Have you ever heard anyone say that "great abs are made in the kitchen" or that getting fit is "80% diet, 20% gym?" A new study from the University of Washington has found that while more people are exercising, the rate of obesity is climbing too. People automatically assume that just because they spend an hour on the elliptical, it will undo all of those donuts or frappuccinos that they ate or drank the day before. Consider that an average 150-pound person would have to run more than 5 miles just to work off the calories found in a fast food milk shake or a quarter pounder. Exercising off excess calories daily is not always easy when you are continuously tempted by high-calorie foods. Yes, it is true that you cannot exercise a bad diet. I can't help but laugh a little bit when I hear someone say "I want abs." Why? Because we ALL have abs-the muscle is there! It is just the matter of making them visible and to do this, a combination of a great diet and exercise regimen is needed. You cannot have one without the other. Well, you can, if you want, but the results won't be as outstanding as they could potentially be if you were to do both simultaneously. In 2010, I dropped almost 45 lbs from eating a clean diet alone. That's right. Working as a nurse, I was on my feet during my entire shifts and by the end of the day, I was just too tired (or too lazy) to even think about going to the gym. The results? I lost weight and had the best abs of my life. However, the rest of my body was left flabby without any type of muscle tone because I did not put any muscles to work. Eating helps you to gain muscle, but does not create them like physical activity does. This is one of the many reasons why they go hand in hand. They each serve their own purpose, but, together, they serve a common goal-getting fit. Remember, food is fuel! Only put the best into your body. Primarily, yes, it is true that abs are made in the kitchen. But you do not want just great abs-you want the total package! Right? Stop doing thousands of crunches. Compound, multi-joint, total body movements will promote more total fat loss and promote a much bigger muscle building response than crunches and sit-ups ever will. Another great thing about this form of exercise is that you typically work more than one muscle group in the process. Be smart with your cardio. All cardio is not created equally. Try interval training next time you are at the gym. Studies have shown that your body burns significantly more calories and fat if your cardio workouts push you to your limits in spurts, allowing brief periods of recovery. Ditch those long continuous runs and keep your body guessing. HIIT it, folks! Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Think of your body as a furnace. It constantly needs fire to keep burning, right? Your body is no different! By consistently eating these small meals throughout the day, you are constantly feeding your body so it has to work to digest those foods. It also decreases the risk of your body going into starvation mode from going too long without a snack. Cut out the processed crap. Sugary foods, highly salted foods, fast foods, most boxed foods, white breads, foods with chemical names that you cannot pronounce, white flours etc-cut it out. Aim for fresher and more wholesome choices. Don't forget that healthy fats and lean proteins are good for you. There is so much misconception that "fats make you fat" and that "all meats are fatty." This is certainly not the case. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles and healthy fats help to regulate your hormones that control fat burn. Too much of anything is never a good thing, keep in mind. Drink at least half your body weight in ounce of water. Everyone knows how important water is. If you weigh 120 lbs, then aim for at least 60 oz. of water daily. Water helps to balance hormonal responses to weight loss as well. So, were your abs "made in the kitchen?" If you want to make yours, click here!