When Bad Muffin Top Happens To Good People!
We’ve all had that moment when we’ve slipped on a pair of pants and can feel and see our extra ‘stuff’ hanging over the top ~ the muffin top. It’s never a good feeling but it also may be a part of our bodies that we need to learn to love and respect. The more important question to ask when yourself when you feel like you are battling against your belly fat, is why is it there in the first place? You don’t need to tell me how your belly fat is particularly stubborn, I have been Personal Training clients, teaching them Group Exercise classes, Yoga and Pilates classes and how to eat for many years, this is the #1 complaint I get from clients “Help me banish my belly”!
While it’s normal to blame those extra stubborn pounds on sweets, alcohol and excess bread, I guarantee they’re more likely a by-product of fluctuating hormones. Here are the ones you want to keep your eye on and what you can do in terms of food, mood, exercise, sleep and self-love to prevent them from not only ruining waistline but also affecting how you FEEL about yourself.
Cortisol a.k.a the stress hormone. is the number one enemy. High levels are linked to abdominal-fat storage, increased appetite and cravings, lower muscle mass, decrease in bone density, low libido and lack of energy. And don’t think because you are thin that you are exempt! Thin woman who have high cortisol levels will also battle that extra bulge that no matter what they do, they just can’t seem to lose.
Work to lower your cortisol levels by managing your stress…it sounds cliché but is 100% true. More stress = more cortisol production = more belly fat. Yoga, deep breathing, laughter, a good book and a great night sleep are my top choices for your body. As for your mouth and your gut, start your day off with a higher-protein than carb breakfast such as a smoothie with vegan powder or 10-12 raw nuts, fruit, veggies and flax oil or a veggie omelet with fresh fruit. Make sure to go no longer than three to four hours without eating a snack or meal. If your stress levels are really high I may recommend taking some Relora at night before bed and again upon rising.
The other issue about cortisol and stress is that if you are stressing yourself out about your body and its shape you are only adding to the problem. Maybe you need to make some changes to the clothing you are wearing? We have all seen people who look like they are wearing clothes that ‘used to fit them’. Instead of getting caught up in what size the label size for right now focus on wearing better fitting clothes which will help your self-esteem and how you carry yourself and give you that extra boost in your step to find the motivation to exercise more and to eat better!
The second thing to consider is tuning into your insulin levels. The hormone insulin is the only one that tells your body to store glucose (sugars from broken down food) as fat instead of fuel or energy. The higher your insulin levels and the less receptive your body is at using the insulin the fuller your waist is likely to be. But it doesn’t end there: high cholesterol, blood pressure, food cravings and trouble losing weight are all linked to high insulin.
To balance out your insulin levels, eat healthy fats and proteins less from saturated animal fats and more whole foods, living and plant-based proteins, and reduce your intake of processed carbs like white products, sugary drinks, cookies, chips and packaged foods. Instead of Special K for breakfast try Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise cereal with 2 tbsp of raw walnuts and pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup fresh berries and coconut milk or skip the cereal and head straight for the blender to whip up this blood-suagr balancing smoothie: 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup frozen berries, handful spinach, tbsp hemp oil, 1 scoop either Vega or Genuine Health Vegans+ protein powder and blend for 90 seconds. For bread use Stonemill, Silver Hills or Ezekiel, pastas try Kamut, brown rice or Quinoa and instead of white rice switch to brown rice, quinoa or millet.
These easy change-ups will help to better stabilize your blood sugar, which will keep you from gaining weight. Decreased levels of progesterone and higher levels of estrogen can also have a huge impact on your waist, cravings, energy etc. so get some fresh blood work done and know what your hormone levels are!
Let’s not forget the uber-important Growth hormone, which replenishes itself during sleep and is key to healthy skin, hair, bones and developing lean, strong muscle mass. Your two best ways to increase this? Better sleep and making better food choices like ensuring that you are having a lean, healthy protein option at each snack and meal.
Another great way to maximize your body’s use of insulin is to shake your booty! You NEED to exercise – but what is the best type? The easy answer would be anything you like doing would be the best form but let’s talk specifics here. While starting off your exercise journey with something you love will be the easiest way to get moving, once it is part of your routine and habit you need to be switching things up…often
Quit being a cardio junkie and start resisting your own body weight!
The reason exercise is such a key part of battling your belly fat is becasue it helps clear the body of cortisol, which reduces stress on the pancreas to produce more insulin which will cause you to gain weight and it releases serotnin and endorphins, your happy hormones…its a WIN! WIN! WIN!
However too much cardio can actually be troublesome for a pretty important gland involved in your metabolism – the thyroid. Lengthy bouts of pure cardio can actually elevate your cortisol levels and lower your thyroid hormones for up to 24 hours post-exercise; do lots of cardio all the time and you will create this picture all the time!
Instead what I have found to work best for myself and clients over the years is two weekly cardio sessions using interval training, 1-2 days per week of functional strength training using mainly your body weight, unstable surfaces, small apparatus and butt-load of intensity along with 3 days of week of yoga.
To be honest I feel best in my own skin when I do 1 cardio per week, 1 strengh per week, 7 yoga or pilates( I know it sounds like a lot) but this is what feels good for ME and I love to exercise everyday; just not at the same intensity.
Make your first goal to be in bed no later than 11pm, but the golden hour is 10pm.
• Sleep in complete darkness and in as little clothes as possible. Wearing tight-fitting or heavy clothing will increase your body temp. & affect melatonin levels.
• Get regular exercise at least three hours per week including cardio, resistance training, pilates & yoga or meditation. This stimulates the adrenals naturally and alleviates stress.
• Eat three meals and two snacks daily, going no more than 4 hours without eating. Your focus is higher levels of protein, vegetables & healthy fats…less starches and sugars.
• Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean poultry, eggs, fish and essential fatty acids like olive oil and avocados.
• Consume foods that are high in the amino acid tyrosine: almonds, avocados, bananas, organic dairy, rice, oat, coconut and almond milk, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
• Drink 2-3 liters of water and herbal teas daily
• Avoid hydrogenated oils, palm kernel oil, soybean, canola, corn oil, cottonseed oil, vegetable oil & shortening. Use Olive oil, Grapeseed oil & Coconut oil.
• Avoid alcohol, Neuro-toxins such as Splenda, Sucralose, Aspartame, also decrease your caffeine.
Begin using organic, paraben free body care products as well as organic feminine products.
Stay tuned for my NEW BOOK to be released late Fall of 2013 and my first LIVE WEBINAR on Weight Loss this coming September.
To stay up-to-date on all of my upcoming events please like Simplicity Yoga & Fitness Therapy Studio on Facebook follow me @simplicityjenn on Twitter or friend me on Facebook Jenn Pike