Monday morning in the Grit Clinic

Q.  From Sacha Bonsor: I have had a protruding stomach all my life. I have been incredibly skinny, incredibly plump, I do yoga, I run and recently I have tried Pilates. I admit that when it comes to the stomach exercises in any class, I bow out or do it half heartedly but that is because my stomach muscles don’t seem to work. Nothing I do seems to give me a flat stomach. Please help. I am slim and healthy, and I don’t need a six pack, but I would like to get rid of my paunch.

A. The first thing to recognize is that as a healthy woman you are not meant to have an entirely flat stomach. The reason celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna do is because they are doing roughly a million sit ups a day whilst Tracey whatsherface injects green tea into their thighs. Women are supposed to have a little fat around the tummy area to protect our reproductive organs, so some of that fat you’ve got there is to be kept. However, it does sound as though you really do have very weak stomach muscles and excess fat if you have a proper paunch, which is not a good look. If there is genuinely no underlying medical problem (get this ruled out first), I would forget about the complicated (and for you impossible) tummy exercises in classes and start with this simple exercise. Hold your stomach in as much as you can when you are awake. Hold it in and lengthen your torso when you walk – so your tummy is being pulled into the small of your back. It will feel unnatural but it is an easy exercise and if you can get into the habit of doing it a lot, your muscles will begin to develop strength. Running is brilliant for getting rid of a spare tyre, so I would up your running to three times a week and reduce the classes in which you can’t join in the stomach exercises. Your diet probably needs a look aswell. Up your water intake and think of all fizzy drinks as crack cocaine. They really bloat your stomach contributing to the unsightly paunch. Eat healthily, which roughly equates to: – less crap, more greens. So in short, run, drink water and eat less crap. Within a month you will see real results.

The Grit Doctor says:

Nothing changes overnight and there are no quick fix solutions. Stop looking for them and start doing the hard work that is necessary to achieve the results you want for your body.

Q. From Claire Ingram via twitter: Have found some more 10kms to do but my running partner is giving me all sorts of excuses, I need help with the persuasion.

A. This is one of the reasons that the Grit Doctor recommends running alone. Obviously invite others to join you, but don’t allow their joining in to be contigent upon your getting out there to run – EVER. For example, myself and team RFBR all loosely said we might do a 10k run together following our 5k run in January. I really hope we do. I have entered two 10k races, one in Ireland in April and the British 10k in London in July. I will be running them irrespective of whether anyone else will be joining me. I very much hope the girls will come (and O)! but its not going to affect my training and or my enjoyment on the day.

The Grit Doctor says:

Run for yourself.

As for the power of persuasion, isn’t that the holy grail of gifts? If only I could be more persuasive, how much better my life would be! Imagine if I was somehow able to persuade the twins to behave better and not scream and pull each others’ hair; if I could persuade them into the buggy when we are finished at the playground without either of them having a meltdown. Persuasion is something we all want to be better at. Sadly, it is one of those rare gifts – to be truly persuasive – and I find myself increasingly more persuaded by people who do not try to persuade me at all! They are instead so charismatic, so passionate or so impressive in their attitude that I want to be like them. So for you Claire, I recommend forgetting entirely about trying to persuade your running partner. Instead, lead by example, train well, eat well, do as you say you will, and enter your races. Your partner may well be so impressed by your attitude that he or she just follows suit. If not, that’s their loss, and don’t let it matter to you – on race day you will be running on your own anyway, with or without a partner.


5 Responses to “Monday morning in the Grit Clinic”

  1. Naomi Ross March 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    I love the common sense that comes from the grit doctor. My only form of exercise is running and my legs are now slimmer than ever and I even have muscles showing in my arms without lifting any weights. I only run on a treadmill I dont go outside because I havent got a running buddy so it is more gruelling because I am running nowhere ….. and I have to motivate myself every morning to get up and run for 1hr!!! 30 minutes in and I am talking to myself saying that well known mantra run fat bitch run ….. it works so well!!! Still not a skinny runner but getting there!!!

    • Sarah September 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      get outside the treadmill is harder.put your favourite music on,i find Adele great to run to,the music is your buddy!fresh air you cant beat it.running in the rain is amazing as your cooler and that shower after…like great —!you will feel you achieve much more.more inclined to enter a charity run and then you will make loads of running buddies.i meet mine 1 or 2 times a week the other days are music and nostalgia….keep running…..Sos

  2. gwen loughman April 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your advice over the last couple of months, both through RFBR and via the Grit Clinic. I completed my first 5k run last Friday in The Phoenix Park, Dublin with ray D’Arcy from Today FM. I did it in 30 mins! Not bad for someone who has only been running since late Jan of this year. It was wonderful and I can’t wait for the next one! When I saw the finish line, I sprinted and I hurt my ankle somehow by doing this. I was lame for the rest of the day and took Saturday as a rest day. I did a short run on Sunday but was limping after it again. Today will be my second rest day in a row. Hopefully I’ll get out there again tomorrow. Thanks again – you’ve inspired me and so many others.

  3. Maclegend June 15, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    I am 55 years old, fat and its my fault! I have been messing about with running since Jan bit here , bit there, excuses ( as per the book!!!!I )when my mate ,who is a running fanatic said how about a 5k in Central Park and then she bought me the book.OMG I took it on holiday over the last 2 weeks ,ran (well you know)every other day, was bitten by a dog (skin was not broken and apparently no rabies in Portugal), nearly got run over twice and finally on the last day did 18 min 22secs without stopping having never acheived anything more than 5 mins . That was probably because a snake slithered across in front of me and I think the adrenaline gave me a kick. My inner bitch is a bloke( a git who made my life miserable at work)but I feel great that I am sticking my fingers up at him everytime I am proving him wrong coming back home sweating like a pig, looking like death and not caring now I have found the blog ,I think thats what they call serendipity


    • gritdoctor June 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      THE GRIT DOCTOR LOVES YOU TOO. WEll bloody done and loving the sense of humour about it all. kee up the good work…

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