15 Secrets to a Natural Tummy Tuck
Last updated on : March 14 2016
We are guilty. We love our clothes snug and demand that our bandage dresses fit like a second skin. With that comes the challenges of keeping fit, shapely, and trim.
How do you stay fit and trim without giving up your favorites? Does keeping a flat and trim tummy require you to hit the gym at every waking moment? In our humble opinion - no, absolutely not (although we think some exercise is necessary). Getting a natural tummy tuck is not about trying to look like a model or cutting back on all your favorite snacks. Instead we take a more holistic approach such as drinking more water, reducing stress, targeted exercising, and eating a more balanced diet.
What is a Tummy Tuck and Can I Avoid One
A tummy tuck is a shortcut way to getting flat and sexy abs - instantly. It is an invasive surgery that is designed to flatten your tummy, tighten your abdominal muscles, and make your abdominal skin flawless.
The before-and-after surgery images look very tempting however tummy tucks are no easy fix. Even after one, you have to maintain a strict regimen of proper diet and exercise for best results.
The body is designed to heal itself and in most cases it will. Loose skin, even after large weight loss will in many instances repair itself, as will your tummy after a baby. If you feel you can get by without surgery there are a few natural ways to beat a tummy tuck and we’ve compiled a list of them here for you. The article covers general lifestyle changes (our secrets to a natural tummy tuck), exercises that will target your waistline and nutritional suggestions that will make a difference.
We've added this little infographic which you can use as a helpful reminder to the more detailed text below. Bloggers - please feel free to use it as long as you provide credit by linking back to this article.
Secrets to a Natural Tummy Tuck
1. Reduce your alcohol and smoking intake
Contrary to popular belief - smoking and alcohol directly affect your weight. One of the reasons you are having trouble fitting into your old clothes is probably your penchant for wine and a “relaxing” cigarette.
Both alcohol and smoking cause an increase in the levels of the stress hormone cortisone. When your cortisol levels rise, they redirect the fat in your body straight to your belly. Smokers might believe that smoking keeps them thin but the truth is quite the opposite. Elle magazine sheds more light on the subject to help you gain a proper perspective. Read the article here.
2. Reduce your stress - smile more
Excessive stress has proved to increase levels of cortisol which often results in belly fat. Rather than stress and internalizing your worries - choose more calm paths. Find more relaxed and healthy alternatives to smoking and drinking such as chewing gum, meditation, and imagery.
A short walk or deep breathing exercises may also do the trick. Another surefire way to reduce stress is to smile more often. Don’t believe us - here’s hard evidence that smiling does the trick.
3. Check your calcium intake
Keeping your bones strong is a huge part of staying healthy and keeping fit. Ensuring you ingest the necessary amounts of calcium every day prevents degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis at bay. Additionally, bad bone structure may lead to spine fractures and slumping which over time leads to the shortening of your abdominal cavity causing your tummy to jut out or give you a random muffin top.
Harvard Health however warns that taking high doses of calcium might in fact be risky and suggests supplementing with vitamin D. So watch your intake and make sure you are not putting yourself at risk.
4. Practice good posture
Keeping your tummy muscles taut is often as easy as just holding it in. Practice tucking your tummy in every chance you get. Once it becomes a habit, your improved posture and tighter tummy amps up the way you look without the need for invasive tummy tuck surgery. Alongside sucking in your tummy consider enlisting the help of a posture aide. Posture aids are designed to align your spine.
If you think posture does not play a role in changing the way you look, have a look at personal trainer MelVFitness’s “before & after” Instagram post that promises a foolproof way for “losing 15 pounds in 15 minutes” – the trick is good posture. It is finally time to listen to your mother’s nagging voice telling you to stand up straight. Standing up straight and sitting with good posture helps you appear 5 pounds thinner, particularly around your tummy area, almost instantly.
5. Consume more potassium
Your abdomen and stomach is much more likely to appear puffy if you do not get enough potassium from your diet. Chomp on dates or eat baked potatoes without the skin. Also add spinach, white beans, and banana smoothies to your everyday diet to get your required dose of potassium.
6. Avoid dieting at all cost
Rather than seek a cure-all diet or one that is built to help you shed pounds fast consider a complete lifestyle change. Reduce your intake of junk food, add more fruits and veggies, and keep hydrated for simple lifestyle changes with maximum impact.
Avoid diet or sugar free foods because they contain artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and mannitol that cause the production of gas in your intestines - which leads to more bloating.
7. Eat more fiber
Add a fiber supplement to your diet or simply load up on whole grains, fruits, and green, leafy vegetables. Fiber ensures that your tummy gets satisfied quickly so you do not overeat, while also preventing constipation and a bloated stomach. All in all, adding fiber to your diet is a win-win, and a secret to getting a natural tummy tuck.
Almonds and soy contain generous amounts of fiber, proteins, and antioxidants. These food items make sure your tummy feels and remains satiated while also helping your body burn fat faster.
8. Drink and sip on water
Staying hydrated is not just good for your body but is also known to do wonders for your skin and hair texture. Drinking water, especially during your premenstrual period, is the best way to tackle bloating and menstrual cramps. Our bodies are made up of approximately 60 percent of water.
Without proper hydration our bodies begin to retain water in an effort to survive. Drinking plenty of water ensures that you do not retain water but rather releases it through sweat and other bodily functions.
9. Weights are not just for boys
Too often, we see women steering clear of the weights section at the gym because they believe lifting weights may cause them to look bulky and masculine. This is far from the truth. In order to actually gain bulk, you would have to hit the weights with a vengeance and follow a diet that is directed at bodybuilding.
Do not be afraid to hit the weights – plan at least two to three workouts with weights in a week. While working out with weights, do your sets while standing. Why? It improves your posture, keeps your tummy tight, and you give your abs a workout without even meaning to.
10. Explore pilates, yoga, and dance
Workouts need not mean tedious boredom. Pilates is a form of workout that has been favored by dancers for decades. It includes a series of fun floor exercises that are low in impact but offer great results, particularly in the form of tighter and firmer abs.
Get rid of your post-pregnancy woes as well as your ample tummy by signing up for some fun dance classes. Pick a dance form that you enjoy or opt for one that you have never tried before like belly dancing or pole dance and simply dance your way to a toned tummy.
11. Try a sport: kickboxing, golf, or tennis
Known as one of the most effective cardio workouts, aerobic kickboxing is a great fat-burner. Get your gear on and get a natural tummy tuck one high kick at a time. Most workouts tend to focus solely on the abs. Give your abs some rest and focus on the oblique muscles, better known as your love handles. Sign up for a golf or tennis lesson. Both these sports help you tone your oblique muscles while you have some fun and meet hotties.
12. Swim and swim and swim
Swimming is known to be an all-around way to achieving body fitness. The crawl stroke as well as the butterfly stroke are great ways to tighten your abs and tone them to perfection. Even the process of breathing out underwater requires you to contract your abs and gives them a seamless workout.
13. Vacuum a bit more
If you find it difficult to dedicated some workout time for yourself, there are plenty of chores in and around your house that can do the trick. Get a vacuum cleaner that you actually have to push and your ab workout easily continues while you make your house spotless. Better yet, get a regular broom and give your sidewalk, pool deck, or garden path a thorough sweep. The sideways motions that sweeping requires works to tone your abs and arms.
Cleaning is perhaps the most overlooked workout of all time. Between lifting, bending, squatting, and scrubbing - a clean house offers a perfect all around fitness routine. It’s sort of like a unique at home crossfit program with excellent results - a clean home and a more slim waistline.
14. Eat more yogurt
Yogurt is chockful of probiotic bacteria, which keep your digestive system happy. It also helps reduce bloating, and promotes overall gut health. It is important to keep a healthy digestive track to support your body and allow it to break down food rather than opt for store it in your problem areas - mainly our hips, stomach, and thighs.
15. Take up gardening
Gardening is not only a wonderful way to destress and grow your own food and flowers but is also an excellent weight loss workout. As you bend to dig, lift heavy flower pots, and kneel to remove weeds and the like from your planters you are inadvertently tackle your abs. The constant need to use your core and legs ensures that you see results more easily than you would in a gym. You notice immediately how much easier it is to bend in a garden than you likely do on a exercise machine that often feels the same.
You can either stop at this stage or you can press yourself a little more by incorporating a set of exercises into your schedule. Read on...
Exercises to Target your Waistline
Targeting your waistline with a set of effective exercises will further enhance and tone your tummy. Add these 12 exercises to your routine above to get the most out of your natural tummy tuck. They are all designed for your waistline keeping it neat and shapely.
Building an Exercise Routine
The best way to do these exercises is to select five or six to do in a 60 to 90 min session. After warming up properly (try a short treadmill run or 10 minutes on a bike) perform each selected exercise for either 30 seconds or a set number of repetitions (10 to 12 to start). Rotate through the entire set 3 to 4 times during the session. Rest properly (max two to three minutes) between each set of exercises rather then after each exercise in turn, this keeps the cardio aspect of the workout higher.
As you improve you can increase the time spent on each exercise or the number of repetitions. You can also try to increase the number of exercises in each session and reduce your rest time in between.
Nerdfitness has an excellent article on how to set up you own exercise routine, which you can follow if you prefer substituting in the tummy exercises detailed below.
1. Forgo Cardio and Embrace HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Benefit: Full body strength training and targeted waistline exercises.
Most of us are used to starting any exercise session with conventional steady-state cardio. However, the problem with regular cardio is that your heart rate does not increase beyond a certain point. This is where HIIT exercise regimes such as CrossFit can help you.
An acronym for High-Intensity Interval Training, HIIT helps you get your heart rate much higher owing to the intense activity you perform for the duration of the workout. According to the Journal of Obesity, HIIT is more effective in reducing abdominal fat as compared to any other type of exercise.
The easiest way to experience HIIT is to begin on a machine you love such as the treadmill. To do a HIIT workout, start with an easy 5 minutes of warm up. Increase your pace for the next 2 minutes. Lower the speed for the next 2 minutes. Repeat this high intensity interval training for approximately 5 to 10 reps. Walk another 5 minutes at an easy pace to cool down. This may not sound too difficult but the high-intensity bursts of exercise gives your body a complete workout and requires that you breath deeper and faster. This will tone and target your tummy area more effectively.
2. Bicycle Crunches
Target Areas: Internal and external oblique muscles
According to a seminal study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), bicycle crunches or bicycle maneuvers are the most effective of all exercises that target the abdominal muscles and waistline. In fact, the study noted that this exercise is 148 percent more efficient than any standard crunch!
This type of crunch works on the stomach muscles while you extend your legs. Lie down on the floor, bend your knees, and place your fingers on your temples or behind your head. Raise your upper body as you would for a standard crunch, and simultaneously twist your waist to reach your right elbow to your left knee. As you do this, extend your right leg till you can tap the floor with your toe. Come back to the center, and then to your original position. Repeat for the other side of your body. You will need to do at least 20 to 30 repetitions of this maneuver for maximum impact.
3. Knee Lifts on the Captain’s Chair
Target Areas: Oblique muscles and all major abdominal muscles
Standard knee raises/lifts/leg raises work well. However, the Captain’s Chair adds an extra level of difficulty to this exercise. This chair is basically a big chair without any seat for you to sit on. The result is that your ab muscles have to crunch tight to keep your body steady.
Hold the Captain’s Chair handles tight while pressing your lower back into the pad at the back of the chair. Slowly and in complete control, lift your knees up toward your chest. Aim for at least 20 reps.
4. Exercise Ball Crunches
Target Area: Abs, abs, and abs
This effective exercise is perhaps the most targeted one for your abs—it does not concentrate on any other muscle or hip flexion.
Place your feet firmly on the floor while you sit on the ball. With slow movements roll the ball backwards till it is under your back, and your body is parallel to the floor. Tuck your chin in, place your fingers on your temples, and do a crunch. If it doesn’t burn after 20 repetitions you may be doing it wrong. Check out how to do them properly courtesy of Scott Herman Fitness.
5. Straight Leg Crunches
Target Areas: Abdominal muscle groups
Similar to the standard crunches, the straight leg crunch requires you to raise your legs by extending them above your hips while you crunch your abs. If you need to modify this exercise consider crossing your ankles for added stability.
6. TTM/Torso Track Machine
Target Areas: Oblique muscles and all major abdominal muscles
If you have a Torso Track Machine at your gym or home, do not think twice before putting it to good use for a healthy and toned waistline.
Kneel on the pads in front of the machine, and grip the handles firmly. Crunch your abdominal muscles, and lean your body outward in one line. Pull your body back to your starting point while ensuring that your abs are still contracted.
7. Arm Extension Crunches
Target Areas: Oblique muscles and all major abdominal muscles
Also known as the long arm crunch, the arm extension crunch is like a standard crunch but with raised arms.
Get into crunching position; raise your arms over your head so that your biceps touch your ears. Crunch while keeping your arms up, and inhale as you get back to the starting position. As with any abdominal exercise, breathing is very important, so focus on taking steady breaths and measured inhales and exhales.
8. Reverse Crunches
Target Areas: Lower abs
Reverse crunches are great for your lower abs and recommended because they do not bring as much neck and back strain that comes with a standard crunch. These are excellent if you are new to waistline targeted exercises.
Lie down flat on the floor with your arms down by your sides. Cross your ankles and raise your feet up till your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Press your back down, and use your core to raise your hips off the ground. Do this in slow measured movements and do not allow your legs to rise up over the head.
9. Abdominal Heel Push Crunch
Target Areas: Core and oblique abs
A combination of a standard and reverse crunch, the heel push crunch is highly effective at targeting your waistline to keep you slim and trim.
Get into crunch position with bent knees but press your heels into the floor with your feet flat. Instead of lifting yourself up into a standard crunch, extend your arms flat against the floor and move from side to side, slightly raised to touch each heel in turn. Sounds complicated, so here is exactly how to do them.
10. Ab Roller Workout
Target Areas: Core and abs
We have all seen the innocuous-looking ab roller in televised advertisements, and we have all wondered if the device could actually work to better your waistline. According to ACE, a personal training certification program, it does!
Kneel on the floor holding the ab roller with both hands. Slowly begin to roll straight ahead, stretching your body out straight. Do not touch your body to the floor. Take a pause here, and then breathe out while pulling yourself back to the starting position.
11. Hover Plank
Target Areas: Core, glutes, back, calves, hamstrings, arms, and shoulders
The plank works on the waistline as well as the rest of your body, particularly strengthening the core. Adding this exerciser to your workout gives you an new found increase in energy as well.
Lie face down on the floor with your forearms extended on the floor such that your elbows and shoulders are in line. Hold your core tight, and lift your body off the floor so that you are balanced on your toes, forearms, and elbows—then, hover and hold for as long as you can!
12. Standard Crunch
Target Areas: Oblique muscles and abs
The standard crunch scored quite low on the list of effective exercises to target your waistline. While it does not make it to the top 10 it is still effective if performed properly.
Form is very important if you want a crunch to work. Lie on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Flare your elbows and place your hands behind your head or by your ears. Brace your core, and exhale while you try to pull your belly button upward to the spine. Lift your shoulder blades and upper back off the floor to perform a crunch. Count till one, and inhale as you lower your upper body to starting position.
Here is some help on getting your technique perfect.
Adding these nutritional suggestions will compliment the lifestyle and exercise routines above.
Healthy Foods that Protect your Waistline
Adding better food choices to your lifestyle and exercise regime is key to your tummy flattening success. Here are 11 healthy food ideas that make for a tasty and satisfying way to protect your waistline and keep yourself trim overall. Try them out as healthy snacks or supplements to your meals.
1. Munch on grapefruit to boost your metabolism
Reach for a grapefruit instead of a packet of chips or a candy bar during a snack attack. Grapefruits are chock full of vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium. The fruit also helps to reduce the levels of insulin in your body, thereby boosting your metabolism and speeding up the process of weight loss. If you're looking for a more complete meal make a quick salad out of grapefruit, cranberries, and mixed greens adding cooked lean meats such as chicken.
2. Eat apricots for clear eyes and skin
Although you will find plenty of apricot bites or bliss balls at the supermarket, the truth is that these store-bought versions are full of preservatives, sulphur, and refined sugar – none of which are going to help you meet your fitness goals. Fresh and sulphur-free apricots contain a whopping 60 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A, which is ideal for your eyes and skin.
Apricot also provides your body with much-needed fiber and gives you an excellent and natural energy boost. Easily make a batch of apricot bites at home, and store them in the refrigerator (they last for up to 3 weeks).
Begin by soaking apricots in hot water for 30 minutes and then blitz one cup with ¾ cups of oats, and ¼ cup of shredded or desiccated coconut and one tablespoon of coconut oil, in the food processor. Shape the mixture into balls using wet hands and coconut shavings. Put them in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm and you have a healthy and quick snack at hand.
3. Pop cherries for natural detoxifiers
Cherries are another one of those bounteous gifts that are ready to eat as soon as you wash them. The perfect low-calorie snack for weight loss, cherries also contain generous amounts of highly effective antioxidants and other nutrients that work as detoxifiers. Free radicals slow down our weight loss processes, however cherries contain the antioxidants that are needed to neutralize these free radicals. Cherries are not only delicious but also very nutritious and useful to your body. They are ideal for taking on the go and store well without needing to be refrigerated.
4. Trust rhubarb to control your cravings
More often than not, rhubarb is the first vegetable of the spring season and if not available immediately is worth the wait. Not only does this low-glycemic food item contain plenty of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, it is also low in calories. The fiber content in rhubarb boosts metabolism and helps in weight loss which is ideal for protecting your waistline without having to cut back or reduce your portions.
The best part of rhubarb is that it regulates the sugar content in your blood, and thereby keeps away the sudden hunger pangs that would otherwise have you reaching for unhealthy snacks. Toss it with some mixed greens, strawberries, toasted almonds, and red-wine vinegar for a quick and yummy salad.
5. Consume blueberries to keep your metabolism going
If belly fat is your problem area, blueberries may just be the snack you need to save the day. These dark berries contain plenty of vitamins as well as antioxidants like lutein. Blueberries are also known to help reduce waist size and keep the metabolic syndrome that facilitates those few extra pounds in check. Simply pop these delicious berries in your mouth through the day, or mix them with your bowl of yogurt for a quick, easy, and healthy snack.
6. Chew on cucumbers to keep you hydrated
Cucumbers are an ideal snack food. High in water content and low in calories, this one is a perfect snack that contains silicon which serves the purpose of an all-natural diuretic - so any water swelling be gone. Cucumber slices taste great with garlic hummus or sun-dried tomatoes.
If you want to try a fancy yet easy snack option, mash a ripe avocado with cilantro, and roll a thin and long slice of cucumber around it. Top this green roll with some capers, and you have got a snack that is tasty and healthy. Tip: In case you have been plagued with dark circles and tired eyes, use a couple of fresh cucumber slices to relax and moisturize your eyes.
7. Count on carrots to keep your vision strong
Root vegetables like carrots are excellent snacks that can be consumed raw in the form of carrot sticks (easy-peasy), or dipped in some hummus, yogurt, or a dash of guacamole. One cup of carrots contains a mere 52 calories and absolutely no fat. In addition, carrots are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamins K and A. Carrots tend to delightfully juicy and sweet sans the calories, sounds like the perfect snack.
8. Eat beets to beat calories
Beets are well-known for being a superfood and are a gift of the Mediterranean diet. This root vegetable contains more than 30 percent of the daily recommended dose of folate which is a B vitamin that is difficult to get from regular food items. Folate ensures that you get that dose of energy to get you through your workout and keeps you firmly fixed on your weight loss track. Toss a salad with roasted beets, arugula, and fennel for a special salad snack.
9. Choose avocados and chia to grow sexy hair
High in quality protein and fiber, chia seeds help you lose weight, and improve the texture of your skin and hair. The incredibly nutritious avocado is chockful of potassium, good fats, vitamin E, and folate, and boosts weight loss, moisturizes hair and improves its growth. It also helps you provide a glowing skin to show off.
Clean and chop some avocado, mango, strawberries, grapefruit, and oranges. Make a dressing with 0 percent Greek yogurt, chia seeds, a dash each of lemon juice and vanilla extract. Mix the two together and refrigerate before you enjoy as a fresh salad for a quick and healthy snack.
10. Chomp zucchini crisps to cut calories
When that craving for chips just does not go away, reach for healthier zucchini crisps. A part of the family of squashes, zucchini is high in nutrients like potassium, folate, fiber, and vitamins A & K, and low in calories. This power vegetable promotes a healthy metabolism and weight loss. Slice the zucchini, drizzle some olive oil, and bake it in the oven till it is crisp. Season it according to your taste, and you have a healthy alternative to packaged crisps within a few minutes.
11. Try quinoa salads to cut back on meat protein
Used extensively in South American cuisine, quinoa is a grain that is high in protein, and gluten-free to boot. It makes for the perfect snack when you want to protect your waistline because quinoa contains elements that help your tummy feel full for longer. Known as the “supergrain of the future”, quinoa contains almost two times the amount of fiber as other grains, along with vitamin B12, manganese, magnesium, iron, lysine, and proteins.
It rejuvenates skin, boosts elasticity, and reduce brown spots, while also boosting hair growth and naturally strengthening hair owing to its 9 essential amino acids. Toast some quinoa, and toss it with edamame and lemony tarragon – add some greens for a complete mid-day snack that will have you smacking your lips. There are so many ways to make a quinoa snack – toss it with some smoked-tofu and vegetables or dried apricots and baby spinach, or walnut, asparagus, and feta.
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