A few years ago, after being a CrossFit junkie for 4 years at the time, I decided on a goal: I wanted to finally see my abs and look how I felt I should’ve for the amount of time I spent in the gym. As a mid-30s woman who already ate well and considered myself healthy, it was an interesting journey to see what it took to actually achieve this goal. Here were the things that made the most difference. Spoiler alert: there’s no magic pill.

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Prioritize Protein

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Protein is your gym buddy for muscle repair and growth. It’s also a champion at making you feel full longer, helping you eat less throughout the day. This macronutrient is the key to healthy weight loss that will help you achieve your aesthetic goals. I ate the protein on my plate first with every meal and always made sure there was at least 25g in a meal.

Fill Up On Vegetables

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Vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Loading your plate with veggies means you can eat a larger volume of food and when you’re in a calorie deficit, that’s an important part of the process. It’s much easier to diet when you fill satisfied with every meal.

Count Macros

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Tracking your macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) gives you control over your diet. It helps ensure you’re eating the right balance of nutrients to fuel your workouts and fat loss. Working with a health coach that helped me calculate my specific macro split for my goals was a crucial part of my success.

Strength Train 4-5 Times Per Week

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Strength training builds muscle and increases metabolism, which helps burn fat even when you’re not working out. Consistency here is key to shedding fat. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. You won’t get bulky in the process. A pound of muscle looks a lot better than a pound of fat on your body!

Walk On Days Off From the Gym

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Walking on rest days keeps your body moving and calories burning without overstressing your muscles. It’s a gentle way to stay active, aiding in recovery and weight loss efforts. I walked for an hour every day I wasn’t in the gym and found this type of movement much better for my body than killing myself with other forms of cardio.

Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep

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Sleep is when your muscles repair and grow. Getting enough rest also regulates hormones that control hunger, helping you make better food choices and stick to your weight loss goals. Everyone is a little different but most of us need between 7-9 hours to truly feel our best.

Focus on Hydration

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Drinking plenty of water boosts metabolism, helps digest food, and keeps you feeling full. It’s essential for flushing out toxins and supporting overall health. If you’re working out hard, you’ll probably need electrolytes as well.

Never Drink My Calories

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Sugary drinks can sabotage weight loss with empty calories. Stick to water, tea, or black coffee to hydrate without derailing your diet. Eating your calories is so much more satisfying than drinking them.

Reduce Eating Out

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When you have weight loss and aesthetic goals, eating out is not your friend. Restaurant meals often contain hidden calories and oversized portions. Cooking at home gives you control over ingredients and portion sizes. While your social life may take a hit, it’s easiest to just avoid this for the time being.

Limit Snacks

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Mindless snacking can add up in calories, hindering your weight loss progress. If you’re hungry between meals, opt for healthy, low-calorie snacks high in protein that support your goals and work with your macros.

Never Leave Lunch to Chance

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Planning your meals, especially lunch, ensures you have healthy options and aren’t tempted by fast food or a lunch run with coworkers. I used weekends to meal prep lunches for the week making sure I always had meals that fit my needs on hand.

Discipline

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Everyone wants a magic pill but the truth is weight loss and aesthetics take time and a lot of discipline. I started out healthy and in already in good shape but this was a 12 week journey for me to achieve. If you’re starting out in a different spot, it will take longer. In the end, it was fun to achieve my goals and I kept it up for awhile but after some time, I decided abs weren’t everything and loosened my reign a bit.

10 Best Frozen Veggies To Keep In Your Freezer At All Times For Easy Meals

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Keeping the right frozen veggies on hand is like having a secret weapon for easy meal prep. This list is a carefully selected lineup of the best frozen vegetables that promise to turn your everyday cooking into something effortlessly delicious. From the sweet char of fire roasted corn to the versatile goodness of chopped spinach, these freezer staples ensure you’re always ready to whip up something tasty.

See them here: 10 Best Frozen Veggies To Keep In Your Freezer At All Times For Easy Meals

The Top 10 Mercury-Heavy Fish and What to Have Instead

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Navigating the world of seafood can sometimes feel like sailing through murky waters, especially when it comes to mercury content. While fish is a fantastic source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, certain types pack a punch with high levels of mercury, posing health risks. We’re shining a light on those fish and offering up a net-full of safer alternatives so you can make informed choices to enjoy seafood that’s not only tasty but also good for your health.

See them here: The Top 10 Mercury-Heavy Fish and What to Have Instead

The Best Fast Food Sides That Go Beyond Fries

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Let’s face it, when we think fast food, it’s the burgers and fries that usually steal the show. But what about the unsung heroes of the menu, those side dishes that can turn a quick meal into something special? From the crispy, golden perfection of onion rings to the fluffy, buttery bliss of biscuits, there’s a whole world of flavor waiting to be explored. We’re diving into some of the most delicious and underrated fast food sides out there.

See Them Here: The Best Fast Food Sides That Go Beyond Fries

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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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