A flat tummy might be the most sought after feature when it comes to fitness. It creates a pleasing silhouette for your body, your clothes fit better and a strong core helps prevent injuries. We are all familiar with the most common exercises to sculpt your abs: crunches. Crunches are great exercise, but often only work the external abdominal muscles without strengthening the structural core muscles. So how can we get those sexy, strong abs without hours of crunches alone?
#1 – Chew Your Food
Have you ever finished a plate of food and ten minutes later felt overstuffed? Picture this: when you chew your food, your body starts to react to the rise in blood sugar. The more you chew, the more saliva is produced. Not only does this preliminary deconstruction help with the absorption of nutrients, but it also sends signals to your brain that food is being digested. If you swallow your food partially chewed or whole, the sugars being released from your food are delayed. Your body doesn’t feel satiated even though you have had enough to eat, so you keep on eating. Take your time! Your tummy will thank you for it.
#2 – Do the Windshield Wiper
This exercise is one of my favorites. It works a wide range of abdominal muscles and can be modified to challenge all fitness levels. Here’s how you do it. Start on your back and extend your arms away from body so that you form a “T”. Lift your legs until you thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Beginners can do this with knees bent, or if you are looking for a challenge, straighten your legs. While squeezing your thighs together, lower your feet to towards your right hand being careful not to let your upper back or shoulder lift off the floor. Return to the beginning position and repeat on the left side. Be sure make the movements focused and controlled. Don’t let gravity do the work. Once you have mastered “floor windshield wipers” you can progress to doing them upright by hanging from a bar. If you’re ready for an amazing ab transformation check out my Awesome Abs plan!
#3 – Skip bubbly drinks (and Juice)
It’s no secret that sodas are loaded with sugar and have no nutritional value. A standard 12oz can contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar. In fact, soda consumption has fallen to a 30 year low as a result of a more health conscious public turning to fruit juices and diet sodas. However, these “healthy drinks” can be just as harmful. Fruit juices may be fortified with some vitamins, but still often contain just as much sugar as soda and none of the fiber that makes fruit beneficial. While diet sodas use calorie-free sugar substitutes, studies have shown that people that consume diet sodas have more visceral belly fat than non-drinkers. Research has also indicated that artificial sweeteners can be detrimental to gut health, a key factor in overall health. Do your body good and stick to water!
#4 – Take a Probiotic Everyday
Studies have shown that taking a probiotic can help you shed those unwanted inches around your waist. Your digestive system is filled with billions of bacterial organisms, good and bad. Those with an imbalance of organisms have a harder time losing weight and body fat. When introducing a probiotic, the digestive system is replenished with beneficial bacteria. Make sure your probiotic has multiple strains and anti-yeast ingredients. You can pump yourself with billions of live cultures, but if you don’t address the yeast, those beneficial bacteria will die off before they get a chance to do their job. High quality probiotics, like ProBio5 by Plexus, offer enzymes that kill off harmful bacteria and yeast that slow down your metabolism and cause other health issues.
#5 – Get More Sleep
Sleep quality often gets overlooked when it comes to health and weight loss. Lack of sleep causes a spike in cortisol and insulin resistance. Unfortunately cortisol also breaks down tissue and puts the body in a “fight-or-flight” mode which is not an ideal situation to lose body fat. Tired people will try to energize themselves with food, many times with sugar and carb heavy snacks. Sleep deprivation can also decrease insulin sensitivity which allows the body to feel satisfied after meals, so tired people have a tendency to overeat. To help keep these hormone levels in check, make sure you get an average of 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night.
#6 Bonus! – If You Can’t Tone it, Tan it!
Fake it till you make it! You may feel a little impatient on your quest to a flat tummy or sculpted abs. Why not take advantage with a little lighting magic? Tanning brings out the contours of your shape especially on your arms, legs and abs. If you don’t want to lay out or live in frigid temperatures, consider a spray tan or invest in a good self-tanner.