In fact, weight-loss research proves that because of shifting hormone production, the average person will add one to two pounds around his or her middle each year between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five. As long as your body's cellular metabolism is compromised by an untreated hormone imbalance—most particularly estrogen dominance—the extra pounds around your middle will be nearly impossible to lose.
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.
Beans can help boost feelings of fullness and manage blood sugar levels, making them an excellent ally in your weight loss battle. In fact, a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found eating one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils could contribute to modest weight loss. And if you need another reason to bulk up on beans, remember that the fiber and protein-rich legumes are an excellent source of genistein—the same compound found in peanuts and lentils that aids weight loss. To up your bean intake, toss some of ’em in a soup or salad and eat up!
I work in a specialty running store in Maryland. I took the job because I love running and I love my boss. I tell you this because this month, Caitlin and I have been using your 30 day ab challenge and we have had so much fun. We are looking to continue it through the year though and would love your suggestions for do that. I am not sure just doing this one over and over is the best plan.
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.
Why: "Oats fill you up with fiber without added sugar, like most highly processed cereals," Glassman says. "Nut butter provides healthy fat that will keep you satisfied, but won't hold onto water like sugary and salty packaged foods. (That being said, be sure to check labels and pick items with no added salt sugar!) Berries fill you up with fiber and water volume without adding a big carb load to your morning."
Want a flatter stomach in two seconds? Stand up straight! Slouching emphasizes belly rolls but straightening your spine elongates your whole body, making you look taller and sleeker. Want to go even flatter for a picture? Use the old modeling trick and arch your back slightly—this will pull your skin tighter across your stomach while moving it farther away from the camera, making it look slightly smaller. Yeah, it’s a temporary fix but good posture offers many health benefits beyond looking good.
Simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in the winter may help attack belly fat while we sleep, according to a study in the journal Diabetes. As it turns out, colder temps can subtly enhance the effectiveness of your brown fat stores, which keep you warm by helping your burn through belly fat. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the participants had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat.
Do aerobic exercises daily. Sure, you can do 100 crunches a day, but if you've got a layer of belly fat covering up your ab work then what's the point? You need to burn the top layer of stomach fat to see the changes. Cardio exercises will heat up your core temperature and improve circulation, both of which will aid in acquiring a flat stomach. Strive for at least 30 minutes a day minimum, but include 1-2 days of rest each week.
"Researchers are now discovering that gut bacteria also seem to play a role in the complex process of weight loss and weight gain," he writes. "We don't know exactly how much impact our Little Buddies have on our weight, but we're learning enough to believe that understanding the connection more fully may help us as we confront the obesity epidemic in the United States — and in our own bodies."