Ask any woman (or man) what part of their body they are the most dissatisfied with and you will get the same answer ‘My belly!’ As we get older, our bodies retain weight around our mid-section, making it harder to either diet or exercise it off.
This is especially true for menopausal or post-menopausal women, where your stubborn thick middle will just not go away! Back in your youth, you used to just diet or work it off and ‘boom’ your belly was flat again. Not so much now, right?
Surgery is one option, but it is insanely expensive and very painful. There are many ads on TV for all manner of miracle pills and herbal remedies. But, you don’t trust them and many seem questionable, expensive and will likely have no effect!
But, it is more than just exercise that will aid in reducing your belly fat. You need to adjust your diet as well. A few ways to do this:
- Avoid sugar and sugary drinks
- Eat more protein
- Reduce carbs from your diet
- Eat foods rich in fibre, specifically viscous fibre
- Drink lots of water! Every day!
Exercises for home and at the gym
If it did not cause you muscle pain the next day, you did not work out hard enough. As tough as that sounds, it is true. Abs need a rigorous exercise regime that is repetitive and consistent. You also need to ‘up the ante’ as you get stronger and more fit. You can increase the number of repetitions or amount of weight you use as you progress.
Set a schedule for your workout and put it on your calendar. Stick to it! If you are working out at home, minimize the distractions and create a positive space for your workout. If you are going to a gym, work that time into your busy schedule.
Great exercises to do at home
Planking is a popular exercise that works the core like no other. Many people use it as a challenge to best others for the duration they can plank. Start out doing 30 seconds to a minute, then increase daily.
Crunches are a highly effective way to reduce belly fat. They are tough and intense and can be increased as you get stronger. There are also variations that can be done like twists and to incorporate weights into your crunches.
Cycling – If you cannot get out for a ride on your bike, you can bicycle by laying on your back and ‘cycling’ with your legs in the air. By positioning your pelvis higher or lower, you can change the intensity of your workout.
Yoga is also a great way to gently strengthen your core and work on that belly. Poses like the Pontoon Posture (Naukasana) and the Cobra Posture (Bhujang asana) stretch and strengthen your belly, and particularly your waist. These, in combination with other exercises, will increase your flexibility and overall strength.
Walking whenever you can. Take long, vigorous walks and increase your distance each day. Change the route now and then and take a more challenging (with hills) path. It will make your walk more interesting and distracting.
Pilates is a low impact, strengthening method which focuses on your core and flexibility. You may need a ball or some small weights to assist in this method.
Effective exercises to do at the gym
Run or walk on an incline. Most gyms have treadmills that can offer an inclined workout. Start low and work your way up to a higher degree of incline. The incline will force you to work your core harder.
Rowing machine – The rowing machine is a low impact piece of equipment that affects not only the core but the upper arms as well. You can increase or decrease the intensity and speed at which you row as you become stronger. Many of the machines have an intensity setting, so you can throttle them up and down, based on what you prefer.
Weight resistance machines are a great way to build your strength and focus the exercise regime on the area of your body you want to attack. Some of the more effective machines are; lat pulldown, chest press, shoulder press and triceps curl. Try a few and see which one (or more) you are comfortable using.
The leg press focuses on your thighs, yes. But it also affects your core as well. Each time you press, you will feel your abs tightening. Lots of repetition will be the best approach to this equipment.
Where you choose to work on that belly fat is up to you. Your home and your local gym offer great options and you can control your workout regime’s intensity and progression. Alternately, you could connect with a friend or neighbour and partner up for your workouts at either’s home or local gym. This not only get you out but have the opportunity to socialise, work with others and be motivated.
You may never fully achieve those fiercely ripped abs you see on TV or even on others at the gym, but you will be stronger and your belly fat will diminish. When you conduct these belly fat busting exercises in the comfort of your home or at your local gym, you are taking an important step to improving your health, your mental well-being and your overall approach to life. If you travel a lot, you can even do them in your hotel room or by the pool. You are in control!
In no time at all, you will not only feel better about the state of your belly, but your overall health as well. After all, the more you do, more you can do.