Banish Your Belly
Why it's so important to tame tummy flab and how to get started
Less Food, More Activity continued...
But she cautions against drinking too many caffeinated beverages, which also
have a diuretic effect: "You'll get rid of fluids but you'll also be losing
iron and calcium."
Exercising is an important part of losing weight, but you don't have to
become a gym rat, says fitness expert Mare Petras, author of The 7 Habits of
Highly Successful Swimsuit Shoppers. In fact, she urges that you think
"physical activity" rather than "exercise."
"Look for activities which burn excess fat and increase muscle
mass," says Petras. That could mean walking your dog, riding your bike,
putting on your favorite CD and dancing around the house -- or just doing chair
squats whenever you think about it. "Try 10 every two hours and before you
know it, you've logged in 50 squats," Petras says.
"The key to banishing your belly is consistent, moderate aerobic
activity," says Petras. "It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing ... just do
Cardiovascular (aerobic) activity will burn more calories per session than
weight training, says Comana. But he adds that the body expends extra calories
after a weight training session, so it's good to combine both types of
Along with aerobic and strength-training activities, ab-specific exercises
can help tone your abdominal muscles. Strong abs help support your back and
make everyday activities easier. And once you lose some of the fat layer
covering your abs, your tummy-tightening efforts will really show.
In a recent American Council on Exercise study, researchers looked at 13 of
the most common abdominal exercises and ranked them best to worst. Among the
most effective were the "bicycle" maneuver, the captain's chair (a
piece of gym equipment in which you lift your bent legs toward your upper
body), crunches done on an exercise ball, crunches done with the legs held
vertically, and reverse crunches (lying in crunch position, raise your bent
legs toward your shoulders).
For best results, the study's lead researcher, Peter Francis, PhD,
recommends doing several of these exercises for five minutes a day.
Finally, it can't hurt to manage your stress.
"Identify what's stressing you out, and then find out what works for you
in relieving that stress," Talbott says. Yoga works for some, meditation
for others. Your stress reliever may be golf, swimming, or simply a long soak
in the tub.
Losing your tummy takes a multi-pronged approach that includes diet,
exercise, and stress management, Talbott says.
"Women tend to want to diet, and men tend to want to exercise,"
Talbott says. "But you need all three pieces to make this work."