Clothing hides a multitude of sins. Amen for that. Once I passed forty, my weight started migrating to the midsection. And I’m sure I’m not alone here.
I told myself it was okay, that I wasn’t getting fatter — and with the right clothes on, no one was the wiser. So I could keep up the story in my own head. But the mirror doesn’t lie… or even sugar coat the facts for that matter. I needed to take control of my own future.
You see, belly, hips, and thigh fat is more common in women, especially with age. The Mayo Clinic says it only gets worse after menopause. Muscle mass diminishes with age which deceases the rate of calories we naturally burn. Couple the muscle loss with rising estrogen levels and we have a perfect storm for extra weight gain.
And even though body positivity is important, let’s not pretend that belly fat is good. It slows you down and makes you feel lousy. Plus, it serves no purpose — especially when you’re past child-bearing years. It also carries heath risks and saps your self-esteem. It’s not just the extra fluff around the waistline, spilling over the top of your jeans or leggings belly fat either. It’s the inner belly fat you don’t see that could hurt you.
Just below the skin there’s a subcutaneous fat layer which makes us recoil in horror, yes. But doctors are more concerned about visceral fat which is much deeper; so deep that it surrounds vital organs. This visceral fat is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and breathing problems. Studies also show higher rates of dementia and breast cancer in women with high levels of fat around their abdomen. So, trimming that inner tube of belly fat can be a lifesaver.
Frankly, it all adds up to something I’d rather not think about. But here we are. Luckily, experts say there are some things you can do if, like me, you’re fed up with belly fat. You already know what I’m about to say, but it still bears repeating.
You simply must retool your diet if you want to begin losing weight. Three very easy ways to tweak your diet include eating more fiber (which clears your digestive system), cutting out trans fat (which clogs your system), and limiting the alcohol. You don’t have to totally abstain, but excess drinking is empty calories and always shows up in the waistline. You can also add more protein to your diet, which raises your metabolic rate and helps retain muscle mass — which we already determined was a plus.
Then there’s exercise. A body in motion is a healthy body. Studies show aerobic exercise is the most effective way to burn calories, and it doesn’t have to be hardcore cardio in order to make a difference. Even moderate heart-pumping exercise is enough to show benefit.
If these sound like things you’ve heard before, you’re absolutely right. Healthy is healthy, and good practices win out. I wish there was a secret fix that would melt away belly fat, but it appears the “tried and true” method of extra exercise and dietary diligence still wins out. And since there is no such thing as spot reduction, the fat comes off everywhere. And I call that #winning.