It takes more than just crunches! We start to gain weight in our midsection when our cortisol levels spike. Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. When this happens cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. That stress can even get WORSE with bad dieting; studies show that the stress caused by dieting can increase cortisol levels, making no change in belly fat even with calorie restriction. So how do you shape up? Incorporate these 6 things below and you will be on your way to a flatter belly in no time flat!
Excessive abdominal fat, or belly fat, is a serious health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having excessive abdominal fat increases your risks for developing Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and other serious health problems. No exercise, including rowing, can specifically target your belly fat. According to celebrity personal trainer Bill Phillips, the idea that an exercise targets a specific area for fat loss, called "spot reduction," is a soundly debunked fitness myth. Fat loss comes from your body as a whole. However, as rowing workouts burn overall body fat, the fat on your belly will unavoidably be part of the fat you burn.
In January of 2010, I was home from work, and I was flipping through the On Demand channels and I saw a circuit training workout “Boost Your Metabolism” from Jillian Micheals. I hadn’t a clue who she was, but I did the workout and I thought I was going to die! I couldn’t walk for 3 days and I was sore as hell. That’s when I knew I was out of shape and needed to up my exercise, because walking wasn’t enough anymore. At that time I also started my Getting in Shape 2010 group on Facebook. I needed a place to share healthy living, get support because I wasn’t getting that at home and to learn from others.
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Try out a circuit training program. If you are trying to lose weight quickly for a particular event and don’t care about keeping the weight off, you can try a condensed workout routine. Many women’s and health magazines as well as personal trainers offer similar condensed workout routines designed to maximize weight loss and visible physical slimming within only a few days of beginning the regimen.
Drink water. Contrary to another popular misconception there is no specific amount of water you should ingest. Everyone has different needs based on genetics, activity level, the environment they live in etc. The key is to drink water until your pee looks like lemonade. If it looks like apple juice keep drinking. The reason this helps flatten your tummy is two fold: hydration can boost fat metabolism by up to 3% and drinking water flushes out excess bloat and water weight you might be holding on to.
We’re almost up to speed, but still rewind a little bit back to the early years of college. In the fall of 2012 I started school at Truman State University in good old Kirksville, Missouri. If you’re in college or have been to college, you know that it’s the time to form independence and truly make decisions, on your own, for how you wish to live your life. For a lot of people this means starting over, turning over a new leaf, making new habits, developing a new lifestyle, etc. Honestly college is crazy and weird and I don’t want to ramble on it too much because this post is focused more on the fitness/nutrition journey I’ve experienced (though I now realize its all connected.)
About: Healthier key lime pie. Lower-calorie chocolate caramel snickers bars. Lower carb chocolate-filled cookies. If you have a sweet tooth but are trying to lose weight, Kaylie’s blog is for you. Kaylie is a registered dietitian who has a sweet tooth of her own. So, naturally, she figured out recipe swaps for making desserts with lower calories while maintaining all the sweet deliciousness. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
What a great article. Are you sure you weren’t writing about me? (LOL) But your 12 tips are fantastic. One of the biggest challenges I found was not starting a weight loss program, but sticking with it! Oh just this once I can have that donut or slice of cake, etc. One piece isn’t going to hurt right? Your article was not only very, very, helpful and informative, but also inspiring. Thank you for pointing out that you CAN achieve your goals! Thanks for a really great post, I enjoyed reading it!
This is a very simple method that you can use even when you're in the midst of doing something else. Whenever you notice you’re feeling tense and uptight check and see how you’re breathing. Most people under stress either alternate holding their breath with short breaths, or take rapid shallow breaths. After you become aware of your own breathing, consciously relax your belly and slow down the breathing. This works best if you focus on slowing down the exhalation rather than your inhalation. With each exhalation you can say to yourself "slow down". That is all there is to it- Simple but surprisingly effective!!!
Invest in single-serving containers. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that a serving size on a food label may be more or less than the amount of food you should eat, depending on your age, height, sex, and weight. Once you're done cooking, place the excess servings in the containers to eat for lunch or dinner tomorrow. That way, you won't polish off everything in one sitting.
There are so many protein powders on the market, and sometimes it can be hard to decide which one is best for your weight-loss goals. But by swapping out a whey or creatine powder for something plant-based, you could cut down on belly fat. Although whey powder is chock-full of muscle-boosting protein, it can also cause a belly bloat. Instead, try one of the 100+ recipes in Zero Belly Smoothies, made with vegan protein that will still have the same muscle-building, fat-burning, and satiating effects, just without the bloat.
If you’re already enjoying and eating foods high in fat along with protein, you might want to consider going on the keto diet. It’s been proven to be more effective at weight loss than a low-fat diet, and you’ll likely have an easy time transitioning to it. (9) Among my weight loss tips, going keto is the diet that produces the quickest results alongside significant health changes.
Work indulgence foods into your calorie plan. If you do want to have something that is a little higher in calories, then make sure that you work it into your overall calorie goal for the day. For example, if you are following an 1,800 calorie plan, and you want to have a brownie that is 300 calories, then you would only have 1,500 calories left for the day.
About: Normally, we’d skip right on over a blog that doesn’t identify the author’s name, but the woman authoring “Frantic at Forty” gave us pause. Why? Because her story is one that so many can relate to — a woman about to enter midlife trying to make sense of things and lose weight. The author started the blog just before she turned 40 as a way to stay accountable while she started out to give herself the only gift she wanted — thin. She’s lost plenty of weight, and, even more importantly, found some happiness in the process. We just hope that turning 40 doesn’t mean an end to her blogging.
Christy is a spokesperson, nutrition and food writer and blogger for Huffington Post and others, a recipe developer and YouTube video producer. She is regularly interviewed by CTV National News, CBC, The Globe and Mail and many more on nutrition and health. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest nutrition and food science and trends, and synthesizes and prioritizes it just for you.
The Mediterranean diet is a balanced diet and it is in accordance with the dietary guidelines. In fact most of the guidelines suggested are based on Mediterranean diet principles and the majority of the recommended foods are taken from the Mediterranean diet food pyramid. The endorsed distribution of fat, protein and carbohydrates for a healthy diet is:
With our pantry seemingly empty and our refrigerator busting at the seams with all things healthy and natural, I started my weight loss journey. Although I will not completely lay out the guidelines from his book I will share several things I learned that will stick with me forever. One major aspect of weight loss and overall health that I still honestly think about every time I go grocery shopping is to shop the perimeter of the store. If you think about it, the center is filled with boxes and cans and bottles of “food” filled with sugar, unhealthy oils and preservatives. It’s a great concept to remember and keep me in line. I took meal ideas from his book and would eat the same exact thing every single day (especially for breakfast and lunch) for a week or two at a time. It sounds incredibly boring but it made grocery shopping and meal planning so much easier. I can honestly say that for most all of my weight loss, I did not count calories. I ate when I was hungry and did not crash diet what so ever. I think that is HUGE in creating a weight loss journey and to changing your lifestyle. I learned the simplest things from how much sugar is in spaghetti sauce and how to make my own to what to look for in the ingredient list of boxed goods when you do want a quick and easy snack.
Speaking of intervals, high-intensity interval training (otherwise known as HIIT) has been shown to be incredibly effective for weight loss. Because the workouts are so intense, you don't need to put in an hour — or even 30 minutes — at the gym. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, seven minutes is all you need to get in the best shape of your life.
Insulin (in-suh-lin): A hormone made by the cells in your pancreas. Insulin helps your body store the glucose (sugar) from your meals. If you have diabetes and your pancreas is unable to make enough of this hormone, you may be prescribed medicines to help your liver make more or make your muscles more sensitive to the available insulin. If these medicines are not enough, you may be prescribed insulin shots.
Hi Amanda! I promise you, you are NOT hopeless. You can do this! One small change at a time. Every decision matters and those small things add up so quickly. Feel free to send me an email and we can talk more and I may be able to give you more specific guidance, but for now, just know that you can do this. If God can take a junk food-loving, couch potato like me and turn me into a veggie-loving runner, I promise He can transform your life (and your heart), too!
Nuts, the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, and it’s very easy to unwittingly scarf down large quantities. Cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise – you’ll find that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight. For someone following a strict keto diet with a 20 grams of carbs per day allowance, this means that consuming 100 grams (which happens in a flash!) will have filled their daily quota. Peanuts tend to be around 10-15% carbohydrate – not putting them in the clear either.
Hi Kristi, thanks so much for your comment! And congratulations to you and your DH for hopping on the keto train! I agree that one of the best things about eating keto is getting rid of those sugar and carb cravings – it certainly was for me. Regarding weight loss, a couple of things to consider are: Are you eating enough? A lot of women go on the keto diet and due to a decrease in appetite plus the desire to lose weight, their daily calories are too low. This can, although it’s counter-intuitive, hinder weight loss. If your body even so much as suspects there is not enough food available, weight loss will slow down/stall. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep and you are keeping stress-levels as low as possible. The more you focus on loving and nurturing your body, the quicker it will find its balance and shed those extra pounds. Finally, are you eating dairy? Personally I’m fine with dairy, but I do know some women who managed to break through weight loss stalls by quitting dairy. Oh, and regarding exercise – in the beginning I found the best things for me while my body was healing was just some walking while listening to my favourite music, and just doing things like squats and press ups at home. Don’t worry about pushing the exercise while you are adapting to this WOE. Just move your body each day! It sounds like you are really on the right track though. Trust the process and continue nurturing yourself! All the very best, Joan.
It was (and still is) important for me to have a game plan for the day. Usually I prepared the night before for all my meals for the next day. I would pack my lunch, think about my breakfast, or talk to Alan about what we would make for dinner the next day. If I was going out for a meal, I would think about healthy choices I could make. If I was going to have to work late, I would pack a healthy snack to hold me over. I found that it was really helpful for me to set myself up for success ahead of time.
Trim Portions. If you did nothing else but reduce your portions by 10%-20%, you would lose weight. Most of the portions served both in restaurants and at home are bigger than you need. Pull out the measuring cups to get a handle on your usual portion sizes, and work on paring them down. Get instant portion control by using small bowls, plates, and cups, says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating. You won't feel deprived because the food will look plentiful on dainty dishware.
About: Jenny always knew that she wanted to be a motivational speaker one day — she just wasn’t sure about what. Then one day it hit her, people are the most inspired by people who understand what they’re going through. For Jenny, that had always been her compulsive overeating, body image and food addictions. Four years ago, she decided to change. She transformed her way of thinking and her blog was born, complete with recipes, tips and posts that are truly inspirational from a woman that gets what you’re going through.
Control Your Environments. Another simple strategy to help cut calories is to control your environment -- everything from stocking your kitchen with lots of healthy options to choosing the right restaurants. That means avoiding the temptation by staying away from all-you-can-eat restaurants. And when it comes to parties, "eat a healthy snack before so you won't be starving, and be selective when you fill your plate at the buffet," suggests Ward. Before going back for more food, wait at least 15 minutes and have a big glass of water.
While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to researchers at Yale, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.
"It’s easy to become impatient and frustrated when you’re trying to lose weight and haven’t seen the results yet. But be realistic – you won’t see the affect overnight. Your brain’s wiring plays a huge part in resisting changes in lifestyle, and it takes time to establish new habits – up to 12 weeks. Stick with it for at least eight weeks and you should notice a change."
About: The mantra “everything in moderation is pretty much exactly what Bertha is all about. Her blog provides creative ways to tweak your favorite recipes to make them healthier and with lower calories. What does that mean? You can still chow down on the things you love, but do it in a better way that gets you closer to reaching weight loss goals.
"Sleep is a cornerstone of weight management because of the impact it has on your hormones that control how you burn fat, how you store fat, and how you're maintaining muscle. The better your hormone balance, the better your weight management. I work my butt off to get eight hours a night, but right now I'm at six—the show is murdering me! Even if I go to bed early my son wakes up."
Scientists and nutrition experts like it too and are saying it’s the way of the future for losing and keeping weight off and new books and articles on the topic are being published daily including best selling books like ‘Eat Stop Eat’ and ‘The 8 Hour Diet’. Intermittent fasting is also popular with followers of the Paleo diet since our ancestors appear to have eaten this way for thousands of years.
If you’ve got weight to lose and you want it gone fast, try swapping out your usual proteins in favor of fish. Not only is fish lower in calories than an equivalent amount of beef or chicken, a study published in Obesity reveals study subjects who added omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish, to their diets shed more weight and had an easier time keeping it off than those who skipped them.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
About: Meg’s blog is a primary example of the two sides of online blogging: the challenges of knowing what to share (and how much of it to share), mixed with the benefits (the inspiration and encouragement bloggers get from their readers). Meg used to blog in private, but eventually morphed into a public blogger, where she shares not just her progress losing weight, but also recipes she’s tried, fitness that worked (and didn’t work) for her, stories, rants and so much more. Plus, her cat is really cute.
Second, add “fermentable fibers” to your diet, which are also called prebiotics (sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.) and eat a lot of fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and certain types of yogurt (but most yogurts found in your grocery store are simply milk with sugar and are NOT healthy) You can also supplement with probiotics, but make sure to start slow and build up.
The upshot of all these chemicals floating around is big trouble for big-bellied guys. In a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers took 137 men of all ages and sizes and used seven different measurements to determine their risks of cardiovascular disease. The single best sign of multiple heart-disease risks? No, it wasn't the guys' family histories or their cholesterol profiles. It was the amount of abdominal fat they carried.
Suspect you have a sluggish metabolism? You might have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, which afflicts about 25 percent of American women — many of whom don't know they have the condition, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. "The thyroid gland controls your body's metabolism, so one of the first signs that it may be off is an inability to lose weight," explains Pamela Peeke, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fight Fat After Forty. Your doctor can determine if you're suffering from hypothyroidism by running a blood test. If you do have an underactive thyroid, you'll be treated with a synthetic thyroid supplement, which you will need to take for the rest of your life (it will return your metabolism to normal, so it should be easier to drop unwanted pounds).
Chronic migraines were what first inspired Amanda Tagge to start exercising. “I was hoping to find some relief from my headaches and working out did help but I realized that if I really wanted to feel better I needed to revamp my health habits overall and lose weight,” she says. The more she changed, the better her headaches got and she lost 70 pounds in the process which helped her feel even better. Focusing on all the ways her health was improving kept her going even when the scale wasn’t moving.