(Photo courtesy of Sebastian Fritzon on Flickr)
(Photo courtesy of Sebastian Fritzon on Flickr under CC license)

BY GABBY BOYER, Staff Columnist

While shopping in Kohl’s the other day for coats, I was bombarded with something else-swimsuits.

First off, I’d like to point out that whoever determines “fashion” seasons is not from Michigan. But with the unusually warm weather last month, I’d thought I’d look through them. It went something like this, bikini, bikini, one piece, bikini, monokini, tankini, bikini, bikini…and then a whole section of wraps.

I am going to out myself here and now. I hate swimsuit cover-ups. They’re dishonest and they send a message that you don’t like your body, and THEY COVER UP THE PRETTY SWIMSUITS.

When ever I ask girls why they wear cover-ups, it almost always comes back to the same thing.

“I don’t like my stomach.”

I remember when I did the Miss Wayne County pageant; during the swimsuit competition one girl started painting her stomach to “make it look more defined.” Another girl started to do sit ups to make her muscles tighten right before she went on. Ironically, the girl with the most confidence won that part, not the girls with the tightest stomach or the “best” bodies.

People in general think that swag is a lot hotter than “tightness.”

So if you’re still reading (probably not) you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “But, oh Gabby, I’d still like to have a flat tummy, because it’s something I’ve always wanted and all the pretty people and models have flat stomachs and it’s not fair!”

So I guess stepping off my soapbox about self-confidence being better than physical beauty, I will tell you how to get a flat tummy. I have a few disclaimers first.

You will never be happy with how you look until you change your attitude.

This is a commitment. You can’t do this once a month and expect results.

If you feel the need to stop eating, throw up, or go on a crazy diet to look good, ball up this article and throw it out. My articles are about loving yourself enough to be well, not fitting into some stereotype of what is good. Healthy is not a specific weight or size, it’s about how you feel about yourself. Go ahead and eat a cookie.

With that said, let’s delve into the workout.


STEP ONE: Cardio

What?! No sit ups? No planks?

Oh they’re coming, just not yet. The reason I have cardio first is something that a lot of people don’t think about. The way your body is layered is that you have adipose tissue (laymen’s term is fat) over muscle. To break down this adipose, you need aerobic exercise rather than just strength training. If you don’t break down this adipose, you will still build up the muscle, but no one will be able to see it.

I recommend at least twenty minutes of running, but you can do an exercise tape, hit the elliptical, or ride your bike.

STEP TWO: Leg Lifts

Okay, you all should be familiar with this one, but if you’re not, here’s how to do them. Lie flat on your back. Place your legs together. Lift your legs to approximately 85 degrees and slightly push off the ground with your hips. Bring legs down. Repeat. You will feel this especially in your stomach, legs and hips.

I recommend doing this in three reps of twenty.

STEP THREE: Planks

Planks are, in my opinion, the most vile thing known to wellnessdom (yes I made that up), but are absolutely essential to strengthening your core. Get on your stomach; place your forearms and toes firmly on the ground and push up. Your back should be straight and your butt should be down to get the full effect.

STEP FOUR: Sit ups

This one was an obvious one and there are hundreds of ways to do them. If you take small weights and do it, you have a nice arm workout too. If you do an inclined sit up, it’s harder. In any form the old gym requirement is great for abs, and your obliques. Make sure you do side sit ups, too.

STEP FIVE: Stretching

Why is stretching on this list? Because if you work out hard and then tear your muscles, you won’t be in any shape to show off to anyone. Stretching prevents injury, tones the muscles and increases flexibility. Start slow and don’t overextend yourself.

Usually, if you fit in this workout a couple of times a week you will see a flatter belly. Good luck, and see you at the pool.