Moves like the tolasana and the eight subsequent ones we did that day are representative of a shift that ab exercises have taken in the past decade or so. Previously there was a tendency to isolate the abdominal muscles to give each one an individual workout — crunches for your rectus abdominis, bicycles for the obliques — but as Olson points out, that's not the way it works in real life. "When you're reaching up to get something, picking up a baby or bending down, you need all the muscles to work together," she says. "Instead of targeting each one, you should aim for functional fitness, where the muscles work as a unit."
Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called "the belly fat" hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn't good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it's important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods. (Hint: Know what isn't? Watching television. The boob tube actually increases your levels of cortisol!)
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."
For your dinner tonight—as well as for lunch and dinner for the next couple days—you’ll be making a super simple roasted chicken breast with roasted veggies and quinoa. Chicken is a versatile, lean protein that’s rich in selenium—a mineral that keeps your skin glowing and your metabolism running properly. Quinoa is an ancient grain that’s touted for its micronutrients, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and antioxidants, like fat-burning quercetin. And, of course, we’re getting in a rainbow of veggies to reap the unique properties of each.
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.
Start each day by making a large pitcher of "spa water"—that's water filled with sliced whole lemons, oranges, or grapefruits—and make a point of sipping your way through at least eight glasses before bedtime. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant D-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick, according to the World Health Organization. For added belly-blasting benefits, brew yourself a pot of green tea, one of the five best teas for weight loss.
In this book, we look at all of the ways you can improve your own gut health, starting with the food you eat. My diet recommendations, meal plans, and recipes will help feed and protect your gut microbes. And we look at the many other steps you can take to support your beneficial bacteria, from avoiding unnecessary antibiotics to changing the way you think about dirt and germs. Even the choices you make about how you bring your children into the world can have an impact on your family’s microbiomes.