We have a tendency to make poor food choices and say "oh, I'll work it off at the gym tomorrow." It doesn't work that way. You already know that but still use it a justification to eat whatever you want. If it was that easy, I'd be chomping down bacon cheeseburgers and french fries everyday! I sure work out enough so I should have no problem 'working it off'. WRONG!
You also cannot 'spot reduce'. Everyone wants a flat stomach or six-pack abs, but doing hundreds of crunches or sit-ups every day will not make the belly fat magically disappear. Again, this is not news to you, you've heard it many times. The muscles will appear when the body fat disappears. In order to accomplish this, you must shed fat from your entire body. You don't have control over where you lose it, but it will happen over time throughout your entire body.
Strength and cardio training also play a role in the process. Shocker! Just as an FYI, muscle burns more calories than fat does! There is your incentive to get in the weight room! Strength training also aids in building bone density among many other benefits. You should also know you never get rid of fat cells when you lose weight, you just shrink them. The only way to actually get rid of them is with surgery like liposuction.
So why do we as a society continue to deny that our nutritional choices have a significant impact on how our body not only looks and feels but how it functions? It's easier. We like easy. We want an 'EASY' button in real life. We work so hard for so many things in our life already, why should we have to work so hard for a flat stomach?
Your diet is 70% and the gym is the other 30%. Seems a bit strange to you? Well, google it and read up in more detail on it and you will see this split over and over again. In short, we are a carb heavy society. Carbs taste better, look better and are just more fun to eat. However, simple carbs spike your insulin causing your body to store unused calories as fat. Simple carbs make you feel full initially but then you are hungrier than before within a short time period. Not all carbs are bad, but complex carbs (steel cut oats, brown rice and veggies) generally don't taste as good as simple carbs (white bread, chips and sweets). Your body needs carbs for energy so you shouldn't completely cut them out. Be more selective on which ones you eat.
Protein has the same amount of calories per gram (4 calories per gram) as carbs do but they do not spike your insulin like simple carbs. Protein leaves you feeling more satisfied for an extended period of time while your digestive system processes it. Lean proteins (white fish, poultry, legumes/beans) are a better choice than high fat proteins but red meat is also an essential part of your diet. Grass fed beef and salmon both have very healthy CLA fats. Protein helps build strong muscles and bones.
Healthy fats also play a role in your diet and aid your body in many important functions. Fat provides energy and is part of every cell in your body, fat provides cushion for your organs, fat helps absorb essential vitamins, fat builds your brain and makes hormones. So eating a fat-free diet is very unwise and unhealthy. However, making healthy fat choices is important. Avocados, salmon, tuna, almonds, oils from nuts such as olive oil, flax seed oil are all good choices. We hear big words like mono saturated or poly saturated fats and think they are bad. These are the healthy fats. You want to stay away from saturated fats and trans fats.
This all matters because if you understand WHY you need these foods and what they do for you, you may be more likely to give them a try instead of shrugging your shoulders and walking away. By switching up your food and making a conscious decision to make better choices, you will see a difference in both your physical and mental condition. Be patient. It will take time, but if you stick to it, you will see results. Then you will truly understand the phrase - "Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym."