[GET LIFE]<br />
The Stomach Slim-Down

If I sat at a round table with a group of women, and asked them what the one most important major league super huge giant change they’d make with their bodies is, do you know what they’d tell me?

Some variation of “I need to lose this gut!” or “This muffin top has got to go!” or even “I’m so tired of this back fat, I can’t even think straight!”

And, when I tell them that handling all that is rather simple – not easy, mind you, but definitely simple – everybody gives me the skeptical face. You know, that face you give the TV infomercials before they give you the hard sell on whatever weight loss bracelet/girdle/pill/injectable potion they aim to sell you.

The only difference is, I have no product to sell, no need to swindle you out of your hard-earned coins, no reason to tarnish my integrity.

During the bulk of my own weight loss journey, I had my own giant pouch to deal with. After having a beautiful baby girl, my tummy definitely hung and swung and, as I gained even more weight post-baby it swelled with extra fat. It certainly felt like it would never go away, but the moment I figured out the key, the belly started to fade. It went from a low hang to a tighter fit. The back fat started to fade, the muffin top started to shrink, and my gut stopped entering the room before I did.

How did I do it? Here are four simple tips that I give all of my clients, that will help you shrink your own tummy to your liking:

1) Cut the sugar. It’s in your soda (are you seriously still drinking that stuff?). It’s in your bread. It’s in your ketchup, your ranch dressing, and in your Miracle Whip. It’s in your breakfast, lunch and dinner in obscene amounts, especially if you’re eating processed food. Processed food and tummy shrinkage don’t mix. While you might have friends who eat like crap and still maintain your physiques, you should be so kind as to remind yourself that “eating like crap” has not worked for you, hence the tummy. Be honest with yourself – read your labels and assess where the sugar is coming from, and start cutting where you can. (This usually means you have to start embracing clean eating, especially since if you’re working hard but eating crap, you’re not changing your body… you’re only preventing a bad situation from getting worse.)

2) It’s not crunches that’s gonna burn that tummy; it’s cardio. Crunches are what you do to strengthen your back, neck, and abdominal muscles. They’ll give you a six-pack, but they won’t rid your belly area of any fat unless your heart rate is sky high for an extended period of time while you’re doing them. You’ve got to burn fat, and fat burn is something that comes exclusively from aerobic activity. So, your Zumba classes, your CrossFit classes, your race training, your quiet time on the recumbent bike? Those are fat-burning activities that’ll shrink your middle. (And, while there’s no such thing as being able to burn fat in only one particular spot, you can rest assured that cardio coupled with a sugar-light lifestyle will make a huge difference.

3) Natural fiber is so necessary. I’m serious. If you’re not going number 2 at least once daily, then you should expect to have a distended belly. Everything you’re eating is backed up in there! This isn’t a green light to take laxatives or use other unhealthy methods of “colon cleansing;” instead, look at this as encouragement to eat fresh vegetable salads, or enjoy nice, pulpy, fibrous fruits. They’re ten times more enjoyable, full of naturally-made fiber, and will also help with your skin nutrient-wise, so that it’s better equipped to come back naturally.

4) Lastly, you must drink water, and possibly give up the other stuff. Water helps your body flush out toxins, and move waste out of your system. Fiber without water makes for a very painful, ahem, process. A full water regimen helps not only your internal organs, but also your hair, skin and nails. Even more, drinking an excess of water also helps ensure that you’ll drinking less of some other things that you probably shouldn’t, ahem, be drinking at all.

If you’re a processed food lover, a heavy drinker, a person with insane eating habits, or someone who’s just getting started with clean eating, these four tips will get you where you’re going on the tummy front. Now, about that booty….

Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she blogs her journey from 330lb couch potato to certified