1. Exercise with Friends
Instead of catching up with friends over food and drinks, suggest a reunion on the move—you’re likely to work out 104 percent harder if you have an exercise buddy. Suggest a weekly walk-and-talk session, form a friendly fitness club, or take advantage of gym specials together. You’ll motivate everyone to get moving while you grow even closer.
2. Try the Roll-Up
Hold a resistance band taut between your hands and lie on the floor face up, with your legs extended and arms overhead. Pull your abs in, tuck your chin, lift arms toward the ceiling, and roll your head, shoulders, and torso up and over your legs as far as you can. Keep heels firmly on the floor and reach hands towards your feet. Pause, then slowly roll back down. Do five to eight reps with 30 minutes of cardio five to six times a week. (For more super-effective exercises, check out how to use resistance bands.)
3. Make Time for Cardio
If you want to burn the most belly fat, a Duke University study confirms that aerobic exercise is the most effective in burning that deep, visceral belly fat. In fact, aerobic training burns 67 percent more calories than resistance training or a combination of the two, according to the study. If you’re low on motivation, these 31 ways to never skip another workout can help.
4. Plank Harder
Try the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with your arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio five to six times a week.
5. Consume More Fiber
For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your belly will carry almost four percent less fat. Thankfully, there are more enjoyable ways to increase your fiber than scarfing down a box of bran flakes: Two apples, half a cup of pinto beans, one artichoke, or two cups of broccoli will all give you 10 grams of belly-flattening fiber each. (For more tasty fiber ideas, see our 100 cleanest packaged food awards.)
6. Take Charge in Restaurants
Saying, “I’ll go last” when the waiter comes around could be adding bulk to your belly. A recent study showed that a normal-weight woman was more likely to mimic a thin woman’s eating habits than an obese woman’s. So when you’re out for girl’s night, order first. You’ll keep yourself—and maybe even a friend or two—on track to a flatter tummy. (Avoid other food traps with six ways restaurants try to make you fat.)
7. Do the Windshield Wiper
Lie face up with arms out to your sides, palms down, and legs bent at 90 degrees so your feet are off the floor. Keep your abs tight and slowly lower your legs to the left as far as possible, keeping your shoulders on the floor. Pause, then return to start. Repeat to the right. Do 20 reps, alternating sides.
8. Perfect Your Posture
While you’re driving, sitting, or just waiting at the doctor’s office, imagine there’s gum or wet paint on the back of your chair so you have to hold yourself up instead of leaning back. Keep your shoulder blades down and back, abdominals lifted, and picture yourself knitting your rib cage together and in.
9. Cut Back on Salt
Too much salt will make you retain more fluid, which contributes to a puffy appearance and extra water weight. (Avoid these 10 other foods that cause belly bloat.)
10. Fry Fat with The Boat Move
Target your deepest abs muscles with The Boat. Lie face up on a mat with your arms straight up over chest. Lift your upper body off the ground by rolling through the spine. At the same time, raise your legs so that you’re balancing on your butt, knees bent and shins parallel to the ground. Slowly roll back down onto the mat, lowering legs. That’s one rep. Do five reps per set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
11. Eat More Avocado
Just half an avocado contains 10 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids, which halt blood sugar spikes that tell your body to store fat around your belly. Eat these in 1/4 cup servings to ward off belly fat without overdoing it.
12. Play Catch
Get into a crunch position: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, shoulders and head off the floor with your abs contracted. Then have someone throw an exercise ball (or basketball) to you—first to your left side so you have to twist and reach to catch it, and then to your right. Do this as many times as is comfortable, and try to increase the number each week.
13. Skip the Soda
Where do you think all those bubbles from carbonated drinks end up? They gang up in your belly! (Check out all seven nasty side effects of drinking diet soda.) Swap soda, diet soda, and seltzer for Sassy Water, our slimming staple beverage.
14. Ditch Alcohol
That glass of wine with every meal may be part of the reason your jeans are too tight. Too much alcohol can raise cortisol levels, sending fat straight to your belly.
15. Sprinkle Seeds into Meals
Sunflower seeds are packed with tons of monounsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins, which play an important role in protecting against inflammation. Add 2 tablespoons on top of your salad and stir-fries.
16. Consume More Seafood
Salmon and other fatty fish are rich in the same omega-3 fatty acids as many belly-fat-busting foods. Try poaching your fish for a low-calorie way to enjoy this lean protein, like in these five fresh seafood recipes.)
17. Hydrate with H20
Forget water weight: Drinking lots of water helps flush bloat that your body might be holding onto.
18. Stand Tall While Weight Lifting
Stand as much as possible when doing strength-training exercises. That way your abs will naturally help to balance and stabilize your body. Concentrate on keeping your abs tight and maintaining good posture while you lift but without holding your breath.
19. Get More Sleep
Research from the University of Chicago shows that those who sleep seven hours or more a night lose twice as much fat and are less hungry than those who get less than seven hours of shut-eye. If sleeping’s a struggle for you, these 20 ways to sleep better every night can help.
20. Keep Peanut Butter Available
One serving of peanut butter has 2 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, on top of belly-busting monounsaturated fatty acids. Try this easy recipe to add a flat belly punch to dinner: Toss a 1/2 cup of whole grain noodles with 3 ounces cooked shrimp, minced scallions, and 1/4 cup sliced red bell pepper. Dress with a mixture of 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons warm water, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
Aerobic kickboxing is more than just a great belly fat-burning, cardio workout. All those arm thrusts and high kicks firm abs, too. (Try these six other “scary” exercises for women.)
Image courtesy of womenshealthmag.com