Did You Hear the One About the Fitness Chick Who Says YES to Coffee But NO to Sit ups, Planks, & Crunches?

Today you’ll be hearing from a different voice: Beth Learn, the “fitness chick” from Fit2B Online Fitness Studio. I’m a huge fan of Fit2B, and I love Beth’s heart to help every member achieve a greater level of fitness by respecting current limitations and celebrating small victories. Enjoy!

Did you hear the one about the fitness chick that says YES to coffee but NO to sit ups, planks, & crunches

Google the ways to get a great gut, and here’s what happens: The top three results will be paid advertisements, and the other kazillion results will be ordered – not by scientific accuracy or researchability but – by how many times the words you are searching for turn up in those articles. Most of them will say the same things: work your abs harder with more crunches and planks, and eat healthy foods like cardboard and grass.

While I do like my greens, and my daughter loves cardboard for art projects, I’m not about to do crunches {or tell anyone to do them} and I’m not giving up my coffee! Coffee is awesome and crunches totally stink when it comes to having a healthy gut. Might I add, though, that it’s what goes into the coffee and every other food you consume that matters. It’s what you should be doing in place of crunches and planks that will really matter.

Pause for a friendly moment of disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. I’m an enthusiastic affiliate of Fit2B and strongly believe that Bethany’s approach to fitness has greatly blessed my health and strength. If you purchase through one of these links, your cost is the same, and this site and my family are blessed with a commission. Thanks!

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Now, I’m not addicted to coffee, and I can go without it, but when it’s packed with Vitamin C and other antioxidants, and when I can add 5 things to it that are superfoods for my body, why avoid it? The things I add to to my java always surprise my friends, just like they – and the rest of the fitness community – all raised a collective eyebrow at me when I denounced crunches as worthless time-wasters 5 years ago.

You see, coffee and fitness are alike in that – like just about everything on this planet – they can either help you or hurt you; it’s what goes into your steaming workout-slash-mug that counts. Did you notice that play on words? Steamy workout? Steamy mug? Okay, I actually don’t believe you even need to get sweaty to get a great workout, just like coffee is also good on ice… crickets … Moving on…

So what do I put into my coffee that’s so unusual?

Well, lately I’ve been experimenting with a homemade version of “bulletproof” coffee by adding a TBS of grassfed butter and 2 TBS of coconut oil to my coffee in blender and whipping it until it’s creamy and foamy: surprisingly delicious and keeps me going all morning! This mix supplies healthy fats that are {believe it or not} help me burn fat! Yes, look it up for yourself, lady!

One-on-One Consults with Beth LearnMost days, I just put some organic half ‘n half, 1 TBS of Great Lakes gelatin for protein, and 1 tsp of organic cane sugar in my mug. Every so often I combine all 5 things, but I’ve learned that when I do the bulletproof thing, the sugar almost makes it too sweet, and the gelatin seems to add a twang to the flavor. By the way, I have a major sweet tooth {Swedish Fish and Hi-Chews are my kryptonite… and ice cream… okay fine! Dr. Pepper too… #hidesface #nohaters} so that’s huge for me to think something doesn’t need sugar! 😉

So yes to coffee but NO to crunches?

If the world went sideways tomorrow, I would miss coffee, but I will never EVAH ever miss crunches or situps. Yes, I used to do them all the time. Yes, they worked my abs before I had kids. Hey, you have to understand they were such easy brainless work to insert at the end of classes I was teaching, but after I had kids that had the opposite effect on me: I’d do a bunch and my stomach would be BIGGER the next day! Wha???

So when my research revealed why the everyday crunch was doing more harm than good to my back and belly, I quit them cold turkey. They haven’t been a part of my workout for 5 years now, and before that my belly was pretty distended. Eliminating this detrimental move was part of healing my diastasis recti through Kelly Dean and The Tummy Team, and my belly hasn’t been this flat and strong since before my three pregnancies.

If you’ve been doing a bunch of crunches and sit ups only to have your belly stay big, it’s time to step back and analyze if your routine is helping or harming your progress. Along with those motions, planks can also wreak further havoc to a damaged core. So if you’re experiencing lingering lower back problems, digestive issues, leaky bladder, pelvic organ prolapse, and separation of your abdominal muscles, then crunches, planks and situps are the LAST motions you should be doing.

If you have any of those above symptoms, you have to put the health of your gut before the shape of your gut. But I assure you that doing so will reshape your gut. It’s a total paradigm shift where you stop pushing through pain and ignoring your weakness {bottom-up philosophy} and switch to a top-down philosophy where your mind is back in control and you make educated decisions about your health and fitness based on TUNING IN to your body’s signs and signals rather than tuning out.

Your focus needs to be on healing your inflamed gut, both in how you exercise and in how you eat. Gelatin, grass fed butter, and coconut oil are all very nourishing to your whole system, reducing inflammation, encouraging the regrowth of cells, fostering beneficial bacteria. As to learning how to train your core without crunches Fit2B provides effective exercise programs that will nurture a healthy belly, too! (Quick note from Kristen: Healing the gut requires more than adding a few things to the diet, and I know Bethany agrees. If you have gut imbalances, it is important to evaluate your entire diet and lifestyle so that you can make appropriate changes. Carry on!)

Wait… Can’t crunches ever be good, and isn’t coffee sometimes bad?

You bet! There is a time and place for everything under the sun: a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to have coffee and a time to abstain. A time to do crunches, and a time to focus on belly breaths and transverse holds. If your core is healthy and stable, and you aren’t suffering with the side effects of diastasis recti or herniation, then performing a few crunches with good technique has it’s place. But many people have diastasis and herniation and don’t even realize it! And most people do not understand proper crunch form – they just bang them out, up and down, up and down.

As to the coffee, yes, it’s a natural stimulant and diuretic. Everything in moderation, but maybe not crunches… They’re just not necessary for your abs!!

C’mon! Wouldn’t you rather spend your limited, precious time before the dog poops on the floor, and Suzie asks for another snack, and the neighbor needs to borrow an egg, and Johnny needs help with his homework, and the hubby asks what time dinner will be ready {been there, done that} doing multi-joint motions work your whole core cannister (not just your six-pack) and burn more calories, and which are functionally applicable to you daily life? #epicrunonsentenceaward

Did you hear the one about the fitness chick who says YES to coffee and NO to sit ups, planks, and crunches

Think about it: Most moms are already hunched and crunched over and have overactive rectus abs, so why encourage that posture more? You need moves that help you sit up long, lean and lifted. You need to get that head back so your ears are between your shoulders, not be pushing your head forward with your hands while you yank it up into a crunch or sit up! Seriously, just rolling over onto your belly and doing some gentle arm, head and leg lifts from there is 100 times better for your whole body than crunches while strengthening those crucial scapular, erector spinae and gluteal muscles!

Look, I know I’ve really challenged the status quo here with this cheeky article, but I’m a straight shooter, and I’m not going to leave you hanging. Check out those coffee links, and please check out all the amazing core-centered routines I’ve filmed for Fit2B Studio during the 5 years that I haven’t been wasting time on crunches. I dare you to accept this paradigm shift in your coffee and core for a month and see what happens!

From Kristen: Bethany is so right about moms being in a hunched position most of the day! Fit2B is helping me keep better posture and core strength just by being more conscious of how I’m moving, sitting, and standing through the day. And my tummy? It’s in better shape now than it has been for years, all because of tummy safe workouts and no more crunches!

Are you surprised that crunches aren’t the best exercise for your tummy?

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    4 Comments

      1. Yes, they sure did! I haven’t seen it myself since I have my membership, but I’m glad you mentioned it. The DVD can be seen HERE. (my affiliate link)

        The DVD would be an awesome option for someone who doesn’t have consistent or fast internet. Thanks, Edith!

    1. I’ve known about crunches being bad for you & never have done them. Really want to sign up for a Fit2B membership some day. But was worried that I would be able to use it to the full potential, due to the limited internet we have. Most of it is videos, correct? We can only watch a small amount per month & if I do this I would want to be able to watch them every day, correct?

      1. Hi Barbara! Yes, you are correct. I know of some other families that have limited internet abilities and that has been a problem for them. But another commenter, Edith, just reminded me that Fit2B just released a DVD on Amazon with four of their workouts! That might be a helpful option for you to consider. You can see it HERE.

        I have struggled to fit in exercise lately, so even though I don’t do the videos daily (oh how I wish!), I’ve learned so much through them that I at least can incorporate tummy-safe movements through my day. I know how to bend over better and how to engage parts of my tummy muscles to keep my back supported.