After a few feasts of pecorino and Chianti, one of my Italy retreat students asked, “I’ve eaten so much cheese, can we do some abs?”
When did we learn that crunches, repeated contractions of the rectus abdominis muscles, would alleviate anxiety about eating gnocchi and gelato? I’ve been thinking about my response.
First, crunches are one of my least favorite exercises. They wreak havoc on the neck, exacerbate slouched postures, bypass deeper core stabilizers, and restrict breath capacity. If you want to “work your core” (whatever that means anymore) I suggest squats and abdominal breathing.
Second, I’m not into “doing abs” for atonement. We don’t need to tally our “bad” foods and punish ourselves during the next workout. Fresh sheep ricotta right off the farm is a once-in-a-lifetime feast that we can savor without regret. Third, our digestive system works best when we relax. No one on the retreat was gaining a significant amount of weight or falling off the rails with their health. We can metabolize pleasure, fat, and sweetness without the gut-clogging guilt.
After a few weeks of Italian deliciousness I was ready to return to my routines. Back to the produce department, my bike, and kettlebells. I know my own reset button, no crunches needed. I like traveling through indulgence but I don’t need to lose myself there.