Battle Of The Washboard: What To Try Before Considering An Abdominoplasty

Are you in a never-ending struggle to achieve rock-solid, flat abs, and not seeing results? It might not be you, it might be your genes.

Thankfully, there is a cosmetic procedure designed specifically with you in mind. Before you rush to the knife, however, give these flat-belly techniques an honest try. If you are still not seeing results, cosmetic surgery just might be for you.

Flat-Belly Exercises

One of the biggest fitness misconceptions that somehow still persists is that you can spot-reduce troublesome body parts. Your sit-ups and crunches will, of course, strengthen your abdominal muscles, but these exercises are not the holy grail you seek.

When you lose weight, you lose fat from your entire body, not from just one spot. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you expend. Your tummy does not know that your caloric deficit is aimed at it, so your body will divvy up the fat loss evenly throughout your body.

The best ways to lose fat--including the fat on your stomach--is through a combination of anaerobic and aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise includes weight lifting and your abdominal exercises, like your crunches or planks; it builds muscle, which increases your metabolism. Aerobic exercise, like running or swimming, burns calories in lieu of those calories turning into fat.

 Flat-Belly Foods

An old adage claims that abs are made in the kitchen. Unless you clean up your diet, you will never see those six muscles bulge.

Certain foods will bloat your tummy. Even if you are fit and your stomach is well on its way to flatness, a solid, bloat-inducing meal will not flatter it. Salty and sugary foods will force your body to retain water, as will high-fiber foods like broccoli and lentils. Your body cannot easily digest some foods, like imitation sugars and, if you are lactose intolerant, dairy products. Carbonated beverages and alcoholic drinks will also puff out your pooch.

Bloat may be a more permanent concern, but the kitchen is the root of all fat loss, too. Processed foods, high-fat foods, and simple sugar concoctions will all sabotage your attempts to lose weight.

Flat-Belly Laziness

Two surprising things can also frustrate your attempts to achieve a flat tummy: stress and sleep loss.

If you are stressed, your body produces too much of a hormone called cortisol. Called the "stress hormone," cortisol negatively interferes with your immune system, cognition, and musculoskeletal system.  It also interferes with your body's ability to metabolize glucose, and also increases your cravings--and not for the healthy stuff. High cortisol levels not only cause you to gain weight, but also to gain weight in your midsection.

Sleep loss may be the result of stress (which, as you now know, causes you to gain weight), but even if not stress-induced, sleep deprivation contributes to your failed attempt to secure a flat stomach. If you do not get enough shut-eye, you are more likely to over-eat and gain weight. Sleep loss causes you to react emotionally to your environment and, yes, also to food.

All Washing, No Washboard

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, that flat stomach is unattainable. You can do everything right--exercise, lift weights, eat healthy, reduce stress, and sleep well--and still not see the results that you want.

Despite what you may have heard, unflattering abs are not always the sign of unhealthy habits. Believe it or not, genetics play a huge role in whether or not you will ever achieve that flat stomach. You can actually inherit genes that will tenaciously work against your hopes and dreams of having a flat stomach. If you have these genes, then "doing everything right" will assuredly help; however, you may be simply unable to achieve the flat stomach that you want.

This is where cosmetic surgery comes into place. An "abdominoplasty," or tummy tuck, will reduce the amount of fat surrounding your midsection, while also restoring weak or separated abdominal muscles. If you have given diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes an honest effort and still cannot see those abs, talk to a cosmetic surgeon about this procedure; it might be just what you need.

That being said, an abdominoplasty is not an excuse to throw away the good habits you have established. Only in combination with these changes can you see the maximum benefits that a tummy tuck can give you. (Contact a cosmetic surgeon for more information on liposuction and other procedures)