Battle of the Bulge aka Belly Fat
When I was little I couldn’t wait to hug my grandmother. She was all squishy and soft, and I loved it when she would pull me close to her stomach. To me, it was a place of warmth and love. Not knowing until now, that her extra softness was not the best for her health. But we are talking 30 plus years ago and there wasn’t a lot of research about the link between belly fat and heart disease and other health complications.
In the 19th century, plump women were desired because it was assumed they could handle the physical strain of repeated pregnancies and childbirths. This contributed to the idea that full-figured women were pleasant and rubenesque. Nowadays, it’s all about the flat stomach, obsessing to get rid of the baby fat right after pregnancy and wearing spanx to hide it all away. While we may be tired of society putting pressure on us women about having flat stomachs, they are on to something.
What you may not realize is belly fat is pretty bad for your health. Carrying around extra weight in your abdominal area can have a negative impact on your lungs and your heart. Having excess abdominal weight may lower one’s lung function, regardless of a person’s age, smoking history, or body mass index, according to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Too much belly fat increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, as you age and your metabolism slows down, the amount of fat in your body slowly increases. Women experience an even greater fat percentage increase than men do. Then after menopause, your body fat distribution tends to shift — less in your arms, legs and hips, and more in your abdomen. Keep in mind that it’s what is underneath that can really hurt your health. Visceral fat is the fat that surrounds the abdominal organs that is linked to health issues like those mentioned earlier. This is the bad fat!
- Slow down on the foods high in sugar, fat, and cholesterol, as well as high caloric beverages. A no brainer to lose weight in general.
- High impact exercise is a fast way to watch your stomach shrink. But you have to do it regularly to see results and to keep the weight off.
- Doing strength training (lifting weights) is another good way to tone your stomach and trim it down. Using light weights to do side (obliques) exercises can help get rid of love handles.
- Do exercises to work out those lower ab muscles. Traditional sit-ups aren’t the most effective way to firm your tummy, but focusing on your lower stomach area can be effective. A strong core is key to great posture and a strong back. Also strong ab muscles allows you to challenge yourself and do more advanced ab exercises.
It is so not easy being a woman and having something else to worry about health-wise is no fun. But there is something we can do about reducing belly fat. It is hard work and you will not be able to do it overnight. If you find you have been doing all of these things and not getting results, it may be time to consult your doctor to determine if something more serious is going on.
For moral support, grab a friend and challenge each other with different ab exercises each week.