How to get a flatter stomach and lose weight with less effort

Ever feel like you’re putting so much effort into counting your calories and getting your cardio in? What if we told you that when it comes to your fitness, less can be more? And when it comes to calories, more can be less! Intrigued? We thought so!

A popular myth when it comes to fitness is…

Everyone likes to exercise differently but if you’re a high intensity cardio junkie, avid spinner, or bootcamp addict, you may be surprised to learn that repetitive high intensity workouts might not be doing you any favours when it comes to losing weight or achieving your fitness goals. Moreover, counting calories can sometimes make us avoid nutrient-dense foods necessary for building muscle tone/repair and helping our body burn fat for fuel.

The idea that we need to be going hard with cardio workouts and limiting our calories is outdated and old school! Excessive cardio and limiting your calorie intake can tax your adrenals and cause a shift in cortisol levels, which signals your body to enter “fat conservation mode”. We’re not saying your workouts shouldn’t include cardio – they definitely should! But there are factors we need to be mindful of to ensure we’re getting the most of it and reaping the benefits.

7 simple ways to optimize your workouts and get a flatter stomach

Here’s what you can do to optimize your workouts and support your fitness goals as we get closer to summer:

1. Practice active recovery

In order to repair micro-tears, restore glycogen fuel stores, and ensure our muscles are recovering properly, it’s essential for our body to rest. If we don’t, our muscles can actually weaken from being tight and overused. This makes us more susceptible to injuries and depleted of energy when it’s time for our next workout. With that being said, a rest day doesn’t have to mean being a couch potato – It can still include moving our body, but we can engage in lower intensity physical activities such as walking, gentle Pilates, yoga, stretching or foam rolling – This is what we call active recovery!

2. Work smarter, not harder

This is our philosophy at TMB. It means incorporating slower, more focused movements that activate multiple fascial sleeves and muscle groups simultaneously, which will help you tone and sculpt three dimensionally. You can blow through 500 calories in a spin class, but it will also cause your cortisol levels to shift and for those of us who are already stressed, this can put the body in a catabolic state, which means it will start breaking down the muscle you’ve been trying to build.

3. Get into a “Gain” mindset

Let’s be honest, cardio culture is often built around tapping into our body insecurities to get us to lose more, get skinnier and sweat ourselves away. What if instead of focusing on losing, we focused on gaining? If cardio is something you truly enjoy doing, try switching your mindset away from that negative “less-than” self-talk to empowering reasons like building endurance, releasing endorphins and fostering mobility.

4. Stress less

Stress leads to a rise of cortisol in the body and when cortisol metabolism is imbalanced, you could have a tougher time losing weight. One way to balance your cortisol levels is by engaging in daily relaxation techniques that put you in a calm, meditative state. Research shows that simple things such as meditation, yoga, an Epsom salts bath, and breath work are all beneficial ways to de-stress and put your mind/body at ease. Try setting a timer on your phone to remind yourself to take 3 deep breaths daily!

5. Schedule your workouts appropriately

Did you know that regular exercise can also promote a deeper, more restorative sleep? The problem is, we have to be careful of the timing of our exercise. If we exercise too close to bedtime (especially if it’s a high-intensity workout like cardio), it will get our adrenaline pumping, which can actually keep us awake and interfere with our sleep. While we always promote moving your body on a daily basis, try to exercise earlier in the day to prevent adrenaline and cortisol from affecting you at night and save the lighter exercises, like yoga and stretching, for the evening.

6. Choose the right exercise for your cycle phase

Ladies, listen up! Did you know that you can have more successful workouts if you plan them according to your cycle? The type of exercise you should be doing when you’re ovulating is different to what you should be doing in the days before your period. Studies show that days 7-14 of our cycle are when we have the most energy, so this is when we should engage in more intense workouts. Days 1-7 (menstruation), we’re better off practicing low intensity movements and sneaking in some active rest days.

7. Acupuncture Treatments

Many athletes and active individuals rely on acupuncture to support the function of their body. Not only does it minimize muscle and joint pain, but it also reduces inflammation, improves circulation, enhances energy, builds endurance and shifts us from our sympathetic state into a parasympathetic state. The former is the part of the nervous system responsible for our “fight or flight” functions, whereas the latter is our body’s “rest, digest and heal” mode.


About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

TMB The Movement Boutique

Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.