“How to get a flat stomach”…. Hmmmm. This is not usually the kind of advice I give out here on Thank Your Body. And for good reason. In a world that worships thinness and continues to bombard us with unhealthy and unrealistic body images, I think most of the “hype” around getting a flat stomach is often at the expense of real health. Not to mention it negates that fact that you can achieve health at almost any size.
The following ideas are things that really are about improving your health. They just happen to help you get a flat stomach, too. (Awesome, I know.)
3 surprising tips to get a flat stomach (and improve your health):
1. Consider your elimination habits
Our modern day toilets are not doing our guts any good. In fact, in the sitting position key muscles cannot fully relax to get things “moving” completely out of our system. Squatting “un-kinks” the rectum taking your body from a continent mode to an elimination mode. This means a more efficient elimination and an empty bowel.
Ever since we’ve been using our squatty potty I’ve noticed my stomach is flatter. Finding a more “back to basics” squatting position can make a world of difference for your gut. Your insides will feel better, and you just may get a flat stomach, too.
Oh yeah… You’ll also avoid constipation, end hemorrhoids, prevent colon disease, and improve your pelvic floor muscles. See… not just about a flat stomach, my friends.
2. Release tight hip flexors
Many people suffer from tight hip flexor muscles. This is not too surprising when you consider how much of our life is spent sitting down. But you may not realize that these tight muscles could be part of the reason for your little bulging gut. In fact, many thin people still have a little “pooch” because their tight muscles are throwing off their alignment.
Here’s the nitty gritty technical stuff:
- Your hip flexor muscles run across the front of your pelvis – connecting your legs to your pelvis.
- If these muscles get too tight, it pulls on the pelvis creating an anterior pelvic tilt.
- This tilt pulls your lower back out of alignment creating a lordosis or “sway back.”
- The result? A pooch.
Want to get a flat stomach? Incorporate this simple stretch into your daily routine. Try and hold it for at least thirty seconds once a day. You may also want to do a quicker 10 second stretch throughout your day if you sit a lot.
Hip flexor stretch: Step one leg back while reaching the same arm over your head. Let your tailbone reach toward the front of the room while the front of your pelvis reaches downward. You can keep your back leg straight or slightly bend it. Hold here for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Addressing tight hip flexors can also improve your posture, relieve lower back pain, and give you an energy boost to boot.
3. Improve your digestion
Similar to the elimination tip, improving your digestion is key to getting a flatter stomach. When our digestive system is struggling or sluggish it can lead to bloating… not quite the “flat” stomach we want.
Obtaining proper digestion is complicated and extremely individual. There are countless books dedicated to the subject. And depending on your needs, you may need some serious dedication to improving your own digestion. But I can offer one simple tidbit that can at least kick-start the process no matter who you are.
Chew your food.
In our fast-paced world we often don’t take the time to properly chew our food. This is bad, guys. Chewing is the first step in the digestive process. It helps break down foods and produce enzymes necessary for proper digestion. No matter how healthy your food is, you need to digest is properly. And that begins in the mouth.
Want to get a flat stomach? Chew your food. Enjoy it. Eat mindfully. You may also find more joy in the whole eating process. Not bad, right?
Bonus tip: Be wary of the “mommy gut” syndrome
One last thought for those seeking a flatter mid section. If you are a mom who’s been pregnant and has had a difficult time getting a flat stomach, you may have a diastasis recti, which is a condition where the abdominal muscles get stretched out and separate. This causes the belly to pooch out. It often happens during pregnancy, due to the strain of carrying a baby.
In this instance doing ab work like crunches or pilates is the LAST thing you’ll want to try to get a flat stomach as it will only make matters worse. Again, this is a lengthy discussion, but if you think you might suffer from a diastasis recti you may want to check out the book Lose Your Mummy Tummy.
So there you go. Now you can improve your health and get a flatter stomach, too!
This post is part of Motivation Monday, Monday Mania, Sweet Sharing Monday, Fat Tuesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Healthy 2Day, Creative Juice Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, and Sunday School.