If you're fed up with people asking you when the baby is due, maybe it's time to get rid of your lower-belly pooch. That excess fat at the bottom of your tummy doesn't benefit your health or your appearance. Flattening your belly will take more than just doing lower-abdominal exercises because these just strengthen your tummy muscles and won't touch that flabby layer of fat covering them. To say goodbye to that tubby tummy, give your diet and workout routine a makeover.
Change your eating habits to avoid excess caloric intake. Replace those morning doughnuts, afternoon treats and late-night munchies with healthy, low-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables, low-fat or non-fat dairy and whole grains. Reduce your portion sizes by at least 10 percent and consume monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and nuts; according to Dr. Mehmet Oz, the professor of surgery at Columbia University, these foods combat belly fat. Avoid foods such as cookies, margarine and crackers because these contain trans fats, which, according to the American Council on Exercise, trigger fat storage in your belly.
Schedule at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on five days of the week to burn calories. Work up a sweat, exercising at a pace that still allows you to have a conversation. Ride a bike, go jogging or use cardio machines in the gym. For optimal caloric burn, increase your workout duration to one hour.
Lift weights at least two times per week, targeting your arms, shoulders, abdominals, legs, hips, chest and back. Strength training stimulates muscle tissue, which boosts your metabolism and burns more calories than fat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests using a resistance that's challenging enough so that after the last repetition of each set, you can't do another repetition.
Include static presses in your abdominal strengthening routine to target the lower part of your rectus abdominis. Lie face up on the floor, raise your feet to the ceiling and bend your knees 90 degrees. Place your palms on your thighs and suck your tummy in to eliminate the space between your lower back and the floor. Push your hands against your thighs for one second and resist the pressure with your thighs. Don't allow your hands to move your thighs. Complete 10 repetitions and three sets.
Work your lower abdominals with reverse crunches. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and bring them directly over your hips. Curl your pelvis up toward your ribs so your tailbone lifts off the floor. Avoid swinging your legs and using momentum -- only use your lower abdominals to create the motion. Pause one second before lowering your tailbone to the floor. Work your way up to completing three sets of 20 reverse crunches.
Stretch your hip flexors. Sometimes, tight hip flexors can tilt your pelvis forward and increase the arch in your back, resulting in a belly pooch. Step forward with your right foot and lower down as if you're doing a lunge. Place your left knee on the floor and tighten your tush, pushing it slightly forward so you feel a stretch in your hips. Extend your left arm to the ceiling and lean to your right to emphasize the stretch in your hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat it three times before switching legs.
- American Council on Exercise: Trimming Off the Fat
- Oprah.com: Get Rid of Belly Fat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Shape.com: Lose the Pooch! The Best Exercises for Lower Abs
- University of Kentucky: Health & Wellness: Walkaway Ab Workout
- The Women's Health Diet; Stephen Perrine and Leah Flickinger
- Consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise program, especially if you have an injury or medical condition.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.