Getting rid of your paunch takes focus, but you can make progress with the right plan. Whether you've held onto adolescent weight longer than most or you've just had a baby, your body has shown you it's capable of change -- and that change can continue. It may take six months to a year to get your lower abs as flat as possible, but a well-balanced diet, the right combination of exercise and a healthy perspective can make a difference.
Plan a healthy diet. You may naturally drop weight in one place first, but it's unlikely you'll melt baby fat on the lower abs just because it's where you want to trim. You need an overall fat-loss diet. If you're a nursing mom, you need about 500 calories per day more than you consumed before pregnancy. Young women need about 1,800 calories and young men need about 2,200 calories per day. Trainer Josh Schlottman recommends lean protein and high-fiber foods with healthy fats, like avocados, almonds, wild salmon, olive oil, eggs and green veggies. He shares that green tea improves your metabolism, too.
Reduce stress. Your body produces cortisol when you're stressed. Cortisol increases sugar cravings and is stored in lower-abdominal fat cells. When stress becomes chronic, cellular changes occur -- in simple terms, you develop and hang onto lower belly fat. Practice deep breathing exercises to combat stress. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Breathe in and out, massaging the belly to reduce muscular tension around the navel that affects the whole body. The effect is holistic; belly rubbing doesn't reduce belly fat. Mindful exercises such as yoga and tai chi help, too.
Incorporate cardio workouts into your exercise regime. The only way to reduce fat is to burn more calories than you consume. Get rid of baby fat on your lower abs by adding 30 minutes of cardio to your lifestyle at least three times a week; this will help reduce stress, too. Workouts that target core muscles are most effective. Trainer Story Elizabeth Maley recommends hitting the treadmill, elliptical machine and rowing machine for 10 minutes each to keep your heart rate up and your muscles challenged. Cycling, kickboxing and tennis are all great, too.
Spot train your lower abs. You won't trim baby fat from your lower stomach by doing situps, but you will tone the area, so when you begin to lose a noticeable amount of fat, you have a toned midsection. Get some crunches going -- three sets of eight every other day will help -- and do an isometric belly toner, such as the boat pose. Sit on a mat with your arms and legs extended. Curl your knees in halfway with the abs engaged and extend your arms as if you were reaching for oars. Breathe evenly and hold the pose for up to a minute.
Perform total-body strength training two or three days per week. Muscle mass burns more calories than fat when you're at rest, so replacing fat with muscle helps keep your weight in check even when you're inactive. Do a circuit of eight to 10 exercises per workout, with no more than 30 seconds of rest between exercises, to keep your heart rate high and burn additional calories.
If you've just had a baby, it might take up to a year to get your body back.