“It's finally out of the way,” announced the paunchy guy with the white hair.

“What's out of your way?” I asked. “Your attitude?”

“Nah,” he replied. “My gut finally shifted out of the way and now I can keep my leg straight and touch my foot.”

This is was a breakthrough, considering the guy had trouble just seeing his feet, let alone touching them. We had been working hard at leaving out that personal beer keg of his. While he was farm boy strong, he had a heck of a time with flexibility, any kind of endurance and movement.

That is until he got some control of his breathing.

He was often inhaling and exhaling at the wrong time and holding his breath and panting and gasping like a old steam engine. We finally got him to exhale deeply while performing abdominal crunches. Then with Hindu Squats. Then other exercises.

Part of the problem was that his paunch was pushing against his lungs, especially while on his back. This crowding of his lungs, made it difficult for him to breath or concentrate on what he was doing. He jokingly bragged about his “45 pound handicap.”

The trick was trying to get him to breath with a gut that was smothering him. When we tried different angles, like kneeling, on his stomach, on his side, in the plank position and standing (yes, standing) and really, really focused on his breathing, he finally felt a “shift” inside of his rib cage.

WHEN VERY OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE LIE ON THEIR BACKS, THEY HAVE DIFFICULTY BREATHING.

You see, many peoples' stomachs get bloated from lack of exercise, slouching at a desk, eating junk and guzzling massive amounts of beer. Not only is there a layer of (cutaneous) fat just under the belly skin, but also (visceral) fat amongst the internal organs. The weight of the internal fat and a weak stomach wall lets the internal organs sag below the rib cage. When the gut sags, so does the person's energy.

The problem with many fitness programs is that they try to flatten a bulging belly with a one-size-fits-all approach of “burning more calories” and lots of cardio exercise. They almost always skip body alignment and the essential breathing techniques. So, the pot-bellied client often gets spindly arms and legs, lower back pain and still has a large, protruding belly.

With the deep breathing technique, my client was able to touch the foot of his extended leg. His agility has also improved to where he can almost stand up from sitting cross-legged without the use of his hands. Instead of being breathless after exercising, he calmed his breath in less than a minute.

He literally breathed his way to greater strength, flexibility and a flatter stomach. The trick is using the complete breath with full (and I mean full) exhalations with your exercises.