Blake & Gwen Beckcom | Fitness
Had a little too much comfort food and lack of movement these last months? Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds around the middle? The summer bathing suit season is here, so if the pooch in your belly is the pain in your mirror, now is the time to do what it takes to get rid of it once and for all.
Where you tend to store body fat is related primarily to your genetic disposition. If you have an excessive amount of body fat, and heredity dictates storage around the middle, then unfortunately you will gain fat in the abdominal area.
That said, many women notice abdominal weight gain when they go through menopause. This is because hormonal shifts can change the way the body breaks down and stores fat, hence a redistribution of body fat and the tendency for it to accumulate in the belly as women grow older. This tendency is particularly unhealthy, as excessive abdominal fat – especially the deep abdominal visceral fat – increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
What really works to get rid of stubborn belly fat? The good news in the battle of belly bulge is that there are three scientifically proven lifestyle changes you can make that, when combined together, are the best way to attack that fat around the middle and flatten your belly.
Eat a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet: Excess body fat, whether it’s in the stomach or the thighs, is the result of routinely consuming more calories than you expend. Now is the time to change those unhealthy eating habits. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and good fats. Eat breakfast, don’t skip meals, drink lots of calorie-free liquid, and eat small, frequent, lighter meals at home. Watch your portion sizes and calculate your daily calorie intake to ensure you’re eating the right amount to lose body fat at a safe rate.
Strength training: While you can’t “spot reduce” belly fat, you can strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles. That way, once you lose that extra fat around the tummy, you’ll be able to clearly see your toned, flat stomach. Keep in mind that a single abdominal exercise won’t make a flabby stomach into washboard abs. Plus, there are certain abdominal exercises that are much more effective in strengthening and tightening the middle than others.
Your flat-tummy workout should incorporate exercises that target both the deeper and the lower abdominal muscles. For example, the rectus abdominis muscle is the most common target of abdominal exercises, such as crunches. This is a postural muscle; it’s also a paired muscle that runs vertically and has distinct segments on each side. The rectus is responsible for the “six-pack” visible in toned athletes.
Another important core muscle is the transverse abdominis, buried deep beneath the rectus. This muscle, though often neglected, also helps flatten the stomach. It runs horizontally and acts like a girdle, strengthening the core and decreasing risk of back injury.
Daily cardio exercise: Calorie-burning cardio exercise is one of the best ways to target stubborn belly fat. This is because stomach fat is more metabolically active and when you exercise, you target that area for fuel. What’s more, when you burn those calories up, you reduce your percentage of body fat, thereby shrinking those belly-fat cells. This will allow you to see those abdominal muscles you’ve worked so hard in the gym to define.
Beating belly fat has long term effects, on multiple fronts, so get moving. Better movement with better nutrition equals less fat, which equals better health, which leads to better outcomes. The overall benefits of daily physical activity are numerous:
•Reduces the risk of heart disease by improving blood circulation throughout the body
•Keeps weight under control
•Improves blood cholesterol levels
•Prevents and manages high blood pressure
•Prevents bone loss
•Boosts energy level
•Helps manage stress
•Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
•Counters anxiety and depression and increases enthusiasm and optimism
•Increases muscle strength, increasing the ability to do other physical activities
•Provides a way to share an activity with family and friends
•Establishes good heart-healthy habits in children and counters conditions – obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, poor lifestyle habits, etc. – that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life
•In older adults, helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging, and maintains quality of life and independence longer.
—Blake and Gwen Beckcom own Fitness Together Mission Hills, offering personal training with qualified professionals by regular appointment in private suites. Exercise and nutritional programs are custom designed to fit your needs and abilities. Call 619-794-0014 for more information or to schedule a free assessment session.