Step away from the waist trainer!
This is not your everyday, run of the mill post about what ab exercises are best for a small waist. I’m not against ab exercises. I do them. I want a 6 pack as much as the next person. But I want this post to be different.
If you look through several of my posts you’ll see that I am all about building strength and confidence in women. My goal is to build other women up and to encourage you to live a fit life. I’m answering questions that I myself asked at one point. I want my answers to point you toward solutions that will better your entire life and make you healthier overall.
How to ACTUALLY get a smaller waist, the healthy way.
1. Slow Down and Lift Weights
Do less cardio. Do less HIIT (high-intensity interval training). If you think you must do your cardio and your interval training if you want to lose weight around your waist, think again. What you may need to do is more heavy lifting. If you are heavy on the cardio and stay away from lifting consider building more muscle. Lift heavier weights for fewer repetitions (lower reps) to build muscle.
If you aren’t sure how to do this get your FREE Beginner Strength Training Program for women right here!
I’ve designed this program to be simple so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. I have YouTube tutorials for every single movement and a printable PDF for you to edit and fill in as you go!
What do I mean by heavy weights? Here’s an example. If you normally grab 5 or 10 pound dumbbells for bench press and do 15-20 repetitions, try grabbing 15 or 20 pound dumbbells and go until you only have 1 or 2 repetitions left in the tank. If you still got more than 15 repetitions, grab a heavier weight and try to bring those repetitions down to 6-12! Heavy is relative to how strong you are so there is not one size dumbbell or kettlebell that constitutes heavy.
Related Post: Strength Training for Women 101
Why? Muscle burns fat. Stress makes the belly hold onto fat. Cardio can cause your stress hormones to rise and might cause you to hold onto belly fat. Every body is different but many women’s bodies react this way. Building muscle supports your hormones and helps you reduce stress.
Don’t be afraid to slow it down in the gym. I meet women constantly who want so desperately to lose weight they run themselves ragged. I’ve been that woman! And sometimes I get into this rut again! We do tons of cardio and when we don’t see the results we hoped for we get discouraged! What’s the deal? Slow it down. You don’t have to sweat every time you go to the gym and you don’t have to even get your heart rate super high.
2. Do Deadlifts
What? Deadlifts? Yes! There are a couple of reasons you should do deadlifts for a smaller waist. The first reason is that deadlifts take a lot of core strength and help build a strong core (waist). This will, in turn, help you burn fat and gain firmness on your waist.
The second reason is that deadlifts build your butt and as a result, your waist will look smaller in proportion on your body. It may seem silly, but if you’ve scrolled through Instagram lately you know what I mean. Big butts make waists look smaller!
Related Post: How to Find the Time to Workout When you are Busy
Do belly breathing exercises to help your waist get tighter from the inside out. You can also really benefit from doing yoga which I have found to build my core. I learned a couple of really simple breathing exercises years ago and I’ve continued to do them daily, even through two pregnancies!
Don’t overcomplicate this. Simply follow these guidelines and do this 1-2 times a day. You have no excuses, it doesn’t get any easier than this!
1. Choose a relaxing position such as child’s pose, lying on your back with your knees up, or sitting criss-cross
2. Take 10 deep breaths, these should take you longer than normal. Make your goal a 5 second inhale, and a 10 second exhale. This may be hard at first but you will get better at it.
3. On the inhale, let your belly fill up and become big, like a balloon. On the exhale your belly should deflate and become more firm.
4. Take a second, swallow, and reset before each rep.
Bonus, I also enjoy doing this in downward dog, while doing cat-cow stretch, while planking, or while side planking.
Obviously, food is a factor here. Here’s the thing, everyone is following a different diet and telling you what you need to do. You can’t go wrong with eating more whole foods and less processed ones.
I have a few other pieces of advice though.
Find out if you need to do an elimination diet. Find out more about doing an Elimination Diet and get support through the process!
I did an elimination diet and realized several foods give me bloat and this obviously gives my waist the appearance of being much larger.
Every person is a bit different in how they react to fats and carbs. This is why some people love low-fat diets while others swear by low carb! I am a fan of finding a balance between the two. However, I encourage others to play with their ratio of carbs to fats and to focus on mainly eating vegetables and whole foods, less processed foods, and plenty of protein sources.
5. Practice Stress Relief
This is connected to the first point. Stress causes our bodies to hold on to fat, specifically body fat. I have several posts about stress relief. The first thing you can do is back off of your cardio and simply slow down in the gym with your workouts.
Another way to relieve stress is to stretch more or do yoga. I have a post all about using yoga to relieve your stress. I give you 10 Easy Yoga Poses for Stress Relief. This post is full of easy to implement stretches that can instantly relieve stress! Check it out!
I’ll also link my post about some products I find help with my stress a ton, Relieve Your Stress with These 5 Products. If you struggle with eye strain, headaches, constant stress, unwinding, or tight muscles or pain, then check out my favorite products for these problems!
Finally, learn to say no and learn to self-reflect. If you are constantly stressed out is there anything about your life you can change? Is there a way to get more rest if you just don’t sleep much? Is there anything about your mindset you can change? Although there are many things in our life we have to roll with (Hello, from a sleep deprived mom of two young boys!), we are in charge of more aspects of our lives than we realize or sometimes want to admit. It’s also ok to look at your life and realize that some of the things not in our control are causing lots of stress and just admit that this is the reality right now. Admitting, recognizing, and talking about it with someone you trust is very helpful.
As a side note, I would like to interject that I have had struggles with anxiety which I would categorize very differently than stress. Sometimes anxiety causes stress, but through self-reflection and hashing out the stress in my life I came to realize that some of the stress I am feeling is actually anxiety caused by hormonal problems. Be aware that this may be the case for you and you made need to schedule with a therapist to help you with anxiety! Don’t ignore it!
This post is probably very different than what you were expecting but I hope you are encouraged to hear something a little different to help you get a smaller waist. I’m not trying to downplay this desire. I get it! I want one too! Sometimes you have to try a different route than expected to get to where you want to go.
Check out my Free Fit Life Challenge for 25 Days of mindset, nutrition, strength, and stress overhaul!