Renoir's "Bather with Blond Hair"

I knew there had to be something weird about those ads.

The ads I'm referring to are the ones announcing, "1 Weird Old Tip for a Tiny Belly."  They appear everywhere--including some websites you or I would be inclined to trust such as MSNBC,, and, irony of ironies, even my own facebook page as a "sponsored ad." (Not sponsored by me, I can tell you that!)  Judging by the proliferation of these ads, it appears that a lot of people ache to slim down in the belly area.

Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi delved into the sleazy underbelly of these ads and discovered that they were the tip of an advertising scam.  The goal is to seduce you into revealing your credit card number for a sample of a pill or potion made from acai berries, hCG, or some other exotic health product.  Once they've got your number...well, they've got your number.  When you realize your card is being charged $79.99 for more product and decide you want to cancel, you will find that customer service plays hard to get.

Can anyone really get a "tiny belly?" Um, well, we've got to fit a lot in our abdomens--stomach, intestines, and all that other stuff.  "Tiny" is not in the realm of reality.  Furthermore, most experts believe that the idea of spot-reducing any body part is a myth.  If you want to reduce the size of your stomach, or anything else, you can only do it through overall weight loss and exercise.

Toning and strengthening your abdomen is another story.  That can be done, and there is reason to do it.  Strong abdominal muscles help support your spine and protect your inner organs.  They help you rise easily from a chair, climb, and do all the activities of daily living along with exercise like walking, running, or swimming.  (However, increasing muscle tone in the abdominal region will not itself reduce fat.)

If a smaller paunch matters to you, here are 4 realistic tips for a smaller, firmer-looking abdomen:

1.  The belt trick.  When you wear a shirt over your pants, fasten your belt to the side rather than in front. Your abdomen will lose some of that bulky look and appear smoother.

2.  Focus on posture.  To get a longer, leaner look, gently pull your torso up and out of your waist.  Your ab muscles will tighten automatically.  Until you develop abdominal strength, you may find yourself slumping again after a minute or two.  That's to be expected.  Just straighten up again when you think about it.  Then, for best posture, roll your shoulders slightly back and down, pull in your shoulder blades just a bit, and keep your chin level to the floor, like this.  This should feel comfortable, if not at first, then over time.

3.  Exercise.  Activities like yoga or dance that focus on your core help you lengthen and strengthen your side (lateral) muscles and your abs so that you can maintain an elegant posture for longer and with more ease.   Really, any exercise will help. 

4. Drink less alcohol.  Drinking less will reduce your "beer belly" as well as numerous other health problems.

Consider this: As long as you are fit and healthy, what does it matter if your belly isn't perfect?  Gaze at Renoir nudes to discover beautiful women with generous mid-sections. 

(c) Meg Selig

For a good summary of many of my ideas on motivation, take a look at Greg Presto's article, "Find Your Motivation," on the website here. To take advantage of a sale on my book, Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success, travel to my website

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