‘I definitely have body issues, but everybody does. When you come to the realisation that everybody does – even the people that I consider flawless – then you can start to live with the way you are’ – Taylor Swift.
Hands up if you love your belly!
Anyone? Hmm, thought not! Very few of us are completely happy with our stomach and that most definitely includes me. We hate trying clothes on, can’t find anything that flatters, feel embarrassed taking our clothes off and it affects our self-esteem. Maybe we look at those airbrushed photos in magazines and on Instagram or the impossibly perfect bodies on programmes like Love Island and we compare. But why do we do it? Why torture yourself, believing that you should have a stomach that’s as flat as a pancake or a six pack to be proud of? We are all unique individuals who have amazing bodies that we should be proud of no matter what size clothing we wear.
So can’t I just accept I’ve got a bigger belly than I’d like?
Well you could and I am definitely all for loving the body you are in, but it’s actually the worst place to store fat in terms of your health. Excess belly fat increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes and high blood pressure. If your waist measurement (at the narrowest part of your waist) is more than 80 cm for women or 94 cm for men it’s time to start thinking about how to reduce it.
But make sure you are aiming to reduce your belly fat for health reasons not for what you look like. It’s a really important distinction and one that will make the difference as to whether you stick with it or not. Imagine the negative self talk you’ll tell yourself, maybe it goes something like this: ‘I’m fat, I’ve got to exercise but it’s never going to work so I won’t bother today, maybe I’ll do something tomorrow’. Then compare it to: ‘I know that excess fat on my belly isn’t good for my health. I don’t want to get ill or die prematurely so I am really going to stick to my goal’. No-one wants to be sick so the motivation is far greater especially if you can link it to something or someone else, so give yourself a reason to do it. Maybe you want to be fit and healthy enough to go on a long walk, maybe you want to be alive when your grandchildren are born, whatever your motivation, keep it in mind at all times.
So what can I do about it?
We all know that what we eat and how we exercise are the keys here and, of course, what you put into your body is hugely important. But for this post let’s assume that you eat a relatively healthy diet most of the time and your activity levels are fairly average but your belly fat just doesn’t shift.
You start to think that the only thing for it is sit ups but you really don’t like them or don’t have the willpower to do them every day. Well, guess what? It turns out that sit ups and ab crunches aren’t the only way forward! What they do is tone the muscles, so if your waist measurement is in the healthy range then they will help give you a defined shape or six pack. But to lose the belly fat, muffin top or love handles, it’s all about diet and activity.
OK so what are the 7 ways to lose belly fat that have got nothing to do with what we eat?
There are several things you can do but I’ve listed here my favourites which don’t involve laying on the floor! None of them are too difficult and most people will be able to do them, regardless of fitness levels. You may find one or two quite surprising! Here we go!
Number 1 – Hold your tummy in
Really obvious but I certainly don’t remember to do this very often! By engaging your stomach muscles as much as possible throughout the day, you are training them to work harder. Every time you walk anywhere, whether it’s going for a long stroll in nature or walking from room to room at home, simply draw your belly button towards your spine to engage your core. This is also great for posture and protecting your back.
Number 2 – Try my no running, run
I came up with this idea a couple of months ago when I felt I needed to do some cardio exercise. I simply stand with my feet hip width apart and my knees slightly soft and propel my arms in a running motion. If you try doing it in front of a mirror you can see how your waist moves and your belly wobbles so it must be doing some good! You can go as fast or slow as you like and you could add in some punches to up the calories burnt.
Number 3 – Sit to stand
Every time you get up from a seated position, do it without using your arms (or the arms of the chair if it has any). This really engages the core. To maximise the benefit and create a habit, you can try repeating this 5 times before you actually get up and move away from the seat.
Number 4 – Rub your belly!
This may sound a bit odd but it actually helps! Massaging any area with excess fat allows it to break up the fat stores. Rubbing your belly also aids digestion and helps you to feel more relaxed which, in turn, allows your body to properly digest the food you have eaten. A study in 2018 showed that people who massaged their stomachs for 15 minutes twice a day lost belly fat and reduced their waist circumference significantly.
Number 5 – Camel Pose
This yoga pose is a favourite of Barbara Currie (78) who has practiced yoga for over 50 years and is still the same weight and dress size as she was in her 30’s!
Kneel up with your knees and feet hip width apart and place your hands on your waist with your thumbs forward. Take a deep breath and relax backwards as far as you can go, keeping your legs straight. Breathe normally for a count of 5 then breathe deeply, exhale and push your belly forward, arching your back. Hold, then return on the next inhale. Exhale and lower your bottom to your heels, then bring your chest to your thighs and relax.
Number 6 – reduce stress
Stress can increase the level of cortisol in your body which then causes abdominal fat, even in otherwise slender people. By reducing the stress you have in your life, you can help yourself towards a flatter tummy although you will need to do other things too! Try some daily meditation or mindfulness, writing in a journal, deep breathing and spending time in nature, all of which are proven to decrease stress levels.
Number 7 – Laugh
Those of you who read my earlier post on laughter (see the link here if you haven’t read it or would like to again): https://wordpress.com/post/happyhealthymeajourney.com/177
will know that a real belly laugh actually helps to tone your stomach because of all the muscles you’re using. Laughing continuously for fifteen minutes burns the equivalent number of calories to a 10 minute jog or 300 sit ups! So put on that funny film and tone those muscles (just don’t go through a tub of ice cream or a bag of salted peanuts at the same time)!
I’d love to say that I am comfortable with my body as it is, but I’m not. Yet. I hope I will be soon but in the meantime I am trying all the ideas above and have my motivation central in my mind. I’m reducing my stress levels, find rubbing my stomach surprisingly calming and am laughing plenty! Every one of the 7 ideas above, not only help with reducing belly fat but they are also good for our general health and happiness. Why not give one or two a try?
Until next time xx
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If you’ve enjoyed this post, please give it a like and why not let me know in the comments about your experiences! Feel free to share with anyone who you think might enjoy this post!