Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. "Do what you like because it’s good for you," Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.
Stroll around the block for 15 minutes and you’ll torch nearly three times as many calories as you would by sitting for the same amount of time, says a new study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Plus, walking after a big holiday meal will help aid digestion. In the mood for a longer stroll? These three 40-minute walking workouts from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak will help you burn even more calories.
Meal prepping takes a few hours a week, but it's worth it: By getting your meals ready ahead of time, you won't be so tempted to order your go-to Chinese takeout when you're tired and hungry after work. "When you plan an entire week of dinner in advance, you're way less likely to go off course and indulge in foods that aren't good for you," says Pamela Salzman, a certified holistic health expert and cooking instructor. And since you planned things out, you'll actually get the protein, fruit, and veggies your body needs — and you'll lose weight in the process.
Simply take a good hard look at your diet, make a few modifications you can stick with and get your body moving. Not sure where you stand on diet? Write down everything you eat this week, then compare it to the list above and see where you could have made better choices. Don’t beat yourself up though, learning how to lose stomach fat fast is a process. Simply find areas to improve and work on them next week.
1. Don’t starve yourself: Cortisol—that stress hormone that causes your body to store more fat—is elevated from circumstances of high stress, including extreme dieting, Seedman says. “If you start dropping calories excessively, your body goes into starvation mode and it becomes stressed. You’re in caloric deprivation, but that elevated cortisol causes you to gain body fat in your stomach—it’s a vicious cycle,” he adds.
Here's something else most people probably don't know: Fidgeting is good for you. It's considered a nonexercise physical activity, and it's an important way to burn energy. You get more health benefits if, in addition to exercising, you are a more fidgety, more active person the rest of the day. This means gesturing while you're talking, tapping your foot, just moving around.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
• Restrictiveness: The biggest psychological factor here is how restrictive your diet is. Now, just to be clear, restriction is a necessity at times – a calorie deficit, for example, is a form of restriction – and you need to understand that to be successful in changing your body composition there will be times when you’re going to need to be disciplined and restrict certain foods. But, this should only be for a short period of time and not how you should be eating all the time.
Standing with feet hip-width apart, hold the barbell at chest height with palms facing up and your elbows extended out in front of you. Keeping the barbell rested at your chest, squat deep. In one explosive movement, push up into standing, tilting head back slightly to surge the barbell straight overhead so knees and elbows are both locked straight. Lower barbell back down to shoulders and repeat.