When you’re continually stressed out, it’s bad news for your belly. Stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol, and because cortisol is evolutionarily linked to alerting your body to external dangers (like that buffalo headed straight for you) and low blood-glucose levels, it forces your body to store fat and makes you feel hungry. In other words, if you’re stressed, you’ll start craving that afternoon candy bar even if your stomach is actually full. To avoid stress, try simple things like yoga, taking deep breaths and meditating for a few minutes each day.
Shift your weight into your right foot. Hug your left shin into your chest, then extend it straight back behind you so it’s parallel to the ground. Flex your left foot and point the toes down. Bring your fingertips to the ground to stabilize yourself if you need to. Reach your arms out in front of you so your body is in a straight line from your fingertips all the way down your back and out through your left heel. Stay here for 3 long, deep breaths then slowly return to standing. Repeat on the other side.
If you're after a sleeker middle, add dairy to your diet. Research shows that its proteins increase satiety and cause you to eat less. My choice: homemade Parmesan crisps. Preheat oven to 350; line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide 2 cups grated Parmesan into 2-Tbsp. portions. Form each into a small pile and press with the back of a fork. Bake until melted and flat, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with chopped cooked vegetables (I love spinach, squash or eggplant).
Work to reduce your stress level. It turns out that you can place a little bit of the blame for your bulging belly on our caveman ancestors. Part of the “fight or flight” reflex that helped protect our predecessors from sabre-tooth tigers triggers a release of cortisol, which signals the body to store fat in the abdominal area — saving it as energy for tough times to come.
Spanx are maybe no one’s idea of a good time, but sometimes you just need a little extra (firm) help to flatten your tummy to wear your favorite dress or for a special evening out. And there’s nothing wrong with turning to technology to help you get there. Body shaping undergarments have come a long way in the past few years with more breathable fabrics and styles for both men and women.
Your core is the center of your body. You need to identify it, engage it and have all movements extend from it. It's also key to go beyond basic crunches. They're one-dimensional, hitting only the rectus abdominis (or six-pack). My quickie series targets the midsection from multiple angles, part of the reason why my clients over 40, like J.Lo, still have sculpted abs. Pair with 30 to 60 minutes of cardio and aim to do it six times a week.
They also aren't the only culprit. Just sitting for long periods of time (at your desk job, during Netflix marathons) can wreck your waistline. "When you slouch, the front of your body is rounded, just as it would be in a crunch," says Sean Wells, a physical therapist, certified personal trainer, and exercise expert for the online weight-loss and wellness program BistroMD. "So you're still conditioning your rectus to be in this shortened state—but often, it's also weak."
It's not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the ;immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that's published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.