WHAT'S GOING ON: If the only abs exercise you ever do is crunches, you'll never have a firm tummy, says Stephanie Hahn, a physical therapist at STAR Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Crunches train your rectus abdominis (your "six-pack") to fold forward. That makes the muscles shorter, and if your transverse abdominals (the muscles that sit behind your rectus) aren't toned, you end up with what experts call a muscle imbalance—and a bulge in your lower belly. "Doing more crunches won't help," Hahn says.
These ground turkey meatballs and burger are so easy to make, and they’re packed with flavor. By flavor, we mean iron-rich spinach and prebiotic-providing onions. In fact, both spinach and onions are a source of prebiotics, a food source for your gut bugs. When your belly bacteria are fed well, they can help you shed those extra few pounds and even improve your mood! Tonight, you’ll be making meatballs for a spaghetti squash dish and a turkey patty for a turkey burger.
Bring your hands into prayer pose. Lunge forward with your left leg and bend your knee about 90 degrees, keeping your back leg straight. Brace your abs in tight to your spine and rotate your upper body to the left. Keep your spine long as you lean over your left leg and press your right elbow into the outside of your left leg. Turn your head to look up toward the ceiling over your left shoulder. Hold for 10 long, deep breaths and then untwist and return to standing. Repeat on the other side.
Salt, in moderation, is a good thing—the mineral is necessary for a healthy heart and brain. But too much salt and you’ll retain water, bloating up like a water balloon. Cutting salt is one of the primary ways to drop extra water weight (one reason you may see a big weight loss when starting a new diet!). Move the salt shaker off your table so you’ll get out of the habit of routinely salting all your food. Then if you taste your food and still really want salt you can still stand up and get some. For more weight loss benefits, add these fat-burning foods to your plate to help you lose weight.

"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.
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.
"Eating portion-controlled meals that include whole-grain foods and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) throughout the day is the best way to eat for a flat belly: People who eat whole grains lose more abdominal fat. And making most of the fats you eat MUFAs reduces ab flab, research says." —Keri Glassman, RD, author of The O2 Diet and The Snack Factor Diet
Our gut microbiome controls far more than we give it credit for, which is why having your gut colonized with beneficial types of bacteria is so important. One way to do this is by taking a probiotic supplement. You can also make these 12 foods that boost good gut bacteria part of your everyday diet. Not only can will this help you get sick less, feel happier, and ease digestion but it can also help you de-bloat, flattening out your tummy in the process. Try these home remedies to lose belly fat.

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

• Too much estrogen circulating in the body increases body fat, and fatty tissue within the body produces and stores more estrogen. Body fat contains an enzyme that converts adrenal steroids to estrogen. At a cellular level, body fat continues to produce more estrogen, and a high estrogen level, in turn, causes the body to increase its store of fatty tissue. In other words, your belly becomes a 'fat magnet.'

As we grow older, our metabolism dips and more fat begins to accumulate around our waistline, giving us that ‘spare tyre’! But getting rid of belly fat is not just about appearances. Studies say that people with a large midriff are 2.75 times more likely to die of heart disease, even if they are within a healthy weight range. The fat stored in your belly region is more dangerous than the fat stored in the rest of your body. It increases bad LDL cholesterol, messes with your blood sugar, increases your blood pressure and your risk of having a heart attack. In short, having that spare tyre is more dangerous than simply being overweight!


“Soda, both diet and regular, have absolutely no nutritional benefits and may even have serious health implications,” says Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, a Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian. “Not only are they loaded with empty calories, harmful preservatives, sugar or artificial sweeteners, they also have dangerous artificial coloring derived from coal sources,” explains Consalvo. But that’s not even the worst part. “To prevent mold growth in the cans and bottles, makers add the preservative potassium benzoate (a known carcinogen linked to thyroid damage, leukemia and other cancers) into the cans.” Consalvo suggests eliminating soda and drinking water, seltzer or detox tea instead.
I hated the use of "little buddies," but this book made sense to me. I'm working on adding probiotics to my diet, and the macros/serving suggested her are similar to IIFYM and RP, which I've tried in the past but had difficulty sticking to in terms of rigidity. With this, though, there's a little more flexibility and I think I have a better chance of being able to do it.

Crunches work the upper abdomen, leg raises work the lower abdomen, and side bends work the obliques (also known as love handles). About 15-25 reps each day should be enough. If you can do more than that, try adding weights to your routine. Note that doing crunches will only build muscle underneath your existing belly fat, but will not burn that fat directly.
It is important to understand that being estrogen dominant doesn't mean that your body is producing too much estrogen; rather, it means that your body's estrogen production is not balanced by progesterone production. Estrogen dominance occurs when the natural ratio of estrogen to progesterone is upset—in other words, when the body's internal estrogen-to-progesterone seesaw becomes tilted.
Fibrous foods are as close to a “miracle belly flattening pill” as we have. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, particularly those high in soluble fiber, have been proven to reduce fat around your midsection. In addition, these foods fill you up so you eat less, flattening your stomach over time. Try one of these 5 easy ways to turn off your fat genes and keep the weight off for good.
Another imbalance that plagues the abs is between the obliques, the muscles that cinch your sides. You have two sets on both your right and left, and if you show them love, they'll give you a nice hourglass shape. Sadly, your left obliques start out at a disadvantage, says Hahn. Blame your heart, which takes up extra space and makes the obliques difficult to tone—an issue that's compounded if you're right-handed. "Think about where your mouse pad is," says Hahn. "Then you shake hands, change the radio station in the car—you do so much with your right side, making it stronger."
But you need to exercise, too. In Slentz's study, walking or jogging miles a week kept visceral and subcutaneous fat at bay, and jogging miles melted them off. At 11 miles a week, it made no difference whether people in the study walked or jogged, and it's fairly safe to say that it wouldn't at miles either. "It's not the intensity of the exercise that matters," Slentz says. "It's the amount."
Try to cook fresh when you can instead of relying on packaged foods, says Armul. “There are preservatives in them to prolong shelf life,” she says. “The thing that makes them so convenient is they’re there all the time, waiting on the shelf—but that also means they’re higher in sodium.” When that extra sodium holds water, you’ll end up feeling bloated. Here are more foods that relieve stomach bloating.
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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]
You’re here because you want a flat stomach. That’s awesome! I know feeling more confident physically in your skin can lead to a dramatic improvement in your outward confidence and self-esteem too. I know my life improved as a result of taking care of myself physically, and that physical strength created an inner strength and confidence that carried over to the rest of my life.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Cook down ½ large onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 package of chopped spinach in a tablespoon of olive oil until onions are tender. In a separate bowl, combine three-quarters of a pound of lean ground turkey with a third of a cup of breadcrumbs, 1 egg, and then the cooled onion and spinach. Season with salt, pepper, dried thyme and oregano, and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Combine with hands, and use two-thirds of the mixture to form 12 small meatballs.
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.
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.

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.
Cat Kick: Stand with feet together, arms extended out 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 the spine, like a cat. The navel should feel as though it's pressing toward the spine. Inhale, and open back up and return to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg, alternating for 20 repetitions.
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.
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 400 degrees F. Lay two 5-oz servings of salmon (skin side down) on a lightly oiled tray alongside a small bunch of asparagus. Season salmon with salt, pepper, and paprika, and the asparagus with salt and pepper. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil and the juice from half a lemon. Place in oven and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 16-18 minutes. In the meantime, cook up 3 servings of brown rice — one you’ll use tonight, and two you’ll use later on in the week. Save two-thirds of the asparagus and the second salmon fillet for leftovers.
C.W. Randolph, Jr., M.D., one of the nation's leading bioidentical hormone physician experts, has treated thousands of women and men with hormone imbalances for more than a decade. A graduate of Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Dr. Randolph is board-certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American Board of Holistic Medicine. As the co-founder of The Natural Hormone Institute, Dr. Randolph continues to be a frequent speaker for medical and consumer health organizations across the country. He is the co-author of the best-selling books, From Hormone HELL to Hormone WELL, From Belly FAT to Belly FLAT, and In the Mood Again.
Sylvia's age, weight gain, and mild depression were common indicators of an underlying hormonal imbalance, specifically estrogen dominance. I told Sylvia that I could help her without diet pills or antidepressants. After following the plan for six weeks, she walked into the office a changed woman. She had lost nine pounds and an inch and a half from her waist. Within ten weeks, she celebrated with a shopping spree for new size 8 pants. In my practice, I have helped thousands of people like Sylvia, people who had no idea that shifting hormone production was the hidden culprit causing their weight gain.

A healthy lunch should consist of half non-starchy vegetables, with the other half split between whole grains and protein, says Rumsey. “That way, you have some carbs but not too much,” she says. Pick a dressing low in sugar and sodium—olive oil with balsamic vinegar will give you a little healthy fat to keep you full and help absorb nutrients from your veggies. (Here are more food combinations that help you get the most health benefits.) Add at least three vegetables, 3 to 6 ounces of a protein like chicken or beans, and just a thumb-sized amount of extras for crunch or flavor such as dried fruit, croutons, and olives, says Rumsey. Double wash canned beans before adding them to your salad to rinse away their gas-forming, bloat-producing properties, says Crandall.
Think of it this way — if you were wearing a light jacket, would the type of exercise you are doing make you want to take it off? You want to choose aerobic exercises that warm your body enough that you’d want to shed a real jacket — brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, and so on. Cardiovascular exercises of this sort can burn enough calories to require your body to draw energy from (and thus “shed”) your “fat jacket.”
It could take months before you start to notice a difference, so don’t expect the process to be easy. And if you do manage to develop a nice, toned six pack, it probably won’t change your life. You don’t need a perfectly flat tummy or washboard abs to be healthy and look good. Keep in mind, people can’t see your abs under your clothing, it’s hard work maintaining them (nonstop dieting), and the low levels of body fat required to have a flat stomach may actually leave you looking less athletic and attractive. So, if you really want a flat stomach, get ready to fight for it. Otherwise, just shoot for being healthy.

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.


"Most women don't want to talk about it, but you really have to set aside a specific time each day to use the bathroom," notes Judith Reichman, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "If you don't, it's too easy to give into feeling rushed, and ignore the urge to go." Once you've trained your brain to dismiss your body's signals, you set the stage for bloat-inducing constipation.
If you are a woman in your thirties, you need to understand that estrogen dominance is not 'your mother's problem.' For most women, estrogen dominance is a concern to be reckoned with long before middle age or menopause. As a woman approaches her midthirties, the balance of hormones within her body begins to shift, starting with a decline in progesterone. In fact, progesterone production declines 120 times more rapidly than does estrogen production. It is this downward shift in progesterone production that causes the body to become estrogen dominant.
Include plyometrics. Plyometrics are exercises that require "explosive power". They combine cardio with strength training. Plyometric exercises are more suitable for experienced athletes than for the less experienced athlete or the older athlete, as there is risk of injury (falls, contusions, tendon injury and sprains). Some great plyometric exercises you can do at home include:

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.
Choose whole fruits over juices, fresh over canned, water over soft drinks. Avoid bakery staples like cakes and cookies. Canned and packaged foods contain a lot of sodium and very less fiber and nutrients. Excess sodium retains more water, puffing up your belly. Stay away from sugar substitutes as well; they are only partially digested by your body.
And as a little extra bonus, we’ve reduced your added sugar intake to essentially 0 grams per day. With some clever tricks (like adding bananas to sweeten your oatmeal) and by completely eschewing ultra-processed foods (which provide the average American with 90 percent of the added sugar you’d consume in a day), cooking at home not only helps you lower your calorie intake, but also helps you to cut that inflammation-inducing added sugar. So grab a pen and paper, get to the grocery store, and start cooking! You’ll start feeling slimmer, less bloated, and have more energy in no time.
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