Middle age is dreaded by many as all too often people can't seem to lose that little extra weight that comes with achieving the age 40+. "From Belly Fat to Belly Flat: How Hormones Are Adding Inches to Your Waistline and Subtracting Years from Your Life" will explain exactly why this happens to so many people, and more importantly, how to remedy it. It has less to do with carbs and calories says C.W. Randolph, a physician who has treated more than 100,000 women for their hormonal imbalance issues over the year, and more to do with hormones. "From Belly Fat to Belly Flat: How Hormones Are Adding Inches to Your Waistline and Subtracting Years from Your Life" will teach readers how to self-diagnose their estrogen dominance problems, everyday culprits that will mess with your hormones, and vitamins that support and hinder your hormonal balance. "From Belly Fat to Belly Flat: How Hormones Are Adding Inches to Your Waistline and Subtracting Years From Your Life" is highly recommended to women approaching middle age everywhere and for community library health shelves.
In addition to exercise, getting in shape quickly will require some habit changes. For starters, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. According to Wake Forest researchers, dieters who sleep five hours or less put on two and a half times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on slightly less than that. Though that might not sound like much, when you have a regular bedtime and stick to it, you set yourself up for day-in, day-out weight loss.

Plank: Start on your hands and knees and come up into a push-up plank position, balancing on hands (or elbows) and toes (or knees). Align wrists under shoulders; keep your back straight and the abs and glutes tight (to keep the back from sagging). Hold the position and breathe out for 10 seconds, exhaling to tighten the abs and draw the navel to the spine.

HOW TO MAKE IT: Using leftover pork from yesterday, throw together a Thai pork salad. Combine a quarter pound of pork (a third of the leftovers), 2 cups romaine lettuce, ¼ red bell pepper, ½ cup cilantro leaves, and 1 shredded carrot. Top with the rest of the cilantro-lime dressing. We like the two-dressing combo with some peanut sauce. To make, combine ½ tablespoon of peanut butter, a squirt of Sriracha, a teaspoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, and enough water to thin it out.
Get more "bang" for your ab-exercise "buck." Ideally, instead of focusing on muscle-toning exercises that target only your abdominals, you should seek out alternatives that utilize other muscle groups as well. They often require more exertion, which can help with fat burning. Also, additional muscle tone in the back, chest, shoulders, legs, etc. can improve posture and otherwise help make your belly appear slimmer.
Peterson has his clients work up to holding a plank for 1 minute. Then they progress to performing vacuums during the exercise: Suck in your abs like you’re trying to button jeans that are too tight. Hold for 3 counts, then release for 3 counts. Repeat until the end of your plank. You’ll have to build back up to a minute, but it’s worth it, Peterson says.
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry’s “top hits” could translate into serious sugar savings, according to researchers at Google. The study, dubbed “Project M&M,” found that storing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones help curb M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. In the study, they also gave healthier snacks more prominent shelf space. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For more sugar-curbing tips, grab a copy of The 14-Day No-Sugar Diet.
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.

Drink water. Stay hydrated to stay energized and active. You’ll also reduce belly bloat from water retention if you maintain a well-hydrated body. Skip the high-calorie sports drinks and sweetened drinks. Stick to homemade flavored water to keep your hydration habit cheap and healthy. If you feel like your belly weight is due to water retention, there are safe ways to lose water weight quickly so that your tummy gets flatter in a few days (or even a few hours).
Lower your sodium intake. Sodium causes your body to retain water, which causes you to look bloated — especially around your abdominal region. Whenever possible, try replacing high-sodium foods with healthier options. Switch regular table salt for kosher or sea salt, which is lower in sodium. Some foods high in sodium include soy sauce, restaurant meals, MSG, cured meats like pepperoni and salami, ham, bacon, sauces, and snack foods.[2]
Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called "the belly fat" hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn't good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it's important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods. (Hint: Know what isn't? Watching television. The boob tube actually increases your levels of cortisol!)
Peterson is a fan of Chaturanga Dandasana—a.k.a. yoga pushup—for the extension and isometric contraction it provides: From plank, bend your elbows and begin lowering toward the floor, with every part of your body an equal distance from the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body, abs engaged (not clenched), back straight, thigh muscles active, and glutes soft. Start by holding the pose above the floor for 5 full, complete breaths, and work up to 10. Push back up to plank in 4 counts. Do 4 reps every other day.
"My No. 1 tip: Do the ball exchange three times a week. Lay flat on your back with your arms above your head and legs straight out. Start with a stability ball above your head in your hands. Bring the ball up above your chest as you bring your legs up to meet the ball and place it between your ankles. Bring the ball back down to the floor with your legs and straighten your arms back out over your head.
While no crunch in and of itself will get rid of belly fat, abdominal exercises are the “finishing moves” to sculpt the abs once you’ve removed excess fat via diet and exercise, Holland says. Spend the majority of your workout focusing on the rest of your body, and dedicate no more than 10 percent of your time on abs work. So if you work out for an hour, plan six minutes of abs exercises and give the rest of your time to strength training and/or cardio.
Vary your cardiovascular exercise routines. For fat reduction and weight loss, your goal should be to average thirty to sixty minutes of aerobic exercise daily. The exercise doesn’t need to be intense, but should make you breathe hard enough to make having a conversation a bit of a challenge, and work up at least a light sweat (think again of the jacket analogy from above).[8]
Carbohydrates hold water in your body, which may make your belly bloat. Plus, high-carb, high-sugar breakfast foods like bagels or cereal might fill you up initially, but you’ll probably end up searching for more food within an hour, says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness. “Those digest pretty rapidly, and then your blood sugar spikes up and drops back down pretty quickly because they digest so fast,” she says. That extra morning munching will likely add up to more calories and bloat than you would have had if you’d started with a more filling breakfast. Be sure to follow these other daily habits that reduce bloating and flatten your belly, too.

Even if you can't get to the gym, try to squeeze in a 30-minute walk daily, Lyons says. The simple boost in metabolism will help you burn waistline fat more efficiently. And if you want to work out, skip those gadgets that promise "miraculous abs in minutes." A study from Kansas State University found most devices designed to target abs (think infomercials) don't live up to their promises. You'll see better results with traditional exercise.

For test panelist June Caron, incorporating fresh produce like avocados was a life-changing lesson from Zero Belly Diet. The 55-year-old lost 6 pounds in the first week on the program. "Learning to eat real, chemical-free, fresh foods has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I am never hungry. And the weight just keeps coming off!" Glowing skin, healthy nails, and better sleep were Zero Belly bonuses, June said. "I'm well on my way to getting my sexy back. Everyone says I look much younger!"
Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite at Rush University Medical Center suggests filling half your plate with vegetables so you don't have room for unhealthy foods. Eating more vegetables not only helps whittle your waist, but also lowers risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A vegetable-filled lunch might include 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with 2 cups of mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots sauteed in 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1 cup of roasted red potatoes. This meal contains 545 calories.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
Another metabolism-boosting tip: Eat every three to four hours, and that should include making time for breakfast. Research shows that people who miss a morning meal experience a surge in a hunger-related hormone later in the day. Regular snacks (which should include fiber-filled complex carbs and protein!) will keep you feeling full and your body burning cals at a steady rate.
Stand upright, feet apart. Lock your fingers to create a solid grip. Exhale, and sweep the hands, arms, shoulders, and chest to the left, as if you were rowing a canoe. At the same time, lift the left knee up and to the right. Inhale and return to the starting position. Exhale and perform the movement to the right. Keep switching sides for 20 reps.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a 1 pound, small spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place in an oven-safe baking dish, flesh-side up, and pour about 2 tablespoons of water into each half. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until tender. In the meantime, pour a serving of marinara sauce into a small saucepan along with 6 of the mini meatballs to begin to heat up and defrost. Cover. Once the squash is done, pour out the water and use a fork to scrape long, spaghetti-like strands from the flesh onto your plate. Save the other half of the squash for lunch tomorrow.
Many of us grew up eating white bread and bagels, so we understand why they may hold a special place in your heart. But these starchy grains (and things like white rice and pretzels) are anything but healthy. Made with enriched flour instead of healthy whole grains, they’re void of the belly-filling fiber that boosts satiety and keeps blood sugar stable. What’s worse, refined white-flour foods like these are linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, they lead to weight gain and make it more difficult to lose weight, too. For more ways to get the slim body you crave, check out these 50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds—Fast.
Your breakfast toast won’t miss these sugar-laden spreads when you start to shed pounds and notice a flatter belly. One tablespoon of jam easily carries just under 10 grams of sugar. And let’s be honest, who just has one? Top peanut butter sandwiches with fresh pieces of fruit, like banana and strawberry slices to infuse it with some natural sweetness. This tactic will help ward off blood-sugar fluctuations that can cause insulin spikes and put hunger into overdrive.
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Even calorie-free sodas can make your belly bigger because the carbonation will bloat you up. “With carbonated beverages, there’s nowhere else for gas to go but out, so either belch or gas,” says Crandall. Plus, the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks can cause bloating and gas in some people, says Armul. Try water infused with lemon or cucumbers instead for a flavorful, refreshing drink. Here’s how stomach doctors deal with belly bloat.
©2007.C. W. Randolph, M.D., Genie James. All rights reserved. Reprinted from From Belly Fat to Belly Flat. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.
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.
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