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!)

Lie faceup on floor with arms by sides. Curl head and shoulders off floor, then raise arms overhead (biceps by ears) and legs up at a 45-degree angle to start. Keeping upper body lifted throughout, bring knees toward chest and circle arms around, touching palms to outside of knees. Extend legs and raise arms overhead to start position to complete 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Spanx are maybe no one’s idea of a good time, but sometimes you just need a little extra (firm) help to flatten your tummy to wear your favorite dress or for a special evening out. And there’s nothing wrong with turning to technology to help you get there. Body shaping undergarments have come a long way in the past few years with more breathable fabrics and styles for both men and women.
Know your anatomy. Familiarize yourself with the muscle groups that make up your abdominal area. If you understand how the muscles work, it will be easier to use them properly when you exercise. Then plan a smart abdominal workout to complete at least three times per week. It doesn't have to last longer than 10-15 minutes, but it should include exercises to work the internal and external obliques on the sides of your torso as well as exercises to work the rectus abdominis, which runs down the middle of your midsection and defines your six-pack.
If you can do more than five reps of an exercise, pick up a heavier weight. As you build muscles and your body gets stronger, you can increase your load to challenge your body. It’s particularly important to work larger muscle groups, like your glutes, with a heavier weight. “This will burn fat, in the belly and other areas, quicker than any ab exercise.”
Out-of-whack hormones have all kinds of uncomfortable side effects and belly bloat is one of them. There's a reason that bloating is one of the primary complaints women have during menopause! While you can't turn back the clock and reclaim the hormone profile of your 20's, you can make sure you're within the normal range—something your doctor can check for you. (Before your appointment, know these signs of a thyroid disorder). In the meantime, eating right and exercising are natural ways to balance your hormones.

Finally—the weekend! If you actually have time to cook this morning, you’ll love this southwestern-style omelet with leftover hash browns. Eggs are one of our favorite superfoods because they’re loaded with amino acids, antioxidants, and micronutrients. Don’t just whip up the whites, though; the yolks boast a fat-fighting, brainpower-boosting nutrient called choline, so opting for whole eggs can actually help you trim down. That’s not all, find out what else eggs can do to support your health with these 12 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Eat Eggs.


WHAT'S GOING ON: There are two kinds of belly fat: There's the stuff right under your skin that you can pinch (ugh), called subcutaneous fat. But that's actually the less harmful kind. It's visceral fat that poses a real threat to your health. It plumps your middle from the inside out, surrounding organs such as your liver, lungs, and heart—and putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Kristen Gill Hairston, M.D., an endocrinologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.
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.
Slouch and your stomach pooches. Straighten up, and your tummy looks trimmer without breaking a sweat! For better posture, align your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, and knees over ankles. Keep your shoulders open like a shirt on a hanger, not one draped on a peg. Draw your navel to your spine. Not least, keep your weight even on the balls of your feet and your heels.

If you find regular water too boring, consider making sassy water instead. Sassy water is simply regular water infused with a number of refreshing and energizing ingredients, which help to speed up the metabolism and cut down on belly fat. Recipes vary, but many include some combination of ingredients such as orange slices, lemon slices, grated ginger, cucumber, fresh spearmint, and fresh basil. The water is left to infuse overnight — making it refreshingly "sassy" by the next morning!
I'm not going to tell you to abstain from alcohol completely, I'm pretty open about how much I enjoy a little tequila from time to time of the occasional glass of red. But when you're trying to lose weight and tone up, alcohol is the ultimate enemy. Alcohol releases estrogen into the bloodstream and when you have excess estrogen, you're more prone to hold onto weight. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, decreases your willpower, and stimulates your appetite. The result? You're at a diner ordering a cheeseburger and fries at 2 a.m. Now THAT is definitely not the route to a rock hard six pack. Your best bet is to take a hiatus from booze until you meet your weight-loss goals and can re-introduce alcohol into your diet in a healthy way – 2 to 4 drinks a week tops.
"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.
A recent study revealed that when women who were unhappy with their weight completed a one-time, 15-minute writing exercise about an important personal issue, they went on to lose at least three pounds over a three-month period. On the other hand, their counterparts who wrote about an unimportant topic gained three pounds, according to Cheryl Forberg, author of A Small Guide to Losing.

Get into a crunch position—lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, shoulders and head off the floor with your abs contracted. Then have someone throw an exercise ball (or basketball) to you—first to your left side so you have to twist and reach to catch it, and then to your right. Do this as many times as is comfortable, and try to increase the number 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."
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