Hi Hayley,

I'm 27, almost 28, 5'6" and about 125 pounds. I consider my weight to be pretty healthy and I work out about 4 times a week--cardio all 4 days and weight training usually 3. Anyway, while I'm a pretty thin person, I have almost always had a lower belly "pooch" my entire adult life. I was hoping to get some suggestions for workouts that target that area because it drives me crazy! Thanks!

Every woman’s body will store its adipose tissue (fat) in different places depending on where the body’s fat cells are located and it sounds like your body has a higher concentration of fat cells in its abdomen. If you will not be happy until your tummy is toned (remember, a little bit of fat on our bodies is normal and it is what makes us female) here is what I suggest you do: you need to focus on your diet, as I have stressed in so many of my posts diet plays the largest role in how our body’s look.  To get the lean, “celebrity” look, you need to cut out ALL simple carbohydrates.  That means eliminating all breads, pastas, rice, pastries and anything else that has flour in it.  I am a believer that carbohydrates should be consumed so replace these “starchy” carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates like quinoa, barley, yams and vegetables. You also need to cut out alcohol completely out of your diet and along with that sugar, even in your morning coffee.  Also, dairy should be gone too. So, what does that leave you?  Healthy carbohydrates, lean proteins, vegetables and some fruit (preferably berries).  Check out this book - it is one of my favourites and is full of great information on clean eating.

Next you should increase the intensity of your workouts.  When you are doing your cardio, continue with the same time duration but pick it up a notch.  You need to add in some higher intensity intervals to increase the calories your burn as well as overload your muscles so they are challenged and become stronger. Have you ever seen a sprinter that did not have a six pack?  Also, try something new as it will work your body in a new way and you will notice drastic changes in how your body looks.  I just took up mountain biking and I am astonished how in 4 weeks my body has completely changed.

Last, make sure that when you are doing your strength training you are lifting enough weight that you are fatiguing your muscles.  Your last repetition should be the last possible repetition you can do with proper form. In layman's terms - your muscles need to BURN! Also, do not rest between your strength exercises but rather do them in a circuit and in between the circuits add in a core exercise. For example, you will do a chest exercise and then a back exercise then another chest exercise and then another back exercise. You will then do 1 or 2 core exercises.  Next, move onto your legs and shoulder and then finish with your biceps and triceps (you can repeat this circuit as many times as you like).  You will find you will get so much more done in a workout when you don’t take time to rest, and your heart rate will remain high, increasing the amount of calories you will burn while you are training.  Another tip is experimenting with plyometrics but make sure you ask someone who has experience with plyometrics to show you how to do them properly.

The “perfect body” (however you imagine it in your mind) takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice so you must decide what is going to make you happy.  I always ask my clients to ask themselves what is going to make them the happiest: is it challenging their bodies on a daily basis to be fit and healthy while allowing the “bad, but oh so good” treats to be consumed in moderation or are they going to be happier eliminating the simple pleasure in life (such as a glass of red wine with dinner) but having the “perfect” body? 

Love the body that you are in right now and be proud of the fact that you workout, you challenge yourself and you are healthy.  Life is too short to be unhappy, so while you are on the road to your perfect body do not take for granted the body that you have.

Attached - Gabrielle Union racing this weekend.