It’s easier than you think to make the changes you want to see in your body. It takes work (no magic pill yet, unfortunately) but it doesn’t have to be daunting.
Whether you want to lose that last five pounds, flatten your stomach or add muscle definition, we have some tips for getting the results you want.
To find out more we turned to Jennifer Iserloh, food and nutrition expert for LIVESTRONG.COM, about what to eat (or not eat) and how to move to get the body you want.
How to get more muscle definition
To create more lean muscle mass, scale back on carbs. Often muscle definition is simply hiding under fat from excess calories that can come from too many high-calorie items like carbs, Iserloh explains. “The anti-carbs craze is definitely so last year, but most people are still eating way too much in the form of bread, crackers and pastas than they should and most don’t even know it.” She tells us her healthy carb load is six ounces in a 2,000-calorie diet, meaning three slices of bread and a cup of uncooked pasta. You can find out what your ideal amount from each food group by using the USDA’s daily food plans tool.
How to get a flatter tummy
Fiber is always your friend when it comes to beating tummy bulge, and most people only get about half of what they should, Iserloh says. “Fiber is key to better digestion, less bloating and burning calories more efficiently. Fiber fills you up, meaning less snacking and fewer calories,” she explains. “It also helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, meaning you burn calories more effectively.” For women, she recommends 21 to 25 grams of fiber every day and provides an example of how to get it.
- Breakfast: 1 cup raspberries on 1 cup of oatmeal
- Lunch: 1 cup whole wheat pasta topped with marinara and steamed vegetables
- Dinner: 2 cups black bean and vegetable soup with one slice of whole grain bread
How to get better posture
You can lose an inch or two off of your mid-section just by standing up straight, Iserloh notes. “Not only do you look slimmer, but you’ll look more confident, something that helps everyone,” she says. Taking posture classes like the Alexander technique is an option; other forms of exercise that can help you to burn from 200 to 400 calories an hour while benefiting your posture (therefore your silhouette) include yoga, dancing (especially ballroom and tango), Pilates and barre. “They all instruct on how to lengthen through the mid-section, dropping the shoulders, tucking the pelvis and engaging stomach muscles to stand more erect.”
How to get better skin
We all know that drinking water is great for your skin (aim for eight glasses a day), but what you eat also has a profound effect on your complexion, explains Iserloh. Enjoy foods that are rich in potassium, which is responsible for keeping you hydrated (grapefruit, bananas, and avocados). Eat foods that are high in vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin (find it in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale and other leafy greens) and omega-3s, found in wild salmon, walnuts and flaxseed, to ensure skin stays supple and functions properly.
How to lose that last five pounds
Many people have a hard time taking off that last five pounds or the extra weight that seems to occur after the holidays or a vacation-induced splurge. Rather than sacrificing flavor for lower numbers on the scale, Iserloh recommends adding more homemade soups to your diet. She avoids the canned versions since they are high in sodium and because fresh food is always best. Soups are filling but naturally low in calories and you can pack them full of vegetables. “It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all and I don’t go hungry,” she says. “I go for veggie soups that don’t have noodles but plenty of flavors from spices and herbs.”
How to get tighter buns
Change your eating habits, then switch up your workout to see a difference in your derriere. Your body gets used to certain types of exercise, so after a while you won’t see further improvement. “When I first started doing yoga in my 30s, it was more than enough to keep me in shape, but now that I’ve been doing it longer and getting closer to 40, I don’t even break a sweat when I do it,” says Iserloh. “Add one to two new types of exercise to your routine such as dancing, the barre workout or Pilates and see new definition.”