Beer belly, beer gut, pot belly, front butt, spare tire- There are so many names associated with abdominal fat that is almost seems to take on an identity of it’s own! For so many of my clients, they were fed up with the jovial mockery of what abdominal fat seems to have evolved in to. I have had many clients that have tried fad diets and excessive exercising, but still were not able to lose the weight. Some even put weight on! So, they came to me for answers and wanted to know how they could finally lose the tube and trim themselves up while still feeling healthy and vibrant and full of energy. Here was my answer.
My solution to your challenge
Challenge: “I need some advice. I can not seem to get rid of this stubborn belly fat. I feel bloated and unattractive regardless of how much I exercise and how much I have cut back on my eating. I find myself craving sugar and then, honestly, sometimes I give in. I feel awful about myself because I wonder how will I ever lose the weight I want to. I need more willpower! My belly fat just does not seem to go away. It all is stressing me out and I feel like I am losing hope. Maybe it is just because I am getting older. I mean, my family is all overweight too, so maybe I am just destined to have this fat! I don’t know. Do you have any advice?
“Fat loss is NOT about willpower.”
First and foremost, I can empathize with you and I can confidently say that, YES, there is hope for you! With the information overload that exists in our world, it is completely understandable why you would be confused or frustrated with your results. Here is a little secret, my friend- not every bit of information is right for every single body. That’s right! To truly gain progress in your health goals, you need to investigate what is the root cause of your issue and then address it with functional healing. Functional healing is when you focus your attention on alternative healing/medicine that will look at the interactions between the environment and the gastrointestinal, endocrine, and immune systems. It is looking at the whole picture, rather than one single component that worked for your neighbor, your friend, or your spouse. You live in an amazing and incredibly intelligent vessel that needs individual fine tuning. So, let’s focus on you!
1. What are you so stressed out about? Did you know that chronic increased stress is a major component of weight gain, especially around the abdominal region. This deep imbedded fat is called visceral fat and it is one of the most dangerous fats that can lie on the body due to it surrounding vital organs and placing pressure on those organs, increasing the stress on them working efficiently. When we have chronic stress, the hormone cortisol is excreted at continual doses and the body is continually on high alert. Now, cortisol is not bad. It is actually quite vital for the body during levels of stress, however, cortisol also increases our appetite for foods that are soothing and comforting. No one typically craves a huge salad after a long stressful day, right? Nope- typically it is sugary or salty or fatty foods. High levels of stress often increase anxiety, worry, and anger which, in turn, decreases our ability for deep recovering sleep. So, what can you do to distress? Try a fun and relaxing night out with your friends or engaging in one of your favorite, uplifting activities. Maybe you can engage in a calming yoga or meditation session or maybe sitting with a good book while relaxing in the bathtub. One incredible technique that is scientifically proven to distress and calm your senses—Touch. Maybe it is you asking your significant other for a back or foot rub. Maybe it is going for a massage. Maybe it is you just rubbing your own arm. Whatever it is, distress today and watch how the belly fat begins to disappear.
2. Do you want to look like a hot potato or a lumpy donut? Did you know that your nutrition makes up approximately 80% of your weight loss results? Focusing on just exercise and ignoring your nutrition is going to wreck havoc on your results. It is vital to eat healthy, whole food options that will make up a nutrition plan balanced in healthy fats, high-quality carbs, lean proteins, and an abundance of purified water. The old myth of “If I exercise more I can eat more” is true and false. People often think that they can eat more junk foods that are void of sufficient nutrients to make up the extra calories, when in fact, their bodies are craving more nourishment for recovery. By saying this, I also want to emphasis that it vital to make sure that you are eating enough. Crash and fad diets often revolve around excessive calorie restriction.
Prolonged excessive calorie restriction = slowed metabolism = less fat burning, lean muscle loss, and increased appetite
Sounds like a fat loss disaster to me! So, make sure that you are getting enough healthy foods and keeping your calorie intake high enough to support your activity. How do you do that? Eat when you are hungry. Ditch the calorie counting! Pay attention to your hunger cues and decide if they are hunger or if they are emotions that are increasing your appetite. If you are truly hungry, then eat. If it is spawned by an emotional response, figure out what you need emotionally and find another way to soothe yourself.
3. Got exercise? Too much exercise can actually make you put on weight. Why? It is the same concept as the stress explanation above. When your body is overly stressed and not allowed enough time for recovery on a regular basis, your body starts to react by having difficulty releasing body fat. If you are excessively exercising and not taking in enough nutrients through food, your body will begin to hold onto fat as a built-in defense to make sure that your body is safe. It thinks it is in survival mode! For the average person, I would recommend 4-5 times a week of moderate exercise for 45 minutes to 1 hour a session that consists of strength training, cardio (steady states and intervals), and flexibility.
4. To be or not to be…hormonally balanced. So often I hear older women surrender to the thought process that they can’t lose weight because of their age. Is it harder to lose weight as we age? Yes. That is true, but a large part of it has to do with how unbalanced the hormones are. When one or two hormones are unbalanced, that will ultimately affect other hormones that are essential for fat-burning and appetite control. If you have had a hysterectomy or have cycled into menopause or are just struggling with losing weight regardless of what you do, I would suggest going to your doctor or naturopath and having your hormones checked to see if you need a lifestyle change or some supplementation. You also want to make sure that you are using products that are as low in chemicals as possible. Chemicals and non-natural materials in make-up, toiletries, house cleaners, pesticides, insecticides, etc will ultimately wreck havoc on your hormones when you are exposed regularly. To give a specific example, did you know that chemical additives can directly increase or decrease your estrogen levels? Why do you think that there are so many women that struggle with heavy facial hair and could probably rock out a mustache if they wanted to? And, why do you think that so many men these days have man boobs? Two words. Hormone Imbalances.
5. Say no to food allergies and intolerances! Food allergies/intolerances, inflammation and weight problems are intimately related. Eating foods to which you are allergic causes inflammation which makes your adrenal glands secrete hormones which destabilize your insulin and blood sugar levels. The high level of insulin encourages your body to hold on to and deposit fat rather than allowing you to burn it for energy. Food allergies can lead to weight gain, and a high amount of body fat can promote inflammation and exacerbate problems with allergies. If you think that you are allergic to a food, try cutting it out for a period of time and see if you feel any better or if you start to lose weight. Some signs of food allergies or intolerances are:
- Stomach pain
- Gas, cramps, or bloating
- Brain fog
- Irritability or nervousness
- Mood disturbances
- Rash, hives, or itchy skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
6. Don’t worry, be happy. Depression. Anxiety. Excessive Worry. Mood Swings. Weight loss starts in the brain! These are just a few of the emotional issues that can be the barrier to you losing the amount of weight that you would like. Is it because you are experiencing that emotion? Not necessarily. It is more because of the emotional eating that is attached to it. According to a World Of Psychology 2013 post, “emotional eating was considered a barrier to 43 percent of people who wanted to better manage their weight.” Often people use food for comfort and then overeat or eat food that is unsupportive of their healthy dietary needs. The need for finding how to soothe your emotions and keep them in check is vital for weight loss. I would recommend, along with the recommendations in the study above, trying mindfulness and gratitude work, cognitive therapy, brain retraining tactics, journaling, and problem solving tactics.
Take action now! What can you do to jump start your fat-burning capability? Take 1 or 2 of the tactics above and put them into action today. Take pre-plan measurements, pictures, or any other objective measurements and try out the tactics above for 4-6 weeks. Remeasure yourself and see what kind of results you get.
Do you have a success story? If so, I want to hear all about it! Live your life with passion and purpose…
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