Monday, 08 Apr 2013 08:51 AM
While aging impacts your body in many ways, many people find that belly fat in particular becomes more of a trouble zone as you get older. When I turned 48, fat that normally would have gone onto my hips or thighs traveled to my middle.
It was frustrating, but I realized I needed to change my workouts and start watching my calories more closely. For women in their 40s especially, fat tends to accumulate in the midsection more quickly. That’s because after menopause, your body experiences a drop in a type of estrogen called estradiol, and you begin to store fat in your abdomen rather than in your thighs, butt, and hips.
Many women, and men also, lose muscle mass as they age, which further decreases metabolism and can increase that pesky padding around the tummy.
It’s important to know that even if you’re in a healthy weight range, you could still be carrying dangerous belly fat – not the little pooch just above your jeans, but visceral fat lying deep within the abdomen that wraps your internal organs. This type of fat interferes with your metabolism and can damage your health, putting you at risk for serious conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and even cancer.
But don’t throw your hands up in despair! A good exercise program and a few easy lifestyle changes can help reverse this weight gain and get you the firm, flat, attractive tummy you want. Here are my best tips for targeting your tummy and blasting away that unwanted, unhealthy belly fat.
Crank up the cardio. Cardio includes any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up. My favorite form, especially for beginners, is walking – it can be done anywhere, anytime! Start with just 10 minutes a day and work your way up to 30. My book includes a 30-minute interval walking plan that varies your speed and pace every few minutes and keeps different muscles engaged – a really effective way to blast away fat! The best part about cardio is that your metabolism stays charged for up to two hours afterward, so you’ll continue to burn fat even after you stop exercising.
Build more muscle. Fat burns two calories per pound, while muscle – even at rest – burns six to 10. And when in motion, your body’s muscle can help you burn up to 15 to 20 calories per pound! Therefore toning exercises like pushups, lunges, dumbbell curls, and overhead presses are all fabulous metabolism boosters that will boost your body’s overall fat-burning potential.
Savor a splurge. Food should be your friend – not your enemy. Aim to eat healthy six days out of the week, and then enjoy what I call a “super splurge” on the seventh day. It helps you enjoy yourself and not feel so deprived, so you’re ready to recommit to healthy eating the following week.
Lose weight the FAST way. Try to “fast” for 12 hours each night. Eat most of your calories during the day, when your body is naturally active and you need the calories for fuel. Then close down the kitchen at 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next morning, when you can start your day off fresh with a big healthy breakfast to help rein in your appetite for the rest of the day. As a bonus, you’ll probably sleep better at night.
Do the instant tummy tuck. One of my favorite tricks allows you to work your ab muscles all day long and helps you look better instantly: Simply sit or stand up super straight! It might help to imagine that there's a string attached to the crown of your head and it's pulling your whole body upward, tucking your hips under and pulling your abs in tight. If you can keep it up all day, just imagine how 16 hours of ab work will strengthen your core!
For more daily weight-loss tips from Denise, plus a personalized eating and fitness plan, visit www.DeniseAustin.com.