Written by Kimberly Evans
One of the most frequent health questions I get is “how do I get rid of this belly fat?”. Generally this statement is followed by a testimony of healthy eating habits and the time spent trying to stay active. My response to this belly fat question is always the same. You can not spot treat belly fat. Seriously, it is just not possible. You can strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles but all the crunches in the world will not rid you any faster of a muffin top. You need to shrink that middle so that you can start seeing your abs which you can fine tune/define with planks, crunches, etc.
Ask yourself this, how long did it take you to gain your muffin top? Expect that losing it will take just as long. So exhibit some patience and keep in mind there is no one way to do this nor is there any easy way out. It will take willpower and dedication on your side to find what works best.
Below are my top 6 items to address so you can start seeing results.
1. Cardio – Are you still maintaining a level of 30-40% of you max heart rate when at the gym? If the answer is no, pick up the pace! Try to find a happy zone staying between 60-80% of your total heart rate. Unsure of what your heart rate is? Try using a heart rate monitor. There are fitness trackers with all sorts of bells and whistles or there are simple heart rate monitors that have a chest band (yes you have to wear it if you really want to know your accurate heart rate). These would be more than enough. Here’s a quick reference sheet from the American Heart Association on ranges by age: Target Heart Rate. As a side note, do NOT rely on the machines at the gym to tell you how far you’ve gone, what your heart rate is or what your calories are… they are not accurate.
2. Cut the sodium – Did you know the CDC recommends 1500-2300mg of sodium today? If you are over 50 the recommendation changes to no more than 1500mg. That’s like the amount in an order of Chinese! How much sodium are you consuming in a day? Generally unless you’ve been watching that answer is too much. Try to limit going overboard on sodium. One quick way you can take this into your own hands is not adding extra salt to your food or pick lower sodium chicken broths, stock, seasonings, etc. Sodium leads to water retention and unnecessary belly bloat. Try reducing yours to see if that makes a difference.
3. Eating better – Greasy fries may be good on occasion but if you are looking to lose your middle filling up on garbage just stands as a roadblock between you and success. This goes the same for the processed sugars. Try and cut out those foods that have a laundry list of added ingredients in the back. Less than 5 is ideal and if they contain the words partially hydrogenated soybean oil put it back. Simple can still be tasty… try it I dare you.
4. Cut down drinking– Like to drink? Like to drink beer? This is another notorious reason for that belly bulge that just wont’ go away. Mild drinking is ok once and awhile just try not to make it a daily habit.
5. Sleep More – This one may confuse you but it has been proven that getting too little sleep can really screw your body over when you’re trying to lose weight. A sleep study from several years back showed in the results that women who slept less than 5 hours a night weighed on average 5.5 lbs more than women who had a good night sleep. Need a quick win? Get more sleep! Aim for 6 plus hours a night, your body will thank you!
The list of things you can do to kick your belly fat for good goes on and on. Like anything adjusting from your current routine and mindset takes a bit so cut yourself some slack (but not too much afterall that’s what got you in this predicament!) and keep on plugging away. You’ll find as you make 2 or 3 of the changes above on a consistent basis that the new habits will become a routine and they will get easier and easier to incorporate daily without much thought.
To end as much as I like to be positive about things, sometimes I have to be a bit more brash. You need to make the changes for you and no one else can make them for you. There’s only so many times you can give someone the same advice, it’s at that point they need to either take it or stop asking. Moral being: less talk more action will get you everywhere in life. Now let’s kick it into gear! Namaste.