Food producers and restaurants use elaborate descriptions to boost their sales. Even adding simple terms like "flavorful" or "pan-seared" to the menu influences diners' perception of the same dishes. Throw in a foreign word or origin, and you've got a top-seller. "Tarragon-roasted Alaskan Halibut" sounds a lot more enticing than "seasoned fish filet", doesn't it? A study at Cornell University found that people were not only more likely to purchase foods with extravagant descriptions, they were also more likely to EAT more! So if the menu is written like an ad from Saveur magazine, don't be fooled! It's all part of the game.
According to new research, physical activity may be THE most important health behavior you can adopt. Even if you smoke or are obese or overweight, physical activity can protect you from disease, disability and early death. Building more physical activity into your day isn’t just a nice thing to do – it’s a matter of life and death!
Meet your Transverse Abdominis
Everyone knows where their rectus abdominis, or "6 pack abs", are found. But what do you know about the transverse abdominis (TVA)? These invisible core muscles serve a variety of important functions, whether we're conscious of them or not. In fact, research has shown that the TVA play such an important role in core stability that they actually "fire" BEFORE any other movement! In other words, when you think about lifting your arm, your TVA engage first, before your arm ever moves. This stabilization protects your low back from the stress of repetitive movement.
Unfortunately, many people have weak transverse abs, often due to inactivity and sedentary lifestyles. This can result in low back pain and soreness, and the characteristic "belly pooch" that no amount of crunches can get rid of. So what can you do about those neglected TVA? Well, the most important step is finding them! Try this:
Lying flat on the floor with knees bent, find your hip bones with your fingers. Now slide them slightly inward until you find the soft space. Relaxing your abdomen, inhale into your ribcage. Now as you exhale slowly, draw your belly button gently toward your spine, and feel the "soft space" under your fingers tighten. Did you feel it? You found your TVA! By practicing this type of breathing, you can become aware of the feeling and function of the TVA and start incorporating that awareness into daily movements and exercise.
BONUS EXERCISE: Once you've located your TVA while lying down, try this move- keeping your knees bent and your pelvis stable, rest one hand on your lower abdomen to be sure it doesn't rise. Now exhale slowly (using the breathing technique above) while lifting one knee toward your chest. Can you feel your TVA working? Repeat 10-20 times on each leg.