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Young woman and man doing sit-ups

If you’re like me, and you’re trying desperately to get back that perfect flat stomach you had all through high school. Or quite frankly, you’re just tired of people teasing you about your “Buddha” belly or asking when the baby’s due and you’re not even pregnant, take heart. Here are five ways you can avoid the potbelly blah blahs.

Don’t eat a lot of calories at once, especially in the evening.

Too much food in your stomach puts pressure on your stomach muscles and pushes them out. When you eat a lot and then go to bed, your abdominal muscles relax, making it easy for the food to exert pressure on your tummy muscles. Do this enough times and you’re likely to be the not-so-proud owner of a perfect potbelly.

Suck it in.

This advice is especially important for regular runners, who tend not to hold their stomachs in when they run, particularly when they get tired.

All the jiggling and bouncing that your stomach does when you run weakens your abdominal muscles. Consciously trying to hold your stomach in while you run will help it stay strong. Some runners also find that standing up straight instead of slightly slouching as they run makes holding in the stomach easier.

Don’t forget to stretch your hamstrings after you run.

Tight hamstrings can cause you to develop a slight sway-back and make your potbelly all the more noticeable.Try this easy hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor. Extend your left leg straight in front of you. Place your right foot against the inside of your left knee.

Place both hands on the lower front part of your left leg. Lean forward until you feel the muscles stretch m your left thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs, then repeat the exercise.

Exercise your stomach muscles regularly.

Stomach exercises improve posture and help prevent your stomach from sticking out. Sit-ups and pelvic tilts provide great toning for the stomach. Sit-ups exercise the upper abdominals while the pelvic tilt tones the lower abs.

Sit-ups: Lie down on the floor with your arms folded across your chest. Bend your knees, keeping feet and back pressed to the floor. Lift only your head and shoulders off the floor. Be careful not to raise all the way up. You won’t do Pelvic tilt your .abdominals any good, and you’re likely to hurt your back. Repeat exercise 10 times.

Pelvic tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands at your sides. Put a folded towel under your head and a rolled up towel under your neck. Inhale. Press your back to the floor and pull in your stomach. Hold position for 10 to 20 seconds. Exhale. Slowly repeat exercise 10 times.

Keep your lower back strong to help hold your stomach in.

The cat stretch and the pseudo swim are two easy exercises that will help keep your back strong.

Cat stretch: Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your back straight. Arch your back. Hold for two seconds. Return to starting position and repeat exercise 10 times.

Pseudo swim: Lie face down on the floor. Place a plump pillow under your stomach and hips. Raise your right aim and your Let leg at the same time until you reel the muscles in your lower back and buttocks tighten. Hold two seconds. Repeat with your left arm and right leg. Do exercise 10 times.

Try to work at least 30 minutes of strength-training exercises like the ones described above into your routine three or four times a week. Push-ups and pull-ups are also good exercise choices.

And fear no more. With a few simple changes, you should easily be able to prevent your stomach from being the target of a lot of “pot” shots.

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