Central Intersection

A place where ideas on health, fitness and awareness come together to help make sense of our bodies, relationships and careers. The Central Intersection is where ideas from many sources are connected to help create a unifying theory. I feel I need to add a common sense disclaimer so... This blog is designed to be a dialogue of discovery. It is not intended to serve as medical advice or diagnosis.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lose Belly Fat Fast and Free

Lose Belly Fat Fast and Free - just read my blog and I'll tell you how!

Ok, I'm sick of it! I probably owe you a bit of an apology right up front because this is about to be a bit of a rant...I'll try to tone it down so that more of you are likely to read further and hopefully gain some insight, after all, that is what Central Intersection is supposed to be about - not just someplace for me to blow off steam.

Americans have gotten a bad rap for being unfit and out of shape. I admit that there are many unhealthy people out there but frankly - they probably aren't the ones scouring the Internet for ways to lose belly fat - they just don't care enough to go that far. For those of you who DO care, you probably have done all of the 'normal' things...you eat well, or decently enough, you do some form of exercises but you've been convinced that you have to lose belly fat or suffer being imperfect.

It is easy to see how you've been convinced. Not a day goes by that I'm not inundated with magazine covers promising me miracle ways to lose belly fat, Internet banner ads flicker across my screen "Pittsburgh woman discovered how to lose belly fat, click here to learn her secret" skyscraper ads make promises to lose belly fat and even show some dynamite animated graphics that show how adorable I would be if I were just to loose belly fat! Adsense is littered with Lose Belly Fat ads - and I guess, since Central Intersection doesn't rank very highly, I tend to attract low cost adsense ads but I see 'lose belly fat' junk all day and I have to admit - I often get curious and I know better!

Well - let me help you, hopefully then you too will know better and not fall prey to this senseless advertising. Now I understand you are smart and can sense a scam from a mile away - so you probably have been smarter than me and never clicked on one of the silly ads I've mentioned above...but they probably piqued your interest - "what do they know that I don't know?" or thought "Yes, I could lose a few pounds and it does happen to be around my belly" so what's the harm? The harm is that all of this advertising has convinced you that you have to lose belly fat and 9 times out of 10 it is posture that is your problem not belly fat.

Yes, posture. I'm sure you stand relatively erect. Your shoulders are back and your chin doesn't jut out but there is more to it than that.

If you have been convinced that belly fat is your issue my guess is that you have spent hours in the gym or on your bedroom floor doing crunches and core exercises and done the whole 'feel-it-burn' routine. It may surprise you that it is the very thing you are doing to lose belly fat that is causing what appears to be belly fat.

If you are doing crunches and traditional core exercises that focus on the abdominal muscles you are creating an imbalance between the muscles of the back body and the muscles of front body. Aside from the spinal issues that this can cause it also can act to disengage the intrinsic muscles that are responsible for holding your upper body erect - forcing larger muscle groups to activate and take over a job they were never designed for. This can lead to fatigue and injury but even more important it can essentially cause a collapse of your carriage. With the shortening of the abdominal muscles and the pulling of the shortened front body against the weakened muscles back body the entire upper body becomes shorter, more compact.

A shorter, more compact upper body can lead to a multitude of issues; digestive problems, bladder, kidney and prostrate issues, endocrine problems and uterine issues - its not a pretty sight but the worst of all of it is the darn belly fat!

Ok, its not really belly fat - sure most of it is fat but those rolls aren't necessarily a problem. If they covered more surface area for example, they wouldn't LOOK bad and honestly, isn't that what we are after? We want to look better.

The reason those rolls appear around your middle is because you have telescoped your body enough to cause the skin and underlying structures - fat included - to have to fold over to take up less space. This effect can be seen if you lay a hand towel down on a hard/slippery surface and push the ends towards one another - the fabric bunches up into several rolls right?

You see this also in your upper back - those unsightly rolls that push out around your bra strap...they want to sell you SPANX to cover those up don' they? You don't need SPANX you need to work on your posture!

Ok, I hear you - you are calling B.S. - you don't believe a word I'm saying do you? Ok, test it for yourself. Hang upside down - find a chin-up bar or go to a kids playground and just hang yourself upside down. If hanging upside down is impossible for you then we need to have another conversation but until then you can get a similar effect if you hang by your arms upside right but then you don't have a free hand to pinch with :)

When you hang you will notice that all of those bumps and rolls go away - now give a yourself a pinch and see that there isn't as much there as you thought. This is a far better representation of what you body should look like if you were to use it properly. Now it is true that by hanging you will have gravity providing a bit more traction than your intrinsic muscles would provide but I believe that the tension most people hold in their muscles and connective tissue will counter balance the traction.

The fact is that most of us could be significantly taller - there for spreading our 'belly fat' over more surface area - if we simply used our bodies with greater efficiency and stood at our full height so that our outer layers didn't have to fold and roll to accommodate our shortened stature.

So, now I'm sure you want to know how to do that. Well to undo all of the years of core exercises you have been duped into doing I suggest you go and find your local Iyengar Yoga studio. Now I will agree that it is the teacher not the style that makes for quality yoga but I feel that the Iyengaries, as a rule, have a better understanding of biomechanics and structural alignment; most other styles accommodate the yoga to fit the body not the body to fit the yoga.

Iyengar yoga relies heavily on props and supports to make the biomechanically correct poses available to all levels of fitness and flexibility. Iyengaries will teach anyone, at any level. Yes, it is work, work in a different way than most westerners are used to doing work - it builds awareness and brings change - the exact change you will need should you care to really lose belly fat.


Kjerstin Klein
Central Intersection

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Blizzard 2010: What Several Tons of Snow Teach You About Life

Here in Pittsburgh they are calling it the Blizzard of 2010, Snowlapalooza, Snowpocalypse, snowmaggedon, snOMG or the tsnownami - and it has gotten international attention. For me the drama was relatively limited as I watched the snow fall from inside up at Seven Springs, a ski resort outside of Pittsburgh. True we were snowed in for several days, had to hike out from the house in waist deep snow to get the kids to their ski race and had to be dug out by a bucket loader but all-in-all our experience was pretty tame.

The stories from friends were more serious - car accidents, kids having to sleep in the car in a parking lot, having to hike miles in the thigh-deep snow in dress shoes to get home, being without power for days, some of our staff even had to sleep in our store because they couldn't make it the short distance to sleep at our house...those stories are far more intense than my own and make for great 'remember-when's'.

Now that the kids are back in school after being out for as much as a week in some cases there is time to reflect and examine the experiences of Snowlapalooza. I think that such an intense experience deserves some introspection - how did it affect us, has it changed us in any way. I would suggest that, even if you aren't entirely aware of it, the experience has changed you a great deal.

When I examine an event like this, the first, most dramatic thing I see is the difference between how the adults look at the experience versus how the children view the experience. Without exception every child I spoke to thought this was simply the best experience of their young lives - including those that had to sleep in the car in a parking lot! Adult responses ranged from being something like that of the children to out-right hostility. In an attempt to not sound too judgemental I will suggest that those with the positive attitude towards Snowlapalooza may have an edge over those who felt truly put-out.

Kids have the amazing ability to take life as it comes and to allow every experience to be an adventure. We don't naturally loose that as a necessity of age - we loose it because we begin to pigeon-hole life's experiences and we make judgements about how things 'should' be and we are disappointed when life doesn't work out that way. Some of my friends argue that it is because children don't understand the severity of a situation like the Blizzard of 2010, that we, as adults are responsible for every one's safety, welfare and well dammit, I have a JOB to do...yes, I hear you, I have a job and kids that I want to keep safe as well but I would suggest that it is possible to have both a positive experience during something like Snowlapalooza AND be serious about your job, your kids safety and the like.

The reason why something like Snowlapalooza is such a great vehicle for developing ones awareness is because for the most part people are not in mortal danger...true, there are exceptions and I do not want to belittle those but lets face it - we are not talking Hurricane Katrina here. The Blizzard of 2010 created a situation where there was really nothing you could do about it - you had to wait it out, accept the situation for what it was and simply wait - there were many opportunities for sane judgement - chances to determine if what you WANTED was reasonable, responsible, achievable or if you simply had to let it go. It was a great chance to practice letting go and simply allowing life to happen the way it was going to happen.

So in my mind this is the perfect opportunity to explore how the Blizzard of 2010 affected you. Were you like the children, were you more put-out by the whole thing - or somewhere in between?

If you reside more in the 'put-out' camp take a minute to explore what truly bothered you about the experience. It may be that you were simply annoyed by how unprepared you were - didn't have blankets or food in the car? I'd be annoyed too if I was forced to sleep in the car without any provisions. Irritation may stem from poor decisions made that resulted in unnecessary trouble - like the high school kids who had to sleep in the Subway in Somerset because their ski trip had not been canceled and they couldn't make it home. By the way, it is important to note that I believe most of those kids had a blast - it is the parents who were in the 'put-out' crowd. For the people who are irritated with the weather for those reasons it is a good lesson in disaster preparedness and decision making - two very important lessons that should be taken to heart. Some people are just cranky because the hate snow and cold...they should simply move to someplace warmer. I caution those people, however, to consider earth quakes, mudslide, tornados and hurricanes before they choose a place to settle down. There are some people, however, that are simply irritated by the lack of normalcy; the interruption in their habits, life's patterns and the fact that they couldn't go to work and kids couldn't go to school...THAT is what we are supposed to be doing after all, isn't it?

For those people, I fear they have a great deal more work to do to get to a point where they are able to let go, accept life and life's experiences as a vehicle to change. The Blizzard of 2010 is the perfect experience to examine how you might release some of your expectations - be more child-like in your approach to your life and what life hands you because no matter how you try you can't control it - all you can do is prepare for it the best you can, enjoy the calm water and surf the rapids.



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