The weather is hotting up and it’s almost time to hit the beach. But in the meantime – since all those hot chocolates and hearty roasts have a habit of collecting around the waist – here are some tips to compensate for all that winter comfort eating and put you back on track to a washboard stomach.
Watch your posture
“By standing tall with your shoulders back, lengthening your spine and retracting your navel towards the spine, you engage the core muscles so the tummy doesn’t pop out,” says Cape Town-based personal trainer Shelley Wolff. And you look a couple of kilos lighter immediately!
Cut the carbs
A study at Canada’s McMaster University found that exchanging carbohydrates for fish, meat and dairy options helps to reduce overall body fat. If your craving for starch is insatiable, choose complex fibrous carbs like brown rice, wholewheat bread and sweet potatoes over their refined counterparts.
Keep the wheels turning
Don’t make the mistake of starving yourself – steer clear of sugars and saturated fats, but eat a balanced diet that incorporates plenty of lean proteins and fresh fruit and vegetables. “The point is to create enough of a calorie deficit to lose unwanted fat, but not such a drastic difference that it slows down the metabolism,” says Shelley.
Feel the burn
Cardiovascular exercise helps to burn overall body fat so the abdominal muscles become more visible, while weight training increases muscle mass and speeds up the metabolism so that you burn more calories a day – even when at rest. But don’t focus exclusively on abdominal exercises – the idea of spot-reducing fat is wishful thinking, so do push-ups and other exercises that work the whole body, with an emphasis on the core.
Keep an eye on your stress levels and take steps to keep them low – get enough sleep, eat well and practise yoga, meditation or whatever else helps you to unwind. According to researchers at Yale University, the tummy is four times more likely than other parts of the body to store fat connected to stress, largely because anxiety causes a spike in cortisol – a hormone associated with hard-to-lose tummy rolls. Tension can also cause comfort-eaters to indulge in fat-rich foods, compiling cortisol’s effect on the waistline.
You can find out more about Shelly and the training that she offers at homefit