This post is by OYS writer Melissa. You can see more of her posts here.
Can you believe it’s already May? Summer is just around the corner, which means bathing suit season is coming. One body part many people call their trouble spot is the abdominal region. While you can’t control everything about your physical shape, you can take steps to help each part look its best, or at least a little better. If you want to be more comfortable showing off your mid-section this summer, then it’s time to add some ab-friendly foods to your diet, and start performing some more targeted ab exercises. This double approach will help you tone up your abs quick.
What to Eat
The first focus is on your diet. Of course you should be avoiding high-sodium foods that just lead to bloat, and junk food that is just going to lead to you carrying around excess fat. Unfortunately, as we get older, most of our fat tends to settle around our middle. There are some foods that have been shown to help eliminate fat and prevent it from forming in the abdominal region, and help build up muscle.
- Nuts – Make sure they are unsalted. Nuts are high in protein and are a great snack to help you stay full. This way you will avoid the junk food. My favorites are almonds or pistachios, but any nut will do.
- Beans – Garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, lentils…they all work. These little guys are loaded with fiber and help keep your digestive system regular. This means less constipation and bloating in your belly.
- Yogurt – The good bacteria in yogurt helps you keep a balanced digestive system, which again leads to keeping things moving along.
- Avocadoes – Like nuts, this fruit has good fats to help you feel full and stay away from the junk food.
- Bananas – The potassium in this fruit helps get rid of water weight, which means your middle is less bloated.
- Water – It seems like drinking more water would make you bloated, but it actually has the opposite effect. Plenty of water in your system keeps things moving along so you actually have a flatter belly.
Exercises to Do
You must do cardio to help get rid of any belly fat that is covering up your muscles. Aim for 30 minutes of your favorite cardio five days a week. This could be anything you like: walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing, etc.
Then it’s time to hone in on your core muscles to get everything cinched in and tight. It is best to perform these moves after your cardio so that your heart rate is up and you can maximize your calorie burning.
Move #1 – Standing side crunch
Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and bring it up over your head. Then slowly pull your arm down as you lift your right knee, trying to touch your elbow to your knee. This is not meant to be a fast cardio move. Take your time and really think about those obliques (side abdominals). Do 10-15 reps, then switch to the other side.
Move #2 – Planks
You can do all of the variations of a plank in one session, or pick one to focus on each day. You can choose basic plank, side planks, side plank and dip, or plank with twist and dip. Hold your plank for as long as you can, but aim for 30-60 seconds. Really tighten your core, but keep your back flat and your butt down.
Move #3 – Squats on BOSU
A BOSU ball is like half an exercise ball that you can use to make regular strength-training moves more difficult. Just standing on one can be difficult, but add in other moves with your arms and legs, and your core really has to work hard to keep yourself on the ball. Perform 10-15 deep, slow squats standing on the BOSU ball. You can purchase a BOSU on Amazon.
Move #4 – Crunch with arm and leg extension
Lie on a mat and bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle. Extend your legs out straight as you extend your arms up over your head. Then bring your knees back in and your arms back in. Do 10-15 reps. Take your time and be sure to fully extend.
Check out my additional ab-friendly tips and exercises here.
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