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GL's ultimate guide to a flat belly in four weeks


Four weeks is all ya need to bust that belly. Here are our tried ‘n’ true tips.
Eat Smart
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.
Do Crunches
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.
Do Cardio
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
Basic Crunch
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.  
The Bicycle
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.
Side Plank
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. 

BY GL ON 11/20/2013 3:54:00 PM


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