The holiday season is beginning and so rises our sensitivity about our weight, that stubborn belly fat! It’s such a struggle to melt it, to even reduce it by one ounce. You are working hard and it is showing signs of toning your hips. You notice your slacks are not as tightly fitting around your waist and thighs. But there sits that belly bulge, not budging.
Sounds familiar? Many women, middle age and older can relate. Though during my later years, 60s and early 70s, my figure and weight remained within a lower normal range until about three years ago.
Within three months, following an episode of heart failure, I had gained between 8 to 10 pounds – all belly fat. My weight and BMI (Body Mass Index) were higher but still within the normal range. This was completely new to me.
Naturally I started working on getting rid of – or at least toning down – a belly fat bulge above the waist. I noted that, after a four-week exercise program six days a week and diet adjustments like reducing carbohydrates and eliminating sweets, I had lost only ONE ounce if any and my stomach had not shrunk one bit.
I was totally shocked and had to step back to re-evaluate anew. “What was happening?” I asked.
Belly Fat and What Contributes to It
- Hormone changes during post-menopause when belly fat usually develops following a drop in our estrogen level, setting off a hormone re-adjustment and imbalance.
- Nutrition could be the culprit – a high carb, low fat and minimal vegetable diet overworks and tires the work of insulin, affecting a healthy metabolism.
- Exercise, the lack of or wrong one, can impact where and how our fat is stored.
- Stress has a significant impact on cortisol, a stress hormone that influences fat storage of the visceral fat (deep stomach fat).
- Inadequate rest contributes to an imbalance in the overall metabolism.
It becomes clear that there is no simple and quick-fix answer to reverse the out-of-balance fat metabolism and storage.
Health Risks of Belly Fat
Three Tips to Ease the Struggle to Lose Belly Fat
The health science literature emphasizes that by being too eager to regain control of our body, women especially focus mainly on weight loss and not fat loss which is not the same. We intensify exercise by running faster or pumping harder as opposed to approaching a more intelligent exercise regimen that brings about metabolic changes. It all comes down to changing our mindset to work smarter instead of harder.
We know that exercise and nutrition adjustments are needed to lose weight. But what works for one does not work for the other. We are unique individuals. I did not believe it until I experienced it the hard way myself. How and where to start to ease the struggle of losing that belly fat in a smart way?
Here are three tips that finally got me on the right path to attack that stubborn belly fat:
- Patience – a tough one. Accept that there is no quick fix, especially as we get older. Evaluate your life style, how your body responds while considering the factors to belly fat build-up and test the adjustments you make. Re-adjust if no results and test again. PATIENCE! Allow the body to adjust on its own time schedule.
- Reward yourself with every small change you have achieved; may it be in nutritional adjustment, enjoyment exercise vs. stress exercise; changing rest patterns; intentional time for self.
- Celebrate milestones: stomach bulge one inch less; one pound less; feeling overall stronger by being able to weight lift a higher strength level.
Since we all are unique individuals and respond to activities, food, exercise, stress and life style differently, we have to get to know our body, listen to it, find out what works for us and adjust to a life style that supports a metabolic change unique to us.
Maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle is not about diet, exercise and calorie counting alone I discussed in an earlier article: Heart Healthy Lifestyle – Are You Making These 3 Lifestyle Mistakes that Sabotage Your Heart Healthy Life?. It is about evaluating your life, activities, nutrition and habits so you can make adjustments you will adhere to. The key is to keep it simple and practical. Stay away from drastic changes. Avoid three common mistakes most people don’t consider and plan adjustments one step at a time – your body and heart will thank you for a long time to come.
To a Healthy Life!
- Get your personalized nutrition and physical activity plan.
- Track your foods and physical activities to see how they stack up.
- Get tips and support to help you make healthier choices and plan ahead.
Please share your thoughts and insights, your tips that worked for you or did not; or, ask questions. We love to hear from you!