tips

3 Jul

1. In the beginning, your fitness plan should not be overly aggressive.
One of the biggest problems most people encounter when starting a fitness program is rapidly depleted motivation after only a few weeks due to an overly ambitious fitness plan. Two days per week of 20-minute low-intensity cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, biking, swimming); and two days per week of 30-minute light resistance training (using weights or resistance machines) and one day stretching ( yoga or Pilates) is adequate in the beginning. As you become acclimated to the lifestyle “shift” you can add more days and get improved results. But beware: if you try to do too much too fast, you may end up quitting altogether. If you’ve tried and failed doing it alone, then I suggest you get a training partner or personal trainer who will help you sustain your motivation.
You must have tangible, quantifiable, short-term and long-term goals for your fitness program so you can gauge your progress. It’s crucial to have a “baseline” before you begin, so you can measure success. Your health club or personal trainer can give you a complete fitness analysis that will aid you or your trainer in developing a personalized fitness program which addresses your particular needs. Having goals, particularly short-term goals, allows you to track your progress and keep you motivated when times are tough and you don’t feel like exercising. Keeping a journal of your cardio and resistance training workouts, as well as tracking what you eat is truly a fitness success “secret.” Just remember that your goals should be realistic and attainable. The best way for you to understand what is realistic and attainable for you is to talk to a fitness professional.

2. If your goal is fat-loss, then your cardiovascular exercise should be interval intensity.
Your heart rate during cardio exercise should not exceed 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. The simple formula for calculating your 100% maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. If the intensity of your exercise increases your heart rate beyond 70% (which can occur very easily if you are in poor shape), you start shifting from using body fat as your energy source to relying on glucose metabolism. Your personal trainer can supply you with a simple heart rate monitor you can wear during exercise so you always stay in your peak fat-burning range.

3. Always, always, always stretch.
Stretching improves flexibility, blood flow, muscle recovery, low back pain and a host of other things. Additionally, stretching can prevent injury, make you sleep better and improve your performance in all sports. Always stretch, but be certain not to stretch cold muscles. You should always warm up before stretching. However, it is very important that you know how to stretch. Never bounce! Your personal trainer will show you the proper execution and timing of your stretches.

4. Set exercise appointments with yourself  and remember the benefits of exercise. Enjoy yourself.
Use your day-timer to set appointments for exercise – and then stick to them. You wouldn’t miss a business meeting or client appointment, would you? So don’t miss your exercise appointment with yourself. Nothing is more important than your health. Nothing. Everything else will crumble around you if your health goes south. So make your exercise appointments a priority. If you find it difficult to keep these appointments, then consider hiring a personal trainer who will hold you to your commitment. When you have money invested, and someone waiting for you to show up – you are much more likely to actually show up!

The most difficult thing is actually getting into your running shoes or going to the gym. But once you begin your work-out, relax and enjoy the process. Don’t fight it. Make exercise your personal time. When you are exercising you can focus completely on yourself. Yes, exercising can and should be somewhat rigorous (depending on your level of fitness), but it is just that investment which makes it supremely rewarding. As with anything, if you are in the moment, you can fully appreciate the experience and truly enjoy the proces

5. Exercise correctly.
So much time is wasted doing, at best, unproductive exercise, or at worst, dangerous exercise. Get educated on how to exercise correctly. And the absolute best way to do that is to hire a personal trainer to develop a program for you and then teach you what to do and how to do it right. Personal training does not have to be an ongoing process. You can hire a personal trainer for whatever length of time you need to learn the ropes. It could be five sessions, or it could be fifteen sessions. It’s completely up to you. But statistics prove that those who understand how to exercise correctly, get better, faster results. And that’s what you want, right? Results!
Never, ever do a traditional sit-up.
Unless you are super athlete with an incredibly well-developed midsection, sit-ups can lead to a strained lower back and possibly lumbar injuries. But it gets worse. Rather than hitting your abdominal section, sit-ups can shift exercise tension to your hip flexors – which defeats the purpose. There is so much misinformation about how to strengthen, tone and firm the midsection, it’s almost frightening. It is very difficult to learn proper abdominal exercise technique by reading about it or watching it demonstrated on a video. You need to do it with supervision and get feedback about your form from a knowledgeable source. And keep in mind that you use your abdominal muscles in almost every single movement you make. Strengthening your abdominal region is the single most effective way to prevent, or recover from, low back pain.

Don’t waste your time working small muscles with isolated movements.
If you don’t enjoy doing resistance training or are pressed for time, concentrate on working the largest muscle groups with compound resistance movements. When I see overweight people doing wrist curls or lateral raises, I wonder why. It’s generally just a lack of understanding of how their bodies work. Most people want to lose fat and tone and firm their bodies. The way to do that is to use resistance (weights or machines) to train the large muscle groups. Men should be concentrating on legs, chest and back. Women should concentrate more on their legs and back. The best exercises for legs are lunges or squats (your personal trainer will show you the proper form and then monitor you during the exercise) and leg press. The best chest exercise is bench press, and the best back exercise is the seated row. All of these are compound movements, which means they incorporate multiple muscle groups.

6. Deep-fried food and alcohol has no nutritional value – none!
Almost every food, whether it’s steak, chocolate or red wine, has some nutrients to contribute. But one thing is absolute: fried foods are garbage. Potato chips, French fries, onion rings, breaded chicken strips and all the rest of the deep-fried junk are pregnant with saturated fat and calories, and they contain almost zero nutritional value. If you’re trying to lose weight and/or reduce fat, simply eliminate fried foods completely from your diet. That stuff is scary. Alcohol is a same.
I’m not advocating the high protein, high saturated fat diet that you hear so much about (frankly, it’s dangerous). But I am advocating minimizing your intake of bread, pasta, rice, potato and of course, all sugary drinks. We are no longer an agrarian society participating in manual labor. Most of us are fairly sedentary throughout the day and therefore do not need the high levels of carbohydrates to sustain our energy. Additionally, carbohydrates are addictive. The more donuts you eat, the more you want. The bulk of your carbohydrates should come from vegetables and fruit. And those with high water content, such as cucumbers, grapefruit, tomatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries and even vegetable soups (watch out for high sodium), will fill you up nicely.

7. Never, ever skip breakfast.
If you want to maximize your fitness results or fat-loss efforts, you’ve got to eat breakfast. Even if you don’t exercise at all – breakfast remains the most important meal of the day. Your breakfast should contain complete proteins and complex carbohydrates (if you’re trying to lose weight, you should eat the bulk of your complex carbohydrates at breakfast and lunch and only have vegetable carbohydrates at dinner). A great breakfast is oatmeal drink from my FusemeAll diet menu with a little honey and banana and added protein . Or try scrambled egg whites with turkey sausage.

8. Eat fat to lose fat.
Healthy fats are necessary to your body for a bunch of reasons: regulating hormonal production, improving immune function, lowering total cholesterol, lubricating joints, and providing the basics for healthy hair, nails and skin. The singular distinction you must be aware of is the difference between healthy “good” fats, and dangerous “bad” fats. Good fats are monounsaturated fats like olive, peanut and canola oil, avocados, all natural peanut butter and nuts; and omega-3 fats like salmon and mackerel and soy-based foods. Bad fats are saturated fats, partially hydrogenated fats (killers!), and trans fats. Your personal trainer can provide you with a simple diet program that will complement your exercise to help you live longer, feel better and boost your immune system. The bottom line is that your body needs good fats – and will revolt if you attempt to abstain from them – and absolutely does not need bad fats.

9. Drink plenty of fresh, clean water.
Yes, I know that you’ve heard this over and over again. But there’s a reason for that – it’s the gospel truth! The recommended amount is approximately eight glasses, or 64 ounces, of water every day. When you are exercising, you need to drink even more. Over 75% of your body is water (even bone is more than 20% water). When you don’t drink enough water, and substitute diuretics like coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas, you dehydrate your body, your blood doesn’t flow properly and your digestive system doesn’t operate smoothly (among other problems). Even a small deficit of water can radically affect how your body performs. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re urine is a dark yellow and/or has a strong odor, you’re not drinking enough water. Drink up!

10. Eat small meals regularly throughout the day.
Fasting or overly restrictive diets will enable you to lose weight – in the short run. Because the weight you lose is primarily water weight and lean muscle mass. But in the long-run, it has exactly the opposite effect you want. When you restrict your diet, your body instinctively thinks it’s being starved and shifts into a protective mode by storing fat. Energy expenditures are fueled by your lean muscles. Therefore your body fat remains essentially the same and you lose vital fluids and muscle instead. The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism becomes, and the less fat you burn. You should be eating three nutritionally balanced meals each day, and you should have at least  two healthy snacks. This keeps your metabolic furnace stoked, so you burn more at a faster rate. I know, it’s counter-intuitive, but it’s the gospel truth!

I realize that starting (or re-starting) a productive and effective health and fitness program is not easy. .

If you’re sick, you go to the doctor. If you’ve got a tax problem, you see an accountant (or an attorney!). Have a toothache? You’re off to the dentist. Leaky pipes result in a call to the plumber. So why is it that so many people attempt to solve their health and fitness problems without consulting an expert? I don’t know exactly, but I encourage you to make the investment in yourself – in your quality of life – by hiring a qualified professional to educate you and help you get started…

…because the hardest part is just getting started and sustaining your motivation until fitness becomes habitual. Once you develop the habit, which can take as little as 30 days, your whole life will change for the better.

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18 Dec

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The Perfect Body

12 May

Love, Sex & Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives by Simon Goldhill

When Clark Gable took off his shirt in the film It Happened One Night(1934), two extraordinary things happened. First, the clothing industry was altered for ever. Because he wasn’t wearing an undershirt, thousands and thousands of men decided never to wear an undershirt again, and within a year a string of clothing manufacturers went into liquidation. Second, thousands of people gazed at the bare torso of the star who was the sexiest man alive.

It is almost impossible for a modern generation of movie-goers to recapture the shock and the eroticism of that moment. Today, there is almost no part of a man’s body that cannot be seen on the screen or in the magazines, and we may be more familiar with Russell Crowe’s chest than our own. But it was extremely rare at that time for a film star to bare his body. In Casablanca (1942), Humphrey Bogart keeps his shirt on. In the war films and westerns that were the meat and drink of the industry, a soldier or a cowboy is always shot, but archetypically he is wounded only in the arm. It’s a cliché of the genre. The sleeve of a shirt can be ripped off, a dramatic moment assured, but the body is kept decorously hidden. A whooping Indian or another ‘native’ might have a bronzed and naked torso, but not one of our boys. When Noël Coward is shipwrecked in the wonderfully patriotic naval adventure In Which We Serve (1942), he never even undoes his top button.

It was only in the late 1960s and the 1970s that things started to change systematically. War films like M*A*S*H (1970)—a cynical, funny, outrageous response to the conflict in Vietnam—is typical. It showed the body mangled, fleshy, bloody and exposed. From these years on, whether you look at love stories or heroic tales, there is more and more exposure of the body. From Rocky to Gladiator now a hero has to be bare-chested.

This is not the first time that the image of the hero has moved from clothed to unclothed (or vice versa). The story of Perseus and Andromeda is one of the most frequently painted Greek myths, especially the scene where Andromeda is chained to a rock, waiting to be eaten by a sea-monster, only to be saved by Perseus who flies in to kill the beast and marry the girl. In ancient pictures, it is Perseus who is nude—as Greek heroes usually are—except for a helmet, his winged sandals and often a billowing cloak. Andromeda is usually rather decorously robed. But when the story becomes popular again for European artists in the Renaissance, the classical Perseus appears dressed in armour and tunic, and Andromeda becomes more and more exposed, until her long hair and wispy silks provide no more than a frame to display her naked body to the viewer. Titian  so highlights the naked Andromeda that the viewer’s eyes are quite distracted from the swooping and very much dressed Perseus in the background.  To be heroic Perseus now needs his armour, while the female body is vulnerable—to male eyes as much as to the sea-monster. The idea of acceptable or normal nudity has radically changed.

There is a history to how the male body has been displayed. It is not just a question of how much of the body a viewer is allowed to see, but also of what a body is meant to look like: a torso in Gladiator or Rocky doesn’t look like Clark Gable’s. There are images of the body all around us—from the pictures of men in film, on TV or in magazines to the medical writer’s body, the novelist’s representations, the legal system, grand art and smutty graffiti. All these images of the body tell us how to be, how to think about ourselves, how to see who we are. But where do these images of the perfect body stem from?

The simplest answer is Greece. Since the Renaissance and its rediscovery of Greek art, there has been a long tradition of taking the ideal of the male body from Greek sculpture. The slim but well-muscled torso, the elegant symmetry of form, the balanced turn of the head or twist of the athlete’s shape, have produced an image so firmly lodged in the Western imagination that it is hard to look at it freshly or in any historical context. For anyone who goes to the gym, who worries about thinness, or getting in shape, or their muscle tone—or even for anyone who just knows what a good body is—there’s a history stretching back to ancient Greece that will change the way your body looks to you.

In the modern West, we are bombarded with images of the body. For the classical Greek citizen, too, images flooded the eyes and filled the public and private spaces of the city in a quite remarkable way. When the Athenian strolled in the market place, the buildings all around were decorated with grand, state-funded paintings of the warriors and battles of the past. There were huge statues of the heroes of democracy, and towering over the city was the Acropolis with the Parthenon and its other temples, decorated with friezes depicting crowds of human figures. All around stood a forest of statues—of athletes, dead heroes, generals, civic benefactors, gods. Lining the avenues, placed around sanctuaries, carved in relief on temples and tombs, on porticoes and civic buildings, were stone and bronze representations of the male form. When the Athenian sat at home to drink wine, his pots and cups were decorated with beautifully painted pictures—an army of perfect bodies. The major cities and civic arenas of classical Greece were crowded with hundreds of images of exercised and buffed masculinity.

The perfect body gave the Greek citizen a difficult model to live up to. To get the body in shape needed training, and that meant, first of all, the gym. The gymnasium was one of the fundamental signs of Greek culture. You could be sure you were in a Greek city if you saw a theatre, a symposium, a political debate—and a gym. It was a prime place for thinking about the body, and for performing with it. The modern preoccupation with the gym, often seen as a sign of contemporary city life, finds its real origin here, in the ancient Greek city. Our preoccupation with bodies and exercise is not new at all, but another classical inheritance. Choosing your gym, worrying about your appearance, exercising the body, adopting a diet, hiring a personal trainer—this is all good ancient Greek civic activity.

The gym was the place where a Greek citizen went to work out. Men only. A citizen should go to the gym regularly, even on a daily basis, and particular groups went to particular venues. Socrates, Plato says, used to like hanging out at Taureas’ Gym near the Temple of the Queen of the Gods, where some very upper-class Athenians exercised—but he was easily persuaded into other gyms by an invitation from a good-looking young man. The citizen would strip. (Unlike the modern gym, all exercises were practised naked—though the penis was tied back for running races.) He would rub oil into his body or have it rubbed into him by his servant, and then he would exercise—run, or wrestle, or jump, or practise for other competitions like javelin or discus throwing. Boys, at least those of the best sort, had their tutors along to keep an eye out for them, and professional trainers coached the more serious athletes. Finally, the oil and dirt would be scraped off with a metal strigil, or scraper. The oil flask and the strigil are what men would stroll purposefully with, like a sports bag and tennis racket.

Modern advertising was epitomized up to the 1970s by Charles Atlas, who used the title of ‘the world’s most perfectly developed man’ to support his promise that exercise will ‘make a man’ of you, as it had for him. (Atlas claimed that it was actually a statue of Hercules in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art which inspired him to attain ‘the perfect male body’.) The ancient gym was central to the whole performance of masculinity in the ancient city: it truly ‘made you a man’. This meant, first, honing your body as a preparation for war, since real men all fought in the city’s army and navy. The second-century essayist Lucian captures the cultural ideal of what a man in the gym should look like:

The young men have a tanned complexion from the sun, manly faces; they reveal spirit, fire, manliness. They glow with fabulous conditioning: neither lean or skinny, nor excessive in weight, but etched with symmetry. They have sweated off all useless flesh, and what’s left is made for strength and stamina, and is untainted by any poor quality. They maintain their bodies vigorously.

The ideal form is neither too thin nor too fat, but perfectly balanced. On show are not just physical qualities, but ‘manliness’ and ‘spirit’, shining from ‘manly’ faces. Their bodies display what sort of men they are, and how they live. This all-round perfection of masculinity is what athletics promises you, and why you go to the gym. But without exercise, a man’s body, says Lucian, will end up like this: ‘It’ll have either a white and lazy flabbiness, or a pale scrawniness, like a woman’s body, bleached from the shade, quivering, and dripping with sweat, and panting…’ The threat to a man’s body is being ‘like a woman’—the reverse of all that is good about the real man. Lucian gives a checklist of negative qualities—pale, scrawny, flabby, quivering, weak and wet—to set against the qualities everyone should aim for: tanned, firm, symmetrical, vigorous and dry. The message is clear: exercise hard, or suffer the humiliation of a bad body, which means being a bad citizen.

Classical artists depicted the athlete’s ideal body which Lucian so enthusiastically described. … The body should be, as Lucian insists, lean but well built—bulked up from exercise but not fat or over-muscled like a modern body-builder. The muscles should be well defined (‘etched’) with a six-pack stomach and cut pectorals, and the torso should reveal an iliac crest, the sharp line or fold running above the groin and up over the hip, a physical characteristic that can be revealed only when the muscles are very strongly developed but the body is exceptionally lean—and which Greek sculptures emphasize in a way impossible to achieve in real life. Thighs are powerful, calves sharply articulated, penis small (always), and, since these are beautiful young men, they have no beards yet, but they do have carefully done hair.

The gym was where a citizen found out what sort of a man he was—by competing with other men, by displaying his body, by making his body more manly. The gym put masculinity on trial, and not just in the athletic activities. It was also a key place for erotic encounters, where the beautiful boy became known as a beauty, where men vied for the attention of beautiful boys, where men gathered to talk, strut and watch each other. It was where you saw other men, and where you viewed others and yourself against the image of the perfect body. The gym made the body a topic of conversation, display, desire and worry as well as of exercise and care.

The ideal forms was sculpted and painted innumerable times, flooding the cities of Greece with a body image that took some living up to. While it is more usual nowadays for female models to provide a bodily form for modern Western women that almost no one can match, in Greek culture it is the ideal male body that stares out from temples, pots and paintings as a relentless and impossible yardstick for men. A real man’s body needs a lot of work and care to produce and maintain.

Nudity was essential to the culture of the ancient gymnasium. It is one rather obvious difference between Charles Atlas and the Doryphoros in their displays of what is a perfect form—as it is between the ancient Perseus and Titian’s hero. Modern surprise at Greek nude exercise immediately indicates how habits of bodily display are culturally specific. But attitudes to the nude body in Rome are even more provocative. Going to the bathhouse was as important to a Roman as going to the gym was to a Greek. People met in the bathhouse not only to enjoy the hot baths, cold baths and steam rooms, but also to gossip, and occasionally to take light exercise—again, in the nude. As with any modern health club or spa, social boundaries need special care when socializing involves taking your clothes off, and the bathhouse had its protocols and rituals.

The ancient practices of nude display may seem somewhat strange to modern eyes. No less surprising is the fact that in both ancient Athens and the Roman Empire there was a flourishing business in health manuals, diets and exercise handbooks. A whole series of experts, from doctors to athletic coaches to personal masseurs, vied with each other. From the fourth century BC, there are several diet books, or ‘Regimens’, collected in the Hippocratic Corpus, which give advice on what to eat, how often and when to bathe, how much exercise to take and of what types, how long to sleep, and how much sex to have. The Greek word for such regimens is diaite, from which comes the English word ‘diet’. The diet books that still keep topping the bestseller lists today are no modern phenomenon. The ancient Greeks, equally obsessed with the body beautiful, were also anxious for expert advice.

These diet books have long sections on what different foods do to a man’s digestion, and long arguments about how to cure various conditions by carefully organized regimens of life. If, for example, you have headaches, feel lethargic, constipated and occasionally feverish—a condition called ‘Surfeit’—then:

after a vapour bath, purge the body with hellebore, and for ten days gradually increase light and soft foods, and meats that open the bowels, so that the lower belly can overcome the head by drawing the humours down and away. Practise slow jogging, long enough early-morning walks, and wrestling with the body oiled. Do eat lunch and take a short sleep after lunch. After dinner just a stroll is enough. Bath, oil yourself, make the bath warm, and keep away from sex. This is the quickest treatment.

This advice is a mixture of specific medical actions, such as having a vapour bath with hellebore to purge the system, and of more general rules for life like ‘Do eat lunch and take a short sleep after lunch.’ It aims to regulate the citizen’s daily life from sex to jogging, according to the doctor’s scheme of things. Greece didn’t just give us democracy and theatre: it also gave us personal trainers and faddish diets.

The citizen’s body is public property. Naked in the gym, relaxed at the symposium, walking in the street, speaking in the assembly or in the law court, the citizen’s body was there to be watched and commented on. How to stand, how to walk, how to appear a man in your physical demeanour are shared concerns. Other men look at and judge the citizen’s body: a citizen’s sense of self depends on that evaluation. The citizen must train his body to make it as beautiful and strong as possible, in order to have success both in war and in all other public activities. Socrates will walk up to someone and complain about the flabbiness of his body and nag a man because he just isn’t toned enough. Unlike modern philosophers, fixed in the classroom and seminar, he is out on the street, actively changing people’s lives. Socrates gets involved because the flabby citizen is a public matter, a matter of public concern. Fat is a political issue.

The influence of ancient Greece on the modern male body is profound. What looks sexy and what is thought healthy depend hugely on the Greek ideals embodied in classical sculpture and art. The perfectly honed, muscled, lean and symmetrical male body is developed as an ideal in the ancient world’s art, medical texts and other writings. Despite the Christian tradition which despises the body as sinful, and longs for a spiritual, non-materialistic life, this image of the trained and cared-for body has become fully lodged in the imagination of Western society, an instantly recognizable icon of beauty and health. We are meant to know what a good body is. We may know that different cultures have different ways of defining the good body. We may be well aware that body images are manipulated by powerful media, which have always provided fantasies of bodily perfection, whether a buxom woman painted by Rubens or a gamine model in Vogue. But we still feel that we know what a good body is. And the fact that we think we do know shows how powerfully Greek myth still works in contemporary Western culture.

In today’s culture of the body, this longing for Greece is rarely made explicit. But the connection between an idealized Greece, the perfect body and athletics was made absolutely clear when modern Europe reinvented the Olympic Games, at the end of the nineteenth century. The obsession of the nineteenth century with all things Greek changed physical culture. While the Olympic movement was being refounded—and well into the early decades of the twentieth century—a cult of the physical flourished in Germany in particular. Groups met to hike, to exercise and to swim or work out together, sometimes in the nude. The Romantic love of nature produced a particular German fixation on The Woods and The Mountains, which joined with a passion for Hellenism to make ‘exercise’ a charged idea for German nationalism. Nude gymnastics was a sign of nationalist fervour. In fact, public nudity is still acceptable in Germany in a way quite different from the rest of Europe and America, and there are parks in Berlin, for example, where nude sunbathing is still normal.

But, as the century progressed, this cult of the body fed into the most worrying sides of German nationalism and its aggressive promotion of the trained Aryan physique. The strongest link between the nineteenth-century Romantic love of Greece and the violent Aryan passions which linked the cult of the body to Nazi ideology is provided by Friedrich Nietzsche. His idealizing of the German spirit, his theories of power and his praise of the morals of the superman, who dominates his inferiors, all had a profound effect on the nationalism that culminates in the Nazi party before and during the Second World War. Even if the argument has often been made that such a use of Nietzsche by German fascism is a drastic abuse of the philosopher’s own true political stance, there can be little doubt that reading him provided a justification and inspiration to many ideologues of the twentieth century.

Nietzsche epitomizes the impact of the Greek body on the Western imagination in a trenchant and odd paragraph. ‘The Germans’, he claims, ‘have joined anew the bond with the Greeks, the hitherto highest form of man.’ Here is the ideologically charged claim that the German race descends from the Greeks, and that as the Greeks were the highest form of man, so Germans aspire to that pinnacle, their own true inheritance. ‘Today we are again getting close to all those fundamental forms of world interpretation devised by the Greeks…We are growing more Greek by the day.’ But for Nietzsche it is not just in our thinking that we can become more Greek: ‘We are growing more Greek by the day; at first, as is only fair, in concepts and evaluation, as Hellenising ghosts, as it were; but one day in our bodies too.’ We can, ‘as Hellenising ghosts’, think ourselves into a Greek frame of mind, but the crucial and ultimate goal is to become Greek ‘in our bodies too’. We need to become physically Greek. It’s almost as if by doing ancient philosophy we will all get iliac crests and a six-pack. This longing for a Greek body is summed up in ringing terms by Nietzsche: ‘Herein lies (and has always lain) my hope for the German character!’ In short, to be truly German, for Nietzsche, means becoming Greek ‘in our bodies’.

Nietzsche and Riefenstahl form part of a long and continuing tradition of trying to live up to the Greek body. Like the Greeks themselves, we surround ourselves with images of the masculine form, trained by exercise and diet, the object of public scrutiny, longing and failure. This embodiment of Greek myth runs through the Western cultural imagination, and lives on as an inheritance in us all. The gym, the torso, the pose, the diet—the fascination of the Greek body is displayed all around us still. ‘Being Greek in our bodies’ may seem like Nietzsche’s fantasy. But it is an ideal that many people, consciously or unconsciously, still share today.


Copyright notice: Excerpt from pages 11-28 of Love, Sex & Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives by Simon Goldhill, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©2004 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press.


Simon Goldhill
Love, Sex & Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives
©2004, 344 pages, 50 halftones

What can I do to lose weight in my belly?

30 Apr

….if you ‘ve been doing lots of crunches but they don’t seem to help …

here is no way to target weight loss to a specific area of the body because your body decides where it wants to put on weight and where it wants to take it off. The midsection is a common “problem” area for many people. The best way to lose fat is through cardiovascular exercise and even better interval training. It is important to do a variety of abdominal exercises (including crunches) to keep your core strong, but until that excess fat is gone, you will not see the muscle definition. If you exercise only your abdominal region you build muscle around your abs region. This sounds good doesn’t it. This is what we want to achieve. There lies the problem. By exercising your abdominal region too much you end up building muscle under a layer of fat. Actually ending up with a BIGGER stomach then when we started. Not good. So if you’re not doing cardio, crunches are not going to help get the 6-pack you’ve been hoping for. Regular cardio exercise at a level that’s challenging for you is your best bet.

For the best and fast result try interval training.

The big problem with humans and almost all other animals is that we are designed to operate in short sporadic bursts. We however as humans try to defy this. Think Cycling (Tour De France), Marathon running and triathlons. We are not built and designed to operate like this. Our bodies are happier doing intensive exercise for about 1-2 minutes then resting for the same period and then intense exercise again. Keeping this up for around 20 minutes at a time.

Why is Interval Training the Best Cardio Exercise to Lose Belly Fat and More Effective Than Any Other Cardio Workout?

Because to burn stomach fat it’s not about time or distance, it’s about intensity and “intensity cycling.” Research has shown interval training – alternating between low-intensity and high-intensity-is unmatched for fat burning potential. When you workout at a higher intensity level, you burn actual body fat-not just the calories you’ve consumed that day.

Plus, by working at a higher intensity level you stimulate your body’s own natural growth hormones, which burns even more fat, boosts your metabolism, and builds muscle!

Repeat these 4 intervals 4 times for a very intensive 20 minute workout!

  • Warm-up for 3-4 minutes at a fast walk or light jog
  • Interval 1 – Run at 8.0 mil/hr for 1 minute
  • Interval 2 – Walk at 4.0 mil/hr for 1.5 minutes
  • Interval 3 – Run at 10.0 mil/hr for 1 minute
  • Interval 4 – Walk at 4.0 mil/hr fro 1.5 minutes

1 TOP Exercise to Get a Smaller Waist

2 Apr

by www.formulaoz.com    A lot of people yearn for a smaller and tighter waist or a flatter stomach. This seems to be a very important goal especially for women who embark on a weight loss initiative.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have very weak abdominal and core muscles. Your core muscles consist of all the muscles within the trunk of your body. This includes the muscles in the abdomen, mid and lower back, hips and neck. Strong core muscles are essential for most balance and movement. The most obvious effect of weak core muscles is a hunched posture and back problems.

Off interest for a tighter waist or a flat stomach are the abdominal muscles. A lot of people could be having protruding stomachs attributed to weak abdominal muscles.  This is simply a problem of the abdominal core muscles not being able to hold the entire contents of the abdomen firmly enough. The contents of the abdomen include your organs and intestines.  Its just like a flimsy plastic bag bulging in all directions when trying to hold the contents that are within it. One may not even have excess fat and yet the stomach protrusion can be very obvious.

The Transverse Abdominis Muscle

 

The transverse abdominis or TVA, is an abdominal muscle whose function amongst others, is to stabilize the spine and firmly hold the contents of your abdomen in place. This is the innermost muscle in the group of flat abdominal muscles. It is placed beneath the internal oblique muscles. This is a deep layer of muscle supporting the internal structure and organs of the abdomen. The TVA helps to provide provide stability in the thoracic and pelvic areas, it helps flatten the stomach, is used in forced breathing out, and in urination, defecation and childbirth . .  The TA also assists in supporting the spine in some exercises, like lifting.

As mentioned earlier, it also helps to keep the waist nicely tucked in which is the main interest of this article. It is important to emphasize that this muscle is below the fatty layer of the stomach. All this muscle helps to do is to prevent your organs and intestines from bulging out due to lax muscles. It does not do anything for the fatty layer under the skin. Fat must still be burnt via a caloric deficit.

Exercise:

How to Strengthen the TVA and Flattening Your Stomach

While the TVA works in unison with other core muscles for any core exercise, it is difficult to target as it is an internal muscle. As such one needs to perform a more targeted exercise. This is an exercise that you can do anytime or anywhere, even as you read this article.

The most well known and effective method of strengthening the TVA is the vacuum exercise. The TVA also (involuntarily) contracts during lifts; it is the body’s natural weight-lifting belt, stabilizing the spine and pelvis during lifting movements. It has been estimated that the contraction of the TVA and other muscles reduces the vertical pressure on the intervertebral discs by as much as 40%.[2] Failure to engage the TVA during higher intensity lifts is dangerous and encourages injury to the spine. The TVA acts as a girdle or corset by creating hoop tension around the midsection.

Without a stable spine, one aided by proper contraction of the TVA, the nervous system fails to recruit the muscles in the extremities efficiently, and functional movements cannot be properly performed.[3] The transversus abdominis and the segmental stabilizers of the spine are designed to work in tandem.

While it is true that the TVA is vital to back and core health, the muscle also has the effect of pulling in what would otherwise be a protruding abdomen (hence its nickname, the “corset muscle”). Training the rectus abdominis muscles alone will not and can not give one a “flat” belly; this effect is achieved only through training the TVA. Thus to the extent that traditional abdominal exercises (e.g. crunches) or more advanced abdominal exercises tend to “flatten” the belly, this is owed to the tangential training of the TVA inherent in such exercises.

3 steps to train the TVA with the vacuum exercise;

  • SUCK your stomach in by exhaling all the air out of your lungs and bringing your navel as close as possible to your spine,
  • Hold each contraction for up to 30 seconds.
  • Do at least 3 contractions up to 3 times a day

That’s all it takes.  Because the nature of this muscle, it can be trained every day at any time. If you are religious in doing this day in day out, your waist will shrink, because of the tighter TVA muscles.

A lot of people that I talk to have not heard of this exercise. That is not surprising considering that there is no incentive by any industry to teach this exercise. You don’t need any special ab-exercisers nor do you need any special guidance or training. All you need to do is to diligently perform the 3 steps above. I am not a believer of spot training as fat is stored in layers and can only be burnt off.  This exercise certainly can help to strengthen lax TVA muscles which help to firmly keep the contents of the abdomen in.

Problem with other abdominal exercises

Traditional exercises that work the rectus abdominis muscles or your 6/8pack muscles cannot ultimately give you a flat stomach as these muscles don’t have the function of holding the contents of your abdomen. A strong and firm TVA will firmly keep all the abdominal contents within the abdomen and thus giving the appearance of a flat stomach. For a firm stomach one needs to train the rectus abdominis via the various abdominal exercises and the TVA with the vacuum exercise.

And more: Protection of the joints.

The TvA has been targeted as a muscle group that has influence on the stability of the spine and thus has been promoted as important for back protection; and, the advice goes, that if you develop this muscle and train it to work subliminally for you, the spine will get protected from injury as you exercise. Pilates and yoga in particular has a lot to say about the use of the TvA.

And back to flat stomach : If you have a whole layer of fat in your abdominals, don’t expect this exercise to get rid of it. While it may shrink the waist slightly, it will not burn fat. The only way to get fat out of the body is by burning it by a proper regime of exercise and nutrition.

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