Beating the Bulge
The eternal struggle seems to revolve around one thing, our stomachs. While some people dream of rock hard abs and taut torsos, many of us would be happy just to get rid of that belly bulge that appears to be where all of the fat in your body goes to retire. The lower abdomen is the Florida of the body. Belly bulges are not just the result of that McRib and fries that you had three weeks ago. The belly bulge can be caused by a number of things, from health to hormones, to even a hereditary source. The good thing is, once you know what is causing your pot belly, the easier it is to get rid of it. So here we have the four most common causes of the belly bulge and how to beat them.
The baby belly, a constant reminder that you inflated to the size of a small whale over the course of nine months, gestating, insulating and then producing a fresh human. Many women have huge issues with the baby belly bulge, finding it extremely difficult to lose that little pudge at the front.
There are two main causes for the postpartum paunch, diastasis recti and our best friend, hormones. Diastasis recti is the separation of the two parallel bands of muscle that meet in the center of the abdomen. They loosen and separate so that the uterus can comfortably incubate the growing baby.
Yoga or Pilates can be very beneficial in strengthening the stomach muscles and bringing them back together. Additionally, a pelvic floor workout might be the ticket, the kind that you did preparing your vagina for the birth. If the deep breathing exercises have not managed to bring the muscles back together, then an abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck may be necessary.
Hormonal causes are less common, however pregnancy boosts the production of insulin, the result of which is your body retaining more fat around the lower abdomen. Carbohydrates are the primary drivers of insulin, so in order to reduce the insulin, you just have to reduce the amount of carbs you eat and replace them with something less fat boosting, like protein. Don't worry, you don't have to go on Atkins and live on bacon and eggs, in fact, something as simple as cutting the carbs out of breakfast time can make all of the difference.
Menopausal Muffin Top
It's not surprising that as we age, our bodies change over the years, sometimes for the best, bye teenage acne, sometimes for the worse, oh hello crow's feet. Before the change, hips and thighs are the prime locations for extra weight, afterwards however, all of that fat is summoned forward to congregate in the lower abdomen, creating the menopausal muffin top.
This fat collection in the belly is the result of our great friends, our hormones. Estrogen drops as does testosterone, so while a fat tummy is emerging, we are also losing muscle mass. The drop in testosterone slows down the metabolism too, thus making it even more difficult to process carbohydrates.
Another hormone that likes to kick us while we're down is cortisol, triggered by stress and our affected sleep during menopause. This means that instead of going into cage fighting after your retirement, it would be much better to be involved in a more moderate exercise, like swimming or walking, in order to keep your cortisol levels in check.
The Spare Tyre
Genetics have a part to play here too. Just over half of all weight gain is hereditary, meaning that if most of the women in your family have big tummies, then chances are you'll have a genetic predisposition for a jelly belly too.
However, hope is not lost as the proper diet and exercise can control how much weight is gained and where it goes. Remember, just because your Aunt Mildred is festively plump, does not mean that you are going to follow in her footsteps. Plus Aunt Mildred eats three pies a day, so that's on her.
First things first, you need to cut out the simple carbs, white bread, bagels, etc., and replace them with high fiber carbs, like whole wheat pasta, and of course, lean proteins. Proteins are perfect as it takes a lot more effort to burn off the fat and calories from a chicken breast than it does a pop tart.
With regard to exercising, cardio is key, so either grab your sneakers and RUN FOREST, RUN! Or go to the gym and get yourself into some circuit training or join a spin class to really get your gears going.
The problem with the ballooning belly is that usually, it's not the result of fat, but is often caused by gas or water retention. A swollen belly is likely the product of your diet. The part of the diet varies from person to person, per type and level of intolerance. For one person cabbage, for another gluten and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the main perpetrators for stomach distention.
Obviously, if you have a food allergy, do not eat that food. If you are dealing with an intolerance, such as dairy, maybe stay away from the Fro Yo for a while. If you think you might have an intolerance, get tested as it's better to be safe than sorry.
If you're still not sure, an elimination diet might be the way to go. This means excluding a huge variety of foods from your diet and introducing them one by one, in order to see what is causing you problems and what foods are A-OK.
With diet being such a contributing factor, slowly introduce more fruit and vegetables into your diet, while consuming less meat and eggs. Also, ensure that you drink enough water, you know it's good for you!