Recipe for a Flat Stomach

Recipe for a Flat Stomach

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.


Aerobic In The City

For a long time, I wanted to lose weight. I know now that that’s a mistake. Weight is only one factor — lean muscle mass, body fat percentage, hip to waist ratio, etc. are all just as important.

After that, I wanted to get six-pack abs. That’s also a dumb goal. First of all, most people are not genetically programmed to have those kinds of abs. Second, even the supermodels and male models that have six-packs don’t have them all the time. Usually they have a little fat, and then burn it off in the weeks before a photo shoot.

So my goal now is to have a flat stomach. It really should be to get down to an acceptable body fat percentage, but I don’t have an easy way of measuring that. A flat stomach can be measured in the mirror or by my wife. I don’t need to have defined abs, but just lose some of my stomach fat and get it to be flatter. To me, that will look good, feel good, and be healthier.

I’ve done my research, and by learning what’s working so far for me, here’s the three steps to a flat stomach:

1. Cardio, cardio, cardio. Doing all the abs exercises in the world will do nothing if you have a layer of fat covering it. Doing strength training, or lifting weights, would help, but not as much as aerobic exercise. So my plan is to continue my running, and add in swimming and biking. I plan to do at least 30 minutes of cardio 6 days a week. On some days I’ll do more — 45 minutes, an hour, two hours, even more on long days. I’ll start out short for the bike and swim, like I did with running, until I build up my endurance. A quick note: interval training is also great, and I will add that in after my endurance is better. If you want to add some ab exercises in after the cardio, that’s great, but be sure to work your whole torso, not just the upper abs — that includes the lower abs, lower back and the muscles that wrap around your sides.

dont give up after just one wrap2. Less Fat and Sugar. It’s that simple. The American diet is typically filled with fat and sugar, and you’ll never get a flat stomach on that recipe. Cut out meat, if you can, and even better, cut out dairy and eggs. But if you can’t, at least eat lean meats (low-fat turkey, skinless chicken breast, lean beef, fish), and stay away from fried food and too many sugary desserts. That doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself — if you’re eating healthy, you can actually eat a lot — or deprive yourself too much, but only eat the bad stuff in moderation. Vegan diet is the best, especially if it’s balanced, rich in vegetable protein and calcium and minerals, full of fresh fruits and veggies, and high in fiber.

3. Give it Time. If you want to have a flat stomach in 3 weeks, or two months, forget it. Losing fat takes time, and it’s unhealthy to lose too much weight too fast. Aim for 1-2 lbs. a week. Gradual weight loss is healthier, and more likely to be sustained over time. Go for a lifestyle change, something you can live with for the rest of your life, or you will just yo-yo. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Some links for flat stomach reading:

About the Author

leo babauta

created zen habits

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Recipe for a Flat Stomach

10 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Mind

Guest Post by Patricia Duggan


Lose belly fat, show results in as little as 45 minutes at home!Are you stressed out? Stress is one of the main factors that can negatively affect our mental and physical health. While there are medical treatments to help you deal with the effects of stress, such as sleeping tablets or anti-anxiety medications, these do not usually deal with the real cause of the problem.


Here are ten tips to help you deal with the stress in your life.


1. Discover Your Weak Point.


Learning to recognize your weak point will tell you when you are under too much stress. Some early warning signs include: headaches, tiredness, insomnia, indigestion, diarrhea, irritability, poor memory, crying frequently, or heart palpitations. Consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms – if there is no other medical explanation, you may be under too much pressure.


2. Get Rid of Unnecessary Stress.


A good way to find causes of unnecessary stress is through this exercise:


Make a list of all the things you plan to do this week. Put them into two columns – things you plan to do for OTHERS and things you plan to do for YOU. Which list is longer? Then circle your priorities on the list. What can you eliminate from what is left?


3. Show Your Emotions.


Many people are afraid to express sadness or anger because they believe it makes them appear vulnerable. However, holding in your emotions will only cause you more long-term stress. Cry when you feel sad, even if it’s just for a romantic movie. Laugh when you’re happy. Even smiling can do wonders to improve your outlook.


4. Organize Your Life


Perhaps you feel constantly stressed out because you’re not sure of what will happen next, or you worry about forgetting things. Try using a day planner. You can write things down and know that they will be there to remind you to plan ahead. At the beginning of each week, you can look at the week ahead and prepare.


5. Value Yourself.


Do you worry about what others think of you? Do you think you need to go out of your way to be appreciated? You are probably more valued than you think. Try making a list of all the skills you have and all the things you are good at. Or you could make a list of positive adjectives to describe yourself. It will also help to spend some time with friends and loved ones – they are the people who value the most and can help you realize how wonderful you truly are.


6. Don’t Be Bored.


Do you have any hobbies? Is there something that you have always wanted to do but haven’t given a try? Discovering a new hobby can be a way to relieve the stress in your life. You may even consider volunteering with non-profit organization – making a difference in others’ lives can be incredibly fulfilling.


7. Learn to Relax.


A great thing to do after a stressful day at work is to simply relax. Sit or lay down in a comfy place and close your eyes. Imagine you are someplace peaceful, such as a grassy meadow or a beach. Try to feel yourself there –think of the sun on your face and the sounds of nature around you. You may even try relaxing one part of your body at a time, starting with your feet and gradually moving to the top of your head. Just 15 minutes of total relaxation will benefit your mind and body.


8. Stop Worrying.


If you feel stressed out because you worry frequently, you could try letting them out. Write them down as a list or in a journal. This may help you think about WHY you worry about these things and what you can possibly do to stop worrying.


9. Go on Vacation.


Some people go years without taking a vacation. If that’s you, then now is the perfect time to get away. Even a 4-day weekend can do wonders to take your mind away from the stress around you. You’ll come back refreshed and revitalized.


10. Do Nothing.


Seriously. Many people, especially Americans, feel stressed because they are constantly on the go. There is nothing wrong with “doing nothing” every once in a while. It’s a great way to clear your mind of all that stress.




About the Author


Patricia Duggan has a Masters in Psychology and has been practicing for 11 years. She maintains the site Psychology Degree Guide. She writes about various subjects within the psychology field.


Recipe for a Flat Stomach

Fuzzy Diet Math: Answers to Weight Loss Not So Simple

want_to_lose_weight_mousepad-p144282760686963215eng3t_325I’ve actually asked my doctor before about a weightless plan. Know what he told me?

“Here’s a 2000 calorie a day diet plan to follow and exercise for an hour a day 4 to 5 times a week.”

No more, no less.

It was all simple math to him. less food + more exercise = weight loss.

He shoved a bunch of papers in my hand and off I went to lose weight. I wasn’t even asked to come in for a follow up appointment to see how it was going.

Now I tend to think I’m a pretty bright person and what I lack in brains I make up for in wit. I was never dropped on my head as a child (that I know of). I didn’t have to wear special shoes. I didn’t jump off the roof with an umbrella to see if I could fly more than once. I didn’t touch the electric fence for fun enough times to do permanent damage.

So why my doctor thought the simple math of less food + more calories = weight loss was supposed to be the bright shining light at the end of the my dark long food filled tunnel was beyond me.

Didn’t he think I thought of that? Did he think he really cracked the code to being overweight? I’m assuming it isn’t his fault for not being able to help me more, because I’ve asked 3 different doctors the exact same question since then and they always come back with the same formula for me. The same rotten obvious answer.

I know a lot of people don’t believe this, but for some, dare I say MANY, overweight people, it is so much more than that simple formula. Eating is so much more than putting nutrients in your body to live.

Food becomes your Prozac.

It becomes your Xanax. It’s a way to calm yourself after a fight with your lover (or ex-lover depending on the fight). It’s a way to celebrate when you got the job or passed the test. It’s a way to soothe, settle, punish, glorify, drown, save, and appease. Now I can’t speak for the masses, but I will speak for myself. I was a nervous eater… and a happy eater…well… I was a sad eater too. Oh and I ate when I was pissed off. I ate when I was bored.

Oh and when there was a party or a holiday… well… you get the picture. I was a definite emotional eater.

It was obvious my doctors weren’t going to give me any more advice that would help me. Now don’t get me wrong, it is NOT my doctor’s fault I was overweight. I’ve never been a big fan of people who blame their crap life and all of their emotional baggage on their parents or a rotten childhood or whatever.

At some point you become an adult and need to take responsibility for your own life so I am absolutely responsible for myself.

But I will attest to the fact that habits are hard to break and habits you’ve had since childhood aren’t even thought of as habits anymore, they’re just your way of life. But anyway…

This is the part of the story where the trumpet sounds and the knight in shining armor rides in on his white horse to saves me, the princess. This is where my epiphany happens, this is where I wrote down the formula for the umpteenth time and it actually worked! Well ok, so it wasn’t THAT thrilling.

What actually happened was I picked up a book… at the bookstore… I came home and read it. All of it. This is the part where one doctor actually gave me more than a formula to follow. I got more than a handfull of paper, a wish of luck and a pat on the back. I got ANSWERS!

I read Dr. Phil‘s Ultimate Weightloss Solutions. And no I am not Dr. Phil’s wife pretending to be a blogger to push his thoughts onto unsuspecting souls and promote his book. I know some people aren’t big fans of him and I don’t plan on spending my time here defending him or really even talking about him, but I will tell you a thing or two about my life since really reading his book.

  • I have dug to the root of my weight issues. I have gone all the way back to where it may have begun. Through reading and really putting sincere thought into why I am the way I am, I have found memories back to as young as 6 years old and having issues with food.
  • I have a plan. Believe it or not, I’ve never had one before. It was always, I need to lose weight. I’m going to lose weight. I’m going on a diet. But there was never a clear cut plan. I have one now and it’s working.
  • I don’t have this hurried frenzied feeling of needing to lose weight right this very second. Believe it or not, when I used to ‘diet’ and I wouldn’t have that familiar really full feeling in my belly I would actually get nervous, sometimes to the point of being dizzy or being short of breath. Hence food being my Xanax.
  • I am not obsessed with weights, measures, pounds, minutes or calories. Not that I was ever obsessed with them before, but there have been ‘diets’ here or there that would really make you crazy with all the numbers, formulas, tracking and calculating. If you can’t tell, math was never my strong point.
  • Because I have a plan, I am more calm and confidant that this is a reachable doable goal for me.

And those are just the few changes that I had seen so far. I had only been at this monster for a month by this time, and I was no expert by any means.  I’m just taking things one step at a time and learning as I go. But I finally feel like this is it, it’s the big one. I’ve stolen the answer key to all the exams and I’m ready for my first test!

Are you with me? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

Recipe for a Flat Stomach

Toxic Family Relationships: Identifying Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Toxic family relationships can take a toll on anyone who has to deal with them, especially when mental illness is involved.

Any sort of mental illness among family members, especially left untreated, can cause stress and discord in the family, but sometimes, the affected person doesn’t even realize there’s a problem.

If you’ve ever dealt with someone with narcisisstic personality disorder (NPD), you’ll know exactly what I mean.

“They tend to exaggerate in an immensely obvious way – as people they’re unusual in their personality,” says clinical psychologist Jillian Bloxham. “It becomes very evident when a person is narcissistic.”

Healthy self-esteem is important for everyone, but some people develop an over-inflated sense of self-importance that leads to the belief that other people’s feelings, thoughts and beliefs have no relevance.

This is the first sign many people recognize in a person who suffers from NPD.

NPD is a tricky condition, because often, narcissists don’t even realize anything is wrong. They have a sense of personal entitlement that causes them to expect people around them to cater to their every desire, to anticipate their every need and to respond post-haste in fulfilling them.

“It is good to think highly of yourself – but for these people it is out of control,” says personality disorders expert and consultant forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes. “It has gone off the scale.”

Do you know a narcissist?

Narcissists tend to be caught up in their own lives, their own personal worlds. This means that in general, they have no time to consider the feelings, thoughts or needs of the people around them.

Rather than offer sympathy if you are dealing with pain or frustration, they’ll just share some of their own with you (which, of course, will be far more serious than your own.)

While a narcissist may appear to be an upbeat, happy person to outsiders in his or her life, people who know him or her intimately are likely to see a whole other personality.

This can manifest in several ways–but a primary marker is that they are unable to empathize with those around them, and they consistently blame others for problems they’ve caused.

Since narcissists tend to see other people as objects or possessions, they cannot fathom it when they are not obeyed or catered to.

If the person is a friend or acquaintance, the narcissist may just discard them and pretend they don’t exist–but if it’s a family member, things can get more serious.

For example, the narcissist may try to pressure the family member into conforming to his or her wishes, and if that doesn’t work, additional and potentially life-altering steps may be taken to get what is desired.

Because narcissists are incapable of empathizing with others, they don’t even consider (or care) how their words or actions could affect others–and they will never admit that they are wrong.

Instead, they will play the victim and use the situation to gain more attention from others around them.

As with any other toxic family situation, it may be best to distance yourself from a person with NPD. This is especially true because they don’t generally realize that anything is wrong.

Plus, there is currently no known “cure” for NPD–though if a person affected with it seeks therapy, change is possible. However, it’s very unusual for a person with NPD to seek therapy since they don’t see a problem with their behavior.

“Why would someone who thinks they’re special and great come for therapy?” Bloxham says.

Do you think someone you love might have NPD? Tell me in the comments. 


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