What is the key factor in belly fat? Stress!
You could be a women eating all the right things, organic, grass fed, vegetarian – and still struggle with belly fat – and you don’t have to be overweight for this to happen, you can be thin too!
Now, let me be very clear, it’s not that your consuming too many calories, or eating too many carbs or even because your not exercising – its the stress!
By going along the traditional route of dieting and exercising more, or harder, is exactly the wrong approach to take off this stubborn belly fat.
The stress that is inflicted on the body during this time of “starvation” the thought processes or having to watch what you eat all the time, schedule a work out in each and every day is enough to make your giggly parts even more giggly.
Lets explain stress here for a second just so we are clear, stress is defined as:
“a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. subject to pressure or tension. Synonyms: strain, pressure, tension, worry, trouble, difficulty”
For example, you go for a promotion at work and you get the new fancy high paying job – are you happy? Most likely your excited, happy, feeling proud – but with that new job comes greater responsibility (stress), longer hours (stress), perhaps a team to manage (stress). You can be happy and excited but still suffer from stress.
Lets look at a few other forms of stress that we don’t always equate to stress – body image, relationships, perfectionism, vulnerability, sleep deprivation.
Belly fat usually creeps up on women around 35 onwards, why? Women tend to be the caregivers, the worries, the organizers and as we age we become increasingly more stress reactive – less able to adapt to our daily stressors. In other words its not extra time in the gym we might need but an extra hour in bed or a day of pampering to help burn that stubborn belly fat.
So what can you do today to help minimize that stubborn muffin top? Here are my 5 Key steps you can implement today to get great results:
- Start with relaxation – Start to incorporate activities that last up to an hour that are focused on stress reduction. What do you enjoy doing the most? Coffee with friends, playing with your kids, yoga (a deep restorative yoga, nothing too strenuous), a massage, a leisurely hour walk by yourself or with a friend or partner. Schedule in this time to make it happen! Add it to your online calendar or booking system and stick to it.
- Get good sleep – make this your #1 priority. Sleep deprivation is a huge factor in stubborn belly fat. Turn off the tv, iphone, ipad, computer 1 hour before bed and indulge in self care – play your favourite relaxing music and chill out, take a hot epsom salt bath, read a book for pleasure, meditate.
- Eat less and exercise less – sounds counterintuitive? You could eat more and exercise more but this will only add even more stress to your life, and this is what we want to avoid. Eat 3 meals a day – don’t skip a meal thinking this will help you lose the belly fat – it won’t – it will end up spiking your insulin levels, releasing cortisol and retaining fat. Make sure each “meal” and this can include soups and smoothies includes a healthy fat, fiber and protein. Your evening meal can contain a small portion of starch or carbohydrate but keep it to a minimum. You’ll want to add in short bursts of movement that won’t stress out your adrenals. Intense workouts should be kept to a maximum of 15 minutes 3 times a week and the rest of the week an hour walk will suffice.
- Don’t go too low – carbs, calories or fat. Eat some complex carbs which will release slowly and keep you satisfied for longer instead of simple carbs such as chips or pastries which are fast releasing and leave you feeling hungry half an hour later. Keep your fat the healthy kind, coconut oil, avocado’s, avocado oil, wild fish, organic eggs etc. Remember its all about balance, too much of anything is a bad idea.
- Get your walking shoes on – shoot for 10,000 steps a day at a leisurely pace -this will keep your cortisol low and your stress levels low. Put on an audio book, play your favourite music or simply go for a walk in nature and take in your surroundings – which will turn into a walking meditation in no time.
Keep it simple and enjoy it! Going 110 miles an hour every day with no pit stops will eventually have you having to take more time off down the road to recover. By being gentle with ourselves, slowing down and being present we keep our cortisol and insulin (our fat storage hormone) levels low and the weight off our bellies.
How can you slow down more? Are there areas you could improve upon? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to know.