It is no secret that many women focus on the stomach area with a burning desire to see the fat melt away from the midsection. If you are one of these women then you must become aware of why there is excess and how you can take action to decrease the fat for a flatter stomach.
Carrying extra fat around the stomach not only destroys your self-confidence but decreases health affecting your hormone balance, metabolism, energy, libido and increasing depression.
Many believe that it is a simple formula of do more sit ups and eat salad to lose the fat and gain a flat stomach, however there is a little more to it than that. There are a few factors that effect belly fat such as bad eating habits and lack of exercise, but another that gets less attention is stress. Stress is a big factor for general health and could be the reason you are not achieving the slender stomach you desire.
Want a flatter stomach? Improve your management of stress.
The Stress Hormone – Cortisol
The stress hormone, cortisol, correlates with belly fat which is why it is crucial to manage stress in order to see an improvement in the stomach area.
Your body needs some level of cortisol, however, persistently elevated levels of cortisol are detrimental to health as well as your body composition. When you are under stress, both physical and psychological, the body secretes cortisol. One of its primary functions is to convert amino acids in the muscles into glucose to give the body the extra energy it needs to overcome the stress. In simpler times, the main stress for the body was hunger, starvation and escaping predators. The elevation in cortisol helped to give the body energy to survive food shortages and staying alive.
Fast forward to modern times, we are 24/7 people, trying to accomplish a million tasks every day, and be the image of perfect health with lean bodies. You may think you are doing everything right
to have the slender figure but if your body is chronically elevated with cortisol it will be storing bodyfat around the waist to provide a source of easily accessible energy in anticipation of more intense stress.
Factors of Stress
Below are common factors that trigger stress, increase cortisol, and add to the extra belly fat.
- Nutrition – Poor eating habits, consuming foods your body can’t tolerate, and eating excessive amounts of food can all add stress to your body.
- Exercise – Lack of exercise, too much exercise, forcing yourself to do a training programme you don’t enjoy.
- Sleep – A lack of sleep. You are not a night owl!
- Work – Working too many hours, not enjoying your job, not being able to handle your workload, becoming frustrated by colleagues.
- Relationships – A bad relationship with your other half.
- Life – Not balancing all your daily tasks and losing control. Trying to do too much at once without better management.
- Money – Worrying about finances, being able to pay bills and not making enough pennies.
Steps to Manage Stress
To take control of your body and reduce any, or all, of the factors above then address the issue by taking a look at these steps.
- Improve your nutrition habits. Focus on natural food such as meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and some grains (rice, oats, quinoa).
- Ensure you are eating the right amount of food. Avoid undereating and overeating.
- Drink plenty of water. Aim for 3 litres (approx. 5 glasses) per day.
- Exercise at a higher intensity three times a week such as strength training and interval workouts. The other days go for 30 minute walks and/or do a hobby you enjoy.
- Get plenty of rest and sleep. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Learn to unwind with a relaxing bath, read a book, take a walk, listen to your favourite music, enjoy a massage.
- If changing jobs isn’t an option, learn to say no to tasks that are unnecessary in your role and focus on the tasks that are a priority. If employed, work the hours in your contract; if self-employed, set a schedule and stick to the hours as best you can.
- Show appreciation and love to your other half. Make the time every day to hug, kiss and talk. If you have a busy schedule, make sure you set aside a time every week to spend quality time together.
- To take control of your life. Realise there is only so much you can do each day, focus on the important tasks, get them done. Get a diary, make lists and put together a better schedule of your daily tasks.
- If you worry about finances, cut down on unnecessary purchases. That handbag can wait! Alternatively, work harder in your work hours to climb up the ladder of career success and earn more pennies to afford the things you want.
- Do a grateful diary. Get a diary and pen solely for this activity, do this every day or at least once a week. Write down what you are grateful for in your life, you may just realise how amazing your life already is!
- Laugh a lot. Smile a lot. Hug your loved ones. Talk to your loved ones. Enjoy your journey!
The Benefits of Managing Stress
- Lose belly fat
- Change body composition
- Boost confidence
- Increase energy
- Increase libido
- Sleep better
- Improve general health
- A better zest for life
If losing belly fat is your goal then take control of your stress and address the issue with simple approaches mentioned above. It takes more than just crunches!