How to get a flat stomach: 3 surprising secrets

How to get a flat stomach: 3 surprising secrets

“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.

And yet, having said that, the tips I’m going to share in this post may surprise you. I’m not going to promote crunches (please, no!), restrictive diets, or torturing “suck it in” techniques.

Nope.

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

3 surprising secrets to get a flat stomach (and improve your health).

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.

3 surprising secrets to get a flat stomach (and improve your health).

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.

You’re welcome.

3. Improve your digestion

3 surprising secrets to get a flat stomach (and improve your health).

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!

 

Want to get a flat stomach and be healthier? Learn three surprising secrets to getting a flat stomach. www.thankyourbody.com

 

This post is part of Motivation MondayMonday ManiaSweet Sharing Monday, Fat Tuesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Healthy 2DayCreative Juice ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, and Sunday School.

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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie

71 comments

  1. Rebecca

    Tight hip flexor muscles also are the cause of many back issues. Thanks for the reminder to stretch them more often. I sit most all day, and I have back problems… Once a month massage doesn’t help enough so I need to be adamant about starting my stretching routine.


    1. Post author
      robin

      So true, Rebecca! I think we all need reminders. It’s just so easy to forget. Stretching really can do some impressive things for our health. ;)

  2. Camille Spence

    How do you know if you have diastasis recti? After having Sadie I had a huge space down my abs I could push my fingers into, but after I started doing zumba it closed right up, but then just these part couple of days, I feel like the space is coming back. Not tremendously, but there us more of a space than there was like a month ago. Thoughts?


    1. Post author
      robin

      Hmmm… it’s very possible that you have diastis recti. The good news is that you can close it back up (yay!), but you want to avoid crunches or pilate-type moves. I’d either check out the book mentioned above, or do some searching on youtube for videos to help with it. Good luck, Camille!

  3. Monica

    I did the stretches and noticed that my left side was definitely tighter! My mummy tummy is the result of excess skin and fat…got a cure for that? :) I need to chew my food more too, that’s for sure.


    1. Post author
      robin

      Ha ha… that kind of mummy tummy is part of life. Eat real food, lots of good fat, and love your body because it IS amazing. :)

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  5. cassia

    a friend recently asked how to get a flatter tummy. this is perfect.

    i hadn’t heard of this book before, but i looked it up and it sounds pretty cool so i’ll have to check it out, thanks!

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  8. Magic and Mayhem

    The biggest secret for me to get a flat stomach was going gluten free. My son had to cut gluten out last spring and I stopped too in support of him (and because I have to cook without it in the house anyway). I went from 135 pounds to 103 pounds (I’m 4’11″ tall so this is still in the healthy range for me) and I’m now wearing smaller jeans than my 12 and 14 y/o daughters. If I “cheat” and have bread or pasta, my belly bloats up for days. I’m a mother of five kids and I feel like a teenager again. No more gluten for me. :)

    1. Rosanne

      For Emily and anyone else interested in the “squatting”…I personally found squatting during elimination to be helpful. (I have rectal and bladder prolapse and just felt like my body needed help for elimination and researching it led me to try squating…I just squat on my toilet; as I have so many other things I need to do with my family’s money (at 100 lbs. squatting on the toilet seat works for me, but it’s not for everyone.)


    1. Post author
      robin

      You’re speaking my lingo, Kristine! As a dancer and Somatic Practitioner we LOVE the psoas (and yes, it does A LOT more than just act as a hip flexor). Thanks for the link.

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  11. Ricky

    That squatty potty is absolutely intriguing. I’m always open to new suggestions and that’s one I think I’ll give a shot in my house. My wife will appreciate it if it helps out for sure. Thanks so much.

  12. Mona

    When I used to be an English teacher in S. Korea, their toilets where squat pots (think of urinals laying flat on the floor). Used to think it was weird, but come to find out elimination was so much easier (TMI sorry). It really does make a difference. Thanks for the reminder!! Love your posts!

  13. Stacey

    Surprising secrets is an understatement! I never knew about that Mommy gut syndrome. I may need to have that looked into a little deeper! Thanks so much!


    1. Post author
      robin

      Yeah, it’s pretty common among those who’ve been pregnant. I’m actually in the process of working on some research on the best practices to deal with it. Although it will probably be several months before it’s ready to share. :)

      1. Marilyn Friesen

        I have given birth to nine babies and spend a lot of time at the computer. Is there any hope for me getting a flat tummy? People have been hinting about me getting ‘fat’ but I really think I am quite conscientious about what I eat though of course not 195% of the time!


        1. Post author
          robin

          I would definitely check out the book I recommend above about the diastis recti (or “mommy tummy”). It could just be that you need to do the right exercises and avoid the most common ones. Also, after having nine babies (which, by the way, makes you a SUPER hero in my eyes) you may want to consider getting your hormones checked. The older women get the more their hormones play a huge role in weight, and going through the hormonal ride of pregnancy, birth, and all that just adds to it. Good luck! Don’t let people get you down. I think anyone who has birthed nine children is the true role model here. :)

        2. Vonnie

          Are you serious, Marilyn? Yes, I know you are. Anything is possible in this image-obsessed culture. Sounds to me like you need to dispense with these people. You have 9 children and yourself to take care of and you do not need toxic people in your life. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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  15. Carlie

    Thanks for the stretch! I showed it to all my co-workers since we all sit for most of the day. Any recommended stretches for upper back/neck/shoulder pain? Thanks!

  16. Sunny S.

    I love this article. Thank you for sharing. It’s funny my 1 year old will get in the squatting position to poop and has been doing it since she was able to stand on her own. It just goes to show you, babies do so many things right that we get lazy about.

  17. Jim

    Thanks for the great advice. I have chronic low back pain from a disc that ruptured. I tried the stretches and they gave me some immediate relief!

  18. Phyllis

    I was so surprised to see the squatty potty. years ago I read that Native Americans always squatted to eliminate easily. I made myself a stool that stays in my bathroom and swear by its use. Love all your DIY tips for healthy living.

  19. Erin

    There are many resources for fixing a diastises…but I do have to say that the original is always the best! http://Www.thetummyteam.com literally has changed my life and the lives of thousands.
    And from what I learned, my 3rd pg didn’t show until month SIX! And I will never let my kids do crunches or Pilates….jack Pilates has the WORST diastises ever! U can see it in his pics,
    You will heal so much about your body by fixing this issue. Please stay very curious about it!:-)

    1. Jennifer

      All you need is a stool or a small upturned bucket or something to get your knees higher than your pelvis. The squatty potty is great but I have been using buckets or little trash cans for 13 years. No need to spend a bunch of money. I have even stood on top of toilets and squatted when nothing to put my feet was available.


      1. Post author
        Robin Konie

        Very true. We started with a small stool and it worked great. I like the squatty potty because it tucks under my toilet, but there are plenty of other options if money is tight. :) Thanks, Jennifer.

  20. Vonnie

    Good advice and I’m glad the focus on the article is on health, not thinness. I would like to think that the Duchess of Cambridge proudly showing her post-baby belly bump will make women feel more comfortable about their own bodies as well as educate some men about how a woman’s body is supposed to look after childbirth. I have known many women who were bullied by husbands and boyfriends because they were “fat” after childbirth.


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Yes! I loved that, too. So important for people to see a REAL body after childbirth. Ultimately, I’m a huge advocate for health, and I really believe that health comes in every size… just as sickness comes in every size. The focus shouldn’t be on flat stomachs, but hopefully these tips will improve health and get rid of some bloat. ;)

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  23. Rena (An Ordinary Housewife)

    I was reading the Amazon reviews on the book you recommended and I saw a few different mentions of the author herself no longer standing behind the info in the book. Didn’t know if you’d like to look into that. :-)

  24. Niki

    Random question about the squatty potty. Does it matter where you concentrate your weight? Do you have to put all your weight on your feet? I had foot surgery and can’t bend some toes, just wondering if this would still be a good idea for me.


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      I think it would still be good. You don’t have to put all your weight on your feet, as it’s more the position that helps than anything.

  25. Cg

    You can also simply turn a waste paper basket upside down as a way to raise you knees higher than yr butt. A lot of research has been done on women in China who moved from the hinterland (where they used squat-type toilets) to the cities where they did not. Many of these women developed hip fractures. Another good reason to do squats in general – to save your bones.
    Great website! Thanks

  26. Janet Edwards

    Interesting article – I remember reading a book on Taoist health principles which placed considerable importance on squatting rather than sitting when we go to the toilet. As you suggest, our modern toilets mean everything is “scrunched up” inside meaning that we don’t eliminate waste properly. Squatting on the toilet is of course an option, but can be precarious – the squatty potty looks much safer!

  27. melissa

    Great article!!! but before I shuck out the bucks for a plastic squatty, I think I can come up with something around the house that will do the job (no pun intended) just as well. Thanks for the tip, love love love this site!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      For sure! We used our daughter’s step stool for a few months to try it out. Worked great, but a little “in the way” which is why we finally bought a squatty potty. ;)

  28. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    You wrote this for me, didn’t you. Now, I have a very defined stomach, but my digestion is miserable thanks to not large intestine, which makes my belly protrude a little bit. On top of that, my elimination is not so good, my hip flexors are EXTREMELY TIGHT… And as I said, my digestion, NOT SO GOOD! I will be saving this post – THANK YOU :)

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