My tummy has always been my problem area.  Not only do I store a lot of belly fat in my midsection, I'm also prone to bloating.  Recently, I decided that I've had enough.  Instead of sitting back and hoping the bloat would go away, I implemented what I call the "bloat protocol" to massively reduce my daily bloating.

My tummy is rarely ever completely flat.  The culprit is a combination of excess belly fat and bloat.  Because I was bloated most of the time, I couldn't accurately assess the amount of belly fat I was dealing with.  In order to get to the truth, I had to eliminate the bloating once and for all.
I created a regimen of sorts to directly fight the bloating.  For me, it wasn't as simple as removing a specific food from my diet.  I had to attack it from multiple sides.  This is what worked for me.

Fight the Stagnancy
I hypothesized that a root cause of my bloating had to do with stagnancy.  The approach I took was to utilize multiple tactics that promote healthy circulation in the midsection.  I noticed that the bloating was the most obvious when I was drinking the least amount of water.  Sometimes we think that consuming a bunch of water will contribute to bloat.  It may, but only for a short period of time.  In the long run, water is an ally in the war against bloated bellies.  Water is a must because it stimulates the colon and promotes toxin removal.  When you're dehydrated, digestion is put on hold. For this reason, adequate daily water intake is key if you want a flatter belly.

When I get really serious about bloating, I transform my water into a detox water simply by adding lemon and apple cider vinegar.  This helps stimulates the gut even more than water alone.  I'm now realizing that I'm prone to bloat and that I have to enjoy a lemon water tonic on a regular basis.  I can't just take it reactively when the bloating gets bad. I have to make it a regular part of my routine.

The other way I attacked the swelling of my belly was to engage in a daily routine of walking.  This was done to also counteract stagnancy and promote circulation.  Walking for 20 minutes or more after a meal (or on an empty stomach) really stimulates the midsection.  Whenever I felt sluggish and bloated, I knew it was time to for a walk.  One hundred percent of the time, I feel better after walking because some of the discomfort related to bloating is lessened.

Water, lemon water, and activity usually helps a lot.  But when I really want to promote a flatter tummy, I need to implement phase II of the bloat protocol.

This is where I address my eating habits.

If I want a flatter belly, the most effective strategy I can take is to manage what I eat and how I eat.  There were only a few instances when I had an effortlessly flat tummy.  One of those times was when I practiced conscious eating.  Basically, that's where I chewed eat bite thoroughly (between 20-30 chews per bite).  Doing this made me eat much less than ever before.  I got full from the tiniest meals.  Eventually, the size of my tummy adjusted my new food intake levels.  And because I consumed fewer calories, I lost weight naturally.   Conscious eating actives the digestive process early on.  All that chewing preps the stomach to easily digest the food. By the time the food reaches the belly, much of the work is already done.

It's a good idea to nix the food that your belly doesn't like.  For some people, it's dairy, meat, or high carb foods.  Pay attention to what you eat and how your tummy reacts.  I know that if I eat 3 large meals a day, I'll get bloated.  There's no getting around that.  My best bet is to counteract it with lemon water and frequent walks.  It also makes sense to stay on top of your probiotic and enzyme consumption to keep your tummy healthy.  For example, if I eat a lot of meat, I make sure to take this.  Once you know your bloat triggers, you then have to make a choice if you're going to keep consuming those foods.  If so, you should also develop a strategy to counteract the ill effects of those foods.

When I consistently follow these rules, my bloat is a non-factor.  After managing the bloat, I could actually see how much belly fat I actually had.  This is super helpful because then I could move on to my belly fat elimination protocol (which I'm currently working on).  Once I have that down pact, I'll be sure to share.
I'm pretty sure that most, if not all of you have heard of dry skin brushing before.  It's basically a holistic technique where you stroke your body with a huge bristled brush for the purposes of stimulating blood flow while exfoliating the skin.  Sounds good right?

Loads of women utilize their body brushes before jumping in the shower to loosen dirt and hopefully diminish the appearance of cellulite.  Before getting into rebounding, I'd often brush my body to stimulate lymphatic drainage and detoxification.

Dry brushing the body is cool and all, but I think I've stumbled onto something even better.
My newest obsession is dry face brushing.  Actually, I face brushed years ago but completely forgotten about until recently.  Now that brushing my face regularly again, I'm kicking myself for having ever stopped.

What is face brushing exactly? Basically, it's just like body brushing except you're using a tiny bristled face brush.  The same rules apply. You are still trying to stimulate lymphatic drainage while promoting toned, firm skin.

Face brushing does a wonderful job of exfoliating and bringing blood flow to the surface of the skin.  I started dry brushing again after reintroducing retin-A to my regimen.  Retin A always makes my forehead peel.  To combat this, I decided to gently remove the flaky skin with the help of a dry face brush.  It worked like a charm!  Then I remembered how much my skin improved when I dry brushed years ago so I've since kept up the habit.

Dry face brushing is probably one of the most potent forms of manual exfoliation.  I'm my opinion, it's more powerful than scrubbing with microbeads.  If you have dry facial skin, you'll actually see dead cells lift from the surface of your skin.

Beyond the surface exfoliation, one of my favorite reasons to dry brush my face is for the anti-aging effects.  I use similar lifting motions to when I massage.  I believe the skin responds positively to massage and manipulation.  Dry face brushing is a bit more abrasive to massaging the face with your hands.  So in theory, you might experience more lifting and toning than massaging with your hands alone.  It also really helps speed up cell turnover.  And, with the top layer of the skin removed, you create the environment for your products to absorb better.

Who wouldn't want that?

I categorize this as a more advanced level skin treatment.  Meaning, if you have sensitive skin that's irritated easily (or prone to flare up), you may want to sit this one out. Or, at the very least, approach with caution and dip your toes in by grabbing a more gentle brush to experiment with.  Your skin might eventually build up a tolerance so there's no need to go overboard if you're just starting out. I don't face brush every day because I like to give my skin some time to regenerate in between sessions.  Body brushing, on the other hand, you can do on a daily basis.