So you want to lose that belly fat once and for all? Then you've come to the right place!
In this media-filled world, it's hard not to compare yourself to the world around you and want to make some changes. The only problem is, we don't know where to begin when trying to burn belly fat fast.
There are so many diets and workout plans that claim they will give you that 6 pack you've been dreaming of, but do they really work?
The problem with these gimmicks is that they promise fast results that usually don't last or don't really get the job done because there are no "quick fixes" in weight loss.
That's why, I've put together a 20-step plan to get you on track and help you reach your goals.
Before you read what I've put together below, keep in mind that losing weight is a gradual process. It's not about one little thing that you can fix, but it's about making lasting changes to your lifestyle that you enjoy and can maintain!
So get ready to get that body you've been dreaming of because it's a lot easier to "get" what you want than what you "think".
Step 1: Find Your Motivation
If you're going to commit to losing weight, you need to know that it won't happen overnight. With a long-term goal like this, you need to find some serious motivation.
Figure out why you are trying to lose weight in the first place!
It can be anything, from living a longer healthier life to fitting into that pair of skinny jeans you used to rock every Friday night. The reason why is important because it will motivate you to stick to your goals no matter how much you want to quit!
One great way to stay on track is to have a visual reminder. Make a Pinterest board, cut out magazine photos, or keep that old pair of jeans hanging on your door, because the more you see it, the more you'll remember those goals!
Step 2: Get Specific With Your Goals!
With your goals in mind, now you should get a little more technical. A study by two psychologists at Penn State found that there is a big correlation between setting specific goals and actually achieving them. This is why, you should find some sort of a measurable goal and then give yourself a time-line for when you want to achieve it.
If you're trying to get rid of that belly fat once and for all, then a good goal would be to lose inches off of your waist. If you buy a measuring tape you can find out how many inches your abdomen is. Now figure out how many inches you want to lose, and then get going with losing them!
Be sure to pick realistic goals!
If your goals are unreasonable, you will get discouraged when you do not see any results. This will simply make you give up. We don't want that!
If you're not sure what you should aim for, start with something small, like trying to lose half an inch in 2-4 weeks. If you're consistent, I'm sure you'll easily reach your goal, and probably sooner than you think!
Step 3: Clean Out Those Cabinets
Okay, so now that you know why you're starting this weight loss journey, where do you start?
A lot of us want to take action, but just don't know where to begin. The easiest thing you can do to get started is to toss out all the crap in your refrigerator and cabinets!
Snacking on junk food is a problem a lot of people face. It's laced with chemicals, sugars, and fats that are designed to make you crave them. That's why having junk food around is a sure-fire way to hinder you from being able to reach your goals.
So as soon as you have time, I want you to go to your kitchen and put all the unhealthy food in a trash bag. Anything that is loaded with sugar, fat, and chemicals needs to go. And if you're wondering whether or not something healthy...it's probably not!
You can donate, throw out, or burn that bag of food, but just get it out of your home ASAP!
If you find yourself craving junk, just find healthy alternativesthat you love! Over time, your brain will stop craving the junk and forget what it was even like!
Step 4: Start Small
So now that you've started taking action to reach your goals, what's next?
One mistake a lot of people make at the beginning of this transition is that they start changing every aspect of their life too fast. But after a few days, most fall off the wagon!
To prevent this, just make a few changes to your routine so you are not overwhelmed. The key to weight loss is to stay consistent and ease into this lifestyle.
Remember that if you do fall off the wagon and maybe binge out and eat a whole pizza, see it as a hiccup and not a dead end! Every setback is just that. It may set you back a little, but if you get back to your routine, in the long run it won't even matter.
Never be harsh with yourself. Just enjoy the process!
Step 5: Water, Water And Yes, More Water!
Drink more water! This is overlooked by most people but it's an easy thing to do and can make a big difference in your appearance fast.
Did you know that we hold between 1.5 - 5 pounds of fat from heavy carbohydrate and salt intake? This is what a lot of people call looking "bloated". It's your body retaining water due to the high amount of sugar and salt in your body.
Another thing that causes us to retain water is dehydration. When you don't drink enough water, your body starts holding onto as much of it as it can because it goes into panic mode!
If you begin drinking more water, you will flush out a lot of the toxins and excess water from your system. Within 24 hours, you will look slimmer, and that's not to mention all the other health benefits that come with drinking a lot of water.
A lot of online calculators will tell you how much water you should be drinking based on your height and weight, so there's no excuse, drink up!
Step 6: Cut Back On The Calories
It can be really overwhelming when you're trying to figure out how to lose body fat. There always seems to be a million different fad diets, workouts, or diet pills that claim they will "melt away fat" right away.
However, these usually do not get you the results they promise, and can actually be more damaging to your health than the way you were living before. Yikes!
Fat loss is actually really simple. It comes down to maintaining a calorie deficit in your diet. When you eat fewer calories than you need, you start burning fat for energy.
We all naturally burn calories throughout the day doing everyday things, like brushing our teeth and even watching TV. But every individual will burn a different amount, based on their height, weight, and general activity level throughout the day.
There are a lot of calculators available online that will estimate how many calories you should be eating to be losing weight every day.
Also, when you track the calories you eat in a day, you pay attention to the food labels too.
Food labels give their recommended daily amount based on a 2000 calorie diet. For a smaller-sized individual, this may be too high. You need to count how many calories you eat and add them up throughout the day instead!
Step 7: Find A Fun Workout
Cleaning up your diet will help you lose weight, but if you want to have a fit and toned body, you need to exercise too.
When you're out of shape, the thought of working out can be daunting. A lot of people will walk into a gym, but they might as well be in a foreign country because they have no clue where anything is or what it's for.
For many individuals, lifting weights at the gym is how they stay fit. But there's no one type of exercise that fits everyone! You should, instead, find some form of an exercise that you actually enjoy doing.
Any kind of activity that puts your body under physical stress will do the job. That means anything that gets your heart pumping, your body sweaty, and your muscles sore.
It can be anything, as long as it's something you'll stick with. A lot of fun things can be considered a workout that you may not have even realized. Taking your dog for a long walk, swimming with friends, and riding your bike around the town can all help you burn calories, and they're already fun!
Try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 3 days a week, in the beginning. As you get fitter, you can increase how often or how hard you workout.
Like I've said, it's best to start small. It is also good to spread your workouts out over the course of a week, so you push your body but also give it some time to rest.
Step 8: Fill Up On Fibre
Wouldn't it be nice if there was something you could eat that would help you stay full, feel good, and was super low on calories?
Well, lucky for you there is. It is fibre!
Fibre is amazing for your diet, especially when you want to lose weight. It helps clean up all the built-up junk in your digestive system, and since it can't be completely broken down, it takes up space in your system and makes you feel full. That means, you can eat fewer calories and still feel like you ate plenty!
Fibre is great and it's not hard to get into your diet either. A lot of whole grains have what's called soluble fibre in them. Oats, barley, and some fruits and vegetables are full of soluble fibre. So the next time you're making a meal, see if there is any way to incorporate more fibre because there's no downside to loading up on it!
Step 9: Catch Plenty Of Zzz’s
I'm hoping you love this next step as much as I do. I want you to sleep more. Simple as that!
There are so many amazing benefits that come with sleep. When you sleep, it allows your body to heal and rest. When you start exercising more and put your body through the added stress, sleep allows you to reap the benefits of your hard work by letting your muscles repair themselves.
Sleep is also known to help reduce appetite. Many studies have found that when we don't get enough sleep, we feel hungry throughout the day. This is because the two hormones, ghrelin, and leptin, which are known to control hunger and fullness, don't work efficiently when you're deprived of sleep. This means, your brain tells you you're hungry even when you don't actually need food, and end up consuming more calories!
Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night to stay healthy. An occasional late night-out is fine, but for the most part, you should try and tuck yourself in sooner than later!
Step 10: Get More Cardio!
Now that you've been getting into better shape, you can start making your workouts a little more intense because the easy workouts that you started out with may not be hard for your body anymore.
Your body gets stronger and faster when you exercise. So to keep losing weight you need to make your workouts tougher as you adjust to them!
Incorporating more cardio into your workout routine is a great way to keep it challenging and burn more calories.
Another great thing about cardio workouts is how effortlessly you can adjust them to make them easier or harder. You can increase or decrease how fast you walk, run, or climb, which helps you find a maintainable pace but still keeps your heart rate up!
Step 11: Ramp Up Your Workouts With Resistance Training
Cardio might be a great way to burn calories and keep your heart healthy, but it can't be all you do to keep your body fit. The other kind of workout you need to incorporate in your routine is resistance training.
Resistance training is any exercise that pushes your muscles to use more force than they normally use. The goal is to get them a little sore after the workout so when they heal, they become bigger and stronger than before.
This will help you tone your body and help you burn calories even after the workout is over! I don't know about you, but I love the idea of burning calories in my sleep.
We have different kinds of muscles in our bodies. Some are smaller and can work for a longer time without fatigure. These are called Type I muscles and are great for cardio.
Type II muscles, however, are larger and work in short bursts with high energy. These are what you use to do fast intense movements, like heavy lifting and sprints. These muscles require tons of energy and so boost your metabolism. And a faster metabolism keeps you from putting on fat and helps you burn more calories every day!
Therefore, the more Type II muscles you have in your body, the faster your metabolism will be.
Try lifting weights at the gym. If you can't make it to a gym, you can do bodyweight exercises too. Push-ups, squats, and lunges are just a few exercises that make your muscles stronger and you can do them anywhere!
Just make sure you maintain a good form in any workout to avoid injury.
Step 12: Power To The Protein!
Exercise is only half the battle in weight loss!
The initial cutting down of calories from your food may have helped you lose weight when you had a larger amount of body fat, but now that you have started to slim down, your body is going to want to hold onto fat even more than before!
So you need to adjust your diet to see more changes in your body, like consuming more proteins so you stay full for longer, build more muscle, and don't store fat!
Protein is broken down and used in our bodies to build our own proteins. That's why we need a lot of it when we want to build muscles. It also isn't an "energy molecule" like carbs and fat, so it isn't stored as body fat. On top of that, it also keeps you full for longer, which keeps you from eating more calories later.
Protein is found mainly in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy. Lean meats such as fish and egg whites are ideal for protein because they have a lot of it without a large amount of fat. A lot of people also take protein supplements with their diet. But since there are various kinds of them, make sure you do your research before using one!
Step 13: Get Over The Hump
Now you've been at this for a few weeks and you're probably feeling a lot better and maybe have started to notice some changes in your appearance. Yay!
The problem a lot of people face at this point is that they may not be seeing as dramatic a change as they were hoping for, and so get discouraged. Why keep working so hard if it doesn't even make a difference?
Like I said before, losing weight takes time!
You need to keep working hard, even if you don't notice any dramatic changes. Eventually, you will "get over the hump." This is when you start burning off all the fat and really see a difference.
They say it takes 2 weeks to feel it, 4 weeks to see one, and 8 weeks to hear it. That just means you will notice the changes slowly. So be patient. Good things come to those who wait.
Step 14: Don’t Trust The Scale
As you continue to get fitter, you will want to track your progress. You will want to know if all the hard work is paying off.
A lot of people turn to the weighing scale to see how many pounds they might have lost. In the early stages of weight loss, however, a lot of people find the number on the scale has barely moved, not moved, or even gone up a little! How did that happen?
Although the goal is to lose weight, there is a problem with only tracking your progress by pounds alone.
When we start building up muscle, it is more dense than fat. Most researchers have found that we will go through a period of building muscle with very little fat loss when we first start getting fitter. After we've gained a good amount of muscle, our metabolism gets higher and our bodies start to burn more calories. Eventually, we resort to burning body fat for energy.
Our bodies want to hold onto fat for as long as possible in case we need it. So don't be discouraged when the scales don't change too much. It does not mean your body isn't.
Instead of tracking progress through weight, try using before and after pictures, or get a scale that can calculate body fat percentage. These are going to give you a better overall picture of how your body is changing.
Step 15: Cut Out The Carbs (Refined That Is!)
One thing that has no business being in your diet is refined carbs. They are empty calories that are easily stored in your body as fat. So not good!
Refined carbs are normal carbohydrates that are processed and stripped of all the fiber and nutrients that make them beneficial for our bodies. Carbohydrates are energy molecules, which we break down and use to fuel our bodies. So when all the nutrients and fibre are removed from them, all they do is taste good and get stored in our body as fat.
Refined carbs are found in things like candy, white bread, and french fries.
You still need to make sure you eat carbs because they do give us the energy we need. The best way to make sure you're eating good carbs is to replace all the refined carbs in your diet with a healthy alternative!
White bread can be swapped for wheat, french fries can be swapped for sweet potato fries, etc. And the occasional treat isn't going to cause you to gain 10 pounds, but just really limit the refined carbs if you're really dedicated to reaching your goals!
Step 16: Stretch It Out
After a while, you're going to be more and more fit. This means you're probably exercising much more regularly. You may not even remember what it was like before you started losing weight!
The worst thing at this point is facing a setback that stops you from moving forward. And one of the biggest fat-loss setbacks is an injury.
The harder you exercise, the more stress you put on your body. This puts you at a higher risk of getting an exercise-related injury. One of the best ways to prevent injury is to improve your flexibility.
So make sure you warm up before you work out, and then stretch afterwards. This is a great way to keep you from pulling a muscle, pinching a nerve, or the myriad other exercise injuries.
Plus, a good warm-up should be dynamic. That means you should move around a lot to "wake up" all your muscles!
Later, you should stretch and cool down. Yoga is also a great way to improve your flexibility. And it can help you relax, which is a huge bonus!
Step 17: Change It Up
Now that you've made a lot of changes, you're going to be feeling a lot different from when you first started out.
We already discussed how your body will adapt to the speed, weight, or movements in your workouts over time. That's why it's very important to change up your workouts to keep your body constantly under stress so it can keep improving.
Adding new kinds of exercises to your routine will help you train new areas of your body. Plus, when you change your workout, it keeps your body from adjusting too much.
Doing various types of exercises to change the areas of your body that undergo stress is called muscle confusion. This is good for ensuring that all the different muscles in your body are being worked out because some exercises only engage a few at a time.
If you are a religious yoga girl, try a kick-boxing or zumba class. It can be fun trying new workouts, and you never know, it could become your favourite kind of exercise!
Step 18: Take A Break
All of these tips and tools I've been giving you are great and are going to get you the results you want. Now, this next one is also extremely important! Every now and then, you need to do nothing. Yes, you read that right. Nothing.
When it comes to weight loss, we can get overwhelmed and burnt out while trying to be on top of everything. So don't forget you're still a human being.
Everything is okay in moderation, and completely cutting out everything good from your life will just make you resent the process of losing weight, which will make you miserable. So have a relaxing day on the couch, skip a few gym days, and PLEASE eat that cookie!
Taking a break will reduce stress and keep you from getting frustrated about how you are living your life.
Weight loss isn't a quick change that will be over in a few weeks. You're changing your lifestyle choices, and to maintain a healthy body, you have to maintain those changes. That's why you need to take breaks and enjoy life along the way!
Step 19: Tone those Abs
Let's focus on the thing that brought you to this article in the first place!
You want to get rid of that belly fat once and for all! Well, now that you've lost a good amount of the fat on your body, you can focus on the specific areas you want to tone.
Fat can't be lost in a specific spot by targeting that muscle. You will lose body fat slowly across your whole body. Building muscle in a certain area will help that area appear more toned once you begin burning body fat. That's why, if you want a toned tummy, you need to start ramping up the ab workout!
Doing core exercises that target your abdominal area will help you tone that area. There are so many different exercises you can do, like sit-ups, leg lifts, and Russian twists. You should train your abdominal muscles just like any other, and push them until they can't do any more repetitions of the exercise you're doing.
If you feel sore the next day, you did something right!
Step 20: Look How Far You've Come!
If you have been patient and have stuck with all the above steps, you will start seeing changes within a few short weeks.
Make sure you keep tracking your progress and when you do start seeing changes, celebrate! All the hard work you put in will be worth it, I promise.
If you reach your goal, treat yourself. Find a reward that you can use to keep you going.
Go get a cute new dress to flatter your slimmer figure. Whatever you do, just don't give up! It's easy to get discouraged in this world of photoshop, Victoria's Secret angels, and so many other things that seem perfect. So when you see changes, be excited because you did that all on your own, and you worked hard for it!
Stick to the steps above and you'll make it to the body you want. Give it time, stick with it, and don't give up.
You're already beautiful and strong, so don't get discouraged. You got this!
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