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Have you ever been tempted by the adverts offering simple ways to weight loss? Have you been seduced by the voiceover promising to reveal all in just a while? Ten minutes later, still none the wiser, you're bored and probably hungry. And you STILL have no idea how to drop 10 pounds, gain a six pack stomach and climb Kilimanjaro, all without leaving your couch... But while you're waiting to be made part of the Secret Club of the Magically Appearing Muscle Definition (for a new low price - plus VAT, obviously) your waistband expands, your energy levels drop and the only thing that shrinks is your self-esteem. We ALL want to know that special secret that the slim and sexy seemed to have been born knowing; how to be toned, tanned, and trim - effortlessly fit and fantastically healthy. We are the Shortcut Generation; we want things faster and better and NOW! But you know what? There is no magic bullet. There is no easy shortcut. But I can tell you, FOR FREE, the ten tricks that will guarantee you a better body! 10 - Decide what you REALLY want and WHY: If you want to lose half your body weight and grow 3 inches taller so that you can marry George Clooney, I can't help you. If, however, you want to tone up and drop a dress size so that you can feel more confident in your own skin, then it's a matter of REALISTIC MOTIVATION. 9 - Make your goal REAL: The trick to being motivated is to pick achievable goals that you can easily reach - every time you reach a goal, CELEBRATE! Then move the posts. For example: running 15 miles every morning before work in the first week of your new regime is doomed from the start - if you miss a day you'll feel you've failed and you will be disheartened, disappointed and demotivated (and that's only if you don't collapse from exhaustion first. 15 miles? Only if you were training for the Olympics...) Instead, why not aim for a brisk 20 minute walk three times a week? Ten minutes to the shops, ten minutes back (and if you pick up the groceries while you're there you can congratulate yourself on being a multi-tasking genius...) 8 - Take the pressure OFF: It's great to have a goal, it's better to have a real goal. And like everything else in life, it won't be

perfect. If you don't reach your target weight in the time you've given yourself, don't berate yourself - you are actively attempting to improve yourself, and that deserves recognition. As in the fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race; take a break, have a breather - the goal post won't move before you reach it. And I promise you, when you do? You will feel even more enthusiastic about your next objective. 7 - Sweat! I'm sure that in the land of the Magically Appearing Muscle Definition your body can be a lean and sculpted thing of beauty without breaking a sweat. Here in reality? You need to sweat. If you're walking briskly, make sure you are moving fast enough to raise your pulse and BREAK A SWEAT. Trust me. It works. If you're comfortable with jogging this can be a great way to help you get slim as it really works your core muscles. Your stomach is essential and works really hard when you jog, so it's a great way to firm up those abs. But even if your exercise routine is less vigourous - SWEAT! 6 - Sleep: Sleeping helps regulate your 'leptin' levels which tells your fat cells to start metabolising their own fat. Although everyone has a different opinion as to the best way to lose weight, few will argue that sleeping more will help you feel better and tell your body to store less flab, helping to give you a flatter stomach! Plus, who doesn't fancy an afternoon nap? (And all in the interests of healthier living...) 5 - Resistance training: Once you've increased your fitness levels you can start focusing on that elusive ab definition, and the best way to a flat stomach is with resistance training. Resistance training helps you build lean muscle tissue, which helps you to increase your metabolic rate and burn calories more rapidly - so if you reduce your body fat, your stomach will look better! (Pilates, yoga and kettle-bell classes are all good ways of achieving this). 4 - Wobble! Wobble cushions are small and inflatable, so try doing your regular sit ups and crunches with the cushion comfortably supporting your lower back. These 'wobbled' crunches will target your abs much more effectively and give you a stronger stomach workout. 3 - Fish Oils: A lot of the top Olympic coaches talk about the huge benefits of fish oils, and studies also show they have many positive effects on brain chemistry. The bottom line is that you may find that good quality fish oils help you to train more often, concentrate better and get superior results out of your

flat stomach training! 2 - Don't forget the fat: Most of us tend to eat a lot of processed, low fibre carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and bread. Whilst we all need some carbs in our diet, a craving for sugary and starchy foods is often because we haven't eaten enough protein (which helps to regulate blood sugar levels, making you feel fuller for longer) or included enough fat in our diet. Yes - I said FAT! Carbs are our main source of energy, proteins are essential to muscle growth and repair and fat takes a long time to digest, helping to prevent blood sugar fluctuations and, therefore, cravings. Although you should avoid excessive amounts as fat is laden in calories, a balanced meal of carb, fat and protein will do you more good than avoiding fat altogether. 1 - Integrate: If you've picked an exercise routine that bores and annoys you then, no matter how great you look in your bikini, when you get back home your motivation will disappear until the next big event or sunny vacation. Would it not be better, after the initial effort of implementing a routine, to find a way to integrate it into your everyday life? If you enjoy walking with your headphones on, make the music fast and walk in time! If you need a cheerleader to keep you going, join a pilates class and take a friend! If you need a challenge, pick a sport and join a team! And don't forget to CELEBRATE! When you reach a goal, enjoy your success; you deserve it!

Benjamin Cook is a personal fitness trainer and hypnotherapist in Glasgow, Scotland, who specialises in holistic health, mental wellbeing and weight loss.

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