The belly is a sensitive area for many of us – both literally and figuratively. Along with our waistline and hips, a lot of stress can accompany how we view our own midsections. Even if you’re at a healthy weight, with a normal body mass index (BMI), belly fat may still be cause for concern.
That’s because belly fat is bad fat, the kind associated with high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and more. In fact, it’s much better to carry weight on your thighs and hips than your midsection. Health professionals recommend that if your belly measures more than 40 inches (for men) or 34 inches (for women) around, it’s time to make some changes. But where do you begin?
Addressing the problem
To take on your tummy and rid yourself of the fat that can surround organs (known as visceral fat), you can start by considering the following changes:
- Exercise: You’ve heard it before – exercise can do wonders for your health and your body. Try making time for 30 minutes of activity at least five times a week. If you struggle with motivating yourself to work out, ease into it and build up to more intense exercises that raise your heart rate. Tummy tip: Follow along to an online yoga video each day to help strengthen your body’s core.
- Diet: Eating clean is challenging, and people have mixed results sticking to programs that restrict their options. One easy way to get started, while not throwing your regular eating schedule and intake out of whack, is to eat 10 grams of soluble fiber a day. This can be as simple as adding high-fiber bread to a meal or eating one cup of peas or two small apples a day. Tummy tip: Go meatless one day a week.
- Sleep: Getting an adequate amount of shut-eye has been shown to reduce the amount of visceral fat the body accumulates. While everyone is different, aim to sleep around seven to nine hours a night. Tummy tip: When you have trouble falling asleep, get up, walk around or read, then try again a little while later.
- Stress: How we manage stress affects our diets, our time and motivation for working out, and how much sleep we get. Don’t let stress get the better of you and your health. If you’re struggling, identify issues in your life, consider counseling and make time for activities that let you relax. Tummy tip: Spend 15 minutes meditating when you wake up in the morning.
We know that losing weight is hard. Don’t do it alone. To learn about our weight-loss services and providers, call us at 706-446-4887, or visit augustahealth.org/weightloss.