ARE summer beach days and the thought of baring your skin stressful?
You are not the only one.
A YouGov poll found that 46% of Britons have negative body image.
We get it – it’s not always easy to love your body, no matter how much you want to.
Of course, every body is ready for the beach, but if a flat, toned stomach is high on your wish list, there are ways to tone your tummy without doing hundreds of sit-ups or skipping all of your favorite foods.
“Be kind to yourself and remember that women have more body fat than men because of higher levels of the hormone estrogen,” says Jo-Leigh Morris, Pilates and fitness instructor for the WithU app.
Here she shares her top lifestyle and training tips to help you feel great this bikini season.
9 LIFESTYLE HACKS FOR A FLATTER PURPOSE
1. Remember abs are genetic
Just like eye and hair color, DNA determines how your abs look and function.
“It also determines your muscle fibers and how your body breaks down and stores fat,” says Jo-Leigh.
“As a result, it will be easier for some to get washboard abs.”
That means we all have them.
“And with consistency, they can become visible,” adds Jo-Leigh.
It’s about reducing the fat layer above it.
2. Train your core all day
Instead of going to the gym, use everyday activities to work your abs.
“All movement is centered, so even carrying shopping bags engages the core,” says Jo-Leigh.
Whether you’re vacuuming, gardening, or reaching for something off a shelf, focus on engaging your core muscles by pulling your belly button in and up.
3. Go to bed
“Lack of sleep can cause food intake to increase due to a rise in cortisol levels, signaling the body that it needs more energy,” says Jo-Leigh.
It also doesn’t help that the foods we reach for when they’re broken are often flatworms, like chips and chocolate.
Can’t help but stay up late? Brush your teeth to avoid snacking – this tells your brain that mealtime is over.
4. Train your pelvic floor
These muscles essentially form the base of your core and provide stable support for your spine.
A strong pelvic floor can help flatten your stomach.
Connect to yours by pulling them together slightly – it should feel like you’re capturing a moment.
Press and release 10-15 times.
Download the Squeezy app to do more pelvic floor exercises every day.
5. Eat protein at every meal
This macronutrient is key to building muscle and keeping you full longer.
Jo-Leigh says, “Stick to lean meats like chicken and turkey or fish and eggs.”
Vegetarian sources include tofu, tempeh, beans, and legumes.
Follow TikTok star Jalal Sameja for high protein meal inspiration.
6. Do not give up carbohydrates!
“Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel. If you eat the right amount, you’ll feel more energetic throughout the day,” says Jo-Leigh.
Try consuming slow-release whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice and oats.
They should make up just over a third of your diet, according to the NHS’ Eatwell Guide.
7. Fill up on fiber
“Fiber is another high-saturation food,” says Jo-Leigh.
Aim for 30g per day by consuming beans, vegetables and fruits.
Just slowly increase your intake to minimize digestive discomfort.
8. Stay calm
Finding calm when dealing with bills, work, and children is difficult but necessary.
“When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol, which triggers the release of glucose into the bloodstream, which can then make it harder to maintain a constant weight,” says Jo-Leigh.
Deep breathing can also help – try the stress relief app Breathwrk.
9. Sort your attitude
Sitting and standing upright won’t burn belly fat, but tight hip flexors could cause your pelvis to tilt slightly forward and your stomach to protrude.
It can help to stand up straight, roll your shoulders back, and suck in your stomach.
ABS EXERCISE AT HOME
Tone your midsection with Jo-Leigh’s bodyweight workouts.
Do each one for 30 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, then continue.
Engage your core at the beginning of each rep.
10. Single toe taps
Lie on your back in a tabletop position with your knees bent over your hips and your arms at your sides.
Gently lower one leg to the floor at a time, tap the floor, and lift it back up.
11. Double toe taps
Start as above, but lower both legs to touch the floor, then raise them back up.
Assume a table position and support yourself with your hands behind your head.
Lift your head off the floor and look at your thighs.
Exhale and extend one leg until the knee is straight.
At the same time, rotate your torso toward the opposite knee.
Inhale as you move through the center and exhale as you switch sides by extending the other leg and twisting in the opposite direction.
13. Lower leg
Lie on your back with your feet in the air and your legs straight.
Slowly lower them until they touch the ground, then raise them back up.
Keep your back flat on the floor.
14. One Leg Extension
Lie on your back with your legs stretched out and your arms at your sides.
Lift your head and shoulders off the floor and bend your knees toward your chest.
Extend one leg straight and place both hands on the opposite shin.
Keep your pelvis and upper body stable as you switch legs.
15. Side Plank Hold
Lie on your right side, straighten your legs and stack them from your waist to your feet. Place your right elbow under your shoulder and lift it up.
Align your left arm along the left side of your body.
Tighten your abs and lift your hips and knees off the floor as you exhale.
Hold. Repeat on your left side.
16 Double leg extension
Lie in the table position with your arms outstretched.
Press your lower back against the floor and slightly raise your head, neck, and shoulders.
Inhale, stretch your arms straight behind your head and your legs straight forward in a diagonal position.
Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat.
17. Half Roll Back Pulse
Sit with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Keep your arms in a circle in front of your chest.
Tighten your abs and slowly arch your back toward the mat until your mid-back is in contact with the mat.
Tighten your abs even deeper and roll back to the starting position.
18. Plank hold
Step onto a plank with your body resting on your toes and your hands directly under your shoulders.
Make sure toes are touching the floor, hips are at shoulder height, and glutes are tight. Hold.