Uh, can someone help with my embarrassing ab problem?

I've been working on losing weight since August, and so far I'm down from 176 to 146. My goal is around 130.

While my stomach looks way better, it still doesn't look good at all. I still have the problem I've always had: my belly button, to put it bluntly, looks like a sad face. I've seen people with stomachs bigger than mine who don't have this problem. It's like my upper abs are flabbier than my lower abs, and so the flab hangs over. Kind of like this:

http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img...8CQcQw250.jpeg

(Not me, but you get the picture.)

Can someone tell me if this is a matter of:
a) losing fat,
b) toning muscle,
c) loose skin from the weight I've lost so far,
d) an anatomical quirk of mine, or
e) something else entirely?

Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated!
In search of a lost signature...
Could be any of the above. If you've had children, it could also be due to a tear in the abdominal wall muscle (my mother had this).

I would incorporate some good ab exercises into your routine if you don't already, and make sure you try to keep weight loss at a healthy pace (1-2 pounds per week).

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Thanks, Corrina! No children here, unfortunately, so that's not a factor. Do you have any recommendations for particular ab exercises that would help? I have been seeing a trainer who mainly has me doing planks. Should I add crunches or something like that to my regimen?
In search of a lost signature...
Planks are pretty good. I'm a huge fan of crunches. If you have a balance ball, crunches on a balance ball will target your abs better than traditional crunches (will also help work stabilizer muscles). My favorite lower ab exercise is to lay face down over a balance ball. Walk yourself out with your hands until the balance ball is under your shins. Roll the balance ball in and out with your legs (the motion will resemble a reverse crunch except that you're face down- you're basically bringing your knees into your stomach).

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3a/f/iii
Modified CG since 11/5/11
CLEANSE: VO5 Vanilla Mint Tea Clarifying, DevaCare No-Poo, CHS Treatment Shampoo
RO: DevaCare One Condition, SS Caitlin's Conditioner, Mop Top Daily Conditioner
LI: SS Repairing Protein Treatment, CHS Silk Leave-In
STYLE: Re:Coil, Curl Keeper, Deva Ultra Defining Gel, Curls Rock Amplifier and Strong Hold Mousse, Sweet Curls Elixirs Okra Gel and Hard Hold Gel, SS Curl Enhancing Jelly and Firm Hold Gel
I do have a balance ball, so I'm going to try these. Thanks again!
In search of a lost signature...
I've been working on losing weight since August, and so far I'm down from 176 to 146. My goal is around 130.

While my stomach looks way better, it still doesn't look good at all. I still have the problem I've always had: my belly button, to put it bluntly, looks like a sad face. I've seen people with stomachs bigger than mine who don't have this problem. It's like my upper abs are flabbier than my lower abs, and so the flab hangs over. Kind of like this:

http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img...8CQcQw250.jpeg

(Not me, but you get the picture.)

Can someone tell me if this is a matter of:
a) losing fat,
b) toning muscle,
c) loose skin from the weight I've lost so far,
d) an anatomical quirk of mine, or
e) something else entirely?

Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated!
Originally Posted by ursula
Hello Ursula,

First of all, congratulations on your weight loss.

If you have the same issue as the lady in the pic, you will have stretched skin which is difficult to get back to normal. The skin can only stretch ever so much without breaking (stretchmarks) and loose skin becomes a problem when one gains a lot of weight in middle age.

Look around your belly, are there stretchmarks? Look carefully as you will probably have stretchmarks which have have faded in colour and will be difficult to spot unless you shine some light on them. Stretchmarks, unlike commercial products will have you believe, cannot be repaired (they can be faded in colour though) and are the result of overstretching the skin. The latter is what gives the "sad face" appearance that the lady in that pic has in her belly.

My advice is to continue losing weight, have an optimal diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (these two food groups contain antioxidants which help repair the skin) as well as ensure adequate intakes of protein and fish (the latter for its precious oils). Moisturize the belly area with coconut butter and apply some topical vitamin E (preferably mixed tocopherols). Doing all this will help strengthened the skin and make it look as good as it can be possible in your case.

Be aware, however, that overstretched skin cannot be tightened up and the only way to remove excess skin is via surgery (abdominoplasty aka tummy tuck). I only recommend surgery when there is a gross excess of skin, the lady in the pic would not, for example, need surgery once she gets down to an aesthetic body weight as her skin excess is mild.

Lastly, I would recommend you to look into tretinoin (not to be confused with isotretinoin), also known as retin-A. Speak with your doctor or a dermatologist (preferably) as tretinoin can be of help in restoring the strength of the skin and improving its appearance. It helps in thickening stretchmarks too and is only available as a Rx in the USA. A good dermatologist can expand on this and provide you more in-depth information about the possibilities you have.

I hope that helped.

Take care.
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