Stomach Flattening Report: What Most People (and Trainers) Ignore

© 2022 by Sgt. (Ret’d) Doug Setter

Published by Resilience Press

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. 


As with any new fitness activity, you must start out slowly.  Although this book is about fitness, the author and publisher disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects arising from extreme exercise and dieting without the appropriate medical supervision.

Chapter 1: Posture and Health       

A strong posture allows the human spine to curve naturally and pulls the abdomen in.  To check your own posture, place your back and head against a wall. With these points in contact with the wall, there should be approximately a hand thickness of space between the small of your back and the wall.

Maintaining good posture is far easier when the back and stomach muscles are strong and flexible.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, flexible hamstrings and strong abdominals will lessen the risk of back pain.

You can reduce your waistline in 5 seconds just by pulling back your neck and shoulders.  Notice how your chest goes out and your stomach draws inward.  A good posture naturally flattens your stomach and improves your strength, digestion, confidence and appearance.  See the video.

Chapter 2: Breathing for Greater Energy

            To make the most of your effort, during most abdominal exercises, breathe out while contracting your abdominals. This will give you deeper contractions and harder, more defined muscles. You will also be getting better results for your efforts than the red-faced beginner who grunts through a basic routine.

            Try the following experiment: take a deep breath and then hold it while performing a crunch[1] or sit up. Not much fun is it?  Now try letting your breath out as you do a crunch or sit up. It might feel strange, but it should be easier.          Note: It is too much carbon dioxide rather than not enough oxygen that causes fatigue. This is why it is essential to breathe out stale air during exercise.

            Deep breathing is a long-lost ability for most people. With the exception of singers, public speakers, marksmen, martial artists and some athletes, most people gobble down bits of air mostly through their upper and middle lungs. This restricted breathing uses as little as one-tenth of one’s own natural lung capacity![2]

For those who would like a little more formal breath training, consider the following techniques that can be practiced just about anywhere. However, do not be fooled by the simplicity of these exercises; they are simple, but effective. Try them and reap the benefits.


  1. Take a deep breath and then force all of the air out of your lungs. When you think that you cannot exhale any more, tighten your abdominals and force out a little more air and then a little more again Then relax your abdominals and let your lower lungs fill up with air.  Then expand your rib cage and fill up your upper lungs with more air.  Repeat this exercise three or four times throughout the day with a few hours break in between. At first, it will feel like you are running out of air and you might start coughing and feel a bit dizzy. If performed correctly, you should feel this deep in the lower abdominals. Usually it takes about five to ten sessions to learn to do this properly and then it becomes a habit.

Chapter 3: Abdominal Exercises

The following routine is very basic, simple and most effective when you work out the abdominals in the sequence provided here:

  1. First, work the obliques. As these are the body’s stabilizers, they will tend to assist the other abdominal groups during an abdominal workout. You will want to tire them out so that the other abdominal groups get more work. Side-to-side movements, such as leg-overs will work this area.
  1. Next, work the lower abdominals. As body builders, athletes and formerly pregnant women can tell you, this is a soft area of the body that is difficult to strengthen. Movements such as reverse crunches, hip raises or leg raises will work this area. Again, you want this area pre-fatigued so that you can really work the next stage.
  1. Now work the crunch for the upper abdominals. With the other abdominal groups already fatigued, the upper abdominals have to take on most of the workload. This is like most of a rowing team suddenly stopping and leaving two members to keep rowing. The upper abdominals get far more work than if they were cruising along with the rest of the abdominal “crew”. 

For optimum training, there should be no more than three seconds in between exercises. Otherwise, each subsequent group of abdominal muscles will recover and end up “sharing the load” with the other abdominal groups. This means less work and less results. It is better to do less repetitions, with NO rests in between, than perform more repetitions, but have long rests in between sets. The no rest method means more work for each set of muscle groups, but also superior results in less time.

If you are a beginner, start with one set of 3-5 repetitions of each movement and work your way up to three sets of 20. Then, and only then, increase the difficulty of the exercise. Remember that the objective here is to improve your life, not shorten it.

            Also, remember to start out gradually. I have known too many people, (including yours truly) who have run beyond their capabilities and then spent several weeks recovering from injuries rather than increasing their training gradually. Listen to your body.

Chapter 4: Nutrition

The four-letter word “diet” conjures up images of deprivation, pain and starvation.  The basic strategy over the decades has been to lose weight by eating less calories and exercising more.  By this rationale, eating anything low-calorie is O.K. for weight-loss (and anything high-calorie for weight gain).  But, it does not work that way for most people.  When I was in university, we had to design specific numbered calorie diets.  I lost time (and marks) trying to design vitamin-rich, high-protein diets.  It was too complicated and time-consuming.  It was far easier just to design a diet with the bare minimum nutrients and then make up the difference with empty calorie foods.  (eg. Bread, rice and apple juice.)

Restrictive diets will often cause people to lose body fat, but also muscle, bone density and skin tone.  A well-nourished person will usually not have food cravings.  They do not have “hidden hungers” that come from nutrient-deficiencies.

Without much more discussion, I am only going to advocate what I have seen work.  Basically, eat foods that are fresh and high in protein and minimize the junk.   For instance, Lynn, a female body builder and figure skater, who trained in my kick-boxing class, regularly ate high protein and complex carbohydrates.  Her breakfast was egg whites and oatmeal.  She was not bulky.  She had an awesomely strong, solid figure. 

After much frustration with a trendy pasta-based diet, a friend asked me to design a more effective diet for her.  Within two (count ‘em) weeks, on a higher protein diet, she looked leaner and told me that she felt much better.  (I saw her a year later.  She had dropped: several more inches, her old boyfriend and a job that she hated.  She also started instructing Pilates and started a new career.)

Here is a sample of a High Protein meal plan:


Choice of:

Water, juice or herbal tea

Eggs x 2 (or just the whites), poached, scrambled or omelet.

Or lean hamburger, chicken, beef.  Or oatmeal.

Fruit.  Crackers


Peanut or almond butter or cheese on crackers


Water, juice or herb tea

Chicken, lamb, beef, fish, tofu (any high protein food)

Salads, stir-fried or steamed vegetables

Brown rice

Fruit (optional)




-Same as Lunch-

Evening Snack

Oatmeal or turkey breast.

(No sugar! Read about foods to avoid)

            Do you get the idea?  Go high on the fresh foods and low on starches like pasta, potatoes and pastries.  Try to include a protein food at the beginning of each meal.  It takes a few days to get used to, but you will feel the difference if you start eating too many carbohydrates again. 

One of the short comings of high protein consumption, is the extra water required to process this kind of food.  You can tell when your body is too dry when you get a dry mouth, constipation, sluggishness and muscle cramps.  Keep hydrated.  Best to drink water an hour before or after a meal.  Water consumed with meals, tends to dilute digestive fluids and interferes with digestion. 

If you are going to follow one kind of diet, it is important to know what you are doing. Take a close look at the people you know who are on the diet already and how their lifestyle relates to your own. Then try the diet for a few days and note the changes in your body and mood. When you become healthier, your body will actually crave certain foods and reject others and you will start eating when you are hungry and not out of boredom.


            High protein, some fats (fish oils) and high complex carbohydrate diets have worked for several of my clients. However, in most cases if you simply try to eat regularly and stay clear of dairy, wheat and sugar, you will find that you can keep your energy levels fairly high. Being human, I still have the odd beer, ice cream or cheesecake. This is why I will talk about guidelines, so that you can have some kind of flexibility and still have a life. That way too, you don’t need to worry about a guilt trip if you occasionally “fall off the wagon.”            Most people can eat the following:

PROTEINS                           FATS                                     VEGETABLES 

Beef                                        Butter                                     Green vegetables 

Chicken                                 Almond butter                       (broccoli, cabbage,

                                                                                               celery, lettuce,

Turkey                                    Olive oil                                  Brussel sprouts, etc.)

Fish                                        Sesame oil                            Orange/red vegetables

                                                                                                (carrots, yams, beets)

Eggs                                       Flaxseed oil                          Bean sprouts

Tofu                                        Cashew butter

GRAINS                                FRUITS                                 MISC.                                    

Brown rice                             Apples                                    “Designer shakes”

                                                                                                (protein drinks)

Millet                                       Apricots                                  Protein bars

Oatmeal                                 Pears                                     


Kasha                                    Berries                                              


            When you eat nutrient-rich foods, such as broccoli or fish, you are saving yourself time and energy. By eating nutrient-rich foods you are giving yourself a greater energy return than if you eat low-value foods such as doughnuts or cake.  (By the way, beer and nacho chips are not food groups.)

Chapter 6: Internal  Health

            Keeping the colon clean and happy is very important for overall health. When the body’s exhaust system is not working, the toxins start backing up into both the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. If you do need a laxative, the formulae with psyllium seeds are quite reliable as the ground seeds are high in fiber and expand to absorb a lot of water. Of course, for this reason, be sure to drink plenty of water when you use them.

            The cheapest and simplest way to keep your colon healthy is to avoid white flour and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Fresh air, rest and exercise also keeps your bowels in good working order.  You really want a healthy colon (and avoid having to wear a colostomy bag).







Chapter 7: Stomach Flattening Behavior

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  — Aristotle

            While genetics, upbringing and environment all play a role in our actions, we can be taught new habits.  One of the methods is through positive-reinforcement, otherwise known as a reward system.  Whenever we are rewarded for doing something, we will tend to repeat the behavior.

            Two of the biggest mistakes when using the reward system:

  1. Delayed rewards.  Example: Working out to lose 30 pounds and then rewarding yourself with a Hawaiian vacation.  Too long of a delay will not link the action to the reward.  Solution: Give yourself a reward immediately after training.  Example: Socializing during or after exercising. 
  2. Large rewards for small efforts.  Example: Beer and pizza after one baseball practice.  Solution: Small rewards, like telephoning a friend, a tea, window shopping, one beer, etc. after the workout.  If you want a large reward, give yourself small tokens (like money) every time that you train.  At the end of the week or month, take the money saved and buy yourself a big reward.

A typical method of motivating yourself to exercise is to arrange a small reward for every time that you do exercise.  Put some pressure on yourself and NOT turn on the television until you have done at least 5 minutes of the abdominal routine.  I used this reward system to help me study better.  I allowed myself no television watching until I read a text book chapter or typed a page for a report.  Then and only then, I could watch television. 


Obviously, if cigarettes tasted bad or booze caused instant hangovers, there would be fewer people smoking and drinking. Punishment for bad behavior is effective, but it has its limitations. First of all, the punishment has to be immediate otherwise there is no link between the punishment and the activity.  That is why you should not emotionally beat yourself up a day or so after missing exercise or eating too many desserts.

One way of teaching the mind negative consequences is through avoidance conditioning.[4]  This is accomplished by causing some kind of mild pain during the unwanted activity. I tried this with a friend of mine who wanted to quit smoking. To help him quit, I got my friend to do 20 push ups before every cigarette he smoked. Though he did get in better physical shape, he also found more and more excuses not to smoke.

About the Author

            Hi, I’m Doug Setter.  I have studied fitness, nutrition and health for most of my life.  These Stomach Flattening methods have come from martial arts training, yoga, Pilates, nutrition research and behaviorism.  I hope that this information has helped you as they have helped me and hundreds of my students.  Use what you can in this book and feel free to share your successes with me at:

See my websites:


[1] An abdominal crunch is performed by lying on your back and curling your upper body forward so that the shoulder blades are off of the ground.

[2] Yesudian, Selvarajan and Haich, Elisabeth (1953) Yoga and Health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harper and Row Publishers: New York.

[3] Ibid. p.117.

[4] Ibid. p.177-178.