"how did you get your abs?"

After my photoshoot with Lucie Wicker Photography, my abs were all over facebook.  A lot of people, a lot, were asking me how I got my abs into the shape they are in. I really DON'T have a "to-do" list or a simple method to achieve a six-pack, but I can share with you what I think has really made a difference for me.

I am not a dietitian so all of the things below are just my opinion or things I have read, learned, heard, or tried along the way. Here's what I do:

1. EAT CLEAN. The end.

But seriously, clean foods, fresh foods, homemade foods are the bulk of my diet. I do not count calories and I eat about every 3 hours. I also eat an apple a day, I drink a lot of water, and I rarely drink alcohol.

2. Every morning, within an hour of waking, I eat a bowl of old-fashioned oats. I add chia seeds, ground flax seeds, cinnamon, and  a fresh fruit on top (i.e. sliced apples or blueberries). If I do not eat oat meal I have toasted Sesame Ezekiel bread with almond butter. My favorite almond butter is unsalted crunchy from Trader Joes.

3. Throughout the day I eat a lot of vegetables. I love spinach, balsamic vinegar, sliced pear, and walnuts as a salad. If I need an extra oomph I'll add a hard boiled egg. I never let myself get hungry.

4. DRESSINGS!  I do not use a lot of dressings or sauces and I always make my own. Here's a great recipe for dressing:

Balsamic vinegar

Dijon or spicy mustard

mix and done!

5. I always steam (or blanch). You would be amazed how delicious a steamed vegetable tastes!! SO GOOD! If you want to add a little extra crisp you could broil your veggie after you blanch it. Do not be afraid to drizzle a little (emphasis on the little) EVOO on top before placing in the oven and then add some pepper and garlic powder after cooking.

6. If I go out to eat I always look at the fish, vegetation, or salad options. If anything says butter, cream, or pasta I steer away. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK, "can you please steam my vegetables instead of the regular preparation?"

7. Humus and veggies make a great snack.

8. I cannot remember the last time I ate a bowl pasta.

9. I drink water and herbal tea every day and I have decaf coffee about once a week, if at all. I stay away from fruit juices and "power"drinks.

10. My favorite sweet treat is a LARA bar (peanut butter chocolate chip or chocolate chip brownie). LARA bar is made from only about 5 ingredients. I like it like that.

11. I enjoy greek yogurt. I like to add fresh fruit because I am not a fan of fruit that is already inside the yogurt.

12. I walk A LOT. I know this is hard for most of you, since you might have a desk job, but every minute you can... WALK! It gets your blood flowing, limbs moving, and muscles and organs working. And remember to engage your abs  and pull your shoulders back when you walk. It will make a difference!

13. I think if you are eating whole, fresh, clean foods, then killing  yourself with cardio is not necessary.  I'd rather focus on a good strength training routine.

14. PLANKS , SIDE PLANKS, FOREARM PLANKS :) pull that stomach in and make it burn!

15. The more flexible your lumbar spine is, the better your abs will be. Do some cat cow stretching and when you are in the cat position really exhale and pull that stomach in!!

16. For a starchy carb I would go for a sweet potato or brown rice.

People often ask if I wish I ate more cookies and ice cream, if I ever have cravings, or if I ever feel deprived. The answer: If I feel like a cookie I will have one, but my cravings for cookies are not often and I definitely do NOT eat them every day. Am I depriving myself? No. What I eat makes me feel amazing, strong, healthy, and clean. Just so you know, I DO eat chocolate and I enjoy homemade sweets far more than store bought.

Now aside from diet comes working out, right? I think diet is number one, but I do think that working out makes a real difference in getting those sexy abs. I think that going beyond doing a million crunches a day is what is going to make a difference. Engage your abs... all the time. Walking down the street, picking up a box from the floor, punching during a kick boxing class are great opportunities. It's quite awesome how much power you can find in your CORE! We have heard it all before, but it's true. In my barre class when we do leg lifts, people focus so much on their legs that their whole upper body collapses. If you focus on your upper body, pull in your stomach, and keep everything tight, things will change.

A typical food shopping list for me (mostly at Trader Joes):

  1. unsalted almond butter
  2. walnuts
  3. almond milk (vanilla unsweetened)
  4. organic Fuji apples,bananas, asian pears (EXCELLENT!), blueberries
  5.  oatmeal OLD FASHIONED
  6. Brussel sprouts, broccoli,Kale, carrot sticks
  7. tomatoes, mini seedless cucumbers
  8. humus
  9. all natural salsa
  10. ak-mak (cracker that I sometimes order through Amazon)
  11. LARA bars (favorite is chocolate chip brownie!) OR you can make your own!
  12. eggs/ sometimes egg white carton
  13. canned black beans (nice to add to salads)
  14. quinoa (I like the red one the best, has more protein)
  15. trader joes organic ketchup! ( A MUST if you eat ketchup)
  16. organic sweet potato
  17. brown rice ( I get the Organic precooked ones that you store in the freezer, quick and easy to prepare)
  18. organic spinach
  19. balsamic vinegar (for dressing)

Exercises I do for my abs:

I love this one for abs!!! [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfiOlOygCeM&w=560&h=315]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgpfJJs03ns&list=UUTmAxqt83Eg-20ZUe8bfY3Q&index=27&feature=plcp [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JO8cLBrLNZI&w=560&h=315]