Journal Series Entry #3: Belly fat

A note before we begin: Since I’m grumpy, which you will see below (lots of snarkiness… bad Shae!), I’ve decided to NOT blog about my workout unless it goes better because I don’t want to be Debbie Downer for weeks. However, I still want to provide you with some sort of information… Journal Entry. Sounded like a good idea to me. Also, I couldn’t find the magazine article. You think it’d be easy because it mentions “meno-pot,” but no, it’s not. Enjoy.

Journal Stories: Secrets of a bored girl

Entry #3

Belly Fat

I love muffins but not my muffin top… Stupid food names for things I hate about myself.

According to WomensHealthMagazine, as women age, the belly becomes the place fat decides to settle, instead of convenient, attractive places like our breasts or hips. Experts call it a “meno-pot,” or that’s just what the article called it and made me laugh… until I realized that someday I’d be old. Crap.

After we’re 40, ladies, it’s all downhill. Don’t tell the men! The men will be afraid! But, why? Why should age really change our fat content?

Because of hormones (wonky), metabolism (broken), muscle mass (shrunken), fat cells (live forever), stress (CORTISOL), sleep(-deprived), medication and depression. The last two didn’t need snarky commentary. And belly fat doesn’t just go away (it’s a great big jerk) with diet and exercise unless you do it very, very right.

Most of the articles related to belly fat are concerned with visceral fat –the stuff that clings to your organs and kills you –instead of the fat that makes us absolutely hate the word “muffin.”

However, I have a theory. If you keep telling us that our outside fat isn’t as unhealthy as our inside fat, we’ll just stop dealing with the outside fat and ignore the fact that we’re dying. So… Let’s stop being non-superficial, shall we? (Sorry, I’m grumpy.)

Anyway, how do you know if too much visceral fat is clinging to your organs? Do they feel well insulated? (Haha, just kidding.) The only way to find out is via a CT scan or an MRI, but each is expensive and we’re not trying to find cancer.

Instead, measure your waist-to-hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement. If the quotient (take that Algebra), is greater than 0.8, you’re over the healthy limit (like drinking!). The same is true if your waist is greater than 35 inches in circumference. (Geometry and I don’t get along.)

(Side note: Lipo cannot remove visceral fat. You cannot suck it out. You also cannot “tuck” it. I still do not know how a tummy-tuck works…)

I know I have to eat healthy to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But is there a food specifically designed to get rid of belly fat (my nastiest problem)?

According to an article from Livestrong.com, a healthy diet with fat-burning food, not just low-fat food, is necessary to shrink belly fat and keep it off. No more potato chips, I assume…

Oatmeal and beans are high in fiber (and super tasty), which can help shrink belly fat by making you feel full quicker than low-fiber foods. They also require longer digestion times to keep you satisfied. Soluble fibers can also help remove toxins from the body. Whole grains and seeds, insoluble fibers, can alleviate hormone imbalance by binding excess estrogen from excretion (that means poo, and yes, I think it’s funny).

Protein requires more calories for digestion than fruits and vegetables so it also helps to make you fuller quicker and longer. (Although I’ve seen Husband blow through a huge steak like it was nothing.) Eggs are a great source of protein (and cholesterol, but don’t freak out) and also contain B12 – a vitamin essential for fat cell break down. Beans are also good for providing protein, but refried beans are high in fat and baked beans are full of sugar.

Foods like papaya (yum) and pineapple (double yum) are full of enzymes that can help break down proteins for better digestion. Foods that contain enzymes (raw fruits and vegetables) give the liver and pancreas the opportunity to excrete more toxins and turn stored belly fat into fuel for the body. (I am so loading up on pineapple later.)

Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and avocados, can actually boost your metabolism and target belly fat for energy. (Awesome! Now, how can they get French fries to do that?) Olive oil also keeps cholesterol levels regulated. Almonds, which are not only high in monounsaturated fats, also have protein for a synergistic fat-burning effect. (Cures your hunger AND helps you lose weight? Almond milk all the way!)

But you can’t just stuff your face full of beans, nuts and raw fruit. You have to eat them right via five small meals every day.

Eating five small meals throughout the day will help you lose weight because having a satisfied tummy all day long with maintain stable insulin levels. (Crash and burn? Yeah, those things.) The constant flow of insulin sets in motion key changes in your body to help you lose weight and have more energy.

By eating five small meals a day you will store less fat, have more energy all day, have a faster metabolism and a better mood, and less stress. This is called the 5-Factor Diet, which I did not know what a real thing until I Googled it. I love Google. Here is an article that gives pros and cons.

WomensHealthMagazine said an ideal fat-burning meal plan includes 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates (not French fries) and 30 percent fat. In 2009, a study noted that dieters who stuck to these ratios lost 22 percent more belly fat after four months, and 38 percent more after a year, than those who followed a low-fat diet.

WHM agrees that foods containing water, fiber and protein (salads, vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and whole-grain breads and pastas) expand your stomach to make you feel fuller faster and longer.

They also mentioned some noise about green tea… it is ridiculously good for you. In 2009, a study of women who drank five cups of something with green tea in (combined with exercise) lost more belly fat than those who didn’t.

I have seen this in action: We had a foreign exchange student from South Korea living with us (my mother and I) when I was a junior in college (I think) who drank a powdered version of the drink and was skinny as a rail. Yes, she was also in high school; and yes, she also ate weird food, but she also ate American food and didn’t gain any weight! But you have to drink it chunky and constantly for it to work, I think.

Anyway, WHM also said that the monounsaturated fats in oils and avocados were WAY good for belly fat burning.

Unfortunately, WHM also wants us to exercise. Boo. They say:

Get off the couch. (I like the couch.) Thirty minutes max of cardio daily = necessary. :(

Up the ante. (What?) Try interval workouts. (Oh.) Powerful bursts of high-intensity exercise  use more fat as fuel AND may suppress the hunger hormone gherlin (which I was surgically removed from my body).

Join the resistance. (Cute, right?) Resistance training builds muscle, and more muscle means a faster metabolism. Wewt! Pump that iron! Or those bands or your own body weight… or whatever… doesn’t matter.

Cut to the core. (Like an apple, kids, like an apple. Wow. I am grumpy.) Target the deeper layers of muscle along your ab wall by doing Pilates, yoga and mat exercise. I’ve also heard that structured dance (ballet… probably, that’s it…) does the same thing, but I don’t know for sure. I was a ballerina when I was nine. (This really means that, yes, you do still have to do crunches, but should also throw in a few push ups. Yay.

Remember these FUN FAT FACTS!

  • The best overall meal plan is one that offers a balanced diet.
  • Eating three healthy snacks a day helps burn calories and fat.
  • Foods high in fiber and water fill you up so that you eat less.
  • Lifting weights builds muscle and speeds up your metabolism.
  • The antioxidants in green tea may accelerate the loss of belly fat.
  • Daily exercise fights inflammation as well as fat.

(These newsletters continuously add to my weight loss Bible. I am a sad monkey.)

Wow. Long post is long. Tomorrow, I will be less grumpy and not as whiny! Promise! (And my fingers are only crossed just in case I break it.)

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