One question I am asked again and again — is it possible to have flat abs over the age of 40? My answer is always the same: No… not unless you begin to understand and implement the 4 Tummy Truths. Stick to these guidelines and you’ll banish belly fat and get a midsection that’s flatter, tighter, and seemingly ageless.
Truth #1: Beating Belly Fat is Critical
Abdominals aren’t just for show. Our core muscles play a key role in supporting our backs, protecting our bodies from injury, and allowing us to perform daily functions. A Mayo Clinic study showed that people who carry extra belly fat around their waists (core) — even those with a healthy weight and body mass index — are at greater risk for coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Truth #2: Stop With the Sit-Ups
Traditional crunches do have their value — they’re great for helping to define the abdominal muscles, especially the rectus abdominus (the part of our abs that can form the "six pack"). But, not all belly fat exercises have to be crunches. Yoga and pilates moves, for example, work our tummy muscles on a deep level and, when performed properly, deliver amazing results.
With all the styles and variations available to modern-day yogis, beginning a yoga or pilates practice can be a little overwhelming. I believe that everyone should know the basics of yoga and pilates since these workouts help establish the foundation for your other activities. So take your workout one step further by focusing on that mind/body/core connection.
Truth #3: Results Might Be Hidden
Cardio plays a vital role in good core work. We can do crunches and pilates moves to tighten and strengthen our abs until the cows come home, but if we don’t burn off that top layer of fat, we’ll never see your amazing results. In those cases, we’re left with a stronger core (which is a good thing), but instead of a lean and lovely midsection, we often find ourselves with that “boxy” look (not such a good thing). So start burning away your belly fat with cardio so that you (and others) can enjoy the fruits of your labor. One of my favorite cardio workouts is an upbeat but gentle-joint friendly workout combination of kickboxing and tai chi.
Truth #4: You Need a Diet to Do It
Eating, of course, is another major factor here. Sugar, sodium, hydrogenated fats, and processed foods are just a few of the culprits that sabotage abs. A diet that’s high in fiber, lean proteins, healthy fats, and emphasizes portion control can rev up your metabolism, improve digestion, and help you carve your way to a beautiful you. My favorite recipes, like the Curried Chicken Salad recipe (below) help aide weight loss but are so delicious you’ll never give them the bad rap of “diet food.” Find more of my healthy recipes here.
Curried Chicken Salad
½ pound cooked chicken breast cubed
½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
½ Teaspoon mild curry powder, or more to taste
½ apple, chopped
¼ cup chopped yellow onion
¼ cup of raisins
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
Mix yogurt with curry powder until well blended. Taste and add more curry if desired. Fold chicken and apple into yogurt mixture, and mix in parsley, onion and raisins. Serve on a bed of fresh arugula or kale with lime wedges on the side. Serves two.
Sound like a lot to bite off? Well, chew on this: by living these four truths, you can have flat abs over the age of 40!
"America's Trainer" Kathy Smith has been shaping women's thighs and lives for over 30 years through her best-selling collection of workout DVDs and books. Her motto is "Progress, Not Perfection." Find her at www.KathySmith.com or on Facebook.