Four weeks is all ya need to bust that belly. Here are our tried ‘n’ true tips.
Your new best friends? Fresh fruits (enjoy juicy peaches, succulent
strawberries, delicious cherries), tasty veggies (the produce stand is
stocked with tender asparagus, yummy snap peas, flavorful greens) and
lean protein (beef, chicken, fish, tofu, nuts, seeds, you pick!). The
idea is to have five—yes, five—small meals a day.
To get fit, eat a balanced daily diet that includes two cups of
fruit, two and a half cups of veggies, and two small (3 ounces each)
protein servings. Round out your day with three 2-ounce servings of
whole grains (look for the words “whole grain” for breads, pasta,
cereals and crackers) and three cups of low-fat milk.
What’s out? Refined carbs like white rice, anything with high-fructose
corn syrup (the stuff that sweetens soda), even low-carb snacks (they
contain glycerin, which your body has a hard time digesting). If you are
craving something sweet, treat yourself to real sugar (sprinkle some on
berries). Unlike artificial or processed sweeteners, natural sugar
signals your body that you’re satisfied.
Forget those freaky devices you see on late-night TV. The best way to
get sleek is to target your middle with ab-strengthening exercises, like
crunches. If you’ve never done a crunch in your life, start by doing
our ab moves (below) two days a week. Within three or four weeks, aim
for three to five sessions a week. How many reps and how many sets
should you do? Believe it or not, it’s more beneficial to do fewer reps
and keep your form than to do lots of reps incorrectly. Shoot for two to
three sets of each type of crunch, but only do as many in a row as you
can do properly.
Contrary to popular belief, crunches don’t burn belly flab. They help
tone core muscles. The only way you’re going to see those toned abs is
to melt off fat. How? By getting moving. Do 30 minutes of cardio four to
five times a week. Walk briskly (fast enough so holding a conversation
isn’t easy), jog, dance around your house. Not only will you get leaner,
you’ll get healthier too.
Don’t Be Fooled
Abs need to recover. Your muscles build during rest, so working them
daily won’t get you toned any faster. And that rumor about doing
exercises ultra-slowly to get better results? Hogwash. As long as you
keep your form and let your muscles do the work, going at a snail’s pace
doesn’t help a bit. What does kick things up a notch? Doing crunches on
an uneven surface, like a workout ball.
The Four Ab Moves You Need
Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat and apart about the
width of your hips. Put your hands behind your head with fingertips
lightly touching behind your neck. Contract your abs, then raise your
head, upper back and shoulders off the floor (don’t cheat and pull your
head up with your hands!). Keep raising to a slow, steady count of four
until your chin is about four inches from your chest. Hold for a moment,
then slowly return to the starting position.
Lie on the floor with knees bent and legs lifted, hands behind your
head. Lift shoulder blades off the floor, and slowly twist left elbow
toward right knee as you extend your left leg; immediately switch sides
without lowering your shoulders to the floor.
Straight Leg Crunch
Lie on your back with legs raised straight above your hips and arms
reaching up. Lifting your shoulders from the floor, simultaneously
stretch fingertips toward toes and press feet to the ceiling to lift
your butt and tailbone off the floor.
Lie on your right side with right elbow under your shoulder. Lift hips
so your body is in a straight line from knee to head. Hold for 20
counts. Repeat on left.