This might be April of '09.. not sure.

I hate watching stories about health and obesity on the news. Why? Because to signify the “dreaded plague of obesity” in America, there’s always these video clips of people – never showing their faces, so we’re supposed to presume they have no identity… or, well, no head – and their bellies. You might get a little thigh in the shot, maybe if the cameraman can find a person walking around with a massive wedgie in their derriere you’ll get that too… but you always get the “Santa belly.” Never fails.

That, against the “my-tummy-is-so-flat-because-Photoshop-is-my-personal-trainer” images we see in the average magazine? It’s left us all hunting for an answer to how to avoid looking like the former, and get as close to the latter as possible.

Well… I can help. Sort of. I have three tips that have helped me shrink – and continue to shrink – my tummy down from what it was before to what you see now… and hopefully it will take me to the competition-level tummy that I seek.

Skip the processed foods.

Yes, yes, respect my scarf!

I know, I know.. I harp on this all day, but this time, I have very good reason. Two of ’em, actually.

First, processed foods are notorious for being devoid of fiber. I mean, there is little to no fiber in processed foods at all. What is fiber? It’s a substance in our food that your system is unable to digest, but it serves a very important purpose. Because the digestive system is unable to do anything with it, it basically serves the purpose of cleaning out your digestive tract and pushing the food out of your intestines into your colon… eventually leaving your system.

Yes, that means it helps you poop.

Think about it – all the food you take in, how much actually comes out? How much of it is still sitting in your intestines? Yuck. Take a look at where your digestive system sits: right in that belly area! I’m tellin’ you. Skip the processed foods, get your fiber in, treat your insides properly.

Secondly, you’ll be avoiding the sugar by default. As I wrote before, because sugar’s original purpose in nature was to draw us to the foods with the vitamins and minerals we need (think fruits), we do love it and can become addicted to it. But because it always came packaged with other vitamins and minerals, we were also able to get full from it, too. In a processed food item, that isn’t the case. It’s basically empty calories, meant to help you feel “belly full.” So because the sugar isn’t serving it’s original purpose, we’re eating too much of it. Couple that with the fact that since there’s no fiber to push the stuff out of your system… it’s a lose-lose for the belly. And again, like I wrote before… when you take in an excess of something, the body stores it… as fat. Not to mention, since high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is in almost every processed food you buy, it’s hard to escape.

I don’t even want to go into that study that says HFCS contributes directly to belly fat. Not at all. :)

So we’ve covered dropping the sugar and upping the fiber… what else could there be?

Get moving! No, really. Get some activity in your life. Changing your diet will help you avoid putting on extra fat, but you’ve got to get rid of the stuff you’ve already got… and being active is the best way to do that. Run! If you’re not a runner, walk. Hit the elliptical! Jumping jacks! Something.

Try to get your crunches in. I’m far too proud of the lines forming in my tummy to ignore what a good set of crunches can do for the tummy. Yes, regular ol’ plain ol’ crunches. Some days I add a little weight to my chest to make it more difficult, other days I just go a little longer in my sets. But the ab exercises are a must!

Figure out how this works into your life, and get on it! I know I am!

Subscribe to receive the BGG2WL Weekly Newsletter, and receive a copy of my first e-book, “10 Must-Have Foods for Every Clean Eater's Pantry" absolutely free!