The Flat Belly Routine: 3 Keys to Achievable Weight Loss
This fantastic article was written by Joshua Graham, CNP, FRCms, CF-L2, who is a fitness trainer, Holistic Nutritionist, and owner of Cocoon Health & Fitness. You can find out more about Cocoon Health by checking out their website and following them on Facebook and Instagram.
Flat belly workout routine
Losing weight is complicated there are so many things we need to worry about and so many things to consider, right? Wrong. Losing weight does not need to be like trying to find your way out of a corn maze while blindfolded, it is about three things: nutrition, exercise, and stress. If we can optimize these three we can lose weight and feel great!
Nutrition does not need to be complicated or super restrictive; you can eat well and eat delicious food. When it comes to stress we want to decrease it and avoid chronic stress which puts our system into overdrive and doesn’t allow us to function optimally. Exercise can be done in the comfort of your own home, I train people out of their homes in Toronto and it is a great way to save time while getting results.
The first thing we need to establish before trying to lose weight is why we are doing it. We need a concrete why in order to move forward and to keep us motivated as we go along. Losing weight takes commitment- it isn’t going to happen overnight or in a flash, it is all about consistency, just like everything in life. If we can stay consistent we will eventually reach our goal.
In order to keep up that consistency, we need motivation along the way and the best motivation is a reason why we are doing what we are doing. Take some time and establish why you want to embark on this journey and that reason should light a fire in you, because that fire is what is going to keep you going. For example, when I was trying to lose weight my why was because I wanted to live a fit and active life. That ‘why’ helped me keep going even when I wanted that pizza or to stay on the couch rather than work out. Find your why write it down and put it somewhere you will see every single day.
When it comes to nutrition, we want to think in terms of real food. By real food, I mean whole foods, things like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. We want food that is as minimally processed as possible. When it comes to weight loss, processed foods hamper our ability to drop weight. That is because food loses nutrients during processing and gains things we do not want like preservatives and sugar which do not help with weight loss.
If you want to lose weight or to simply be healthy, the majority (two-thirds or more) of every meal should be non-starchy vegetables, things like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, raw carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, etc. These foods are very nutrient dense while not expanding our waistlines.
I do not like to use calories as a measure for foods as they can encourage poor eating habits but I find this example very striking. Two slices of organic whole grain bread are 240 calories. If you wanted to get the same number of calories from non-starchy vegetables you are looking at 2 cups of broccoli, 2 cups of raw carrots and 2 cups of cucumber, now that is a lot of food but it is good for us and you may be hard-pressed to eat that in one sitting.
When eating for weight loss eat lots of non-starchy vegetables at every single meal, it should make up the majority of every meal. Focus on whole foods, avoid processed and convenience foods that includes things like sauces or dressings which are often full of sugar. If you’re thinking this sounds like a lot of work then this is the first hurdle to test your commitment, more cooking will be involved but you can use Sundays to do meal prep for the week to make things easier. Another option available is meal delivery services, which are becoming more available. Before ordering get an ingredient list to ensure they are using quality ingredients.
When in a chronically stressed state, we do not function optimally, physically, emotionally or mentally. This all dampens our ability to lose weight. On the physical side when we are stressed our body releases stress hormones, cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. In normal amounts these hormones are good for us, it is when they are chronically elevated we have an issue. Cortisol, for example, should be highest in the morning as it helps to wake us from sleep and then it should taper off during the day. The problem becomes when we are stressed throughout the day and our cortisol is raised throughout. This then throws our whole body out of whack, which can lead to poor quality sleep, making it harder for us to resist the temptation of poor quality foods the next day.
Excess stress levels have also been shown to be predictive of future weight gain. Therefore, if we can lower our stress now we can make sure we keep the weight off in the future.
The first thing to do when looking at stress is to examine what are your top 3 stressors in your life. Then think if there are ways you could lower those stressors. Stress is a big topic though and there are a lot of ways and tools you can use to lower stress in your life, check out this wonderful series on stress to learn more by Life Coach Lauren Uhde.
Note: please do not be stressed about losing weight, this is easier said than done but being stressed about losing weight is not going to help you lose weight. The best way to get around this is to accept this is a process, that it is going to take sometime but that is ok. Know that you’re making the best decisions everyday in order to improve your health and life.
One of my favorite ways to lower stress is exercise, it is such a nice release of pent up energy and if you have any aggression or anger it is a good way to channel it into a positive direction.
Flat Belly Exercise:
Being physically active is important for weight loss because it helps us to burn energy and to build lean muscle mass which is more active at rest than fat. Something to note is as you exercise, eat right and lower your stress you will lose weight but also gain some muscle so the results may not show up as drastically as you would like on the scale. Muscle is denser than fat, so the best way to really see if you’re making progress is to go by how your clothes are fitting. Are they a little looser, is there a bit more room? Use this as your guide for progress rather than the scale.
When it comes to maximizing weight loss and other health parameters the most time efficient option is interval training. Interval training involves periods of high-intensity work and rest periods which allow us to maximize time and output as we go through a workout session. We always want to be mixing up the variables (exercises, timing, main muscle groups used, etc.) in our workouts to allow us to keep making progress. Below is an at home workout you can do with no equipment other than a phone timer to help you get started on your weight loss journey.
50 Flap Jacks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBy6QT6S8hw)
10 Arm circles/way
10 Frankenstein kicks (each leg) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHsNPGZ2hwY)
10 Crabs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEpzV0aIT0c)
Repeat this series for a total 3 times
20 seconds of Push-ups (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AMeivutY3A)
20 seconds of rest
20 seconds of Beached Seal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvGWixtZ_UY&t)
20 seconds of rest
2 min water break
Repeat this series for a total 3 times
45 seconds of Mountain Climbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ9nIsbL_OI)
15 seconds of rest
45 seconds of Jumping Jacks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4j3qjqbkvzo)
15 seconds of rest
1 min Up-dog stretch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo0HCqP-PTg
1 min Wall Chest stretch/arm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6X4w5b5sEs
We need to remember consistency is key to making weight loss and flat belly progress. We need to be consistent with our effort day in and day out. If we have an off day do not let it defeat you it is an opportunity to get back on the horse and keep moving forward. If we need extra motivation or know-how on what to do for workouts, optimizing nutrition or lowering stress then hiring someone to give personalized advice is always a good idea. Losing weight is a journey do not get discouraged if you do not see immediate results keep putting honest effort in and the results will come.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.