Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles. Hold onto the outside of each ankle with your opposite hand, and lift your legs off the floor, balancing on your sitting bones. Pull your abs into your spine and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, begin to round onto your back. Continue rolling until your shoulder blades touch the floor, lifting your hips, still holding onto your ankles. Keeping your abs in tight, rock back up to sitting, finding your balance again on your sitting bones. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times.
While no crunch in and of itself will get rid of belly fat, abdominal exercises are the “finishing moves” to sculpt the abs once you’ve removed excess fat via diet and exercise, Holland says. Spend the majority of your workout focusing on the rest of your body, and dedicate no more than 10 percent of your time on abs work. So if you work out for an hour, plan six minutes of abs exercises and give the rest of your time to strength training and/or cardio.
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.
Though your uterus shrinks back to its normal size after the baby's born, your muscles don't always close—in fact, in a small study, nearly 40 percent of women still had a gap six months after giving birth. This breach allows the soft tissue behind your abs to come through, Trupin says. Plus, your back muscles have to compensate for your off-duty abs, putting you at risk for back pain.
Try the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week. For an additional challenge, perform planks with forearms on the floor, as shown. (Watch this video to make sure you're neailing the proper form every time.)
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.
"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."