"Muffin top, that bit of belly fat that spills over the waistband of your jeans, is the number one complaint I hear from women across the country," says Denise Austin, star of the DVD, Shrink Your Fat Zones Pilates Style. The culprit: Stress-induced overindulging. Scientists at the University of California found that when we’re under stress, levels of the hormone cortisol creep up, leading us to consume more belly-bulging calories. So not only does a harried lifestyle lead to overeating, but the foods we choose to indulge in are often unhealthy.
Deflating the resulting muffin top requires a 3-pronged approach, says Austin: Burning fat by walking 20 minutes at least 3 times a week; eating a low-fat diet rich in dairy and lean proteins, which helps shed fat faster and keeps you feeling full longer; and, lastly, targeting the fat with the following tummy toners. (The following routine takes only 3 minutes to complete. Do it daily, Austin says, and you’ll see results in just four weeks.)