Aside from cosmetic concerns that accompany a bulging belly, a heavy midsection is a danger to your health. People who carry extra weight, particularly around their midsections, increase their chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a host of other serious diseases. The good news is it's never too late to tone your middle and reap the rewards of a better body.
Create an appropriate eating plan. If you need to lose weight, you'll have to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 lb. of fat, says the University of New Mexico exercise research scientist Lenny Kravitz, Ph.D.. You can do this by following a low-fat, low-calorie eating plan and by exercising regularly. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates, those that digest slowly in the body and help keep your blood sugar levels stable for a steady stream of energy. The National Institutes of Health says most people should consume between 40 percent and 60 percent of total calories from carbohydrates. Avoid processed foods, which often contain high amounts of sugar, salt and preservatives.
Set aside time to exercise. While some people are busier than others, depending on their work schedules, personal obligations and family responsibilities, there's no reason even the busiest of people should not have at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to dedicate to health and fitness. For many people, it's just a matter of scheduling. Treat your workouts like appointments. Schedule them in advance and commit to attend each session until your appointments become habit.
Practice simple tummy-toning moves to tone your midsection quickly. Although sophisticated machinery and high-end equipment may be helpful, all you really need to strengthen your midsection is a basic routine that challenges your abdominal muscles. Crunches and situps are some key exercises. See Resources section for help. Don't discount whole-body routines, however, which can also help you shape your midsection. Consider joining a kickboxing, Pilates or yoga class.
Consult a professional or team up with a friend. You've heard there's strength in numbers. This applies to fitness-goers and those attempting to lose weight or tone their midsection quickly. Hence the popularity of weight-loss plans that incorporate group sessions. While a trainer can offer expertise, their services often come with a hefty price tag. If you can't afford a professional, find a friend who's willing to be your accountability partner.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your toning sessions. Continue to drink water throughout the day, because water consumption reduces bloating by moving foods and fluids through the body. This is especially important for those who maintain a high-sodium diet, because salt contributes to water retention and can add bulk to your midsection. Some people follow the eight and eight rule: drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water daily. Keep in mind however, the exact amount of water you need daily varies, depending on how much you excrete through sweat and other factors. To be safe, drink water with meals and sip enough to satisfy your thirst.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Carbohydrates
- University of New Mexico; Lenny Kravitz: Fat Facts
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?