Q: [Mom and Dad] Why is it so hard for me to lose weight as I get older and what’s the best way for me to replace belly flab with toned abs?
A: My first response is one that most already know: It starts with nutrition. Anyone can do the coolest, most innovative core exercises, but if nutrition [is] lacking, there will be little change to the body. Minimize processed foods, unnecessary carbohydrates and aim to have a little protein, healthy fats and a small amount of carbohydrates (veggies, oats, salad, etc.) every three to four hours. This way, metabolism stays up, energy levels stay balanced and insulin levels aren’t spiking or dropping, causing sugary cravings. And, do not skip breakfast.
As a busy mama of three myself, the best advice I can give someone is to be prepared! Have small healthy snacks readily available and food prep—cook healthy meals on the weekend for the week ahead. Find out where the healthiest grab-and-go places are around you, just in case there is no time to prep and pack food.
When it comes to exercises to help strengthen and tighten the core, here are a few of my favorites:
Weighted Toe Touches: Lying on your back, bring feet straight into the air. Holding a medium-sized dumbbell, lift shoulder blades off the ground and reach the weight towards your toes. Slowly lower back down, but don’t rest shoulder blades on the ground. Repeat for 3 rounds of 25 reps.
Army Plank Crawls: All you will need is a mat and two paper plates or “discs” (hand towels also work). Get into a plank position and place the discs under feet. Starting at the end of the mat, “crawl” with arms 5-6 reps forward on the mat, just letting your feet drag behind you on the discs. Then crawl back the 5-6 reps. Repeat for 3 rounds of 5 reps (up and back on the mat is 1 repetition).
The Plank: To start, get in plank position. Squeeze core, glutes and quads as tight as you can and hold for 30 seconds. Drop to knees, rest for 15 seconds and repeat for 2-3 rounds. To intensify the plank, you can lift one foot in the air. To modify the plank, start with knees on the ground, then eventually work up to holding plank on toes.
Stephanie Gaeta is a NASM-CPT and NASM-PES certified personal trainer; group fitness instructor; and International Sports Sciences Association certified nutritionist at Life Time Athletic Laguna Niguel. After competing in volleyball in college, she began coaching and earning her training and nutrition certifications.