You’ve been on a roll.
Monday through Friday pilates class. You splurge on the weekend and take booty barre, intensive cardio, or a good old fashioned nature hike. You’re amped, seeing some tone and definition.
Thrilled with your accomplishment you treat yourself to those skinny jeans that frame your legs and backside. Flush with anticipation to strut your stuff, you suddenly realize that the button is a little stretched and there’s a flap of flub bulging over your pants!
How could this be?
You’ve been devoutly crunching those abs weekly. You’ve even noticed your clothes fit a size smaller. You’ve put in your time, and you actually like your routine now! How is that protruding focal point still rearing its ugly head, crushing your dreams of those infamous Janet Jackson abs?
Here’s the skinny on Belly FAT
Come on, go ahead and pinch an inch of your waistline.
The fat you just gripped and jiggled is subcutaneous fat (even skinny people can do this exercise). It’s no secret that subcutaneous fat resides all over our bodies. We can see and feel it. And, although it comes in different sizes, it provides cushion for our butt, thighs, arms and even the soles of our feet.
Now, visceral fat or ‘abdominal fat’ you can’t measure. It surrounds your abdominal organs and any amount of exercise doesn’t melt this away.
This fat is stubborn and along with being unsightly and annoying, it has a dark and dangerous presence in the body. By the time your waistline distorts the proportion of your body, your visceral fat has been metabolically active for a while.
Visceral fat has a mind and a mission of its own. It has gone rogue. It actively releases inflammatory agents and hormones, such as angiotensin and adipokines that spike blood pressure and insulin. These imbalances set the stage for diabetes, heart disease and increased risk of dementia.
Research from Harvard and The National Institute of Health confirm that women with a waist of circumference exceeding 35 inches are at higher risk of developing these health problems.
Who knew a belly could do all that!
Well, this belly doesn’t come out of nowhere, bad luck, not calorie counting or having faulty genes. Don’t despair, look no further than your hormones!
Hormones, we all have them, and they are not just in a state of flux at certain times of the month, puberty, pregnancy or peri-menopause. Hormones tell you when you’re hungry, they change your temperature, mood and how you respond to stress. They control how much fat stays on, comes off and where it goes.
Sounds like some pretty important friends you got there!
So, obviously when your friends get out of control they can do more harm than good and steer you in the wrong direction. Hormones are equally influential. These are the top three cool friends (or enemies) you need to check to help flatten that belly.
Will The Master Hormone….. Please Stand Up
I bet you thought it was estrogen!
Every cell in your body needs glucose, and insulin is the hormone in charge of transporting it there. Think of your cells as the doors of an opening elevator and insulin and glucose step in to catch the ride. When this happens smoothly, your body has abundant energy to function, repair and grow.
By eating a standard American diet of refined carbohydrates and sugar devoid of vegetables and fiber, your liver cells become overloaded with glucose. Your cells forcibly shut out insulin. They purposely push that ‘close door’ button.
Well, similarly, if you’ve ever had the door closed in your face, insulin gets angry. It finds other cells to ride along with. These are your fat cells. Insulin and fat cells become a power couple. Higher and higher amounts of insulin feed your fat cells and end up as storage in the belly. Years into this relationship, the pancreas eventually burns out leading to Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance is a precursor to obesity, weight gain, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and some cancers.
You do not want to mess with insulin! With elevated levels of insulin, you are destined to remain in muffin top purgatory.
Although insulin is the master of ceremony, there are a couple other key players to keep in check.
Tuning out the Leptin
Normally, when you’ve had enough to eat, you feel full, right?
Well, let me introduce you to Leptin.
Leptin is a hormone, made by your fat cells, that decreases your appetite. Leptin signals your brain to stop eating when there’s enough food in your stomach.
Leptin levels get higher the more weight you gain because fat cells make leptin.
But here’s the problem, Leptin is like that passive aggressive mother that keeps nagging you about eating too much. The naggiar she gets the more you tune her out.
The more you tune out, the faster you become leptin resistant and your brain stops getting the memo that you’ve just ate that fifth cookie, so you eat and eat and eat.
Your brain will never know when to stop eating.
Leptin levels determine whether you will use food as fuel or store it along your waistline. So, if you’ve been wondering why that midsection won’t budge, you are probably leptin resistant.
The Stress Case
Along with that expanding belly, do you find yourself overly stressed, tired, grumpy and in need of morning and afternoon caffeine or sugar to push through your day?
Cortisol is the infamous “stress hormone”. It’s one of the main hormones we release when we’re under any sort of pressure. In the short term, this hormone is life saving. It gives you the strength to run from danger, protect your children or react quickly to oblivious people on the road.
It’s highest in the morning, so you wake up. And, lowest at night so you can sleep. If you find you do your best cleaning at two in the morning, your cortisol hormones are out of whack.
Cranked up cortisol levels, enabled by carmel latte frappuccinos, scones and donuts, make you “hangry” and contribute to insulin resistance.
Fat cells around your belly love cortisol. Fat cells have an irresistible magnetic grasp with cortisol Cortisol loves to stick to the belly since fat cells are waiting with open arms. Together they bond and grow that belly fat.
Hormones on Strike
There are several other factors at play, but mostly insulin, cortisol and leptin hormone imbalances contribute substantially to belly fat. Your attempts at the gym, ‘healthy’ eating and persistence are in the right place, but it’s out of whack hormones that hold you back from your ideal body. It’s much like that boyfriend you want to stay with but you know deep down he’s got no direction in life and he’s really no good for you.
Deflate The Muffin Top With Smart Food
Have you ever baked and stuck a toothpick in to see if it was ready, but your creation just flatten out? Well, here’s a magical toothpick for flattening your muffin top.
Refined carbohydrates, enriched wheat flour products, processed foods, sugar and low healthy fats combined with stress all feed that belly fat. Studies have revealed that this process sets the stage for insulin resistance and chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
Create hormone harmony with food
Acupuncturists were (and remain) the world’s first bio programmers. An acupuncturist has many ways to reset hormones. Work with an acupuncturist twice a week for three weeks and see how much easier your body realigns.
Although all of us would like to look better in our bathing suits, the true gift of losing weight around our middle is prevention of life threatening diseases.
Abdominal fat is a precursor to many health issues and easy to avoid. Eat healthy and move your body!!
Your body will thank you in many more ways!
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