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Got a question about some aspect of mind-body-spirit fitness? Ask! It can be as earthly as "Can a heart monitor really enhance my workout?" (the short answer to that is yes) or as heady as, "Don't I need to sell all my worldly goods and go live on a mountain top to find enlightenment?" (the short answer here is no). Needless to say, we can't answer every question we receive, but we will take one every month and answer it here. If you've got a burning need to know about something, email us, and you may find your query featured next time around.


I strength train, do all sorts of cardio and even take Bikram Yoga. The more I work out, the smaller the rest of my body seems to get, but my midsection just seems to get bigger. I eat very healthy and drink lots of water. This is frustrating - what can I do?


(Article continued below.)

Are there others in your family who have had similar problems with their midsections? It sounds like your dilemma may be genetic, in which case you may have to learn to live with it. Everybody loses and gains weight in his or her own unique way - some carry extra weight in the hips and thighs, others gain weight in their upper backs, some gain in their bellies. When they lose weight, there are areas in which the weight drops easily, and other body parts where it seems like it'll never come off. In your case, the big holdout is apparently your abdominal region. Don't give up, though - keep on doing what you're doing, eat sensibly (in other words, avoid fad diets and don't starve yourself), and eventually you'll probably lose some of that abdominal fat, although it may not be as much as you would like.

Here are a couple more things you may want to look at. You say your midsection seems to be getting bigger - is it really, or is that just because everything around it is getting smaller? On the other hand, it is possible for your midsection to get bigger if you work it out too much, and your body is inclined to build muscle in that area. If you work a muscle hard, it increases in size. Usually, that's what you want - bigger muscles burn up more calories, and your fat stores will decrease. You get thinner because the fat diminishes, and the extra muscle helps keep that fat away. But sometimes muscles may bulk up in ways that you don't want. With women, this is not a common problem, but it does happen. If you're obsessively working your abdominals - and, once again, you're genetically inclined - this could be part of what's going on. It is possible to increase your waistline by working your abs too hard, especially the obliques - those muscles on either side of your abdominal region. If your midsection's wide, but pretty firm, this may be your problem. In that case, you'd want to work your abs less than you are now.

If your midsection isn't hard, but soft in spite of your best efforts, then perhaps you aren't working your abs as well as you think. In ab exercises, form is everything. When you do your ab workouts, do those muscles burn or do you just wind up with a sore back and neck? You should feel the abdominal muscles work- nothing else - when you do an ab exercise. If you really want to learn about your abs from an exercise point of view, one of the best workouts you can try is Pilates. Pilates develops your midsection in a very attractive manner, plus it focuses on every muscle in the area, not just the rectus abdominis (the long muscle in front that's responsible for that famed six-pack look). If Pilates, or other modifications to your abdominal workouts, don't work, then you'll have to just accept the fact that your body isn't perfect. That's okay. Everybody has a body part they're not thrilled with. You probably have other areas that look great, especially if you're working out diligently and eating right - focus on those and don't let your abs get you down.

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