Begin in downward facing dog. Extend your left leg up to the ceiling, pointing your toes. Shift your weight forward and begin to lower your hips into a plank pose but instead of putting your left toes down, bend your left knee into your chest, lifting your abs into your spine during the entire movement. Press your hips back up and extend your left leg behind you as you return to downward facing dog. Repeat 10 times with the left leg, 10 with the right.

Quick question for Cassie. I’m LOVING my results from this abs challenge but I’m wondering how I maintain or continue my progress after the challenge is over. Should I find another ab challenge for the month, repeat the challenge or just continue on with next month’s calendar and continue eating clean to maintain my results? Any feedback you could give would be so helpful! Thank you again! Xoxo
When it comes to ab flab, there are two ways to tackle the problem: Either burn blubber or suck it in with stronger muscles. "Even if you don't lose fat, you can improve your waistline by toning your muscles," says Michele Olson, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama.
MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids, are the cornerstone of the Flat Belly Plan. These are plant-based fats, so the easiest way to remember them is to look for healthy fats that aren’t from animal sources, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, oils and olives. A study done through the American Diabetic Association found that a diet rich in MUFAs worked to reduce belly fat.
Carbohydrates hold water in your body, which may make your belly bloat. Plus, high-carb, high-sugar breakfast foods like bagels or cereal might fill you up initially, but you’ll probably end up searching for more food within an hour, says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness. “Those digest pretty rapidly, and then your blood sugar spikes up and drops back down pretty quickly because they digest so fast,” she says. That extra morning munching will likely add up to more calories and bloat than you would have had if you’d started with a more filling breakfast. Be sure to follow these other daily habits that reduce bloating and flatten your belly, too.
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!
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.
A classic Pilates move, the roll up is 38 percent more effective at targeting the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”) and 245 percent more effective at targeting the obliques than a basic crunch, according to an Auburn University study. To do it, lie face-up with legs straight, ankles, knees, and thighs together. Flex feet and extend arms overhead. Inhale to prepare as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. On your exhale, continue to roll up by drawing in abdominals, reaching arms up and over toward feet. Keep abdominals contracted, with spine rounded in a “C” curve. Pause and inhale. On your exhale, roll down through each vertebra in a controlled movement, keeping heels pressed evenly into the floor the entire way up and down. Do 15 reps as controlled and precise as you can, as many days a week as possible.
Sure, trampolines are built for kids, but as an adult using one for rebounding is a great way to flatten your tummy. “Not only is it a great cardio workout (which is the first step to tightening up your midsection) but it makes your core work like crazy so you are getting the cardio plus the toning,” explains Hope Pedraza, a Certified Personal Trainer through American College of Sports Medicine “Everything you need for a tight tummy!” To get a comprehensive workout using a mini trampoline, Hope suggests jumping, lifting your knees up high, twisting, adding some light weights to move around while you’re jumping, and moving in all directions in different planes.
The two figures standing in front of me one recent winter morning could not look more different. On the right is Carrie McCulloch, MD, a musculoskeletal anatomy expert and the medical director for Kinected Pilates studio in New York City, who is sizing up the shape of my waistline. Dr. McCulloch's own midsection happens to be perfectly rounded because she is only weeks away from giving birth to her first child. On the left is her assistant, Mr. Bones, one of those hanging skeletons that teach medical students how the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone. Mr. Bones doesn't actually have a waist, just a hollow space between his ribs and pelvis.
When doing an abs circuit, think about all three planes of motion, says celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, who works with Sofia Vergara, Kim Kardashian, and Vanessa Lachey: Try crunches and reverse crunches to hit your sagittal (front to back and up and down) plane, standing side bends for frontal (side-to-side) movement, and chops or twists for transverse (rotational) action. This will help challenge and therefore define your abs.
Contrary to the popular belief that estrogen is solely a female hormone, men can also be estrogen dominant. In men, progesterone is produced in the adrenal and testicular tissue. When men reach their forties, falling progesterone levels lead to a fall in testosterone levels. As both the progesterone and testosterone levels decline, the male body becomes estrogen dominant. To find out if estrogen dominance is responsible for your increased belly fat—and possibly a host of other physical, mental, and emotional concerns and health risks—continue reading. Chapter 2 will help you to understand how age, body fat, and environmental toxins can join forces to sabotage your inner hormonal equilibrium.
The diet to lose belly fat focuses on healthy carbs, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean sources of protein such as seafood, poultry, lean red meat and beans. It needs to be low in saturated fat, trans fat and refined carbs such as white bread, soda and sweets. Eat three meals a day, with each meal being about the same size, plus one snack. Eating regularly controls hunger and keeps energy levels up.
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!
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.”

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.
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