Perhaps you aren’t particularly overweight. You also have a regular exercise routine that includes stomach crunches. You watch what you eat – yet those stubborn spare tires simply refuse to disappear!
If you need to lie flat on your back to zip up your jeans, that’s certainly a wake-up call.
Apart from its unappealing appearance, chubby-tummy can be an early warning sign of chronic conditions like heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes and certain cancers.
If you take a moment to look at your lifestyle, you’ll get the answer. Late nights, work-place tension, unhealthy meals eaten at odd hours, finding excuses to skip exercising, choosing the couch instead can all pack on the pounds round your middle.
Stress is one of the biggest culprits that adds junk round the trunk. Cortisol that’s secreted when you’re stressed can break down lean muscle and enable fat storage in the abdomen area. And here’s something else you didn’t know: Dieting can spike cortisol levels! That means calorie-counting won’t work on belly fat.
Does age have anything to do with that flab? Men and women experience decline in metabolic rate as their bodies age. Menopause causes further accumulation of visceral fat in women. But age is no excuse!
Too many processed foods, not challenging-enough workouts, eating the wrong type of fats, sleep deprivation and genetic factors all have a role too.
So What’s The Solution?
Want to lose that unsightly belly fat and keep it off too? Now that you know the offenders, it’s time to deal with them.
1. Want It: Unless you’re motivated to cut the flab, nothing can help you. It’s not going away on its own – you need to see it, measure it and attack it. For women, waist-sizes more than 35 inches and for men, waist-sizes more than 40 inches means bad news. So motivate yourself. Think skinny jeans, form-fitting gowns, cropped tops, washboard abs or whatever inspires you. Tuck photos of your thinner self into your bathroom mirror, fish out an old pair of trousers you wore in college, make the tape measure your friend, rather than the bathroom scales.
2. Eat Right: That’s a major life-style change you’re looking at. Stop shopping at your regular supermarket. Get fresh fruit and veg from the local farmer’s market, buy whole-grain breads, include greens, seeds, healthier cooking mediums, ditch the packaged stuff.
3. Sleep It Off: Getting less than five hours shut-eye is a bad idea. It leaves you depressed, tired and de-motivated, and more inclined to snacking and extra trips to the fridge.
4. Cherries and Berries: Tart fresh cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are loaded with anti-oxidants, especially resveratol, which reduces fat-accumulation and the risk of dementia too.
5. Eat More Fat: The right ones, of course! Fish oil actually helps you burn fat, while omega-3s found in walnuts and avocados does wonders. Ditch trans-fatty products like margarine.
6. Vitamin C: Acidic fruits like oranges and kiwi, veggies like kale with a dash of lemon on top help to balance the cortisol spike when you’re feeling stressed.
7. Destress: Do yoga, meditate, slow down, practice mindfulness, gratitude and breath-control and you’ll find yourself not just feeling better, but looking great too.
8. Exercise Right: Try shorter bursts of exercise that engage various muscle groups in turn, with focus on cardio. Spot-reduction is a myth, so don’t break your back with 1000 crunches a day.
9. Rise and Shine: Starting your day earlier keeps you fresher, more organized and less stressed. It’s also a great way to ensure that you get your exercise and catch the rays of early morning sun for that extra boost of Vitamin D. This means you have time to get yourself a proper breakfast instead of grabbing something salty and sugary from a deli en route.
10. Replace the Rogues: Remember it’s war! Throw away the cookies, cakes and chips. Spend an hour or two on weekends stocking up on fresh fruit, veg, flax-seeds, pumpkin-seeds, water-melon seeds, sprouted breads, whole-grains etc. Cut carrot and cucumber sticks, make some low-fat dips and plan your meals. If you need to eat out, fill up on healthy options before you get there and treat yourself to a low-fat dessert.
Belly fat is not just unattractive, it’s also a health hazard. There are lots of other little things you can do to lose it and ensure that it’s kept off. Brush your teeth often, to fool your taste-buds into thinking food-time’s over. Become aware of your breathing pattern and consciously slow down your exhalation. Use these tips, discover a few of your own and find what works best for you.
Get started today and you’ll soon fit into those skinny jeans minus the embarrassing muffin-top!