3 Smart Tips to Ease the Struggle of Losing Belly Fat

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 normal range until six months ago. Within three months, following an episode of heart failure, I had gained between 8 to 10 pounds – all belly fat. This was new to me.

For the last three months I have been 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.

A summary of issues contributing to belly fat built-up offer some insight. A bulge in your stomach results from a more complex combination of multiple factors, to highlight a few:

  • 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.

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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 my recent 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 heart will thank you for a long time to come.

What works for you may not work for me or vice versa. That’s why it is so important that we share information and support each other in finding our healthy life style.

Personal note: Once I had shifted my mindset and applied the three tips, the struggle had changed to a lifestyle adjustment that works for me and I enjoy more. And I was elated to celebrate my first pound lost and 0.5 inch girth reduction.

Please share your thoughts and insights, your tips that worked for you or did not; or, ask questions. We love to hear from you!

To a healthy life!

Signals When Our Body Needs More Protein!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We know how essential protein is to keep our total body systems strong and healthy. But the question is: how much do we need and how can we notice that our body may not get enough?

No matter how youthful we feel in our heart, aging is part of life with inevitable changes. As such, our nutritional needs change to maintain health and vitality.

We know that our metabolism slows. We burn fewer calories and thus need less. But our nutritional needs, that means nutrient-rich foods, however increase. One of the essential nutrients is protein.

Mark Sisson opened my eyes when he described in his article “12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein” 12 situations, signs and symptoms to alert us about our need to eat more protein. Some are well known while others are less talked about.

To listen to our body’s subtle signals is not that easy. It requires getting to know our body and being tuned to changes and responses. You will appreciate learning about managing a healthy, science-based protein balance Mark Sisson discusses.

Here are a few highlights among others that caught my special attention:

  • Age – it’s known that seniors process protein less efficient than younger people, thus needing more protein especially when being active, e.g., walking for an hour, gardening, resistance training.
  • You’re always hungry – protein most satisfies, curbs craving. “So if your stomach resembles a bottomless pit, try increasing your protein intake.” Add meat, salmon, some eggs to your diet.
  • Weight loss diets – when going on a weight loss diet be mindful that, by simply reducing calories to lose weight, you will end up skinny-fat which means having lost lean muscle mass. Even if the plan does not specify, add protein to prevent muscle mass loss.
  • If you are craving meat – give in and satisfy yourself. Your body might call for more protein.
  • Bed rest – eats at lean muscle mass, causing muscle atrophy. Muscle fibers become less responsive to protein. Being mindful of eating more protein will improve muscle function.
  • Experiencing chronic stress – continuous flood of stress hormones increase muscle and tissue breakdown; thus, as part of stress management, pay attention to eating extra protein instead of comfort foods, loaded with sugars.

Mark Sisson convinced me that adding extra protein to our daily nutrition could have multiple, unexpected benefits.  I immediately hard-boiled a few eggs to have handy for snack when the craving moment hits. I encourage you to do the same because a little extra protein can give us grandmothers that extra strength to have fun with the grandkids!

To Grandma Health!

Could Delicious Soups Also Attack Belly Fat?

Could nourishing soups be your weight loss answer and maybe attack belly fat? Yes, Tony Carapinha will show you.

As I was browsing the YouTube channel to find fun videos to watch with my grandchildren, this video title “Magic Diet Soup to Lose Weight” caught my attention. Soup is perfect for this season as the days are shorter and colder in most regions. But the season of putting on a few pounds is approaching with all the holiday goodies ahead. After watching and listening to Tony preparing his soup, you will understand why I had to share this with you.

Studies have shown that most of the extreme weight loss diets may work initially but most people gain back all they lost and more once they return to their regular diet. Instead, the heart healthy approach to lose weight, especially belly fat, is  to adjust your nutrition that is right for you and your taste. Tony understands that.

Just like a lot of others, I tried many diet systems, bought a lot of books, joined a fitness Club, but continued to struggle with my weight.

In his personal case study “How I Lost the Weight” he shares how he tested and customized his nutritional lifestyle to his taste and comfort.  He likes soups, rich in vegetables and fibers, but low fat. But they are not “of a Diet kind” as he puts but rich in “foods that help you burn off the weight.”  I could almost smell the rich mix with herbs and spices. Tony is not telling us what to do but engages us in a conversation about healthy life style adjustments.

You have to try and prepare your own Magic Diet Soup from chef Tony Carapinha of his Cooking Channel “Cookingaround!” I certainly will!

To a Healthy Season!

Day Trips To Enjoy Awsome Fall Sceneries

250x355River_in_autumn_fallA headline: “8 Fall Foliage Tours To Amaze You,” caught my attention as fall is showing its brilliance again.  Reading further: “Looking for leaves? Take a day trip down these scenic roads for the very best of what autumn has to offer,” I wanted to jump into the car and take the grandkids on an adventure ride to hear their:  “Aw” “Waw” “Cool” when driving through some amazing fall scenery.

Should you for some reason not be able to get away, let Kristen Sturt take you on a delicious virtual tour.  It will get you excited to change your mind and pack up this weekend for a day trip or even overnight to just soak up nature’s beauty at its glory. Or, if it is just a walk at a nearby park. I certainly will!

Nothing will uplift your spirit more and boost a joyful energy than the brilliant colors of fall!

Welcome to the Happy Grandparents Week!

Image by Photostock, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Photostock, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Though I had planned to post a more pragmatic article of a stubborn health issue on belly fat most of us struggle with, it just came to my attention that The American Grandparents Association (AGA) announced Happy Grandparents Week! They celebrate the week of September 7, 2014, to the 12th as a Feel Grand week Week.

What a great theme: Feel Grand! Check it out! AGA will celebrate with daily Feel Grand newsletters filled with tips, giveaways, and games – everything is aimed at helping you stay happy, healthy, and fit for many years.

I love the daily topics for the next five days AGA will address this week. I thought it would be fun to follow along with maybe some extra thoughts. The topics are:

  1. Monday: Feel Wise – Explore strategies to keep our brain healthy and sharp.
  2. Tuesday: Feel Energized – Suggestions to feel our best.
  3. Wednesday: Feel Loved – Get inspired to love our heart and our whole self.
  4. Thursday: Feel Strong – Simple tips boosting our inner and outer strength.
  5. Friday: Feel Healthy – Learn to keep our hard-working body in tip-top shape.

The Feel Grand theme and daily topics so well address the philosophy of Fun, Fit and Healthy Grandma. We should have a fun week!
To get us into the mood, let’s start today with an upbeat attitude and think about the effects it will have within and around us.

An upbeat mindset helps trigger optimism. Negative events or issues inevitably come up. It’s how we react to them will make the difference. In fact we can rewire our brain to view life within a positive frame.

A friend told me (true story) that recently she and her husband were so frustrated with each other and quarreled back and forth. Suddenly, both burst out laughing when they sensed how ridiculous their issues were.

A fun tip to quickly shift your mood:

My favorite exercise with the grandchildren is to enter a laugh contest we make up like: who is the first to laugh; who has the funniest laugh; who laughs the loudest; who shows the first tears from laughter; and so on. Before we know it we all laugh heartily and have great fun.

Have a wonderful sunny day, even if it rains! Talk to you tomorrow.

To your best health!
Ute

Flower Rises From the Dark

My little rose greets us again after almost giving up

You may think what a weird title this is. And it is. But I did not know how else to describe my long absence here on the site. Let me just say: “I am sorry!”

My little rose and I went through a cycle together. Yesterday morning, after a rest and withdrawal for several months, a big red smile greeted me. The signal was clear: life has returned and it’s time to connect again.

We can get so wrapped up in all that overwhelms us at times: illness, slow recuperation, loss of a loved one, loss of purpose, and so goes the list. Sometimes we just cannot put together what would make sense to us and how to explain to others. Nor could my little rose when all the leaves drooped and dried despite all the care it got.

No, I will not discuss ‘depression’ today. Rather, let’s focus on life. That’s where the energy flows.

I want to celebrate everyone who is responsible for pulling me out from under. Little do they know! It is a community of family and grandchildren specifically, friends, a doctor, a coach; it is the magnificent nature around, the birds who greet me every morning and wait for their treats, and the brilliance of flowers. Above all, it is the Spirit beyond my comprehension.

Writing is a wonderful world to hide in, to become alive within, and to gain strength when feeling vulnerable in the outside world. We can talk and yet be so still. No matter how weird, how funny, how sad, . . . it’s all irrelevant. I wrote a lot and am ready to share again.

A kindle book on women’s heart health is approaching the finishing chapter. While writing it and researching the topic I gathered a number of short notes. I feel compelled to share all the information and insights I have gained.

To my dismay I realized how limited the information on women’s heart health is and even less circulated in the greater medical community. And, compared to men, research specific to women’s heart issues is yet so negligent. But, I also found that there is a heightened awareness among scientists and health professionals that the knowledge gap between men and women has to close.

In addition, I am waiting for approval of an article on women’s belly fat and the complex factors involved most diet and exercise programs don’t address. And much more!

May this post encourage and support you: whenever you feel down or overwhelmed, be patient with yourself and trust that your rose in your soul will bloom again.

Stay tuned, I will share it all and I am looking forward to hearing your experience, events and stories of life!

To your health and life enjoyment!

Ute

Pet Loss – The Devastion and The Healing After

300x180“When your heart is broken after the death of your beloved pet, it is hard to find hope or to adjust to daily life without your animal friend.”  That’s how I felt after the loss of my little Dachshund Turby I mentioned in the last post.

A capture of this book description Healing Pet Loss: Practical Steps for Coping and Comforting Messages from Animals and Spirit Guides (Healing Pet Loss Series) by Marianne Soucy caught my attention as I was searching to find some guidance. This Book was written to help heal your heart, bring comfort, inspiration, and suggestions for coping with situations surrounding pet loss.

I had not expected such amazing comfort and spirited uplift reading Marianne’s reassuring words. She has a gift to use her spiritual wisdom in providing concrete steps that help in the healing. It was even uplifting. I wish I had prepared myself better while my dog was failing and his death nearing.

We anticipate intense sadness but not an emotional conflict or guilt that might surprise you as it can different from losing a close family member or friend. This is why I want to share some insights I gained from various sources to help you when facing a loss of your pet or when comforting others.

To lose a pet is most devastating!

Whether the loss is sudden or the result of an illness or debilitating condition, it is a hard reality, often overwhelming. The impact could be even  greater than the loss of a family member or friend.

“How could the loss hurt even more than the death of my grandmother? Am I the only one who feels this way?” I asked myself while feeling guilty, confused and embarrassed.

A moving article: The Death of Pet Can Hurt as Much as the Loss of a Relative by Joe Yonan, the Washington Post’s Food and Travel editor, reassured me that I was not alone in feeling the conflicts. Yonan wrote:

I’m no stranger to death. I was a mess of anger and confusion when my father, suffering the aftermath of a stroke, took his last gasps one day in 1995, his children gathered around his hospital bed. And three years later, the death of my sweet, beloved sister Bonny after a withering battle with brain cancer was nothing short of heartbreaking. Yet somehow, and much to my distress, the death of my dog seems even harder. I haven’t felt grief quite like this since, well, the death of my previous dog five years ago.

In his further search to better understand his emotions, Yonan found that multiple studies revealed different answers to reactions of the death of a companion animal: “. . .  it can be ‘just as devastating as the loss of a human significant other,’ not quite as severe, ‘far more intense’ or, well, just about the same.”

The Healing

You can’t sleep, you can’t stop crying. You are so scared that tomorrow no one will understand why you are such a mess and that someone might think she was ‘just a dog’. All you want is your best buddy back.  You may find yourself very alone.

It takes time to heal. Experienced veterinarians understand that pet owners’ grief vary widely in intensity and longevity. Complex emotions are natural reactions to the known stages of grief that may involve  guilt, denial, anger and depression, though not necessarily in that order.

You will find many coping strategies in the literature. I summarized a few to point out reassuring directions and understanding to support the natural healing process:

  1. Feel the pain and celebrate the love you shared. Have a loving conversation of all the memories together with your pet. Write a journal or letter. And allow your tears to flow.
  2. Seek support from people who have experienced the loss of their loving pet and know what it feels like. They will be most understanding.
  3. Avoid people who never had a pet. Or, if they did, they were not closely connected. Though well-intentioned, they might think that losing a pet cannot be such a big deal and urge you to: “get over it!”  Such well-meaning support will only enhance your loneliness.
  4. Understand that intense and often conflicting emotions during your initial grief is natural and normal. If it becomes unbearable or you just can’t get a handle on your emotions, seek support from your vet, or a counselor who specializes in grieving pet owners, or contact a Pet Loss Support Hotline.

Realize that losing a pet and the healing process that follows is also a loving and deeply spiritual journey of a fun life you shared and can celebrate. Each time I envision Turby’s happily wagging tail and his bright and big brown eyes begging for that special treat, I smile.

Here are a few additional resources I found most helpful:

The death of pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative by Joe Yonan

Pet Grief Recovery – The Stages of Grief

Coping with a Dog’s Death   (Cesars Way)

Read more:

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, Inc. (APLB)

American Veterinary Medical Association: Pet Loss Support Hotlines

Coping with the loss of a pet explains well the stages of grieving, though they may vary with each individual.

A wonderful resource to seek comfort and reassurance to help healing after a pet loss. It offers a newsletter, blog, articles all about grief and stories

 

Spring Walk After a Broken Heart

Spring walk III 350x260Spring!  Bright light breaking through. For many of you the winter was long, cold and treacherous at times.

This morning let me share my daily walk with you in my favorite park. It is a beautiful crisp, bright sunny day. It is here where I rekindle life within me and cleanse my soul. I have walked this path for many years through all seasons. Each is a new discovery.

Spring walk II 350x260

It has been long since I shared with you here in this Fun, Fit and Healthy Grandma community. Too long!

But when faced with life challenges, we easily close down and inward to cope while searching for our strength. This is what happened.

resize 375x269February – My little buddy and companion Turby, a miniature dachshund 17+ years old, gave all signs that it was time to go to sleep in peace. Four years ago he became blind and deaf; then, increasingly dependent, weak and frail. Turby loved this park and left his many markings on nearly every tree. This was a last picture, Oct. 2013.

128px-Broken_heartOne week later – “You had a heart attack, not a common one caused by a blockage, fortunately a mild one. It is an over-stressed heart, a failing heart,” the doctor said while I was tied to tubes and beeping monitors in the emergency room. “A failing heart? A stressed heart? That can’t be. I am a healthy person feeling fit most of the time! And I just finished half the training for a 10K race. Sure, I had to deal with stressful situations! But who has not?” I argued in disbelief and felt defeated.   “I am not finished with life yet,” I thought as I was silently overcome with fear and uncertainty.

Final diagnosis –Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy” or ”Broken Heart Syndrome.” A heart damage, only recently more recognized and researchers are paying attention. It is often fatal and happens to mostly menopausal and post-menopausal women who have experienced intense or sudden stress.

Naturally, I had to understand the magnitude of this serious women’s health issue, especially afflicting senior women. Since I am feeling better now, I am in the process of writing an informational book about this heart condition, how we can help each other and become a strong advocate for research, early detection and prevention: “When the Heart Strikes!”

The daily walks in the park has been my healing, especially at the awakening of spring. And I encourage you to do the same when down, when recovering, or whatever in your life pulls you back.

Nature talks to us in so many subtle ways and releases powerful healing energy. It shows us the beauty of life renewal. I had to bend down to really see these little delicate stars or the cracked shell of a bird’s egg.

Spring 350x260    Bird egg 350x260

Enjoy your spring walks if you can. If not, enjoy nature from your window or garden, or pictures.

Can You Achieve True Wellness?

Yes, you can!

The winter has been long and brutal for many this year. Spring is still far away. Depending where you live, you may be shoveling snow or have to deal with icy roads. Your nose is stuffy, your head feels heavy and you are just not feeling up-to-par. That’s the time you just like to snuggle up with something hot to drink and a good book. I did exactly that. I grabbed a book long neglected on my shelf: The 22 {Non-Negotiable} Laws of Wellness by Greg Anderson.

You may ask why would I choose a book about Laws of Wellness instead of an exciting novel or mystery book to carry me into a world of endless imagination? And why would I now try to convince you to pick up this book, read it or read it again and keep it always near you to refer back to it? [Read more…]

Winter Blues or Feeling Down? Suggestions to Quickly Claim Your ‘Self’ Back.

new year conceptThe New Year is in full gear and it is freezing in many regions of the country.  The days are still short – dark in the morning and dark early in the evening. The holidays are behind us.  Many of us are left with a gift of extra five pounds, signs of the holiday left-over goodies.  An easy prescription for the so-called ‘winter blues.’

To make matters worse, this morning I heard on the radio the host announcing that January 6th is a “Depressing Day” – back to work, holiday bills piling up and tax forms reminding us of the famous or infamous April 15 tax day ahead.  Just listening to the announcer almost gave me the ‘winter blues.’ [Read more…]