Quick question for Cassie. I’m LOVING my results from this abs challenge but I’m wondering how I maintain or continue my progress after the challenge is over. Should I find another ab challenge for the month, repeat the challenge or just continue on with next month’s calendar and continue eating clean to maintain my results? Any feedback you could give would be so helpful! Thank you again! Xoxo

Flat Belly begins with a restrictive four-day anti-bloat regimen comprised of four 300-calorie meals a day. Lots of baby carrots, cucumbers, skim milk, chicken breast and tilapia will be on the menu. Then you'll progress to a monthlong eating plan that calls for three 400-calorie meals and one 400-calorie snack a day. Each meal includes a precise amount of one monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), such as 1 cup of soybeans, 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips or 2 tablespoons of olive tapenade. Meals also emphasize lean protein, whole grains, veggies and fruit.
Though your uterus shrinks back to its normal size after the baby's born, your muscles don't always close—in fact, in a small study, nearly 40 percent of women still had a gap six months after giving birth. This breach allows the soft tissue behind your abs to come through, Trupin says. Plus, your back muscles have to compensate for your off-duty abs, putting you at risk for back pain.
But regardless of how tight your ab muscles are, they can't erase belly fat that lies above (subcutaneous) or below them (visceral fat). Those you'll have to burn off—and according to Olson's research, the best belly fat-melting method is Tabata intervals. Maximum-effort cardio intervals raise your level of adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone that's the secret sauce to burning fat.

Starting a Meatless Monday tradition is a great way to drop a few pounds because it increases your intake of fiber and a host of other nutrients. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and the lowest body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which are known to possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers, so try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains a few times a month.

This fried rice recipe is the most underrated weight-loss food out there because it utilizes two cooking methods that boost nutrients. For starters, it uses cold brown rice, which changes the starches into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation (adding to the resistant starches found in the corn and peas). Resistant starches pass through your gut undigested, where they feed your good gut bacteria who then release anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s also fried up with oil, a fat that acts as a barrier against rapid digestion.
After 5 months I was sleeping better (I believe it's the hormones, not the supplements) but hadn't lost an ounce, in fact I'd gained a pound. Thinking I must have a really screwy metabolism, I decided to sign up for their saliva hormone test and evaluation. The lab they used sent a very good report with recommendations, however I was disappointed in Dr. Randolph's staff's evaluation. The young lady I spoke with did not have, thus had not looked at and evaluated the extensive questionaire I filled out for the lab, nor had she seen the thyroid test results I'd faxed from a recent physical. Basically she parroted the book's recommendation on supplements. I got no new information except to try gradually increasing the 7-Keto and the statement "it takes time." Having spent $250 for the lab test and evaluation, I was right back were I started. Randolph's group gave me no new information unless I came to Jacksonville, Fl and saw Dr. Randolph as a patient. (I do not fault the lab, their report was more useful than the Institute's "evaluation.")

Americans are getting less sleep than ever these days and it's taking a toll on our health—most visibly on our waistlines. Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can make you gain weight, according to a study done by the Endocrine Society. Worse, that weight is more likely to go straight to your tummy. Instead, the researchers found, the best sleep cycle is one that follows your natural circadian rhythms, which means sleeping and waking around the same time as the sun.


Flat-Belly Bonus: Fiber-rich lentils feed healthy gut bacteria and keep things moving along smoothly in your gut to prevent bloating and constipation. And adding dark leafy greens (as we do in tonight's dinner) helps you take in fewer calories without increasing hunger. As per Harvard University research, vegetables are the number one food that promotes weight loss.
A natural source of melatonin, which helps lower cortisol, tart cherry juice can help you achieve a good night's sleep. Getting only 6 hours of sleep versus the recommended 8 hours means that you can have up to 50% more cortisol exposure – and that can lead to more sweet-tooth cravings and belly fat. Elevated cortisol also keeps you restless and alert when you don't need to be, making it hard to fall asleep. Drink an 8-ounce glass in the morning and 2 hours before bed for sweet dreams. To get the full benefit, drink this juice at a scheduled time every day.
It's called a "beer belly" for a reason. Boozy bubbles are a major cause of belly bloat, as anyone who's ever looked in the mirror after a few too many drinks can attest. But it's not just the carbonation that is the culprit. Alcohol can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your stomach, leading to gas, not to mention all the empty calories that are going straight to your waistline. Instead, skip the alcohol altogether or limit yourself to one serving per day.
We have the perfect combination of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber and minerals. Some would even argue that we have the yummiest food but the fact remains that our meal times are the unhealthiest of the lot. A slimmer waist requires constant effort and an organized method to be followed. This includes meals that help you feel less bloated and more energetic. The trickiest part of any weight loss is achieving a slimmer waist and a flat belly. This is because the abdominal and pelvic area has the most stubborn fat which takes time to burn. If done in a rash manner, it can double the amount of inches to your waist which will take forever for you to lose.
Lunch: Easy Burritos. Making a simple burrito is a great way to have a simple healthy lunch filled with protein and fiber. All you need to do is fill a whole grain tortilla with beans, spinach leafs, and a small amount of cheese and heat in the microwave. Garnish with as much salsa as you like, but be sure to check that your salsa choice has no added sugars.
The last protein you’ll be cooking this week is another lean meat, pork tenderloin. Congratulations! You made it through the week without red meat! The average American eats about 3.3 oz of red meat per day. Eating too much red meat has been linked to chronic, inflammation, heart problems, cancer, and an unhealthy gut, so our flat-belly plan eschews the stuff. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it, though! Experts recommend having only 3 servings of red meat a week—but make sure it’s grass-fed beef, not grain-fed. This source is teeming with heart-healthy omega-3s and fat-burning conjugated linoleic fatty acids. It’s also lower in inflammatory saturated fats.

Contrary to what many people believe, doing thousands of sit-ups or crunches all day, every day, will not get you closer to achieving those washboard abs. Yep, you read that right. Both belly bulge and love handles are about excess body fat, NOT lack of muscle. And sadly, we can’t spot reduce fat. That's why ab exercises alone are not the solution. Scoring a flat stomach is all about workouts that burn body fat overall. One of the best ways to do that is utilizing exercises that are core focused, but impact different muscle groups at the same time — so you're strengthening your entire body, which burns more calories and subsequently more fat – during and long after your workout.  A perfect example of this would be a mountain climber. You are working your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and accelerating the hell out of your heart rate for optimal calorie burn.
“First and foremost you have to train your abs on all three planes. You have to train them forward and back with something like a crunch or double crunch. You have to train your abs laterally to hit the obliques with something like a dumbbell side bend. And you have to train your abs on a rotational plane—your transverse abs—and you can do that from a seated trunk twist."

This crunchy and creamy pair will be a perfect low-calorie snack to tide you over between meals today and throughout the week. Thanks to their high water content, carrots and cucumbers are two of the most satiating and hydrating low-cal veggies out there. And pairing them with protein- and fiber-rich hummus makes for a near-perfect weight loss snack. With just a single can of chickpeas, this recipe makes enough for a week’s worth of snacks!
Look for a brand of Greek yogurt that contains live and active cultures, which will promote healthy bacteria in your gut to prevent bloating. (These are signs you could have an unhealthy gut.) Plus, the protein in the yogurt will keep you full. Beef it up with fiber-rich oats, berries, and chia seeds for an extra filling morning meal—just don’t go overboard if your body isn’t used to digesting that much fiber, says Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If you’re not used to that amount of fiber it causes gas, but if you work up to it slowly, it promotes a healthy GI system,” she says. Slowly add a little more fiber to your diet every day for a flatter belly, and increase your fluid intake to aid digestion and reduce icky symptoms like diarrhea and bloating—here’s how to get more fiber into your diet without really trying.

Before hitting the hay, prepare breakfast for half of the week tonight! This recipe makes enough for 4 breakfasts, of which we’re only using 3 servings this week, so you can finish the last serving next Sunday (just throw a portion in the freezer tomorrow to keep it fresh)! We’re using the overnight oats method to cut down on time since we’ve chosen to use one of the longer-cooking oats, steel-cut. They might take longer to prepare, but steel-cut oats are one of the best cuts out there. They’re lower on the glycemic index than rolled or instant oats, meaning they’ll keep you fuller, longer. These oats are also loaded with vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin), which are so important, the government usually enriches your cereal with them!
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]
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Nine months after having my fourth baby, I started this challange. I gained 50 lbs during pregnancy, I had almost lost all 50. I didn’t look like I thought I should after losing the weight. I was still being asked if I was pregnant. I did the challenge and people started noticing and telling me how great I looked. Even my husband started to comment about the change, which is huge! Thank You!
Target your deepest ab muscles with The Boat: Lie face up on a mat with arms by your sides. Lift your upper body off the ground by rolling through the spine and reaching arms forward. At the same time, raise your legs so that you're balancing on your butt, knees bent and shins parallel to the ground. Slowly roll back down onto the mat, lowering legs and arms. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 reps per set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
WHAT'S GOING ON: There are two kinds of belly fat: There's the stuff right under your skin that you can pinch (ugh), called subcutaneous fat. But that's actually the less harmful kind. It's visceral fat that poses a real threat to your health. It plumps your middle from the inside out, surrounding organs such as your liver, lungs, and heart—and putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Kristen Gill Hairston, M.D., an endocrinologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.
It's an all-too-common problem once you hit thirty: Despite your best efforts, you just can't seem to lose the extra weight around your middle, and you look in the mirror wondering what month and year you lost your waistline. Medical research proves you're not alone--that the average American gains one to two pounds a year after age thirty--usually around the stomach. Not only does this excess belly fat make you look and feel bad, it's the most damaging kind of fat; a precursor to heart attacks and certain types of cancer.
Are you sick of hiding your belly under baggy tops or buying your pants a size too big so your stomach won't spill over the waistband? You're not alone. The stomach is a major, if not the major problem area, for men and women. I can't tell you how often I'm asked for advice on how to achieve killer abs, flatten the mommy pooch or lose the love handles. If you really want to get a flat stomach — or score that six pack — follow these tips and make it happen!
YOUR RX: To bring balance to your midsection, keep moving, even at the office, says Katy Bowman, director of the Restorative Exercise Institute in Ventura, CA. When you are seated, tilt your pelvis forward, which will curve your lower back and lengthen your abdomen. During your workouts, "focus on moves that work your entire body instead of one muscle group," says Wells. These exercises from Bowman fit the bill. Do them once a day.
Take off your “fat jacket.” It’s a simple analogy, but helps make the point about the types of exercise that offer the best results for fat reduction and, in turn, a flatter stomach. Think of your body’s layer of fat covering your stomach (and elsewhere) as a “jacket” (one of its purposes, after all, is to hold in body heat). Your exercise goal is to shed that jacket.[7]
The two figures standing in front of me one recent winter morning could not look more different. On the right is Carrie McCulloch, MD, a musculoskeletal anatomy expert and the medical director for Kinected Pilates studio in New York City, who is sizing up the shape of my waistline. Dr. McCulloch's own midsection happens to be perfectly rounded because she is only weeks away from giving birth to her first child. On the left is her assistant, Mr. Bones, one of those hanging skeletons that teach medical students how the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone. Mr. Bones doesn't actually have a waist, just a hollow space between his ribs and pelvis.

“First and foremost you have to train your abs on all three planes. You have to train them forward and back with something like a crunch or double crunch. You have to train your abs laterally to hit the obliques with something like a dumbbell side bend. And you have to train your abs on a rotational plane—your transverse abs—and you can do that from a seated trunk twist."


Stand with feet together, arms out at your sides like airplane wings. Exhale, and lift the right leg forward and up. At the same time, sweep the arms forward at shoulder level and round your spine, like a cat. The navel should feel as though it's pressing toward the spine. Inhale, open back up, and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. Switch between sides for 20 reps.
Plant-based protein powders are a low-sugar, high-fiber alternative to popular dairy-based supplements, which can lead to bloating. Hemp, rice and pea proteins are all good options; however, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting complete proteins with a full amino acid profile, so aim to find a protein powder blend that combines all three. We like Vega One ALl-in-One Nutritional Shake and Sunwarrior Warrior Blend. Whip up any of these 23 Best Protein Shake Recipes for Weight Loss to reap the benefits. Even if they call for whey protein, you can sub-in your plant-based favorite.
Sugary treats, while obviously delicious, aren't very good for our bodies—and that includes our tummies. Not only do the added calories add inches to our waistlines, but sugar overload leads to insulin resistance, which tells the body to store extra fat around the waist. But that's long-term stuff. Sugar also bloats your tummy in the short-term by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to extra gas. When it comes to flattening your belly, nixing sugar is one of the best things you can do. Here are clear signs you're eating too much sugar.
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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