Since belly fat is notoriously stubborn, we went straight to the women who've ditched the extra weight around their midsections to find out exactly how they conquered the battle of the belly bulge. Snag their tips and get closer to your goals.
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"I got into fitness competitions"
After having three children, Shantea Johnson felt frumpy and wanted to lose weight from her belly and hips. "I honestly had no idea how I could accomplish this feat, but I was determined," she says. "Coincidentally, a friend introduced me to the world of fitness competitions, and I began working with a trainer who taught me the importance of nutrition and how it's connected with obtaining the results I wanted."
Shantea gave up soda and started eating five to six small, structured meals a day; each meal contained protein, a complex carb, and vegetables. Shantea went from 68kg in June 2012 to 55kg in October 2012 after cleaning up her nutrition, exercising five to six days per week, and completing abs-focused workouts two days a week. "To my surprise, my transformation revealed abs that I had never seen before in my life," Shantea says.
She also went on to compete in her first fitness competition, placing third. She continues to compete in fitness competitions, and at age 42, she's been able to keep the weight off and maintain her abs. To keep her stomach toned, she does P90X Abs Ripper workouts, as well as exercises like planks and crunches.
For Cori Magnotta, weight loss was a game. To get in shape, she hula-hooped for 30 minutes straight at least five days a week, with the two-pound FXP Hula Hoop, which is weighted to make the workout more challenging. "I watch TV while hooping and challenge myself to add in arm movements during commercials," she says. Over the course of 11 months, she lost a total of 36kg and toned her stomach. Cori says she also went cold turkey on soda. She was drinking about four cans of Coke a day but now sticks to water. She fills up a 3.75L jug each morning and makes it a goal to finish drinking it by the end of the day.
"I started doing HIIT workouts"
After having three kids in two years, Kate Glazer packed on more pounds than she realised. It got to the point where she didn't even recognise herself in photos. "If I hadn't known what I wore that day, I wouldn't have recognised myself," she says. To make a change, she started watching what she ate more carefully and taking walks around her neighbourhood. But as winter approached in Baltimore, she had to take her workouts inside. She started working out on a Bowflex Max Trainer, doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts on the machine, which she says allowed her to shed the belly fat. She's lost 27kg over the course of her fitness journey.
"I perfected my situps"
In college, Dorothy Beal was overweight and coveted Britney Spears' abs, so she started eating healthier by figuring out what foods she had an intolerance to and learning how to get more out of her workouts. A trainer also pointed out that Dorothy's situps could be more effective by tilting her pelvis up, so her back lies flat on the floor. She also does Pilates and yoga.
"I stopped drinking alcohol"
During her freshman year of college, McKenzie Maxson adopted some late-night habits that led to the storied "freshman 15." Downing sugary, boozy drinks, followed up with junk food led to next-day hangovers and bloat. She noticed the weight gain most in her stomach and lower back. But when she went on a family vacation, she reverted to her healthier habits, like early-morning runs instead of trips for bagels and coffee, and started abstaining from alcohol. After six months of not drinking, she lost "the booze belly" and the 7kg she gained. Now, she only drinks on special occasions and enjoys a glass of wine or a simple cocktail, like a vodka soda, rather than sugar-loaded drinks.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.