I’ve always had good abs. This drives my husband crazy because he works out faithfully three times a week and drinks (natural) protein powder and I do…nothing.
I just came across my first “pre-pregnancy” photo just after we found out we had conceived our first. It’s a very rare shot of my bare abdomen, taken for comparison’s sake as that belly grew.
As long as I’m sucking in, the ol’ abs still look startlingly close to the same, 15+ years and 4 kids later.
I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging (I’m in shock too), and it could all just be great genetics — I have an aunt who was still downhill skiing in her 70s and another working retail on her feet all day in her 80s.
But maybe, just maybe, I make a few good choices throughout the day that make up for the fact that I don’t go to the gym.
For starters, I make good use of my time while standing up in the kitchen.
As you might be able to ascertain by the title of this blog, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen! While chopping veggies and especially doing dishes, there’s not much else to do, so I focus on posture. (Unless you’re a Christian; click here for dishes prayers…or if you’re a blogger you’re probably writing posts in your head…but you can still work on tummy tone!)
Here are the three things that work for me in the kitchen to improve posture, lose baby weight fast, and get those ab muscles back!
RELATED: If your stomach muscles or pelvic floor don’t seem the same after pregnancy, you may want to get checked out for diastasis recti and get pelvic floor exercises from your medical professional.
1. Wear Inside Shoes in the Kitchen
Every morning I make sure I find my inside shoes and put them right on. It gets my day going and keeps me from crawling back into bed!
Flylady turned me on to this concept, and I have to say she’s right. I remember before I learned the concept I had just bought new tennis shoes, and wearing them outside in a Michigan winter seemed like a waste of the “new” look of new shoes.
With the next pair, I gave the inside shoe thing a try, and I haven’t looked back! Now every pair of tennis shoes I buy becomes my “inside” pair, and the old inside pair goes outside.
Inside shoes keep me feeling industrious all day (less likely to flop on the couch and fall asleep) and give needed support for all the time I spend standing in the kitchen. I know my feet, back and joints are happier at the end of the day with my inside shoes on than with slippers or socks. Inside shoes are something I love!
Note: It IS important for our feet to be barefoot as well, and you can read about barefoot shoes from Mary, but I find that a balance is best since we’re not standing on natural surfaces all day. If you don’t like confining your feet to shoes, I’d recommend an anti-fatigue mat and bare feet for kitchen work. Be sure to read reviews to find one that won’t flip up at the corners, the reason mine is relegated to the laundry room only. Tripping hazard! 🙁
2. Focus on Good Posture While You Cook
A yoga teacher explained that when you stand up, you want to balance the “four corners of the feet”.
When I do dishes, if I concentrate on making both balls and heels of my feet flat and evenly balanced, about shoulder or hip-width apart, it helps the rest of my posture all the way up to my neck.
The other posture option I use is one that was on my prenatal exercise sheet, and my friend who is a physical therapist confirms that it is a helpful, ergonomic posture.
Just open the cupboard door and put one foot up on the ledge of the cupboard. I like to switch feet from time to time to stay balanced. This one makes my hips feel better if I’m doing a lot of standing, and we know that standing still is not the best for us, but moving around a lot is.
Related: Check this interview on the benefits of standing up with Juliet Starrett, founder of StandUpKids.org, for more on standing posture and standing desks; her book Deskbound is a fabulous resource.
3. Keep the Core Tight While Doing Dishes
You’ve all been waiting for the tummy toning part, right? 🙂
Dishes cleanup is the perfect time to do what my mom calls “vertical sit-ups.” Basically that’s the simple act of keeping your abdominal area tight and pulling up toward the chest cavity.
The only negative to this constant habit of mine is that I find it harder to take good, stress-relieving “belly breaths” and expand that belly outward, so I’m seeking a better balance of the two and practicing good breathing specifically both before meals and with my HeartMath training. There’s plenty of time for balance throughout the day now that I have a standing desk and also have all that kitchen time preparing real food!
You’d be surprised at the tone you can gain just by good posture, and the kitchen counter is a great place to practice!
If you really want to dig into why posture is so important, check out this interview with a physical therapist and bone health expert! It will change the way you think about sitting and standing.