If your fat tummy gives you trouble zipping up your pants and has people asking you when the baby is due, you're probably not a happy camper. Although genetics can be partly responsible for belly fat, your diet and lifestyle habits can also be to blame. Try to lose the fat while you're still a young Nestie, because loss of muscle tissue and hormonal changes as you age can increase your belly fat. Buckle up and get ready to turn that frown upside down.
Clean up your diet and eat smaller portions to reduce your caloric intake. Eliminate processed foods, such as crackers, cookies, chips and pasta, because these contain unhealthy trans fats that can increase tummy fat. Focus on eating healthy energy sources including whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy, fruit, lean protein and monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive oil and nuts.
Prepare to sweat on five days of the week. Each day, do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at a moderate intensity where you breathe faster, but can still have a conversation. If you're really motivated to say goodbye to that tubby tummy, up your cardio to an hour a day. Ride a bike, go for a brisk walk, or use an elliptical machine or stair climber in the gym.
Pretend you're a professional female weightlifter on at least two days of the week. Don't be afraid to lift weights and increase muscle tissue, because muscle speeds up your metabolism and burns more calories than fat. Take on a full-body approach and target all major muscle groups. Avoid solely focusing on your abdominals, because reducing fat in just one area of your body isn't possible.
Reduce stress in your life, because stress increases your body's production of cortisol. This stress hormone gives you an appetite for sugary, fattening foods, and the fat you gain gets stored in your tummy so it's near your liver and can be converted to energy when it's needed. Delegate tasks, get a massage, soak in the tub and don't be afraid to say "no."
Crunch your way to a toned tummy. Although abdominal exercises don't whittle away belly fat, they do tone the muscles underneath that fat layer. As the fat reduces, the toned muscles can add definition to your tummy. Perform exercises, such as bicycle crunches in which you lie on the floor and bring one elbow and the opposite knee together, or use the Captain's chair apparatus, during which you're in an upright position and raise your knees until your upper legs are parallel to the floor.
- Avoid rapid weight loss -- lose up to 2 pounds per week. According to MayoClinic.com, weight loss at this rate is easier to maintain.
- If you're an exercise newbie, consider hiring a certified personal trainer to learn proper form.
- During strength training, work in sets of eight to 12 repetitions. Use enough weight so the last repetition of each set fatigues the targeted muscle so you can't do another repetition.
- Consult a doctor before beginning a new diet or exercise routine, especially if you've been inactive or have a medical condition or injury.
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking - And Keeping - It Off
- The Dr. Oz Show: Get Rid of Belly Fat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Marilyn Glenville: Fat Around the Middle
- Helpguide.org: Stress Management
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images