Q. The fastest, most effective way to a flatter tummy is...
a) Do sit-ups twice daily with your feet hooked under a heavy piece of furniture.
b) Start a series of twice-weekly Pilates classes.
c) Practise better posture.
c) Consistently standing, walking and sitting with your chest lifted, shoulders relaxed and stomach muscles activated (by pulling up your pelvic floor muscles as if you had a zipper inside you), is an instant and ongoing belly flattener. The more you use your core muscles this way, the stronger they will get. Of course, Pilates will help you become more aware of your core muscles and how to use them. However, most forms of sit-up tend to work your hip flexors more than your tummy-flattening muscles.
Q. Which exercise best targets belly wobble?
a) Aerobic exercise such as walking up hills, doing a cardio class at the gym or jogging.
b) Yoga incorporating standing and bending poses.
c) Doing a gentle routine with a Swiss ball or BOSU Balance Trainer (a rubber hemisphere attached to a rigid platform that adds an instability factor to lunges and other exercises).
Good news! They all do, so you’ll never be bored with your fitness and tummy-trimming activities. Aerobic exercise burns fat overall, so it will flatten your belly, too, especially in the case of walking uphill and gym classes. It also builds metabolism-boosting muscle so your body burns energy, even when you're not moving.
A yoga routine combining standing, bending, lunging and balancing poses engages the muscles around your waist to keep you upright, and firms them, too. And any routine that incorporates the instability of a BOSU or Swiss ball calls on your core muscles to do the same. Ask a gym instructor or personal trainer to show you how to use these fitness aids, or look for an instructional DVD or demonstration video online.
Q. What’s the greatest belly-busting motivator?
a) A form-fitting dress or slimming jeans.
b) A personal food diary or app.
c) Fashion magazines.
d) A personal trainer.
Motivators that give you a sense of control over your weight tend to be the most effective.
a) Dressing in a way that flatters your figure and is comfortable while fitting well (so nothing too tight, rather opting for body-skimming clothes in firm fabrics) helps you make better food choices than if you wear a flowing dress or elasticised pants. This is because loose clothing lets you eat anything without noticing how full you feel.
b) Keeping a food diary where you log everything you eat has also been proven to encourage sensible, belly-reducing eating. A personal trainer can be a great motivator, but monitor your own progress and don’t be afraid to ask to increase the pace or vary the program to what you find works best for you.
Q. Which two contribute most to a bloated belly?
a) Cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
b) Gobbling your food.
c) Beans, lentils and chickpeas.
d) Fatty or fried foods.
b) Eating too quickly (are you always first to put down your fork?) is guaranteed to cause your stomach to balloon. It means you don’t chew properly, preventing essential digestive enzymes from starting the breakdown of foods in your mouth. You’re also likely to swallow more air and eat more than you need because you won’t notice when you’ve had enough, which all adds up to bloat.
d) Meals dominated by fatty or fried foods take longer to digest, so they sit in your belly for longer than other foods, causing you to feel overfull. Eating cruciferous vegetables or pulses can cause gassy bloating (in the gut, they’re broken down into fructose which is poorly absorbed by some people), but frequently eating small amounts of them has less of an effect. And they’re worth it because they greatly add to your nutrition and the variety in your diet.