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!

Apple – A Super-food!

Soon the fresh apple season begins. What do we really know about apples? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” We all grew up with that phrase.

246px-Malus_Goldrenette_F._v._BerlepschWe know that apples are good for us.  More so, apples are delicious! Desserts, pies, sauces, apple snacks of all sorts satisfy any pallet. Apples are the most widely cultivated tree fruits in huge varieties among different cultures across the globe. They originated in Europe. Today, over 2,000 varieties of apples exist.

What is so Special About an Apple to be in the Super-food Category?

Thanks to the advancement of nutritional science and research, the apple is considered a little powerhouse. Here is why. To summarize, the apple: [Read more…]