One of the most common complaints from people I hear voiced over and over again is I can lose fat everywhere except for my midsection. It seems like a mystery to most people why they’re struggling to drop the body fat off the front of their stomach.
If you’re still readying I’m guessing you’ve experienced this. You drop body fat from your arms, legs, hips and everywhere else, but the extra cushion on the front of your stomach seems to be at a screeching halt with fat loss.
You’re not alone, as I’ve mentioned already this is an incredibly common problem that our personal trainers have to coach clients through. And it is a serious concern not just from an aesthetic stand point, but for multiple reasons.
Increased waist to hip ratio is a strong indicator of risk for: heart disease, diabetes and a host of other serious health concerns. If this isn’t enough I know a large number of people who are so self consciousness about their stomach it takes over their life because of obsessive thinking, worry, and negative thoughts.
This behaviour can include: obsessively counting calories, exercising endlessly, not feeling comfortable in any of their clothes, performing endless variations of crunches and leg lifts, and trying to pick out strategic outfits to hide their waist line.
How Can You Target Fat Loss Through Your Midsection?
Believe it or not there is a way to target that unwanted fat around the midsection. It’s not using some magic pill, special wrap, or strapping a machine onto your stomach that zaps you with electric shocks. I’ll warn you right now this is incredibly simple......but just because something is simple does not mean it’s easy.
When your body is under high levels of stress it releases certain hormones and chemicals in response to try and deal with this stress. This is commonly referred to as “fight or flight.” One of the hormones that your body releases is called cortisol. Cortisol does a number of different things within your body to help prepare you to deal with stress.
One of the things that cortisol is linked to is increased fat storage through.....you guessed it the midsection. To make this simple to decrease fat stored around your midsection you have to focus on decreasing stress present in your life.
Now I’m going to guess that the first thought in your head was “I’m not that stressed.” Or something along those lines. Almost every single client I start this discussion with says something to that effect. In my experience, usually the higher the level of stress in the person’s life the more they will deny they are stressed.
What Is Stress?
First before you say you’re not stressed ask yourself what is stress? Most people look at it simply in terms of mental-emotional stress. But in reality anything that causes your body to release higher levels of cortisol is stress. This can be poor blood sugar regulation, consuming processed food, calorie restriction, exercising too much, not sleeping 8 or more hour per night, not sleeping through the night, consuming prescription pills that have side effects, having chronic pain, guilt over falling off your diet, just to name a couple examples.
It is important to realize that your brain understands the difference between “good” stress and “bad” stress, but your body will respond to both by releasing cortisol. So, for example clients who comes to us and we’ve assessed that they are under high levels of stress actually need to decrease or change the type of exercise they perform. Often clients have to decrease the amount of exercise they perform until they have made changes to their nutrition or lifestyle.
What Steps Can You Take To Target Your Midsection?
So what can you do to decrease stress? Here are some quick bullet points......many of the bullet points have links to other articles on our website that will help you to integrate these changes into your lifestyle. These are based on the most common things I have seen get clients results with targeting fat loss through their midsection.
1) Sleep: Get to bed by 10:30 at the absolute latest, sleep at least 8 hours, and make sure you’re sleep through the night. Follow this link for more information on how to make sure you’re getting all of these things. INSERT LINK
2) Foundational Nutrition: Make sure you have your foundational nutrition in place. See the following link for details. INSERT LINK
3) Identify mental-emotional stressors: Identify the 2 biggest stressors in your life. Then come up with a plan or strategy you can implement to decrease the level of that stress in your life or ideally eliminate that stressor. I know this isn’t easy, but it will pay big dividends not just with targeting fat loss in your midsection.
4) Take time for yourself: Figure out what activities you find most rewarding and enjoyable. Figure out how much time you need to spend doing those activities to feel relaxed, energized and refreshed. Then implement a plan to make sure most weeks you’re spending the allotted time doing those activities. Most people don’t actually spend enough time doing the things they love....a lot of people don’t even know what it is they really love doing so they just watch TV for something to do. If you figure out what you love to do.....and spend enough time doing it, your stress levels will decrease dramatically.
Does This Stuff Really Work?
Frequently when I give a seminar or talk to clients about these strategies they are looking at me with that look that you may have on your face right now........ “There’s no way that’s going to work.”
It does work, I’ve seen it over and over again. For example, one of my clients “Dave” had been dropping lots of body fat had seen large change in his % body fat, but his skin fold measurement over his stomach hadn’t change at all over the course of 4 months of training despite losing body fat everywhere else.
He felt that it was due to his genetics, he had tried supplements, diet strategies, and just about everything else. He didn’t want to hear about stress management at first, and then I asked him just to try one basic thing for 3 weeks, start to get to bed by 10:00, that’s it. Within three weeks he had started dropping fat off of his stomach and not only had his skin fold gone down, but he had noticed a difference in how his stomach was looking.
He is just one example of what many of our clients have experienced. I know a lot of people feel hopeless in this situation and they feel they won’t ever be able to get the fat to drop off the front of their stomach.
But start managing your stress level, just pick one thing to focus on for the next 3 weeks that will decrease your stress and start doing it. Once you’re comfortable with that habit, just pick one more. I promise if you keep reducing the stress you will hit a tipping point and start dropping fat through your midsection. For some people it will just take a couple weeks, for others it might take a couple months. Be patient and keeping reducing your stress levels. Give it a try.....what’s the worst thing that happens??? You have less stress in your life?