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Ask Raphael: Flatten Your Stomach

Posted Dec 10 2009 10:03am
Have a question about your routine or anything fitness-related? Send it Raphael's way at

Hi Raphael,

I am a 48-year-old female who is in excellent health other than high blood pressure, which I have under control with Toprol. I am 5'0", am small-boned and weigh 125 pounds.

I have excellent triglyceride and cholesterol levels. I work out 4-5 days a week anywhere from 30-90 minutes each day. I perform cardio 4-5 days and weight training 2-3 days each week. I have a workout diary as well as a food diary for each day.

I keep track of my food intake, my protein, carbs, sodium and fat. On a typical day my protein is 140-150, carbs 100-120, fat 30-50 and sodium 1500-2000. I try to keep my calories around 1400 each day. My calorie burn is generally around 400, but I have gone as high as 700 during an extremely intense workout.

My problem is my stomach area. I can start a new exercise routine and it seems to help for the first two weeks and then nothing else happens. I can't seem to get that layer of fat to come off. I don't really need to lose a lot of weight, maybe 7-8 pounds. I just don't understand why I can't lose the padding around my stomach.

I have a good, clean, healthy diet most of the time. I rarely eat white potatoes or sugar. I eat lots of steamed vegetables and lean, grilled fish and chicken. I only eat whole grains. I basically drink water. I don't drink soda pop. The only juice I drink is 4 oz. of pure carrot juice in the morning.
I would appreciate any help you could give me. Thank you - Wendy


I want to start by mentioning how impressed I am with your level of detail and precision. You have a rock solid workout structure, excellent grasp of your nutrition intake and it sounds as if you’re very consistent.

Here lies the problem: What separates you from a tighter/flatter ab area are those 7-8 pounds (or more) you mention. It doesn’t matter how healthy you’re eating, how much exercise you’re performing or how consistent you are on your current program if you’re carrying 7-8 extra pounds of fat. At 5’ tall and 125 pounds with a small bone structure, I have to believe you can reduce to 117 or even slightly lower and achieve the look you desire.

You may want to go to the lower end of the macros (140 grams of protein, 100 grams of carbs, 30 grams of fat) for a week to get things moving in the right direction. Then possibly add the 1400-calorie day every 5th-7th day so your metabolism doesn’t slow down too much.

The other option is to keep calories where they are and increase cardio. However, I believe the first option will work much more effectively. Make 1-1.5 pounds of fat the weekly fat loss goal in order to preserve valuable muscle tissue.

I hate to see you continue to spin your wheels. A new workout isn’t the answer and new ab exercises aren’t the answer. It’s related to lowering body fat. Lower your body fat and you will achieve impressive results.

Good luck!

Have a fitness question you want answered? Email Raphael at and you could have your question picked! And if you missed a previous column, see the archive here.

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