There are some simple posture fixes you can make that will make your belly look flatter. Without counting a single calorie.
If you do a lot of sitting then you probably have tight hips. Especially your hip flexors.
Having tight hip flexors means you aren't standing fully upright. And that can end up giving you the “belly pooch”.
It can happen to you even if you don't have a lot of belly fat.
So if you're worried about that extra paunch (and aren't we all), the answer might not be what you expect. Before you starve yourself to drop a few more pounds, take a look at your posture.
Posture and Your Belly
Even though dieting gets most of the attention when it comes to losing your belly, experts have known that posture can make a big difference, too.
In Prevention, Selene Yeager noted what professionals are saying:
One of the abdominal muscles' biggest jobs is to hold our bodies upright, and research shows that rampant poor posture puts these muscles to sleep, leaving Americans in a constant belly-bulging slump. The good news: “Correcting poor posture can make you look 5 pounds slimmer instantly,” says Deborah L. Mullen, a certified strength and conditioning specialist in San Luis Obispo, CA.
Looking “5 pounds slimmer instantly” might sound too good to be true, but this idea is supported by plenty of other experts.
How To Fix Your Posture Quickly
For some, fixing your posture might be easier than dropping pounds. But it can still be challenging.
In her Prevention article, Selene Yeager recommends strengthening your core with some simple bodyweight exercises. These include abdominal exercises as well as back strengthening exercises – something that we often neglect.
Rick Kaselj is an exercise therapist who has spent his career addressing these types of issues. He emphasizes that it's often our hip flexors that get weak and tight when we sit too much, and that's what causes bad posture.
Here he is in this video sharing some ways to deal with tight hip flexors quickly:
He also has a program called Unlock Your Hip Flexors which we reviewed previously. It's worth reading about if you think your posture could use some touching up.
Stress Affects Posture?
One surprising thing we came across was the idea that stress can actually have a direct impact on your posture. But Selene Yeager mentioned this in her article for Prevention, and the explanation makes sense:
In the pursuit of a belly worth baring, muscle strength and flexibility are only part of the battle. The other part is relaxation, says Hope Gillerman, who teaches the Alexander Technique, a bodywork therapy focused on reducing muscle tension and balancing the body, in New York City. “The stress of daily life puts us in constant ‘fight or flight' mode,” she says. “That causes our neck muscles to contract and shoulders to hunch, pulling our head toward our spine. We're constantly tensed up as if we were walking on ice.”
To shed built-up stress, Gillerman recommends a daily 10-minute floor stretch: Lie on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor, with a telephone book under your head. Place your hands on your ribs and breathe deeply and evenly. Visualize your neck falling toward the floor and the top of your head floating away from your shoulders. Allow gravity to pull your back flat and relaxed. “It's a subtle stretch, but it releases tension.”
Sometimes we don't even realize how much tension is in our body until we actually relieve some of it. Stress can be subtle, but it carries a real burden on your body.
In conclusion, you can improve your appearance – especially in the belly area – without much effort. Following a simple routine to stretch your tight hip flexors and strengthen your posture, and relieving stress as much as possible, can go a long way toward improving you looks and your health.