Middle-age Spread

Tuesday 22nd November, 2005
Some people laughed when I said i was going to blog this, but I truly have no shame.

There's a well known phenomenon in men of a certain age whereby there belly starts to hang out a bit further than it used to. Slowly the "beer gut" gets bigger and hangs out over your trousers or jeans (pants for you Yanks). Your waistband moves slowly down and you draw your belt tighter in an attempt to fight your increasing waistline.

For active types this isn't so bad, they just go down the gym or do more sports and this helps fight the flab; for the rest of us however it's a common problem - I'm a perfect example. I've never been into sports, never done regular exercise and generally just sit around watching TV or playing computer games; I don't even walk anywhere very often. I've never really carried any weight and still only weight around 11.5stone (160lbs). I've always had a bit of a belly but it's always been pretty easy to draw my breath and hold it in. As you get older however, the stomach muscles get less exercise and drawing it in becomes increasingly difficult and the default state just hangs out that bit further.

So, what's the solution? Ideally I would do more exercise. Any physical workout would help me considerably. My stamina would improve and it would apparently improve the condition of my heart and circulatory system. It may also improve my blood pressure, although in a recent test is came out 121/82 so I was hardly worried.

I'm too lazy to exercise but my gut still keeps moving outwards and so I've been trying something out. You may see ads in the press all the time for these electrical muscle stimulators, a belt or set of pads that you apply directly to the skin with a battery powered controller. The main brand in this sector is Slendertone so, after a bit of research, I selected and bought a Slendertone Flex Max Abdominal Toning System.

OK, it's £100...but it's negligible compared to a local gym membership. In the box you get the vecro attached waist belt, 2 sets of electrode pads and not one, but 2 sets of batteries. Along with that, a nice carry case is included. You stick a set of pads to the belt (one set will last for many weeks of heavy use), click in the batteries and then put the belt around your waist; It should be close fitting but not tight. One lage pad attaches over and above the naval and the other two attach at the sides between the ribs and the hips. There are 9 levels of exercise of varying lengths and you slowly work your way up the levels. You can vary the strength of each program from 1-99 to be more comfortable. I start a 30min program at around 50 and work it up to around 80 as my muscles warm up and become accustomed.

The results? Well, it's working well.I can literally just sit at my computer or watch TV whilst the machine works it's magic. It's like doing 100 situps without having to think about it or having to move. It doesn't help with stamina at all and I really still need to improve my physical fitness levels, but it does do what is claimed. My stomach muscles are considerably tighter and my 'default' waist size is definitely reduced. It's the same belly and I doubt if my fat levels are reduced much if at all; but it's all just a bit tighter around the middle, my figure improved and my trousers fit better.

So, if you're as lazy as me and need to sort that middle-aged spread I recommend you give it a go. The belt can be warn under loose clothes will little detection and it's easy to use around the house or office. You could even consider it on a plane or car journey.

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