What’s happen to your middle? A jelly belly? It’s time for some middle management that will trim the belly bulge, love handles and that spare tire. Doing so can help you reduce the chances of heart disease.
Have you been ignoring your waistline and chalking up its growing circumference to age or inactivity? Blame it on your “parents”: Mother Nature and Father Time do have a lot to do with growing middles. But fight back especially if you inherited some health concerns.
The bad news? Spot exercises, even those unhealthy sit ups we did in high school, don’t work. To reduce belly fat, you need to make a change in your life. Now before your groan and gasp, I’m not suggesting that you become a marathon runner. Actually a study in Canada found even serious athletes had middles that thickened after age 45. Not great for a busy adult, but you can do something.
Here are ten tricks for a trimmer tummy that do work.
1. Don’t diet. Dieting means deprivation, inconsistent eating, unbalanced meals, crazy “miracle” plans and the rest of them. Rather, become a moderate. All food can be good food. What is unhealthy is too much, too often. One chocolate chip cookie will satisfy a cookie fix. A dozen will make a person feel bloated. A sugar-free frozen fruit bar will satisfy as much as a banana split. Choose foods that support and nourish your body and your emotions.
2. Stop at one. If you reach for seconds, serve food from the counter or stove. Use sandwich size plates for all meals. Your brain will think you’re getting as much food as you’d place on a traditional sized dinner plate, but you’ll really be eating less.
3. Consider portion control, especially with restaurant meals, which tend to be huge. Ask that half of your restaurant dinner be packaged for “take home” before it arrives at the table. You’ll be less tempted to eat more than you want because it’ll be enclosed in a Styrofoam box. Or split a meal with your spouse or friend. Order salads and appetizers, to be served at the same time.
4. Move it. Every single day exercise for at least an hour. We’re talking your healthy heart and body here, so don’t neglect the importance of this. You needn’t go to the gym or fitness class to sweat it off; exercise can be pleasurable and fit into your schedule. What if you don’t have 60 minutes? Divide your hour into ten or even twenty minute segments. All movement adds up. Aerobic activity (an accumulated 30-60 minutes on most days) and weight-resistance exercises are effective. Consider this math: If you reduce your waist circumference by 5-10 percent, in general you'll have a 25-35 percent reduction in visceral fat, or fat that’s fat which is accumulated around your organs, especially the abdomen.
5. Get away. Some folks tease that travel is “broadening” to your backside, but when you book your vacation at a health spa, like the Oaks at Ojai, or at a resort that has plenty of opportunities for movement, you’ll refresh your determination to stay trim and strong. Write down some goals before you leave and keep the list handy. Ask for a fitness or nutritional evaluation while you’re at the resort. That way you can continue to create a healthy lifestyle when you return home.
6. Buy shoes that are right for your sport and you’ll be more comfortable and less likely to have a sports injury. Here’s a trick: Get sports socks that wick away moisture. They reduce the possibility of blisters and they are comfortable, making them worth the extra money.
7. If you’re concerned about jelly belly, your spouse or a friend probably is too. Buddy with a pal and motivate each other. Lavish the compliments and encouragement and ask for them back as you’re out for a brisk walk. No one to walk with? How about the family dog or a neighbor’s pooch.
8. Be patient. Life isn’t fair. You didn’t gain belly fat or unwanted body fat over night and realistically you’ll need two to six weeks of doing the above before you’ll see a difference. But you will.
9. Make yourself feel special. Treat yourself to a special relaxing experience, perhaps a facial or maybe a new lipstick. Buy a novel, a cup of coffee at that little café down the block, a bright red scarf, a vacation sunhat. As you reduce belly fat, keep a journal of your feelings, woes, plateaus, successes and once a week, look back at where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Then treat yourself to a leisurely walk or a time to listen and dance to your own music.
10. Write out fifty dreams you have or once had. Prioritize them and then decide what you really want to do. Can you change your belly fat to stomach muscle and change your world? Only if you want to stay fit for life.
Sheila Cluff, fitness expert, television celebrity and owner of The Oaks at Ojai, is the author of Take 5: How You Can Benefit from Just Five Minutes of Daily Exercise and The Ultimate Recipe for Fitness by Sheila and Eleanor Brown. Visit Sheila’s Spa on the Internet and see all that’s happening at the resort: The Oaks at Ojai www.oaksspa.com.
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