"The foods we eat play an important role in how our bodies look physically," Erin told POPSUGAR. You can build muscles in the gym, but "in order to see those muscles, you have to pair training with healthy eating," she said.
The first step that Erin recommended was a mental one. Building visible abs is a great goal to have, but she said it's important to avoid comparing yourself to people you might see on TV or social media. Take an approach that's realistic for your body and lifestyle, and set your goals accordingly. Instead of setting your sights on a six-pack or nothing, for example, you could aim for a lower body fat percentage or a stronger core overall.
Then, look at your daily eating habits and adjust them one at a time. Erin suggested packing your lunch instead of going out; limiting desserts to less than 200 calories a day; and only eating when you're hungry to avoid excess calories your body doesn't really want.
You should also look to eat more healthy, nourishing foods. Try eating a Mediterranean-style diet, Erin suggested. Choose colorful fruits and vegetables, opt for lean proteins such as chicken and fish, and include healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. (Here are some Mediterranean diet recipes to get you started.) At the same time, do your best to avoid or limit refined grains, trans fats, added sugars, and foods that are high in sodium, Erin said. This includes foods like chips, crackers, cakes, and cookies. Besides potentially hurting your weight loss and fitness goals, "these foods leave you feeling bloated and low in energy," she explained.