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Time to make some gut decisions

What's the best way to get a handle on your love handles, and when did situps get so complicated?

Published August 16, 2005

In July, according to a report in the Hindustan Times, Indian police forced 200 people caught watching pornography to do sit-ups in public as punishment.

As a guy with a gut and love handles he'd love to get rid of, I thought: Man, I really need to start watching more porn.

After remembering I don't live in India, I decided I needed a more reasonable approach to a flatter stomach. I hunkered down for hours of intense research, poring over documents in search of the best information possible.

Okay, fine, I Googled.

I discovered two things:

1. Combining cardio exercise and a low-fat diet is the best way to lose your love handles, which was good because I was heading down that road.

2. Situps, done properly, will help. This was not so good, as ab exercises and I have been at odds since 1983, when I was busted counting to 100 by 10s doing situps in high school P.E. class.

On a visit to the Y last week, I researched what the best exercises were. As I rode the exercise bike, a woman was working on her abs with a personal trainer just a few feet away.

So I studied her and what she was doing for 20 minutes as I pedaled, committing to memory her every move.

Perhaps I studied too intently, though I still don't think the restraining order she served on me the next day was really necessary.

But I slowly discovered from watching people and reading a few magazine articles that there must be 100 ways to do situps, or crunches, or leg lifts, or whatever.

When did the situp become so complicated?

I hoped a class at the Y might help me decide between all the twists and turns and Swedish balls, each movement working a different part of your ab.

On Thursday, I stopped off on my way to work expecting to learn it all in an Ab Blast class. Just me and a bunch of guys killing ourselves with crunches while trying to build that perfect torso. Good old male camaraderie as we hollered each other on toward six-pack city.

I discovered that men don't show up at the Y at 9 a.m. on a weekday.

Their wives do.

I was the second one in the class, and it soon filled up with 19 other women.


For a moment, I thought: Run! Now! But I was frozen. I was pretty convinced that I looked like the world's biggest pervert, like some 19-year-old kid joining an aerobics class just to meet women (but enough about my sophomore year in college).

Before I could flee, the 30-minute class had begun. Soon I heard the "tap . . . tap . . . tap" of my sweat rolling off my forehead and onto the mat.

The class was surprisingly brutal. I tried to keep up as best I could. My legs burned more than my abs did. (Can we do just one situp with our feet on the ground? Please?)

When the class ended, I felt pretty good. But I definitely need more inspiration. Maybe a personal trainer to punish me. Maybe someone in my face yelling.

Grabbing my mat, I fell in line with everyone as we put them back. The ladies, they all followed the instructor into a room for a kickboxing class.

Me? I went home and started pricing flights and movie ticket prices in India.


Weighing In, John C. Cotey's column about his effort to lose weight, appears Tuesdays in Floridian. His starting weight on July 1 was 250 pounds. To read previous columns and his Web log, The Skinny, please go to

[Last modified August 16, 2005, 05:10:04]

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