On letting your stomach pooch out as much as it needs to.

A few years ago I came across this video on How I Stick Out My Stomach.

When I saw it I was in grad school and thought, “hmm.  I do that.  I hold my stomach in a way to suck it in when I guess it could be resting.  Why do I do that? Why don’t I let my stomach just take up as much space as it needs to take up?”

I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t do this.  I remember specific instances growing up when I was taught being thin was good, so to suck in my stomach must’ve been a natural reaction to that gem of knowledge.

So I’m curious…

  • Do you hold your belly area in funny ways?
  • Or, have you even noticed if you have a tendency to engage your core when it doesn’t need to be engaged?

When I’m lifting something or walking I want to have an engaged core to protect my lower back and that can lead to holding my stomach a certain way.  But when I’m resting on the sofa or sitting talking with friends / family, there is no reason my stomach should be engaged.  After realizing this, I started to have a lot of awareness around when I was engaging my belly area muscles when I didn’t need to. 

Whenever I realized (and still realize) that I’m holding my stomach funny, I choose to relax it.  For instance, sometimes when I’m driving and the seatbelt is resting against my belly, I notice I’m tightening my belly in.  So I’m intentional about relaxing it.  The point wasn’t / isn’t to never hold my stomach funny.  The point is to have awareness of why I’m doing that in X situation and choose if I’d like to give my belly a break and relax it.  And then, occasionally, journaling later on why letting my stomach naturally pooch out was hard in X situation. 

I still don’t totally feel like I know how to relax my stomach area.  I can tighten the muscles in and pooch my stomach out.  But the in between, just relaxing it, is still something I’m learning how to do.  There are times where I’m like, “my belly area feels as relaxed as my bicep muscle right now.” But then other times, typically when I’m feeling anxious about something, that I alternate between tightening and pooching out my belly area because I can’t fully relax it.  I imagine this has something to do with me being a person who feels my anxiety and stress in my belly area.

I’ve mentioned this a number of times before…something that was so healing for me in my eating disorder recovery was consciously choosing to lay on a yoga mat in our backyard with my hands on my belly, feeling me breathe deeply into my belly without tightening my belly area in.  I just would lay there for 30 minutes feeling my belly expand to whatever size it needed to expand to and when a judgmental thought came in I’d just return the focus to my breath and inhale again.  I choose for 3 months to have this yoga mat breathing exercise replace my compulsive running behavior, which my ED hated.  Then I choose to stop running and haven’t run in 4ish years.   That was the most life giving decision ever.

Having awareness of how I’m holding my stomach helped and helps me be more mindful, present and able to embody every part of my body.  I’m not saying engaging your abs is a good or bad thing…I’m just saying, this is helpful to me.  Having awareness of when I’m not letting my stomach naturally pooch out has been helpful in allowing me to embody the parts of my body we’re all taught to want to change.

So back to the question: Do you notice yourself sucking in / flexing your stomach to keep it from pooching out?

This is one of those posts where I’m like, “is any one else going to resonate with this? Or is this just me?!”

p.s. if you are in the beginning of anorexia recovery, this post isn’t necessarily for you right now.  You don’t need more awareness of your belly area.  You need to focus on following your meal plan and working through fear foods.  Tolerating / accepting your belly area will come down the road in recovery.


  1. I can 100% relate to this. I can actually remember a time when I would consciously tuck my stomach in everywhere I went. I think at one point, in a fitness magazine or something, I read that this would be a good way to get in an ab workout or some B.S. like that. I equate that now to the same message I read in a magazine somewhere and they had suggested women should wear tighter/more restricting clothing to encourage weight loss and fitness. WTF?! Thanks for this post!

  2. I have definitely noticed myself doing this and have tried to be more mindful about why/when, etc. I have improved a lot in this area (by improved, I mean decreased the frequency with which I suck in my stomach for mentally unhealthy reasons). It’s still a bit of a struggle for me, though, because my shape is naturally very apple-y and I am in a larger body, so I have paranoia about people thinking I’m pregnant. (I’m not.) I have started to work through those feelings and I’m making progress (the prospect of someone thinking I’m pregnant when I’m not does not freak me out the way it once would have), but it’s definitely a process.

  3. In response to your question — YES! This resonates!

    A few years ago when I was much more body-conscious & image-obsessed, I would find myself flexing my stomach & sucking in almost all the time. It was to the point where I felt that I was being lazy & causing my core to become weak if I wasn’t engaging my abdominal muscles. At this time I was also having horrible issues with constipation, sometimes going 2 or 3 days without relief (I hope this isn’t TMI!). So, I began consciously relaxing my stomach as a way to aid my digestive issues, and VOILA! Constipation, relieved! But not only was my bathroom issue resolved, I found that not focusing my attention so much on flexing & tightening made me happier & more comfortable in my natural, relaxed state. I’m not perfect with this mindset just yet, but seeing a physiological benefit to relaxating my core was a major mental game-changer.

    Thanks so much for posting this.

    PS, LOVE your page & everything you represent <3 I'm a dietitian as well, and having a fellow RD with this mindset is beyond refreshing. Keep it up.

  4. I don’t consider myself to suck in my stomach, but I have always just tried to maintain good posture while sitting or standing. So I think in effect I hold it firm without it being a hindrance or problematic. Does that make sense? It’s kind of hard to explain. There was a girl in my nutrition program that would truly suck in her stomach so much that I wondered how she could breathe. That I definitely do not engage in, and I always felt sorry for her. Plus it cannot be good for your organs or digestion. I guess Matt, as always, teaches me a lot about going with the flow. I used to think I was so weird for bloating and having IBS, but as I’ve gotten older, I realize a lot of what I experience isn’t so different from others. That is to say I realize Matt can have a very flat stomach in the morning and then a slight pooch at night. I apologize for this being such a rambly comment, but thanks for the conversation starter!

    • This! It’s pretty much what I was going to say. I notice myself just slightly engaging my stomach when I’m standing or sitting mostly for good posture reasons because I don’t want to slouch my back. Is that bad?… But I can see the point in letting your stomach rest if you’re lying down, leaning back in a chair, etc.

      • Thanks for replying on my comment! If I can feel my stomach is upset (an IBS flare up of sorts), I will relax my stomach, breathe deeply, and massage it gently. In these moments, I do let it relax fully. But for me, it helps with my posture. I’m glad my comment resonated and made sense. :)

    • Love this! It’s nice when you can view others objectively and without judgement. It’s a step towards being able to view yourself without judgement :) Matt has a non poochy stomach in the morning, then has a poochy stomach at night. If I have a poochy stomach at night there is nothing wrong with that…that is just how stomachs work!

      Thanks for commenting, Kori!

  5. Yes!! I totally resonate with this and was pretty unaware until recently because of my pregnancy. It is absolutely crazy to me- but now at 21 weeks I’m totally loving my bump but still find myself manipulating my belly and I think it’s truly out of muscle memory and habit at this point. After such a long fight with ED– it’s so interesting the ways I’ve have totally retrain myself in so many ways. Love this post and am definitely going to try the yoga mat practice.

  6. Oh my goodness, it’s like you’re in my head. We are at the lake on vacation right now and I have been reading on the dock in an adorondack chair…because of the awkward lean back of those chairs I have been hyper aware of my stomach and literally get distracted from my book because I am peeking at my stomach making sure it’s not poking out. It’s just me and my husband here and I have no reason to feel self conscious so this is only more motivation to be intentional about relaxing my belly when I’m, well…relaxing. Imagine that :) great perspective on this, thanks for sharing your experience! I wore a bikini for the first time on this trip though without feeling crazy which felt like a huge win 🙌🏻

  7. I’ve noticed this! After having my second baby (6 weeks ago) and having diastasis recti pretty badly, I realized that I physically can’t hold my belly in. It made me aware how much I used to before.

    After my first son, I noticed it a little bit, but I felt like my prepregancy self pretty quickly. This time around, I’m not recovering as easily. I’m being easy on myself and patient, letting my body take as long as it needs to.

    • Love your perspective, Korie :) In our society, it can be hard to be respectful of what one’s body is going through…glad you’re being intentional about letting your body take as long as it needs to get to wherever it wants to go / stay <3

  8. Yes!! I remember hyper-focusing on my stomach particularly during high school. I would suck it in every single time I stood up. I’ve always had a slightly larger than average belly, so it was something I used to be very self conscious about. A big part of the intuitive eating journey for me was accepting that part of my body. Who cares if I have a belly that sticks out more than average? It is literally the body shape I was born with (and runs in the family), and I had to consciously make the decision to appreciate my ENTIRE body, not just certain parts that I like, instead of obsessing over it. I would rather be comfortable standing and walking than worrying about it!

  9. Yes, yes, yes. You are definitely not the only one who thinks about this!! I tend to be pretty self concious of my belly, so I find myself doing this a lot. For years, I have pulled my pants up a little when I sat down to try to make a “flatter tummy.” But you are so right. Why should I do that? It’s part of me and that’s ok! Kind of on a different note, I do notice that my hips get really tight when I am stressed, so I assume that I probably tighten my belly a little too. I guess my hips are kind of carrying the tension and when I become aware of it, I am able to relax and it feels so much better.
    Thank you for your constant, real support. I relate to sooo much of what you write about.

    • Such a good comparison. When I feel tension in my hips I’m proactive to do a hip opener yoga pose. I like the idea of breathing into my stomach as a “belly opening” pose :) Thanks for helping me see that similarity, Courtney!

  10. I’ve also been trying to be more aware of when I am unnecessarily engaging my stomach. There are times when it is necessary to have an engaged core but I sometimes find myself doing it when I am sitting, resting, or standing. I know for me it comes from growing up being told to do so. My grandma would always tell me to suck my stomach in, never let my stomach stick out or even rest. That started at a young age and occasionally she still says it to my sister or me. Now, I brush it off but when I was young it definitely had a stronger impact on my body image than I ever realized at the time. 

  11. Ummm..yep! I was having this conversation with my boyfriend a few months ago and I told him he’d probably never seen my belly pouched out or relaxed before because I’ve been sucking it in since high school. It’s now second nature to me. He got sad and told me I don’t have to do that anymore. So I’ve been intentional about noticing when I’m sucking it in and trying to relax it. It’s such a hard habit to break but it’s a journey.

  12. Hehe. I think I noticed this at some point but it was totally subconscious so I let it go! It was probably while wearing work clothes.

    • Hi, all the comments her have been from females, but I am a male that has been sucking in my stomach for over 25 years. I was overweight in middle school and I started sucking in my stomach at all times. I never noticed any problems until about 2years ago and I’m 35 now. I started having very bad constipation. It never occurred to me it could be from sucking in. Then about a year ago I started getting these terrible muscle spasms on my right side and because I didn’t realize I was sucking in I kept going to the doctor about this never ending paid and they did cat scans checking for kidney stones and such with no resolution.
      Then a few days ago I couldn’t take this pain anymore. I saw another article about all the problems years of sucking your gut in can complicate. So now I have been trying to relax my gut and the side pain has calmed down. I am having a hard time relaxing my stomach now…. I feel like I am pushing my stomach out more than I should outwards but I feel like maybe I’m just so used to sucking in it and just have to push out until I don’t notice anymore. Is this a normal feeling?

  13. Sadly this is definitely a thing! I have noticed that when I go out and I’m wearing clothes that are more form-fitting or cropped shirts, I am actively holding my stomach in as much as possible. To the point where I’ve gotten cramps and not really realized why, until I get home and change into comfy clothes and think oh, duh. It seems silly really, why would I want to wear something that makes me physically uncomfortable. I guess I just need to work on being more accepting of my body and maybe wear more loose-fitting clothing in the mean time!

    • Yep. I can relate to that. Wearing really tight clothing tends to make me hold my stomach funny. Before pregnancy, I had to really mindful of relaxing my stomach when wearing tight clothing because I’d end up feeling bloated / crampy otherwise.

  14. That quote by Carl Rogers (insert heart eyes)!!

  15. Yes! This is relatable.

    I am observing some body changes after giving up restrictive eating. The rounding of my belly feels challenging. One thing that helped was to read the book _When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies_. It goes into the symbolism of different body parts we struggle with.

    Although I’m free from dieting behaviors, I still practice tucking my stomach in and struggle with whether or not clothes feel “flattering.” It’s very much like an onion, with recovery. You deal with one layer and then you move onto the next! Not in a bad way, but it is interesting to see how layered these types of issues are.

    Thank you for the thoughtful post! I always look forward to them.

  16. I definitely know what you mean- I realized years ago that I was ‘sucking it in’ nearly everywhere I went, and have worked to actively stop doing so. 

    That being said, as a woman in a larger body, I never don’t have a ‘pooch’. So, sucking in my stomach doesn’t make it flat. Perhaps more socially acceptable (i. e. less noticeably jiggly or rounded), but never anything other than a more sculpted version of its large self. 

    For larger bodies, I think a more pressing question would be: do you let your belly show in the clothes you wear, or do you actively work to conceal it via body shaping underwear/spandex/etc? 

    Thanks for creating a safe space for these difficult conversations, Kylie! ❤

  17. Wow, this is a really good thought.  I think sometimes for me it’s just the idea of my stomach pooching out being embarassing.  But I’ve learned that it’s okay to relax, to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart and my body instead of tensing it all the time.   Love this.  <3 

  18. I totally do this all the time. I can’t hardly tell when I’m relaxed or flexed. It’s just so normal to flex it now. I’m going g to work on relaxing it though. It’ll be tough but I can do it! Thanks for the inspiration and amazing blog! Hope you’re feeling great in your pregnancy!

  19. I almost always suck in my belly… When I know somebody is going to take a picture of me I suck it in even more. It’s an automatic reaction… It’s something to think about for sure.

  20. Oh my word, YES!! I’m currently in the process of learning HOW to relax my stomach muscles (it’s something I’ve been doing for the past 7+ years) and then be okay with how it rolls or sticks out! It’s gotten bigger in the past year or so, but so has my life, so I’m okay with that :-)

  21. First of all, you’re awesome for writing this post. Love love that Carl Rogers quote- writing it down! I can totally relate to this – more so in the past but still occasionally now- so you’re definitely not alone. Going to try the yoga mat thing :)

  22. Oh my goodness, yes! I was a part of a women’s only running group with a coach a couple of months ago, and after the run, she would have us do some guided stretches, and always end with laying on the ground with deep belly breathing. She would say every time “don’t worry, I will turn around so I don’t see anyone, so you can feel comfortable with breathing deep into your belly.” I was shocked that women in the class wouldn’t take the breath they needed to live if someone was watching! And that coach was so body positive and loving of all women and all shapes! It really forced me to think about if I’m actually neglecting/harming my body by not giving it what it needs to be healthy (like air!) if it makes my belly look less flattering (whatever that means anyway). So all that to say, I’ve been on a belly-journey and I loved this post!

  23. Absolutely brilliant!! Thank you for bringing light to this, Kylie! These are the kind of authentic articles that women need to see more of in order to cultivate a full understanding of what it means to be human, rather than misunderstanding, fear, disgust, and conflict with our own bodies (which BTW are the coolest thing! God calls us the “crown of creation” for a reason!💁🏼).
    I also love the deep belly breathing technique you talked about in your ED recovery. For me, thoughts of peace, love, and general wonder about the perfection of my body exactly as it was created (relaxed an muscles and all) was the last part of my ED healing process. I’ve read many times that poor body image is often the last part of an ED to leave, so finding intentional ways to take on that challenge when the time is right is a beautiful realization. I have taught yoga classes for the last 4 years, and at the beginning it was actually something that kept me stuck in my ED because I feared that becoming completely relaxed with my food rules would make me less flexible and (more importantly) less good looking in my yoga clothes. In those days, I feared looking at myself in the mirror during yoga and especially feared brushing my hand across my stomach while breathing in our relaxation pose — if that were to happen my anxious mind would freak out! Now as I am approaching a place of full recovery, I actually love resting my hands on my stomach at the beginning of yoga during our relaxation because I can approach the situation with curiosity and wonder at the amazing way that my body is when I let it just be! It is a pure gift. I will remember that breathing technique someday when my dream of being an ED dietitian (hopefully) comes true! :)
    This comment became much longer than I intended, but sometimes the words just keep flowing when you come across a blog post like this that makes you sigh with relief and then rejoice that, “I’m not the only one!” Know what I mean? It opens the flood gates to a dark ED past that can finally be seen with 20/20 vision in the light of hindsight. Thanks again, Kylie, and bravo! Your bravery in baring yourself for the betterment of others is inspiring and praiseworthy!

  24. Yes! I have been even thinking of this so much lately! And I, too, have a very similar experience of not really knowing *how* to relax my belly to the extent that I’m not thinking about it. This is where pregnancy was such a gift for me, because I felt so proud of my baby bellies! I am also in recovery from exercise addiction and an eating disorder and I *love* your replacement activity. What a cool idea and such a gift to your body.

  25. YES! Totally resonate with this!

    So when I was in the beginning of my ED I was doing a TON of pilates… specfically POPilates. I’m still on the fence with Cassey… anyways:

    So one of the earliest videos I watched said something like: “To have flat abs and a toned tummy you gotta suck it in, all the time. Engage those abs. AND you can do it all the time! At home. At work. On the bus. At school. DO IT!”

    Between this and her clean eats and ideas on YOLO foods… nope can’t do it anymore. BUT anyways, it was like in that moment it stuck. I would do it constantly. It took so long to break the habit. Now I find myself on a bad body image day sucking in… it’s like a signal to me when I realize I’m no longer relaxing my tummy that somethings bugging me emotionally.

    The hardest thing is that when I’m with Boyfriend, I still find myself doing it when he touches my waist, or anything a lot of the time, especially when I’m anxious. And the funny part is that he totally knows when I do it, and he purposely leaves his hand there and says, “Let go. Stop. You’re beautiful the way you were meant to be.” Trying hard to break it, but it’s so engrained.

    We all totally need to practice being the way we are, the way we were meant to be!

  26. YES YES YES! Clearly, you are not alone in this. Learning to relax my stomach and stop sucking it in has been a huge final piece in my ED recovery and journey to body acceptance. I am constantly reminding myself that having a flat stomach is NOT THE NORM, despite what the media tells us. The importance of a flat stomach was ingrained in me at such a young age. I have this very vivid memory in college (before I even had my ED) when I was taking a photo with my sister. Right as the picture was being snapped she laughed at me and said “I just felt you suck it in.” Our mom was always telling us to suck it in for pictures – it was like the alternative to “cheese.” Of course she didn’t mean any harm, but clearly it stuck with me.
    It’s still a struggle, and to this day I often feel self conscious in anything form fitting that’s not flowy or high-waisted, but I am trying. I find that I am especially aware of how I engage my core unnecessarily when I’m wearing anything that’s mid or low-rise (not high-waisted) or wearing a seatbelt. Even now I’m still most comfortable in high-waisted clothing because anything else feels like it’s digging into my stomach and it’s difficult to tolerate. I just take deep breaths and choose to be grateful that my body is healthy in those moments.
    Thanks for sharing, Kylie. As always, your perspective is refreshing and so helpful.

  27. So this is going to anger you probably….there is a show on Netflix called “To The Bone”…. about a girl in eating disorder recovery blah blah blah. You need to read the description and then let me know how frustrated you are. Oh my goodness.!!! It seems like glamorizing ED.

    Thank you for everything you do!

  28. This is something I was just thinking about yesterday! I used to suck in my stomach every time I was in public or with other people. At first it was because I thought people would think I was undisciplined if my stomach wasn’t concave, but then I continued to do it just out of habit. I honestly think it’s part of the reason why I shied away from social situations for such a long time. I would be out and about and feel tense and irritable because I couldn’t relax while sucking in my stomach. Or even freaking take a deep breath! Then I’d go home and change into loose clothes and let my stomach be where it wanted to be and immediately feel better. It took me YEARS to figure out that I’m actually not an introvert, but an extrovert. An extrovert who needs to be able to let her belly be where it wants to be. 

    This is turning into a ramble, but I’ve also recently realized I enjoy wearing looser-fitting tops. My more close-fitting tank tops have gone unworn this summer. At first I worried that I didn’t want to wear them because I felt self-conscious about my belly, but I think it’s actually because looser fitting clothes feel less restricting on my stomach. A few years ago, I NEVER would have made a clothing choice based on how I FEEL instead of how I think I’ll LOOK to others. 

    Last thing: I remember the first time I read what you had written about resting your hands on your belly. I thought that had to be the most uncomfortable thing in the world, because my stomach was the main point of tension in my body image struggle. Now, I do it automatically when I feel like I need to give myself grace/compassion. I used to worry people would think I was pregnant because my stomach wasn’t like against my spine; now sometimes I worry because I rest my hands on my belly so often. XD

    As always, thank you for your heartfelt, relatable posts that help me navigate being a human in this world! 

    • Naomi, you really summed it up for me so well, especially when you talked about the social implications and the breathing. My stomach (I am a man) is actually quite distended if I don’t hold it in. I have a perfect storm of having that pelvic tilt AND holding all my fat in my stomach. I need to lose some weight, for sure, but I am going to try to not hold my stomach in anymore in public. Isn’t it crazy what is happening? We are all holding our stomachs in, pretending we don’t have bellies and causing everyone else to think that we don’t have bellies further causing everyone to continue to hold their stomachs in. I’m through with it…

  29. Great post! One of the first things I loved about pregnancy was finally allowing myself let my belly relax in form- fitting clothes. It was such a liberating feeling! I still automatically get the urge to “suck it in” for photographs, though. I even noticed myself trying to suck my tummy in for maternity photos over the weekend :p

  30. I realized I did this a year or so ago and also wondered when it started. I can assume why I do it. I think it looks “better”, whatever that means. But then I realized how tiring it was and how nice it feels to let my stomach just be. I also just entered my 2nd trimester of pregnancy (I’ve loved following your journey!) and I found that I feel like I have to hold my belly in during this awkward inbetween phase where I don’t look pregnant but more like I’ve been eating lots of cookies:) so silly! Anyways, you’re definitely not alone and I love that you talk about these things! Keep doing what you do!

  31. Unfortunately a female co-worker asked me if I was pregnant not too long ago (in the presence of others). I am athletic and lean, but happened to be leaning against a counter with my stomach relaxed. Since then I scrutinize my profile before work everyday to assess whether I “look pregnant”. It is very hard not to let comments like that affect you, I have come a long way in my recovery, but still. I couldn’t believe a woman with daughters could be so insensitive to ask such a dumb question. How should I have responded?

    • Girl I feel you. At a time when it was hard for me to get pregnant, any time I had just eaten lunch and my tummy was relaxed or something like that, I got asked if I was pregnant at a place I worked 🙄 so frustrating! I eventually just learned to laugh it off Bc it was like a weekly thing. When I finally got pregnant (praise the Lord!) i was happy to to finally say “YES there’s a baby in there!” But now looking back and looking forward I want to be comfortable not always consciously “holding my tummy in” and just letting my body be! Love this post.

    • I’ve just come across this post whilst searching for a relaxed stomach. I’m 51 and probably been doing it for 40 years. I now have a hiatus hernia and reflux which I suspect was caused by lightly tensed stomach muscles most of my life. When I look at the bellies of children or tribes who have almost no body fat, their belly protrudes. I’m now convinced that’s what a healthy belly should look like, just wish I’d have relaxed years earlier. Good to read this and realise I’m not the only having to consciously relax my stomach. Thank you.

  32. This post has come at such a poignant time. The last few months I have been actively flexing my belly constantly, even sometimes in rest. My lower belly has gained so much fat since I started on hormone therapy and it has really bothered me. I’m going to try an experiment today in being aware of only engaging my core when I NEED to and rest when I don’t.

  33. I haven’t even noticed myself doing this, but I’ll bet I do. It’ll be interesting for me to pay more attention to it today, and try to let myself relax more.

  34. I haven’t touched my stomach in ten years. I talked about this exact same thing at yoga teacher training actually. Last month we had a speech specialist come in and in front of everyone she put her hand on my stomach and told me to relax and breathe into it (I only breathe into my chest not my belly). I broke down- tears and all). I think it was a combination of allowing someone to touch my stomach, letting everyone watch this happen, and becoming so frustrated at the realization that I am so used to not allowing my belly to relax that I can’t even breathe into it.

    I keep telling myself that I’m going to start putting my hand on my belly when I wake up in the morning and just sit there without judgement but I’m afraid.

    Thank you for writing this. I promise you that every single sentence resonated with me.

  35. Even though I’m late to the party (what else is new lol), I wanted to comment because YES this is something that resonated with me soooo strongly!!!  For quite a long time I’ve noticed that I always tightened in my belly (unless I was body checking in my ED and then I’d pooch it out) and never was comfortable seeing it in a relaxed state.  I’ve been consciously working on this, alongside my other body image tools like exposure therapy, telling myself the truth, etc., and its way better now.  Most of the time, I’m fine with just relaxing it (aside from times, like you said, where I need to engage my core to lift something or support myself etc.), but I still have times that I look down and think a negative thought about my poor relaxed belly and I have to stop and check myself.  It usually happens when I am around a lot of diet talk or people who are focused on their own body hatred, or when I’m going through a rough time in my life.  Knowing that these are trigger points help, but I do still find myself doing it from time to time, and I am still on that journey of stopping myself in the middle of the thought and telling myself that it’s okay and my body is just fine the way it is.  Also I still use your tip, and put my hands on my belly while in shavasana.😉🤗❤️

  36. This is such a real thing! I realized last week that I constantly suck in my stomach. I was feeling faint in during seminars at a program I was in and realized I was engaging my core even more than usual because I was sitting around the table with a big group– when I noticed that I was so concentrated on my stomach that I wasn’t breathing for long periods of time. I relaxed my stomach intentionally and focused solely on breathing.

    Whoever told us in the 90s-early 2000s that “sucking in” helped to burn fat and create abs, UGH.

  37. This is a very eye opening post. I know I do this but never really examined my motives for why or considered how it might be holding me back in my acceptance of myself.

  38. This is such a great posts, and the comments! I feel a bit strage to sit here in front of my computer in spanx now. (looking forward to that post if you ever write one). I think I have been sucking my tummy in, wearing pants to press in the pouch, wearing spanx….. and usually it just gives me a terrible stomach ache. (so I wonder if that pained expression on my face actually is making me less attractive then just letting the belly be free). I see you wear pretty cloths and dresses, so is maybe the solution to “looking attractive and still letting the body be its size” to try to flatter it with the right cloths in the right size and a happy face to go with it?

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  40. I ABSOLUTELY resonate with this. I went through a miscarriage this spring, and when it was over and I’d try to suck in my belly, I’d get horrible cramps. It wasn’t until I allowed my stomach to sit the way it needed to that I fully recovered, physically and emotionally, from the miscarriage. It’s like I carry my emotions and stress in that area. Thank you so much for posting this!

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  43. YEEESSSSSS this resonates 100%! After a year and a half of restrictive eating and striving for the “perfect body” I’m now trying to get back to a healthy weight. The hardest part has been seeing subtle changes in my body more abs. I know that it’s the healthy thing for me to do right now and I know that i still suck it all in to try and look thinner, but in reality it’s UNCOMFORTABLE! I feel like becoming more aware of my body, even in little ways like this, will help me to accept and love my body no matter the shape or size. So again, thank you!!

  44. Pingback: Movements to Improve Body Awareness – Nutrition on a Mission

  45. I am a man who has been holding his stomach in for decades, literally, and just came to realize that I am, I believe, suffering from minor nerve related damage because of it. I swear that I am not put off by it in women or anyone for that matter. I wish we would all just let our stomachs out! I know that I am not going to hold mine in anymore.

  46. This is me to a T. I am skinny fat and have been ashamed of it for over 5 years, and so I picked up this habit of sucking in my gut and/or creating some kind of tension in my gut to combat the “unsexy” feeling of a heavy, drooping, bulging belly.

    It ended up giving me aggravating gut issues and weird breathing tics that I break out apparently in an attempt to again create tension and perhaps balance the yucky feeling of a hanging droopy gut.

    I am slowly learning to let go and stay that way. The main problem for me these days is the breathing tic thing. I have no idea how to not succumb to it.

  47. Huh. I’m starting to wonder how many of my issues could potentially stem from doing this…for the last 10 years or so. Time to make some changes, haha.

  48. I can relate to almost everything your wrote about holding your belly in, Kylie. I have been holding my belly in for decades. I have started doing daily belly breathing and hopefully in time I can relax my belly and breath there regularly. I have IBS bloating so when I let my belly pooch out I feel quite self-conscious. ..Best wishes to everyone here who is trying to relax their tummy.

  49. I am peri-menopause and started noticing that women after menopause often have a bit more of pouch tummy than before. I think it is because we just don’t care anymore to hold it in all the time. At least this is how I feel. I also went and bought two bikinis and I dont care what is sticking out of them anymore – finally, when its getting all old and saggy I am loving my body! I wish I could have felt this freedom when I was younger.

  50. Greetings from 2021, I’m very late to this conversation but feel the need to add that I am the opposite of this.  And I’m not bragging, I’m in the spectrum so I don’t quite get up with the times as my peers but I literally never knew we were “supposed” to do this.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that you’re putting this out there I just have been struggling to make this a habit as my belly sticks out in quite an infant Teri g way and akways did.  Having said that, I hear what you are saying and truly feel I would like to find a happy medium where I have proper posture but aren’t damaging my organs or digestion by sucking it in too much.  You’ll laugh, I found this article after googling this topic trying to figure out how I didn’t pick up on this social cue so to speak.  Like, did I miss school when they taught girls how to do this?!?  Lol.  So I feel you all as you have sucked it in your whole and therefore finding it hard to relax, I am struggling pulling it in even a little as I’ve spent my whole life letting it all hang out.  Lol.  Nonetheless,  this was the only article I could find on the subject, which I find very interesting!  Let’s all keep talking!  And doing whatever we feel is right for our own bodies.  

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