The pooch is bad enough, but what's worse is the back problems an overworked rectus can create—anything from general pain to degenerative or herniated disks, says Wells. "The stronger muscles in the front of your body take over and your back muscles turn off ," he says. With nothing to hold your spine in place, the disks can shift and squish together.
C.W. Randolph, Jr., M.D., one of the nation's leading bioidentical hormone physician experts, has treated thousands of women and men with hormone imbalances for more than a decade. A graduate of Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Dr. Randolph is board-certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American Board of Holistic Medicine. As the co-founder of The Natural Hormone Institute, Dr. Randolph continues to be a frequent speaker for medical and consumer health organizations across the country. He is the co-author of the best-selling books, From Hormone HELL to Hormone WELL, From Belly FAT to Belly FLAT, and In the Mood Again.
"Refined grains like white bread, crackers, and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts increase inflammation in our bodies. Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat. Natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore actually prevent belly fat.”
Target your deepest ab muscles with The Boat: Lie face up on a mat with arms by your sides. Lift your upper body off the ground by rolling through the spine and reaching arms forward. At the same time, raise your legs so that you're balancing on your butt, knees bent and shins parallel to the ground. Slowly roll back down onto the mat, lowering legs and arms. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 reps per set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
WHAT'S GOING ON: If the only abs exercise you ever do is crunches, you'll never have a firm tummy, says Stephanie Hahn, a physical therapist at STAR Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Crunches train your rectus abdominis (your "six-pack") to fold forward. That makes the muscles shorter, and if your transverse abdominals (the muscles that sit behind your rectus) aren't toned, you end up with what experts call a muscle imbalance—and a bulge in your lower belly. "Doing more crunches won't help," Hahn says.
Processed foods are one of the biggest sources of salt in Americans' diets—and the scary part is you probably don't even realize it. Because of the way these addictive foods are formulated, salt is hidden in everything from soups to pasta sauces to even sweet things like boxed cakes. Swap out processed foods in favor of fresh fare and your tummy will thank you. Not only will you lose the salt-bloat but you'll also lose the extra empty calories and lose weight.
“Soda, both diet and regular, have absolutely no nutritional benefits and may even have serious health implications,” says Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, a Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian. “Not only are they loaded with empty calories, harmful preservatives, sugar or artificial sweeteners, they also have dangerous artificial coloring derived from coal sources,” explains Consalvo. But that’s not even the worst part. “To prevent mold growth in the cans and bottles, makers add the preservative potassium benzoate (a known carcinogen linked to thyroid damage, leukemia and other cancers) into the cans.” Consalvo suggests eliminating soda and drinking water, seltzer or detox tea instead.
The next part of the plan aims to reduce inflammation. Belly fat has been linked to inflammation and elevated cortisol (the stress hormone). Belly fat is even thought to be "toxic" to your system as it releases chemicals into your body that wreak havoc on your appetite and the way your body metabolizes food. That's why anti-inflammatory foods are thought to be effective in fighting belly fat and breaking the vicious cycle.
Pilates Zip Up: Stand upright with the heels together, toes slightly turned out. Bring the arms up, into an "upright row" position, hands just underneath the chin. Exhale, press the arms down (as if pressing down on a box of dynamite), keeping the hands and arms very close to the body. Simultaneously, lift your heels off the ground onto your tiptoes. Hold for two seconds at the "top" and inhale and return to the starting position. The abs go "in and up" and the arms go down. Perform 20 repetitions.
Dinner: Stuffed Bell Peppers. Fill this super food with everything you need for dinner and you’ll have an easy to make dinner loaded with nutrients in no time. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/stuffed_peppers.html *note: replace canola oil with olive oil and use brown rice or quinoa for the rice called for in this recipe. Use sliced avocados leftover from lunch as a garnish/side.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Watch our instruction video here! Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of chickpeas (but be sure to save the liquid!), and throw them into a blender. Add a clove of garlic, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, the 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon, ¾ teaspoon salt, and then add back 2 tablespoons of the drained liquid or 2 tablespoons of tahini. While it’s blending, slowly drizzle in a ¼ cup of olive oil until smooth and creamy. Top with a sprinkle of paprika before serving!
As this video from the PictureFit YouTube channel explains, the only guaranteed way to get a flat stomach is through—brace yourself—diet and exercise. To be more precise, you need to use up the fat you have stored around your abs. But because spot reducing is a myth, you’ll have to focus on reducing the fat throughout your entire body. To do that, you’ll need to burn more calories than you put in every day, but it’s more complicated than “eat less, move more.” You need to eat fewer carbs while increasing your lean protein intake. Why? Your body will try to burn carbs for energy first, but if you haven’t ingested many carb-heavy foods, your body will target fat for energy instead. Plus, protein makes you feel full longer. You also need to incorporate resistance training in your workouts to keep yourself from losing muscle mass in addition to fat (more muscle means burning more calories naturally). Low intensity cardio training can help with burning more calories each day, but it won’t help you retain muscle, so make sure it’s not the only thing you do.
Yep, you read that right. High-water foods like fruits and veggies will fill you up faster, says Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Start your meal with soup, salad, or her favorite pick: Pre-dinner sliced crudité and spicy hummus. The combo of capsaicin (a spice in hot peppers) and the chickpeas' soluble fiber can help curb hunger.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Take the oats out of the pot and pour into a resealable container. For this morning, combine a cup of oats, a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (includes nutmeg, cloves, and ginger), half a banana (sliced), about 5 chopped walnuts, and a quarter cup of almond milk, or your milk of choice. Place in the microwave for a minute, stir, and enjoy!
It's called a "beer belly" for a reason. Boozy bubbles are a major cause of belly bloat, as anyone who's ever looked in the mirror after a few too many drinks can attest. But it's not just the carbonation that is the culprit. Alcohol can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your stomach, leading to gas, not to mention all the empty calories that are going straight to your waistline. Instead, skip the alcohol altogether or limit yourself to one serving per day.
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.
Lie on your right side, supporting your upper body on your right elbow, forearm, and hand. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. Slowly lift the rest of your body off the floor, so all that's touching is your forearm and feet. (Use the other arm to balance. For an advanced move, hold that arm straight up in the air.) Hold as long as is comfortable or until you can no longer maintain good form. Then slowly lower and relax. Repeat on the other side, alternating until fatigued.
If you're after a sleeker middle, add dairy to your diet. Research shows that its proteins increase satiety and cause you to eat less. My choice: homemade Parmesan crisps. Preheat oven to 350; line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide 2 cups grated Parmesan into 2-Tbsp. portions. Form each into a small pile and press with the back of a fork. Bake until melted and flat, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with chopped cooked vegetables (I love spinach, squash or eggplant).
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. In the meantime, eating right and exercising are natural ways to balance your hormones.
I read a lot about health and nutrition; and think that this book offers a lot of well grounded, common sense advice on what to eat. He is not preachy and explains things in a very accessible way. Geek as I can be, I even made a little chart for myself on a suggested way on how to break out the different kinds of foods for meals or snacks so that I can keep track of them. Highly recommended.