Lie faceup with legs together and extended straight out. Place right hand lightly on back of head and extend left arm straight back overhead, holding a 3-pound weight (A). Bring legs up to 90 degrees; crunch upper and lower body while lifting left arm up and then lowering it forward until it's in line with torso (B). Return to start. Do 30 to 40 reps; repeat on other side. Keep neck neutral so you don't strain it.
I ask Dr. McCulloch how I ended up with a relatively slim 26-1/2-inch waist that has forced me to belt every pair of pants I've ever bought in order to cinch the gap created by wearing sizes big enough to fit my more ample bottom. The answer includes factors like body type, fat composition, and possibly even the shape of the pelvic bone, where your ab muscles attach, she says. Theoretically, a wider pelvis can translate into a broad lower abdomen and hips, compared with what's north of the belly button. "These are all variations on normal, and genetics can play a big role," she assures me.
My guess is that you picked up this book because, over the last few years, you have put on ten, twenty, thirty, or even forty extra pounds around your abdomen, hips, and thighs. The extra weight makes you feel uncomfortable and unattractive. You've tried dieting and exercising to lose the belly fat, and while you may have lost a few pounds here and there for short periods of time, the bulk of your extra weight just hangs on.
Just don't wait until you blow the tape-measure test to start defending your belly from this flab. Step one is to toss the trans fats, which are found in prepackaged treats under the alias partially hydrogenated oils and have been shown to pack on body fat, particularly in the abdomen. Replace them with monounsaturated fats — for example, olive oil and those in walnuts and avocados — which help your body metabolize belly fat. And swig some reduced-fat milk, like 1 percent or skim, while you're at it: Calcium increases the activity of enzymes that break down fat cells and reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers your body to hoard belly fat.
Starting a Meatless Monday tradition is a great way to drop a few pounds because it increases your intake of fiber and a host of other nutrients. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and the lowest body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which are known to possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers, so try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains a few times a month.
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.
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