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 40 Ways to Flatten Your Belly

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PostSubject: 40 Ways to Flatten Your Belly   Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:10 am

40 Ways to Flatten Your Belly

So you want to trim your middle. Time to hit the floor for a zillion crunches, right? Not so fast. Power crunching alone isn't necessarily the best--and certainly not the most enjoyable--way to flatten your belly. When we talked to dozens of people, just like you, who've toned their abs, we discovered their secrets include fun activities such as gardening, tennis, and dancing--with some crunches in between for good measure. Leading weight loss and fitness experts also suggest some simple lifestyle changes to provide you with a complete belly-flattening program.

So if you're sick of crunches -- or not getting the results you want -- read on for 40 surprising ways to get a belly worth baring.

10 Habits That Will Shrink Your Middle

1. Calm down. Too much stress can contribute to a potbelly. Stress increases levels of cortisol, a hormone that seems to direct fat to our middle, says Jacob Seidell, PhD, of the National Institute of Public Health in Bilthoven, Netherlands. To keep levels low, try this 5- to 10-minute stress reducer: Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Next, take several slow, deep breaths to help clear your mind. Continue breathing deeply and repeat the word "one" to yourself as you exhale. (If you get distracted, just bring your focus back to the word "one.") Practice this for 5 to 10 minutes once or twice a day.

2. Skip the alcohol. That glass of wine with dinner may be part of the reason your jeans are too tight. Alcohol also tends to raise cortisol levels, sending fat to your belly, Dr. Seidell says.

3. Stop smoking. "It keeps me thin," proclaim many smokers. But the truth is that smokers tend to have more abdominal fat than nonsmokers, says Dr. Seidell. (The stress hormone cortisol seems to be the culprit here too.) "When people stop smoking, the amount of abdominal fat actually decreases," he says.

4. Eat more fiber. Not only is fiber great for overall weight loss (it fills you up so you don't eat as much), it also prevents constipation, which can cause your tummy to bulge, says Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. To stay regular, aim for 25 to 35 g of fiber a day by eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; or try a fiber supplement such as Metamucil.

5. Drink up. For premenstrual bloating, drink lots and lots of water. This will actually help flush away bloating, not make it worse.

6. Keep bones strong. Osteoporosis can lead to fractured bones in your spine, causing you to slump. That shortens your abdominal cavity, giving your belly no place to go but out, says Willibald Nagler, MD, physiatrist in chief at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. If you're age 50 or over, be sure to get 1,200 mg of calcium every day from the foods you eat and/or from supplements. (If you're younger than 50, 1,000 mg a day is the ticket.)

7. Get your heart rate up. All the ab exercises in the world won't do a thing unless you get rid of the fat hiding your abdominal muscles. The best way is aerobic exercise for 45 to 60 minutes, five times a week. When Barbara, 42, of Pasadena, CA, started running, walking, or stairclimbing for about 1 hour, five days a week, she did more than just uncover her abs. She went from a size 16 to a size 4 and lost more than 60 pounds.

8. Tuck that tummy. Jeanette, 46, of Austin, TX, suggests imagining there's a "magnet pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Practice the tuck until it becomes comfortable, and soon it will come naturally--like breathing," she says. "Do it every chance you get. That's how habits start."

9. Hit the weights. That's what worked for Angela, 42, of Vancouver, BC, who lost about 5 inches from her waist and plummeted from a size 12 to a size 3. "Last April, I wore my first bikini in 20 years," she says. "It was like a great unveiling! My abs are leaner, with more definition." For similar results, aim for two or three weight workouts a week.

10. Get a bonus ab workout. Stand as much as possible when doing weight-lifting exercises. That way your abs work too. "They help to balance and stabilize your body," says Tammy, an Emmaus, PA, fitness instructor. Concentrate on keeping your abs tight and maintaining good posture, but don't hold your breath.

Read the rest here
http://health.msn.com/fitness/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100171868
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