sunday morning, you’ve woken up early and done your run to get the holiday off to the best possible start, you come home and feel those stomach cramps that would make you eat even the table legs, screwing up your good resolutions not to binge too much (because you know you’re going to eat more than usual at lunch anyway, right?). Here, if you recognize yourself in these words, don’t worry, just know that there are many of us facing this problem. How then to fight this sense of extreme hunger? I know you won’t believe it and you’ll think I’m crazy, but there are free-body exercises that can help you decrease hunger pangs, and they won’t require too much effort either (a little bit, yes, but not a lot, I promise).
1. The tree.
Of all the exercises on this short list, this one seems the simplest, but it is only appearance. Standing, join hands with palms open and resting on each other and lift one leg, bringing the sole of the lifted foot to touch the knee of the other leg, with the toe of the foot pointing downward (it’s hard, I told you!). Stay like this for about thirty seconds and then do it with the other leg. For how many times? At least five on each side, and be sure to pay attention to your breathing, inhale deeply, wait a few seconds, exhale and then start again.
2. The plow.
Lie supine (on your stomach), then slowly try to bring your legs behind your head, keeping them as tight and upright as possible. Ideally, you should reach the ground with your toes while remaining resting with your back on the floor, but this is not a very easy thing to do and requires a lot of practice, so for the first few times it will be enough to lift your legs as high as possible and try to bring them as far as you can behind your head. How long should you hold this position? As long as possible. Ideally, you should do it for at least thirty seconds at a time, making at least five attempts, but if you stay less and do the exercise more times, for the first few times, that’s okay too.
This one is easy, I swear! Get into a prone position (this time on your stomach), bring your legs together and lift your torso, keeping your arms extended and in line with your shoulders, resting your palms totally on the floor. The detachment with the floor should be at pelvic height, and only the belly should be raised off the ground, while the legs should be well extended and together.
Here we are on a higher level of difficulty, I admit. Starting from the same position as in the previous exercise, lift your whole body by placing the load on your forearms lying flat on the floor and palms facing downward. You must bring your whole body up, maintaining contact with the ground only with your forearms and toes, and you must hold the position for the canonical thirty seconds and the usual five repetitions. We sweat here, you know (eh, as if the previous others don’t make people sweat, right?).
5. The upside-down dog.
We close this brief roundup with another seemingly simple exercise. Starting in prone position, rest your hands with open palms on the floor and lift your pelvis, keeping your legs together. You need to bring your pelvis as high as possible, reaching up to extend your legs and arms as far as possible, so that your head is forced to look toward your feet. Your body will take the shape of a triangle point, where the base is the floor and the two cathetes are your legs and your arms + back.
If you’re wondering how these exercises can help you reduce hunger, since they will certainly cause you to expend more energy, the explanation is relatively simple. All of them, in fact, stimulate the muscles of the abdomen and contract the muscle fibers just enough to constrict the stomach preventing it from taking up too much space in the abdominal cavity, so the empty feeling you would have is buffered. Additional help in suppressing hunger pangs is provided by drinking a glass of water, which stimulates the receptors of a retracted stomach to help make it think, “Hey, you’re already full, you don’t need to eat for now.” FOR NOW, that’s right, because Sunday lunch is sacred and no skipping, mind you!