A toned and trim mid section is the holy grail of fitness. Switch on the shopping channels and you’ll see a whole host of program mes and gadgets guaranteeing flat abs in no time.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that. There are many other factors involved in creating those bulges around your midsection. To achieve the flattest abs that you are genetically capable of, you need more than just 100 crunches a day and the latest ab machine. You need a total approach.
The quickest way to make your belly look smaller is to stand straight. And the quickest way to have a pot belly is to slouch. Whenever you slouch, your abdomen has no other place to go but stick out in front.
I cannot stress how important good posture is both for your looks and the health of your spine. Not only should you remind yourself regularly to sit and stand properly, but you should also make it a habit to engage your abdominal muscles instead of just letting everything hang out. This is one reason why I encourage people to do Pilates because it can improve posture dramatically.
Abs are made in the kitchen! To lose the fat from your tummy you must control the amount of calories you are taking in. Don’t starve your self! Just eat whole, natural foods – cut out processed foods and sugar. Eat plenty of veg and avoid or limit alcohol and you’ll make great gains in uncovering that six pack!
Constipation will also distend the tummy, so make sure to drink lots of water and eat high fibre foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The fibre in these foods will also make you satisfied with less food and they are low in calories, too.
You have four abdominal muscles. The deepest muscle, transversus, wraps around your trunk like a wide belt. The next two muscles, internal and external obliques, crisscross your waist with diagonally opposing fibre directions. The most visible muscle is the rectus abdominis, which runs straight down the front of your abdomen.
When these four muscles are tight and toned, they act like a corset to hold your internal organs in place in your abdominal cavity. When they are flabby from not being exercised or from being stretched due to pregnancy, the internal organs bulge outward.
Abdominal exercises strengthen your abdominal muscles and, therefore, are a major weapon in the war against big bellies. However, they just don’t use up enough calories to burn off the excess fat. So include a combination of resistance training and cardio training for the best results, ideally 3-5 times per week.
Alcohol, Smoking and Stress
What do alcohol, smoking and stress have in common? They all raise the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that scientists suspect directs fat to be stored in the abdominal region. Stress can also indirectly affect your waistline if it drives you to overeat as a coping mechanism. Alcohol is a major source of excess calories because it is just so easy to gulp down hundreds of calories in one sitting.
A Total Approach Solution
Do heart-pumping total body exercise to burn off the fat and resistance training to increase muscle mass and metabolism. Improve your posture and learn to target all your abdominal muscles through Pilates. Eat unprocessed food, control excess calories and drink lots of water. Find ways to relax and, finally, stand straight and hold in your gut!
By following these steps, you will soon notice a difference in your abs and also an improvement in your general health and fitness. Good luck!