You might expect that sweating your way through sit-ups would shift that stubborn belly fat. Unfortunately, they could appear to be doing the opposite. Crunches and sit-ups cause the abdominal muscles to grow through a process called ‘hypertrophy’, creating more bulk in the abdomen. You want your belly to look flatter – not fatter!
The fact is that there’s really no way to ‘spot reduce’ belly fat. It may not seem like it at first blush, but this is probably a good thing. No matter what the cause of your increased dimensions, if you’re carrying excess belly fat, then you’re no doubt carrying excess fat in other places too.
Although being overweight is detrimental in general, excess belly fat in particular has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and Type II Diabetes. Finding ways to lose belly fat that promote general health and wellness can only be of benefit to you.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Here are ten unexpected ways to lose belly fat this fall:
1. Liver detoxing
A healthy fat burning metabolism depends on having a well-functioning liver. The herbs Milk thistle and Golden Seal are frequently recommended for cleansing and detoxing your liver. But you can also incorporate more common herbs and vegetables into your diet to achieve the same end.
Onions, ginger, pepper, and turmeric, are all excellent ingredients for detoxifying your liver. So, sit down once a week with a delicious belly fat burning vegetable curry! If hot curry isn’t your thing, add raw onions to your salad, along with parsley, sesame seeds and basil to protect your liver. Add ginger and turmeric to soups and bean dishes.
For a sweeter approach, sprinkle cinnamon on your cereal or oatmeal for its detoxifying ability. Then throw in a few Goji berries to improve liver function. Taking advantage of what nature has provided to detox, protect, and stimulate the liver, is an excellent way to help burn belly fat this fall!
2. Diet by gunas
According to yoga, the Universe is a field of energy called Prakriti. This energy is divided into three characteristic vibrations called Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas – The Three Gunas. The nature and balance of the Gunas are determined by everything that you think, say, and do. Observing the Gunas is another excellent way to help you to lose belly fat.
Tamasic thoughts are dark, and lead to over-indulgence and obesity. These foods will be processed, pickled, and chemical. Meat is also tamasic. On the other hand, rajas thoughts are stimulating, and too much can lead to stress. Rajas foods are hot peppers and spices. In small amounts they cleanse and stimulate the liver and digestion, but too much can irritate and lead to inflammation.
Sattvic thoughts are uplifting, and life affirming. When your thoughts are sattvic, you’ll be much less likely to indulge in behavior that adds to your weight problem. Foods that are sattvic are vibrant and life sustaining, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Focus your thoughts, words, and eating habits on sattvic energy, and vibrate away that stubborn belly fat!
3. Well by water
Medical experts advise you to drink plenty of clean fresh water; this is no surprise to you I’m sure. There are many benefits to drinking water as part of a weight loss program. Dehydration is a huge problem in our society today. The signal to drink water is often confused with hunger, and can lead to unnecessary eating. What you may find unexpected however, is that the water should be warm – not iced!
Ayurveda, the oldest known medical profession, recommends one cup of warm water be consumed every hour. Warm water stimulates the digestive fire, and aids in digestion. Iced water on the other hand, causes vaso-constriction. Your blood needs to be drawn to your stomach and intestines before and after eating, not sent running for the hills by icy water.
Avoid drinking anything at all while you’re eating your meal. If you just can’t break that habit of drinking while you eat, then take just one cup of warm or hot water. You can also squeeze in a little fresh lemon to create a healthy alkaline environment in your body. Water may not be literally flushing out the fat, but it hydrates the systems of your body that do!
4. Moving muscles
Fat doesn’t burn fat, but muscles sure do! Running on a treadmill is an excellent aerobic exercise. You need to get yourself moving if you’re going to lose belly fat. But it’s your muscles that do the burning. The more muscle tone you have, the more calories you’ll burn. Muscles will even continue to burn calories while you’re at rest!
Gorging on steak and eggs for breakfast is not the way to build your muscles. The saturated fat and cholesterol will serve only to pack on the pounds. All of the healthy plant based Sattvic foods that you’re eating contain amino acids – the building blocks of protein. Eat a wide variety of colors in your diet, and you’ll be consuming all the protein to meet the needs of your body.
Two of your largest muscle groups, and the easiest to build, are thighs and arms. Find a staircase (at home, work, or the mall), and make a habit of walking up and down them about ten times a day. Take a gallon jug of water in each hand. Bend your elbows and lift the jugs to your shoulders in a bicep curl. Of course, ideally you will join and gym and make the effort to use it!
5. Performing planks
Certain abdominal exercises cause muscles to contract against resistance, creating hypertrophy. This is essentially scar tissue, which leads to the bulking up of the muscle. These kinds of exercises aren’t going to flatten your stomach. The yoga pose Plank on the other hand is an isometric exercise, designed to create a strong and flat abdomen.
Begin on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Now step back raising your knees up off the ground, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Turn your tail bone under, and press your navel up against your spine. Keep your scapula pulled down, as if trying to place them in the pocket of your pants. Only hold as long as you can keep correct form.
To place more emphasis on your abdominal muscles, and less on your arms, place your forearms on the ground. Make sure that your elbows are under your shoulders, and forearms parallel with each other. Only do this variation of plank if you can keep your hips up without your belly sagging to the ground. Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new physical exercises.
6. Directing daydreams
There’s much buzz in the media today about the benefits of meditating. But what that actually means in practical terms can be quite elusive. Reliving stress helps to reduce cortisol production, and cortisol is the belly fat demon hormone. But there are so many ways to achieve a meditative state: there’s TM, Yoga Nidra, and candle gazing just to name but a few!
The definition of meditation is actually to achieve a quiet mind; that means a mind with no thoughts running through it. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task though to achieve the benefits that meditation can provide. Teachers of both guided meditation and self-hypnosis often use the technique of guided imagery.
Using your imagination deliberately helps to keep your thoughts focused, and to produce naturally relaxing chemicals in your brain.
You can use the same technique yourself by simply focusing your daydreams. Every time your mind wanders, focus on seeing yourself as slim and healthy. Imagine being in a place where you feel at peace, with no one to bother or disturb you.
Take deep breaths, and relax your shoulders as you breathe out. Your mind is creating the body that you live in. Use your daydreams on purpose to stimulate your metabolism, and burn that stubborn belly fat.
7. Needle pointing
Who’d have thought that sticking needles in your ear could melt your midriff? Doctors of Oriental Medicine, that’s who! Acupuncture has been gaining popularity in the west for several decades now. Just recently a study was done in Korea to determine the validity of ear acupuncture for reducing fat around the abdomen. The study ended in support of this unexpected way to lose belly fat.
Your belief in acupuncture is not required for this method to be effective. It works by stimulating energy along points of a system called the Meridians. The idea is that points on the ear correlate to various points on the body. Five needles are placed on the rim of the ear, and left there for several days.
Before visiting an acupuncturist, be sure to check that he or she is nationally licensed by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. You can visit www.nccaom.org to check on this. State licensure will also be required, so check with the state in which you live.
8. Yoga practice
When it comes to exercise programs for burning off that belly fat, yoga is hardly expected to be top of the list. Perhaps this is because yoga isn’t an exercise program at all! Struggling to keep up in Power Yoga classes, or sweating to death in a one hundred degree room isn’t necessary either. There’s so much more to this ancient science than modern day scientist can measure.
Hatha yoga is the practice that you’ll find in classes at studios and in gyms. The focus will be on breathing for improved respiration and stress release. Learning how to breathe correctly also improves the connection between your emotions, your nervous system, and your body.
This ‘fine tuning’ not only lowers the production of stress hormones, it leads to improved neuromuscular strength. This in turn raises your energy level, and makes it easier to build muscle tone. Muscle tone burns calories, even when you’re at rest.
‘Asanas’, or body postures, are also practiced in a Hatha Yoga class. These often challenging positions are generally considered to be about stretching. This in itself is helpful when it comes to burning belly fat. Stretching promotes circulation, which helps to detox the body, and provide every cell with necessary nutrition.
But there are more benefits to be found. Practicing a variety of yoga poses also stimulates the internal organs, and promotes a healthy metabolism. A low to no impact way to lose belly fat!
It’s time to stand up for the goals that you want to reach! Good posture is personal power, both mentally and physically. When your posture is poor, your ribcage drops down, preventing you from breathing as fully as you should be. Impaired breathing lowers your energy, and makes every exercise that you perform more tiring.
Poor posture is a sign of imbalanced muscle tension. Tight and or weak muscles inevitably lead to some kind of chronic pain. Energy being focused on pain relief could be directed to stimulating a healthy, fat burning metabolism. When you’re standing and sitting with your ribcage up you’ll have no problem taking the stairs, parking a short walk from the store, or stopping at the gym on the way home from work.
Keeping good posture may be a calorie-burning work-out in itself for you at first. Consciously contracting those weak back muscles will take some doing. Press your belly button back against your spine, while you stretch out your chest muscles. Do this by squeezing your shoulder blades back and down. Standing tall can actually make you look as if you’ve just lost ten pounds of belly fat – without even breaking a sweat!
10. The last laugh
When was the last time you had a really good belly laugh? Do you even remember what it feels like? Belly laughing is contagious, and has so many great health benefits. It’s a great cardio exercise, as it gets your heart pumping. There’s no more enjoyable way to burn calories; particularly for someone who may not be able to engage in a more vigorous cardio exercise.
Belly laughing promotes the production of endorphins, the feel good hormone. At the same time it reduces the production of stress hormones. Anyone who’s found themselves laughing out of control knows that feeling of exhaustion when the laughter finally stops. It’s a positive feeling of stress release, and a great way to find relief from chronic pain. Being in chronic pain is a major cause of avoiding exercise in the first place.
A really good belly laugh expands and contracts the abdominal muscles, much like doing any kind of core exercise. It can be performed anywhere, and requires no fancy gym clothes. It works the diaphragm, and helps to improve respiration. Make the effort to find ways to trigger your inner funny bone. Google ‘jokes’, or ‘laughter’ on YouTube; voice over cat videos are particularly popular.
Have a blast and lose belly fat with a fall down, roll around belly laughing session. The results might just surprise you!