Lie on your right side with your knees straight. Place your right hand under your right shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Flex your feet and extend your left arm up to the ceiling. Breath deeply for the duration of the exercise. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds. Lower and repeat on the other side.
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.
We know pasta is a weeknight staple, which is why we had to include it in our meal plan. But instead of using refined, inflammation-inducing white-flour pasta, we’re using a spaghetti squash. It’s just one of our favorite pasta tips to stay skinny because not only is its glycemic index lower than spaghetti, it’s also higher in micronutrients like vitamin A, folic acid, and potassium.
"When we're seated, our back muscles and spine help keep us upright and the abs are in a slack position, especially if you slouch," explains Joseph Herrera, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and the director of sports medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City. "Although we would end up reclining without the opposing muscle forces they provide, intentionally contracting your abs is the only way to activate them as you sit." As I stand in his office, Dr. Herrera tapes electrodes beneath my rib cage and just above my belly button. Cables connect those electrodes to an electromyography (EMG) machine, which makes a whooshing sound every time the underlying abdominal muscles — my external obliques and rectus abdominis — are activated.
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.
The thyroid gland is best known for its metabolic function affecting weight. Estrogen dominance renders the thyroid hormones dysfunctional, causing your body's metabolism to slow down. The resulting condition is called relative hypothyroidism. In addition, the changes in your body's blood sugar levels—some of which occur naturally with age and some of which are due to a hormone imbalance—are also linked to weight gain. As the body's progesterone production decreases with age and estrogen becomes dominant, your body releases insulin more rapidly and more often. When fluctuating hormones unnaturally stimulate insulin release, you get hungry faster and will often crave sugar. In fact, these food cravings can sometimes be uncontrollable, and people who are estrogen dominant tend to consume more sweets even when they aren't truly hungry. As a result, they ingest more calories than their bodies require and pack on even more pounds.
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.