I’ve had several conversations in just the past few days regarding weight loss and belly fat, specifically during mid-life changes. There is a lot of research available as to what works, what doesn’t and I’ll briefly outline some basic principles as well as some tips that will be helpful to most of you. While many techniques are universal (exercise more, eat less) weight loss is an individual experience since we have varying body types, metabolisms, daily habits tastes and preferences. There are many variables that can affect our ability to lose weight and it helps if you can try to understand what works, or doesn’t work for you. While I haven’t gone through menopause yet, I have experienced major changes during my 6 pregnancies, hormone changes and weight gain/loss with all of them – some easier than others.
I’ll be honest with you, my last 3 pregnancies were the easiest to shed the pounds than the first three, they’ve also been my healthiest years, from an eating perspective, toxin exposure and stress management. Weight loss is not just about what you eat or don’t eat, it includes your daily habits and lifestyle. Here are some key components to keep in mind when you are planning an effective weight loss program.
- Food, the good and the bad – This is a no-brainer and there are enough articles written on foods to banish belly fat to occupy you for years. It’s also something many people are already doing. Bottom line is there are best choices in foods and those I’d avoid at all times. Whole foods, fruits & veggies are best, blueberries, grapefruits and avocados among some superfoods (not slathered in sugary, fat laden sauces though). Limit meats, balancing protein intake to include beans, legumes and grains like quinoa. Learn the good and bad fats, my favorite is Coconut oil, I use it for sauteeing veggies, baking, and even as a moisturizer – it melts with your body temperature. No No’s? Anything in the traditional bakery/deli department, white bleached flour breads & pastries, processed deli meats with nitrites and preservatives, high fat pasta salads guaranteed to expand your waistline, packaged, processed frozen foods, chemical vitamin waters and diet drinks (more chemicals for the cells) and sugary sodas . Goji Fruit Juice is an excellent natural option instead of chemical energy drinks.
- Curb Your Appetite Naturally – Watch your portions. Drink a cup of tea 30 minutes before eating. Find healthy ways to deal with stress instead of eating to comfort your mood. Prepare your own foods when you can, rather than rely on take out or restaurant food where you may be inclined to eat more.
- Move It and You’ll Lose It – As we get older our muscle mass diminishes. When you build strength movements into every day you can fight your body’s tendency to accumulate fat as you age. You can exercise and fit movement into every part of your day, not just a couple times a week. Pilates is a great form of body strengthening and you can benefit from the principles in between regular exercise. Make active movement a part of your everyday routine, whether you engage your backside as you stand in line at the grocery store or walk briskly to your car parked in the back of the lot. If you slump in your chair or seat while you drive, your body’s muscles will support this posture, even more so if it’s done on the couch for hours at a time. Research shows that those who watch TV more than an hour a day tend to gain weight more readily. Walking every day and still not seeing results? Pick up the pace, you’ll burn more energy than just taking a leisurly walk.
- Keep your Digestive System Healthy – Slowed plumbing equals toxin build up. Keep your body moving regularly to allow toxin removal and enhance nutrient absorption. Enzymes help breakdown foods so vitamins and minerals can be better assimilated. Chew your foods slowly and completely to assist the body’s digestive process. Drink 8-10 glasses of pure water and eat enough foods with fiber.
- Banish Chemical Laden Body Products that feed your fat cells – this element is so critical. It’s one reason eating animal fats are so toxic, because scientists have found this is where the garbage accumulates: antibiotics, hormones and bi-products in feed. I have experienced this firsthand, especially in my weight loss from pregnancy. My weight loss was very tough my first couple of pregnancies because I was surrounded by toxins and didn’t know it. I was applying chemicals to my skin in the form of “natural” body products, cosmetics and scented home products. It is proven that the synthetic fragrance in many of these products is affecting your ENDOCRINE system. In brief, the endocrine system regulates metabolism, hunger, thyroid function, hormones, literally every body system is affected by the Endocrine! Would you knowingly put something on your body that may disrupt this essential system? Read your product labels and eliminate anything with the term FRAGRANCE in the ingredients. This is just a combination of chemicals. Would you put caramel syrup on your frisee? Don’t put FRAGRANCED products on your skin, instead massage on some cellulite dissolving Therapeutic Grade essential oils like Grapefruit or Lemon (not before sun exposure though). Check out www.EWG.org to see how your products rank for toxicity.
- Be realistic about your goals Be honest with yourself about what your lifestyle is really like and what habits you are willing to change. Losing some extra weight often involves letting go of emotional baggage and seeing what influences the food and lifestyle choices we make each day. Healthier living is rewarding not just because your clothing will fit better, but because you’ll have more energy, you’ll sleep better and you’ll have a healthier perspective on life when you exchange poor habits for life-enhancing ones.
As with all my articles, I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor and these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. But I am a fitness instructor and a mom who has gained and lost about 240 pounds over the past 15 years doing it in a sensible, maintainable way. I’ve been at my current weight for 3+ years and look forward to maintaining my weight for many more.