It takes more than just crunches! We start to gain weight in our midsection when our cortisol levels spike. Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. When this happens cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. That stress can even get WORSE with bad dieting; studies show that the stress caused by dieting can increase cortisol levels, making no change in belly fat even with calorie restriction. So how do you shape up? Incorporate these 6 things below and you will be on your way to a flatter belly in no time flat!
Fast forward several years later, I had another baby (Winter) and came out of that pregnancy about 40-50 lbs over my end goal weight. I had always had this dream to finally hit the big “100” in weight loss. By 2013 I had begun to take some classes at the gym and count calories a little more but I in NO WAY did anything extreme. And I honestly believe that is the key to weight loss and to keeping it off. It was NO quick journey to that final number but by July 2013, I hit 120 lbs and had officially lost 100 lbs…
While there is research to show foods can create a minor uptick in metabolism after eating them, the effects are fairly minimal and short lived. Keep in mind that thermogenesis only represents a small portion of BMR (10%), and even with a large upswing, the effects don't stick for more than a few hours - resulting in only tiny increases in calorie burn over 24 hours. 

“I lost the weight by exercising with a personal trainer, but the weight didn't come off until I changed my eating habits. The very specific diet of oatmeal and an egg in the morning, and a smoothie, fish and veggies in proper portions worked for me. Water is critical as well. The most important part of weight loss is meal planning and preparation every day.”
I also think its important to note that having portion control is not the same thing as being on a diet. I never considered myself to be on a "diet." I remember a few co-workers asking me what kind of diet I was on and I didn't know how to answer because I never thought of myself of dieting because I still ate all foods that I loved. It was more just eating all foods in moderation. I could still eat a good burger and sweet potato fries if I went out to dinner, drank wine on special occasions, ate dark chocolate and ice cream, etc. I never stopped eating the foods I enjoyed, I just ate them less. 
The winter came and several work outs happened at Truman's Rec Center. I also committed to my first half marathon in April, so the start of the new year brought many morning runs. I kept experimenting with meals and trying new ways to cook foods I loved. Some weeks were great, and others were not. I kept my head up and reminded myself the hard work was worth it. It was worth it to take care of my body, to take care of my heart, and to take care of my mind.
Tracking your food intake is the single most important factor in losing weight - period. It is also the easiest way to calculate your calorie intake, hold yourself accountable and give yourself daily confirmation that you are sticking to your diet. And if you’re not on a diet currently, it’s the best way to see where you may want to consider making some changes.

About: Cary has a big personality, a personality that comes through every single post she writes. She’s trying to lose 100 pounds, and she has the same kinds of ups and downs we all do when we’re losing weight, one of the many things that makes her so appealing. Her blog is her “me-place” to cry, moan and spill painful thoughts. But it’s also a place where she shares her triumphs, happy moments and steps to uncover (little by little) herself.
So at age 20 my weight started to climb, but I didn’t notice or care because I was having fun.  At about age 24, I still didn’t workout at all and just partied and enjoyed my time with my friends.  I had an asthma attack, and went to the Doctors and that is when he told me, if I keep going this route I would die! (Thanks Dr. Becker) Pretty abrupt, but it’s true.  I was hitting near 200lbs and heading down the road of disaster.  I don’t think I ever made it to 200lbs, but I came pretty close.  (That’s me with the brown hair and bag in the picture, gross huh?)

I’ve lost 27 pounds in 6 months. I have plateaued at this weight for nearly 2 months. I have hypothyroidism. I take levothyroxine and provostatin for cholesterol. I eat chicken, fish and fresh vegetables. I limit red meat. I eat no dairy except cream in my coffee. I use mayo and butter sparingly. I have lost an inch off my waist since I have plateaued so I’m looking for alternatives to help weight loss progress. Thanks in advance.
There is plenty that you can do to get even more out of your walks. Stephanie Cyr began her 102-pound weight loss journey by walking for an hour each night—but there was a catch. "I mapped out a 3-mile course that took me through the hills in my neighborhood," she says. Live in a flat area? Alternate 1 minute of super-fast walking with 1 minute of slower walking for a calorie-torching interval routine.

“I served in the U.S. army for 11 years as a computer hardware/software specialist before I was medically discharged due to thyroid cancer in 2005. Initially, I was misdiagnosed with asthma and was pumped with heavy doses of prednisone steroids, which sent me from a size 4 to a size 20 in one year. Both my endocrinologist and family doctor said not to expect to get back into my size 4s ever again. However, I wanted to join the Wounded Warrior’s cycling team to support disabled veterans, so I had to get back to cycling over 100 miles. I teamed up with a personal trainer, Justin Roberts, at Retro Fitness in Florham Park, NJ, in December 2015. When he saw how determined I was, he told me about competing in the 90-Day Challenge. During my training, I learned the importance of choosing quality exercise over quantity. Especially with my schedule of work, home, school and the gym, I had to get the most out of the limited time I had to work out. I typically do 30 minutes of weights three times a week with cardio in between and one rest day.”
Of course, you want to get to the bottom of why you’re not feeling so hot. One study found that practicing relaxation techniques helped obese women who were emotional eaters lose weight over the course of three months, along with helping them reduce depression and anxiety. (7) Engaging in other activities that can help you relax are a better option than emotional eating.
Thank you so much, Lauren! Staying healthy is SO hard when you’re trying to prioritize and balance out the rest of life’s demands, but it thrills me to hear that your boyfriend likes my quinoa recipes! I got really lucky when I was testing out ways to eat quinoa. It’s one of the few health foods my husband will eat! Good luck to you and your boyfriend – keep me updated! 🙂

As to your criticism of my remark, “made me cry”, this was not a criticism of the article but a Criticism of the MEDICAL SCHOOLS which overlook teaching the next generation of Medicos about NUTRITION and all matters connected with nutrition – but especially INSULIN, which is in some ways similar to Vitamin C, in that without the latter there would be NO LIFE, as we know it, on planet Earth. Without INSULIN the would be no Mammalian life, and we humans are just another mammal.


Be Yourself. Not surprisingly, pretending to be someone you’re not is exhausting. And research suggests that all the energy going towards acting a certain way is draining your self-discipline, making it harder for you to stick to your goals in other areas of your life (92). This is why some people all of a sudden snap when always trying to put on a happy face. Instead, let your hair down and be your own weird, true self whenever you get the chance. It will not only build your self-confidence but can also strengthen your willpower and help you to be happier and more successful in general.
There is an app that allows you to do that, its called YouAte! I’ve been using it for several months now to track how I am eating with a simple picture, and you can add your own notes to it. Its nice because theres no calorie counting involved rather you make a mindful decision based on your own health and fitness goals of whether the meal is on or off path. Super easy and makes you aware of your decisions.

Make half your plate non-starchy vegetables. Non starchy veggies - basically all vegetables except peas, corn and potatoes - are very low in calories and very high in nutrition, especially fiber. Loading up on this food group can help keep you satisfied and cut calories without having to sacrifice portion sizes. In addition, some studies suggest eating more nutrient-dense foods like veggies could help calm you appetite (34).  


About: Jenn’s story is one we can all relate to. She’s struggled with her weight all her life, and has spent many times going up and down with winning over her food addiction — and succumbing to it. Her posts represent the deepest emotions we battle when it comes to food, and it’s her willingness to open up that really touches readers. She’s been blogging for a long time, and her constant battle is one that more people definitely should follow.
This is a very simple method that you can use even when you're in the midst of doing something else. Whenever you notice you’re feeling tense and uptight check and see how you’re breathing. Most people under stress either alternate holding their breath with short breaths, or take rapid shallow breaths. After you become aware of your own breathing, consciously relax your belly and slow down the breathing. This works best if you focus on slowing down the exhalation rather than your inhalation. With each exhalation you can say to yourself "slow down". That is all there is to it- Simple but surprisingly effective!!!
In the summer of 2009, I was stressed out with life!  So after dinner, every night, no matter what I went for a short walk around the block, and within 1 month I lost 10lbs.  My body must of went into shock with actually moving around.  That was the push I needed.  I was so excited to lose the weight that I actually started to watch what I ate.  I didn’t calorie count, I started out with portion control.  By November I dropped another 10lbs.  I was sitting around 150lbs.  That’s when I took notice of calories in food.  I was shocked to find out how many calories there were in my favorite foods.  I thought ordering a salad from Baja Fresh was a good idea!  Nope!  Having reduced fat desserts from Starbucks was ok,nope.  So I started to track calories on a website, my Virtual Trainer.  I was sticking to around 1200 calories a day, because that is what the magazines would tell me.
The fact of the matter is battling the bulge takes different strategies and approaches depending upon your genetics, your metabolism, your willpower, etc. What works for your buddy won’t necessarily be your be-all and end-all solution. To simplify things, we compiled plenty of tips to help rev your metabolism, lose your love handles, and unsheathe your abs. You’ll have to do some trial and error to deduce which ones work best for you (hey, losing weight is hard work). But if you put in the work (aka incorporate a few of these tips each week), you’ll be well on your way to a smaller waistline. Who said your glory days were in the past?
About: Alicia is no stranger to blogging. She’s had a few in the last decade, including “Girls Just Wanna Be Healthy,” where she shared her struggles and triumphs as she sought to drop from 190 to 159. But she just recently launched her new blog, where Alicia has morphed from someone who spent her entire life being embarrassed and ashamed of her body into a confident young woman ready to share herself — and maybe help a few others along the way.
From January through May, it looked very similar to previous months and years. With my little spurts of doing okay and thinking about my choices more, I maybe lost a few pounds in the semester, but nothing that made me look or feel different. It was when I graduated college in May of 2016 that I recommitted to a healthy lifestyle, specifically nutrition and fitness. I was all in.
On the other hand, The Lose Weight Diet is all about facts and common sense. It's simply about what works and what doesn't. To sum it all up in one simple sentence, this weight loss plan revolves around reducing your total calorie intake by a small amount, and then just making sure the calories you do consume come in the form of a well-balanced diet consisting of good sources of protein, carbs and fat.
About: It may be tough to tell by looking at her photo (complete with a very toned tummy), but Hannah’s no stranger to gaining weight. She packed on about 50 pounds each time she became pregnant with her two kids until she eventually went from a size 4 to a size 12-14. The pregnancies also changed her body and made her unhappy with the way she looked. Ready for change, Hannah created a fitness and food plan for herself, stuck to it and noticed she slowly but surely lost weight and started to look more and more toned. Now she’s studying to be a personal trainer, and her blog is a place she shares all her fitness tips, nutrition ideas and motivation to help others lose weight too.
It can be harder to lose weight after menopause. In fact, many women gain an average of 5 pounds after menopause.5 Lower estrogen levels may play a role in weight gain after menopause. But weight gain may be caused by your metabolism slowing down as you age, less-healthful eating habits, and being less active. You also lose muscle mass as you age, so you use fewer calories.
Good question, Matt. Quite frankly, for the athletes I work with it’s not an issue. Because they’re able to regain almost 100% of their strength, power, and endurance come fight night. So they have two advantages: 1) they’re at 100% in terms of performance capacity while their opponents, who probably cut weight in a less effective way, are likely only at 80%, 2) they’re also heavier (which grants strength leverage advantages). You can see there are a lot of variables here, though. And that’s why a scientific approach is warranted.
Furthermore, when we studied 9 lean healthy young men and fed them first a ‘balanced diet’ for a week locked in a metabolic ward and then the exact same calories as a ketogenic diet for 4 weeks, they did not lose any body fat (only about 2 pounds of water) despite being consistently and strongly in nutritional ketosis. (Phinney 1983)  And finally, the 10 low carb runners from our FASTER Study had been following a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle for at least 6 months (average blood ketones of 0.6 mmol/L); but while thin, none of them were continuing to lose significant weight (Volek 2016).
Thank you for your insightful comments which can be taken either way depending on your point of view. Personally I have not gone for a Ketogenic diet, just a massive Carb/Sugar reduction to attain fat loss. Let me say at the outset that I am not a trained Medico, nor do I pretend to be. Also I am 70+, no heart disease, no implants, just a Parietal Vagotomy where half the Vagus nerves of the upper part of my stomach were cut to prevent Stomach Ulcer formation. I assume that since these nerves were cut there is poor communication between my stomach and my brain to tell my brain that I have had enough to eat and to stop pumping Insulin. But that is another issue.

Excellent question! I suppose you could look at it like this: you are less insulin sensitive in the luteal phase, so in order to prevent fat gain it is “more important” to burn sugar and fat at this time – so if weight loss is your goal, and if you do good, hard anaerobic workouts, then this will sharpen your insulin sensitivity as much as possible and help keep you lean via that mechanism. If, on the other hand, weight loss is not your goal but fitness and strength are, then you may wish to do aerobic work at this time (with higher blood sugar you can accomplish greater aerobic feats), and save the anaerobic work for the rest of your cycle. Does that make sense? At least, that is what I am guessing is happening here.
Not exactly. But restricting your eating window may help you cut more calories overall if done correctly (110).  If you are able to avoid the natural urge to binge eat once you get to sit down for a meal, and are still keeping total calorie intake in mind, science suggests it can be an effective way to shed pounds. But the fasting itself doesn't promote more weight loss or fat loss.  
Well as of today, I have been exactly two weeks with not counting calories. I am taking a new approach to things, I am listening to my stomach!  Yes listening to my stomach!  It was hard the first week, and I did cheat a little, but I managed not to gain weight, kept up on exercise and ate mostly healthy.  I feel free!  It’s nice not to have to calculate every meal, every bite!  I know if I eat a piece of cake I won’t gain 10lbs over night!  Moderation is the key!  I now have the all around perfect healthy life style.  You’ll just have to stay tuned to my blog to make sure I stay on the right path!
About: Jess doesn’t blog as often as she used to, but every once in awhile she’ll pop in to share her latest life experiences, and, when she does, it’s sure to touch you deeply. Jess started blogging in 2013 to document her training for her first marathon, but quickly found that running ran in her veins. She uses it as a way to cope with life’s hardships and adventures — and takes her readers along a relatable journey as she does.
I acknowledge that you may want to lose weight for any number of reasons. It’s not my job to tell you what your motivation for weight loss should be. It is my job to help guide you in that journey to greater health, energy, and love. My goal is to teach women how to love themselves above all else, and then let weight loss follow gently in its path.
While it’s often assumed that bread is off-limits when you’re trying to lose belly fat, the right bread may actually expedite the process. Switching to sprouted bread can help out carb-lovers eager to get their fix without going up a belt size, thanks to the inulin content of sprouted grains. The results of a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism reveal that found that pre-diabetic study subjects whose diets were supplemented with inulin shaved off more belly fat and total weight than those whose meal plans didn’t pack this healthy prebiotic fiber.
Thanks for sharing Brittany! I love your honesty and could not have used this post more today. I have been struggling with weight gain the last couple of years and keep falling into this loop hole of not eating clean. I work out 5 days a week, however my diet has not changed and so I have struggled. I will be definitely looking into this book as well to give me a new outlook and starting point. Kudos to you to maintaining a busy life of family, running a business and healthy lifestyle. I am inspired that if someone like you can make the change anyone can! Hugs
For those of you that cook your own meals, as you cook you just need to measure each item used, add up nutrients/calories for each ingredient and then log the dish cooked on your dashboard. It takes time, but only have to do it once per dish made. A lot of cookbooks also provide the nutrient information. A food scale (very inexpensive to purchase) is a must have!
It should be every woman’s goal to lose weight because they’re getting healthy, and getting healthy means changing your lifestyle and adapting to healthy means. You can’t live your life eating protein and no carbohydrates for the rest of your life, and you’re losing essential nutrients by omitting these foods. The best weight loss and the healthiest eating comes from a nice balance of EVERY food group. They all have a vital place in the well-being of our lives.
"Sleep is a cornerstone of weight management because of the impact it has on your hormones that control how you burn fat, how you store fat, and how you're maintaining muscle. The better your hormone balance, the better your weight management. I work my butt off to get eight hours a night, but right now I'm at six—the show is murdering me! Even if I go to bed early my son wakes up."
When I feel like I’m slipping, I start logging again. Nowadays, I use an online fitness app on my phone to more easily keep track of my daily food intake. Red wine and dark chocolate are always in stock in our house, and that’s OK. Exercise is important, too, but in my book, any and all physical activity counts. Two or three workouts a week help me maintain muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness. If I can’t get to the gym, I run. If I can’t run, I do something at home, like five minutes of in-place kickboxing moves, or dancing around the living room like a crazy person with my kids. I take the stairs wherever I am as often as possible. I use a carry basket at the grocery store, and switch from arm to arm while I shop: biceps curls! Hey, it all counts.

About: Healthier key lime pie. Lower-calorie chocolate caramel snickers bars. Lower carb chocolate-filled cookies. If you have a sweet tooth but are trying to lose weight, Kaylie’s blog is for you. Kaylie is a registered dietitian who has a sweet tooth of her own. So, naturally, she figured out recipe swaps for making desserts with lower calories while maintaining all the sweet deliciousness. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
You may think you're vigilant about watching what you eat, but research shows that stolen bites and tastes can rack up a few hundred uncounted calories, which can put on pounds fast. Eating while distracted can cause mindless eating, too. When women who normally watched their portions had lunch in different situations, they ate 15% more (72 additional calories) while listening to a detective story, compared with when they ate alone and free of any distractions, found a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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It’s insane what some will do to have a slight edge in a fight. The biggest example that comes to mind is Anthony Johnson. The dude would walk around at like ~230 lbs and fight in the 170 lb weight class. He would rag-doll guys because of the huge size advantage. Of course, he always had trouble making weight, but it’s still a huge advantage if you can do it properly.
Fast forward to the present. In terms of weight loss, I have kept off those 50 pounds, but it took me over a year to find a comfortable weight. More important, I am not as focused on losing weight but on building lean muscle and getting toned. My energy levels, positivity, confidence, and purpose are more important than size and weight. In terms of nutrition, I prioritize eating wholesome foods and nourishing meals; and I am learning more about the ratios and best foods to fuel my body for my lifestyle. For exercise, I still consider myself a runner though and through, but I have struggled with some injuries. I tend to go super hard at the things I love, so I have gone in and out of working my body too hard. That being said, I have been mixing up my workouts with running (I have a destination half marathon planned for March!) and more lifting (thank you to Lindsay for all of the lifting plans!) and yoga (Yoga with Adriene is amazing.) I have also had an epiphany on self-care, but that’s for a different post. I am working towards real-deal peace and happiness. I’m getting fit, healthy, happy, indulge when I want, have confidence in what I’m doing and the choices I make daily, know my way around a kitchen, and listen to my body.
About: She had us with her name, but diving a little deeper, Shawn’s creativity really sinks the hooks in. Her “about” section is written like a sad (and playful) fairytale, but it’s her very real struggle that also touches a nerve. Shawn’s always been a hard worker, but her pursuit of education and a career took a toll on her body — causing weight gain and a deep depression. Shawn started Shrederella as a way to take back her life and chronicle the journey, and she’s done one heck of a job. Follow her for an authentic person with real struggles that you will surely relate to — plus a host of delicious, healthy recipes and fitness tricks.
Keep busy. Cutting calories can have you constantly thinking about food. And the fear of temptation can make you want to cut yourself off from social engagements. But studies suggest keeping your mind active, especially while dieting, can strengthen your willpower (89). And stress can affect your mental capacity to hold strong (90). Try to enjoy your days as much as possible and find activities that allow you to be creative, think strategically, or release stress.
About: Kelsey’s blog is packed with easy-to-follow healthy recipes and fitness routines (and they’re not just your run-of-the-mill workouts, either). They’re formulated or endorsed from Kelsey herself — a 50 pound weight loss success story. Kelsey had been pretty fit and thin her whole life, but shortly after leaving college, countless nights of eating out and drinking led to her packing on an extra 50 pounds. Unhappy, Kelsey decided to make a change. What’s especially inspirational about her story is that she did so slowly. She made small changes, slowly started eating cleaner and eventually lost all the weight. Now, five years later, she’s still fit and sharing her story on her blog and in her books, fitness routines and recipes with readers. She even hosts weight loss challenges (with cash prizes) to really cheer people on and give them incentive to keep going.

If diet is the most important thing to slim your thighs, then exercise is the next most crucial component to nail on your journey towards gorgeous gams. Many exercise routines don’t focus on slim thighs and can actually bulk your thighs up. For those who are specifically looking to bulk up their thighs, make sure you do lots of heavy weight strength exercises like those done on a squat rack.

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