I want a flat stomach!

Originally Published: April 25, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 22, 2007
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Dear Alice,

I am skinny and weigh 122 pounds and I am 5'7" tall. But I have a belly that just won't disappear, and I have been doing sit-ups for a month but my belly has not gotten smaller. What do you suggest for me to get a flat stomach. I am female and 15 years old (if that helps). Please help me! I really want a flat stomach!

Sincerely,
help

Dear help,

This may seem like bad news, but it simply is not possible for every human being to have a stomach as flat as some of the models we see in magazine and newspaper ads, on the sides of buses, and, well, just about everywhere. The fact of the matter is that a really flat stomach may not be in your genes! Among many other physical traits, a person's genetic makeup determines the shape of internal organs (e.g., stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys). Depending on these organs' shapes and sizes, they may or may not contribute to a slight roundedness of our stomachs. Another aspect of body shape under genetic control is body fat distribution. Your body may naturally store more fat around your waist than in other areas of your body.

When done correctly, crunches can be a good way to strengthen abdominal muscles and the lower back. However, ab work alone will not burn fat of the stomach region specifically. It's a myth that a rigorous sit-up routine will guarantee a flat tummy. Instead of concentrating so much on your stomach, why not try an exercise program that works out a greater range of muscle groups and involves some cardiovascular fitness? If there really is fat to be lost around your stomach, running, swimming, or biking regularly will be more effective at burning it than only doing sit-ups.

You might also want to examine your eating plan; a healthy diet is a good idea for anybody (see the Related Q&As listed below for some nutrition tips). And finally, keep in mind that a flat stomach is not necessarily the essence of beauty or an indicator of good health. You may find that eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, and accepting your body's natural shape and size will help you feel good about yourself and your stomach.

Alice

July 3, 2012

513288
Thank you thank you. It's so nice to hear the truth. Most media advertise lies about body shape, like you can get a flat stomach from 7 steps work out or things like that, but they never said it was...
Thank you thank you. It's so nice to hear the truth. Most media advertise lies about body shape, like you can get a flat stomach from 7 steps work out or things like that, but they never said it was natural for women to HAVE belly fat (or any body fat in general), instead they make it look like it is something ugly an undesirable. Please everyone help spread this truth. Women don't have to look like a stick-shaped-model to be beautiful.

March 20, 2012

508886
I wish "Alice" had pointed out that a lot of the sexy, flat stomachs we see in ads are photoshopped. It may look like everybody who's anybody has a flat, even muscular stomach, but that's only...
I wish "Alice" had pointed out that a lot of the sexy, flat stomachs we see in ads are photoshopped. It may look like everybody who's anybody has a flat, even muscular stomach, but that's only because of the magic of technology, not to mention the unhealthy standards of beauty that models are forced to aspire to if they want to continue working.

May 27, 2005

20895
Dear Alice,

I am a fitness trainer and I have found your advice very refreshing.

Every day I see people doing loads of sit-ups thinking that they will obtain that 'flat stomach' and you...

Dear Alice,

I am a fitness trainer and I have found your advice very refreshing.

Every day I see people doing loads of sit-ups thinking that they will obtain that 'flat stomach' and you can see in their body shape (apple shaped) it's not going to happen.

I read all the time in books and magazines saying the same thing, do loads of stomach exercises to obtain that flat stomach.

I hope lots of people around the world will read your advice.