A few years ago, I set a personal goal that seemed natural for a four-year CrossFit enthusiast: I wanted to see my abs. Despite the hours I dedicated to the gym, they had remained elusive. As a woman in my mid-30s who ate healthily and lived an active lifestyle, I was curious what more it would take to finally achieve this. Here are the key adjustments that helped me the most.

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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.

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.

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.


A woman squatting with a kettlebell in a gym.
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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.

11 Simple Snacks for Better Blood Sugar Control

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Keeping your blood sugar in check doesn’t mean you have to skimp on snacking. In fact, the right snacks can be your secret weapon in maintaining those levels while still satisfying those mid-day cravings. Pairing up the good stuff—fiber, proteins, and healthy fats—can help to keep blood sugar steady. These snack ideas are as delicious as they are smart for your health.

See Them Here: 11 Simple Snacks for Better Blood Sugar Control

10 Foods That Deceive You Into Thinking They’re Healthy

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It’s easy to be fooled by foods that wear a healthy halo, especially when we’re trying to make better eating choices. Here’s the truth behind 10 foods that might seem like they’re on your side in the health department, but actually aren’t. Learn what makes them less than ideal and what to opt for in their place.

See Them Here: 10 Foods That Deceive You Into Thinking They’re Healthy

12 Foods To Eat If You Want To Look Younger

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We all want that secret recipe for looking younger. Well, it turns out, it’s not just about what you put on your skin, but what you put in your body too. From the creamy avocados on your toast to the dark chocolate you snack on after dinner, some foods have the power to give your skin that youthful glow we’re all chasing. Here’s a list of foods that are not only delicious but can also help you look and feel a bit more vibrant.

See Them Here: 12 Foods To Eat If You Want To Look Younger

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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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