When I sit in my chair with the electrodes in place, nothing happens. So I switch over to sit on a pumped-up stability ball, like the kind every office health nut uses. No whoosh. But then I lean slightly backward and all of sudden — whoosh — my rectus abdominis activates to support my spine because there is no backrest to do the job. "The stability ball requires your torso to balance on an unsteady surface. It forces your abs to fire," Dr. Herrera says. I find I can also activate the rectus abdominis, not to mention my heretofore-napping obliques, by pulling in my belly button. I feel like a living Wii game avatar as I subsequently walk around Dr. Herrera's office trying to get a reaction from the EMG. Walking itself produces only a weak whoosh, but by carrying a bag of groceries in front of me, slinging my purse over one shoulder, or climbing stairs, I get the electrical activity on the EMG monitor to increase.
Remember when you ate the rest of the holiday cookies after a big, rich meal, and still felt hungry the next day? That's because prolonged periods of overeating—hello, like the holidays!—make your stomach's network of stretch receptors (the ones that send messages to your brain that you're full) less sensitive. Short-circuit your post-binge appetite by eating healthy portions of low-calorie, high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They'll keep those receptors satisfied without directing you toward the leftover pies.
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.
“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."
Just like vegetables, this can be as simple or as complex as you want it. Maybe you’re just making sure there’s a protein source at each meal (if it was lacking before). Maybe you’re figuring out rough portion sizes. Maybe you’re taking it to the max and actually weighing your food. The point is, you should be including it throughout the day and week.
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.