8 habits for a healthier you

 

1. Calm down.

Too much stress can contribute to a potbelly. Stress increases levels of cortisol, a hormone that seems to direct fat to our middle, says Jacob Seidell, PhD, of the National Institute of Public Health in Bilthoven, Netherlands. To keep levels low, try this 5- to 10-minute stress reducer: Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Next, take several slow, deep breaths to help clear your mind. Continue breathing deeply and repeat the word "one" to yourself as you exhale. (If you get distracted, just bring your focus back to the word "one.") Practice this for 5 to 10 minutes once or twice a day.

 

2. Skip the alcohol

That glass of wine with dinner may be part of the reason your jeans are too tight. Alcohol also tends to raise cortisol levels, sending fat to your belly, Dr. Seidell says.

 

3. Eat more fiber

Not only is fiber great for overall weight loss (it fills you up so you don't eat as much), it also prevents constipation, which can cause your tummy to bulge, says Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. To stay regular, aim for 22 to 25 g of fiber a day by eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; or try a fiber supplement such as Metamucil.

 

4. Drink up

For premenstrual bloating, drink lots and lots of water. This will actually help flush away bloating, not make it worse.

 

5. Keep your bones strong

Osteoporosis can lead to fractured bones in your spine, causing you to slump. That shortens your abdominal cavity, giving your belly no place to go but out, says Willibald Nagler, MD, physiatrist in chief emeritus at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. If you're age 50 or over, be sure to get 1,200 mg of calcium every day from the foods you eat and/or from supplements. (If you're age 50 or younger, 1,000 mg a day is the ticket.)

 

6. Get your heart rate up

All the ab exercises in the world won't do a thing unless you get rid of the fat hiding your abdominal muscles. The best way is aerobic exercise for 30 to 45 minutes, five times a week. When Barbara Taylor, 50, of Pasadena, CA, started running, walking, or stair climbing for about 1 hour, five days a week, she did more than just uncover her abs. She went from a size 16 to a size 4 and lost more than 60 pounds.

 

7. Tuck that tummy

Jeanette Friedman, 54, of Austin, suggests imagining there's a "magnet pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Practice the tuck until it becomes comfortable, and soon it will come naturally--like breathing," she says. "Do it every chance you get. That's how habits start."

 

8. Hit the weights

That's what worked for Angela Susi, 50, of Vancouver, who lost about 5 inches from her waist and plummeted from a size 12 to a size 3. “I was able to wear my first bikini in 20 years,” she says. "It was like a great unveiling! My abs are leaner, with more definition." For similar results, aim for two or three weight workouts a week.

 

Linda Rao

Prevention Magazine

http://www.prevention.com/health/

 

 

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