How to Get a Flat Tummy

It sounds like a tall order, right?  So many of us have been trying for years to lose weight, flatten our bellies, etc, etc.  Much easier said than done and in some ways it seems like a mystery.  Why, even after eating right and working out, does it seem almost impossible to lose weight in that area?  Well, a former instructor from the Ranch, Nancy Parker, who now has her own wellness practice, shed some light on why that might be and for once, it made sense!  In her seminar at the Ranch, Flatten your Belly…Finally!-Maximizing Digestive Health through Lifestyle Change, Nancy gave us the secrets on how to attain that fleeting flat stomach.

Essentially there are three factors that affect weight loss overall, but especially in the belly region; what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat.  What this all boils down to is the health of your digestive system.

What you eat:  What I found most interesting about Nancy’s talk was how many of us have food intolerances that we are not aware of.  She described her own experience as someone who was allergic to gluten, dairy and soy about 10 years ago, but didn’t know it.  She had sudden weight gain plus digestive issues, and her doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  Through the elimination diet she discovered her food intolerances, thus losing the weight and the digestive issues.  So what you eat makes a huge difference in whether you can lose weight and if you have any sort of food intolerances that you’re not aware of, that can cause you to gain weight.  How do you find out which foods are right for your body?  You can either take the MRT test or use the elimination diet.

When you eat:  If you eat more calories later in the day, that has been shown to increase weight gain.  Our digestion is strongest during the middle of the day which is why lunch should be the biggest meal and dinner the lightest.

How much you eat:  Portion still plays a huge roll in weight gain and weight loss.  Eat until you’re semi-full and see how you feel after a couple of minutes.  It usually takes us about 20 minutes for fullness to kick in, so eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.  This will help you not to overeat as well.

Here are a couple of action steps you can take to facilitate the process:

  • Identify and decrease stress
  • Slow down for meals
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Stay hydrated
  • Move your body
  • Every so often fast (check with your doctor first)
  • Try the elimination diet

By the way, Nancy also gave us a piece of advice that made my day.  Crunches will not give you a tight stomach.  She explained that you have to activate the inner muscles through Pilates, posture work and breathing that elongates your spine and body.  So I found that to be good news!

So as you can see, it’s not just doing one thing or the other, it’s making sure that all of your systems are working together at maximum potential to weed out the toxins and help you absorb the nutrients you need.  For more information about Nancy Parker and her wellness program, you can visit her site at

Interview with Life Coach Pete Kirchmer

Last week I had the pleasure of attending two workshops of Forging Iron Willpower with Pete Kirchmer.  What an amazing class!  It’s aimed towards losing weight, but applies to all different aspects of life as well.  Pete is a life and wellness coach based out of San Diego and was even our life coach here at the Ranch.  We were lucky enough to get an interview with him about his journey towards health and fitness.  Take it in, there’s a lot to learn from him.  Also, he may be presenting again at the Ranch, so if you happen to be down here when he’s teaching, definitely check out his workshops.

Kate Bello: When did you first start getting interested in health and fitness?

Pete Kirchmer: I had been a chubby kid and self-conscious, so my dad taught me how to lift weights around age 12. We ran track together before school, and before bed he held my feet while I did sit-ups. It worked so well for my self-esteem that I started a workout group when I was only 13. The PE teacher gave me the key, and I opened it up for my friends before school in the 7th & 8th grade.

KB: What was your process for losing 60 pounds and keeping it off?  Because losing weight is as much of a mental transition as physical, what were some of the emotional or mental obstacles that came up and how did you overcome them?

PK: After losing weight initially in junior high, I put it back on around age 16-18, getting up to 245 pounds. When I was finally ready to make the change, I began a long process of trial and error. Emphasis on the error! I learned from my many, many mistakes. I did everything we now know not to do including calorie deprivation, diet pills and over exercising. Even when I got results that way, they never lasted and I was quite miserable with that lifestyle. I finally realized that it wasn’t what I was doing that was failing; it was who I was being. In order to finally lose weight permanently, I had to shift how I saw myself as well as how I related to people and life. It was a huge mindset shift!

KB: How did you go from personal trainer to life coach?

PK: I had started working with a life coach to help me make the internal shifts and lifestyle changes to lose weight and heal from a back injury. When I started to apply what I was learning through coaching to my training clients, I saw that they were becoming more consistent, more positive and they were getting better results. I knew then that this was what the fitness industry really needed.

KB: How did you discover the Ranch?

PK: It was quite a synchronicity that I ended up at the Ranch. I found it online and thought, “This is someplace I need to work someday.” I printed the homepage, dated it and filed it in my “dream folder.” Three years later and at the perfect time when I was leaving a gym that I had managed, a friend of mine in the industry walked in and said, “Hey I was just down at a place called Rancho La Puerta. They said they were hiring, and I kept thinking about you.” I put the majority of my belongings on Craigs List and made the Ranch my residence for the next 2 years.

KB: You used to work here at the Ranch as our life coach. What was your experience like at the Ranch, and what did it teach you?

PK: The Ranch is a great place for personal and professional growth. Personally, I developed a solid meditation practice and had time to do some serious reading and reflecting. Professionally, it’s an opportunity to develop presentations on lots of valuable topics as well as work with people in a space where they are relaxed and receptive to change.

KB: What is your philosophy on staying fit mentally and physically?

PK: From my background in martial arts, I believe we have to train our mind like a muscle. You can’t have a soft mind and a hard body; fitness can be fun but it also takes discipline. This is a hard truth that most people in this “lose weight fast” culture don’t like to hear. The good news is that the brain responds really well to a certain kinds of mental “exercise.”

KB: Tell us about your program, Mindfulness Based Health.

PK: Mindfulness Based Health offers private Life & Wellness coaching as well as 8-week group courses to help people make the mindset shifts and life style changes needed to reach and maintain optimal health. I work with the idea that people generally know what they need to do to be healthy but struggle with consistently doing it. So I will put my clients on a nutrition and exercise program, but the real work I do is with helping them cultivating mindfulness, willpower and motivation as well as create strategies to overcome obstacles.

KB: How do your techniques affect other parts of our lives besides health?

PK: Our lives impact our health and our health impacts our lives, so my clients set goals in both. There is a quote, “One who has good health has a thousand wishes; one who doesn’t has but one.” When people improve their health, a whole world of possibilities opens up. However, to make these improvements in health, we often have to start by looking at work balance, relationships and any other areas of life that causes stress. Eventually, life satisfaction and health improvement become a synergistic, upward spiral of success.

KB: What are your other interests besides health and fitness?

PK: I spend a lot of time in the kitchen making my own nutrition bars, kale chips, chia crackers and dozens of other recipes. I read a lot and enjoy gardening on most weekends. My wife and I travel quite a bit, but in my heart, I’m a bit of a homebody.

KB: How do you incorporate meditation into your fitness routine?

PK: Personally I practice meditation with a group, or “Sangha,” 3 times a week led by my teacher, and I sit on my own for 30-45 minutes at least once a day. I mostly do workouts that combine pilates, yoga, martial arts and kettle bells but even practice mindful movement on days I am lifting weights. I set intentions, light some incense, use my breath and then enjoy a short savasana after an intense workout.

KB: How can our readers reach you if they’re interested in learning more about your program?

PK: My website is and I offer a free assessment and consultation to see if we’re a fit. They can also email me directly at