Is your muffin top the 2014 holiday present that just keeps on giving? Whether your goal is to lose it forever, or to finally achieve those elusive six pack abs, here’s my advice for helping you win the battle of the belly bulge.
The stomach is a major problem area, for both men and women. I can’t tell you how often I’m asked for advice on how to achieve killer abs, flatten the mummy pouch or lose the love handles at my Northampton gym. If you really want to get a flat stomach — or achieve that six pack — follow these tips and make 2015 the year you finally make it happen!
Concentrate on Your Entire Body — Not Just Your Belly
Most people believe that doing thousands of sit-ups or crunches all day, every day, will get you closer to achieving those washboard abs, but that’s simply not the case. Both belly bulge and love handles are all about excess body fat, not lack of muscle. That’s why abdominal exercises alone aren’t the solution. Achieving a flat stomach is all about workouts that impact different muscle groups at the same time – so you’re burning more calories and strengthening your entire body.
Build Up Your Core Muscles
Get ready to start planking – and I don’t mean the kind of planking that has gone viral. The plank I’m talking about is a great move that strengthens your chest and back muscles, targets your core abdominal muscles and practices balance. The pose is not as easy as it looks or sounds, but trust me, the effects are well worth the effort it takes to perfect the move.
The Truth About Problem Zones
There’s nothing to love about love handles and sadly there’s no quick fix solution to getting rid of them. Targeting problem areas is difficult because fat is burned systematically across the body according to your own distinctive genetics. Concentrating on one region of the body won’t make fat disappear altogether, but there are some exercises that will bring blood, and therefore oxygen, to these problem areas and I believe that this oxidization helps break down the fat. For love handles, a major problem zone for both men and women, try a side-bend stretch. Remember, it’s not a magic fix, but it might help to break down the fat that builds up in this area of the body.
Eat the Right Food
All processed foods must go. Get rid of the crisps, microwave dinners and definitely put an end to your fast food fixes. The sugars, sodium and preservatives alone will help keep your belly looking bloated and defeat all of your efforts. Replace junk food with whole, quality, organic foods that are packed with healthy nutrients and not preservatives.
Say No to Happy Hour
I’m not going to tell you to abstain from alcohol totally, but when you’re trying to lose weight and tone up, alcohol is the definitive enemy. Alcohol releases estrogen into your bloodstream and when you have excess estrogen, you’re more prone to hold onto weight. Ever seen a guy with a beer belly? It’s the excess estrogen causing that fat and inhibiting muscle growth.
Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, decreases your self-control, and stimulates your desire for food. The result? You end up in a drive-thru ordering a cheeseburger and fries at 1 am. Definitely not the road to a bikini body. Your best bet is to take a break from happy hour until you meet your weight-loss goals and then you can re-introduce alcohol into your diet slowly.
Cut Your Sodium Intake and Up Your Water Consumption
Bloating is not all in your head. It is possible to carry extra water weight in your tummy. To beat the bloat, decrease your sodium intake to around 1,500 mg a day and increase your water intake. It’s easy to start monitoring your sodium intake by reading food labels. Restricting the amount of sodium you take in will help you reduce your water retention and look slimmer in your clothes.