Belly Buster … The Flat Belly Program

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The Shape of Things to Come

Of all the e-mails I get sent every day, by far the most common – men and women alike – are questions about how to lose stubborn belly fat.  A potbelly… love handles… the spare tire… call it what you will. It seems to be the area of your body that you’d really like to do something about.  Not only is a firm, but flat stomach the ultimate symbol of sex appeal, researchers have also found that losing abdominal fat is one of the most important steps you can take to stay healthy for life.

The majority of my life, I was too skinny, I could not put weight on no matter what I did, no matter what I ate.  My biggest concern was putting weight on, because so many people made fun of me, joked about my lack of weight, called me names, or assumed I must be sick because I looked like the runt of the litter (a term my Aunt used to describe me).   I easily learned that thin people face the same discrimination as overweight people.  You cannot find clothing to fit you, people point and make rude comments, and you become overly focused on the scale and food. 

Now, I am in the average weight range for my height.  As I aged and my life became more sedentary, I gained weight.  I tend to carry my weight more like a man; it all goes to my belly.  This is a concern because this weight gain pattern can place me at a higher risk for heart disease.  With a concern for my health, I find myself analyzing my behaviors, exercise, foods, and all of the things one does when they are concerned about looking good and being healthy.   After all, I was in the weight loss industry, and there I learned that we do not gain 50 pounds overnight.  We gain it a few pounds at a time.  We have an option to take care of it when it is ten pounds or ignore it buy larger sized clothing or clothing with stretch and watch yourself blossom.  Sometimes, it is not about the weight the scale says you are, but more about other factors such as where you carry your weight (fat), cholesterol levels, and other health factors.

Lose tummyFor me, my belly fat is probably due to changes in my life, stress, marriage, change of employment, my age; my metabolism may be slowing down and of course menopause or premenopausal.  In addition, I am less active, my career change is more sedentary so I find that I am not burning the same number of calories that I once was. Anyone who watched Dr. Oz on Oprah saw what that belly fat looks like.  It is called the omentum and it is fat that surrounds your organs.   When the fat is stored in your stomach area, your body has easy access to it, Dr. Oz explained. The fat then creates an inflammatory process that irritates your arteries and puts you at risk for blocked arteries.

This edition of Spavelous “Know You are In The Know” will look closer at this belly fat concern. While I am a classic example of a Yale study which indicated that Non-overweight women may be more vulnerable to the effects of stress and more likely to have excess abdominal fat, and have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol affects fat distribution by causing fat to be stored centrally around the organs. Cortisol exposure can increase visceral fat—the fat surrounding the organs in animals.

Everyone is exposed to stress, but some people may secrete more cortisol than others and may secrete cortisol each time they face the same stressor.  The study indicated that reacting to the same stressors consistently by secreting cortisol would be related to greater visceral fat.
 
After the first exposure to stress, women with greater abdominal fat felt more threatened by the study’s stressful tasks, performed more poorly on them, and secreted more cortisol. They also reported more life stress. By the third exposure to stress, lean women with abdominal fat still consistently secreted more cortisol in response to stressful lab tasks, compared to women with peripheral fat.

Lifestyle and age may also influence levels of abdominal fat. Smoking, alcohol, and lack of exercise all contribute to greater abdominal fat.

There are many other factors that go into staying in shape.  There are the factors we can control and those that we have no control over.  Let us take a closer look at how to achieve a flat belly:

Belly Fat … How Much Is Too Much?

You don’t have to be overweight to have too much belly fat: It’s about inches, not pounds. Measure your waist around the belly button. Rule of thumb: Women should keep their waistline below 35 inches; and men, below 40 inches.  If your measurements are smaller but you notice your waist circumference has increased one or two inches, that’s also a warning sign.

There are two types of fat: the subcutaneous, or “pinchable,” kind that collects just under the skin – and, unless you’re obese, poses no health threat – and visceral fat, which develops deep inside the abdomen. “Visceral fat appears to be metabolically more active than fat that settles elsewhere,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fit to Live: The 5-Point Plan to Be Lean, Strong, & Fearless for Life (Rodale Books, 2007). This visceral fat – belly fat, in plain English – interferes with liver function. In particular, it hampers the processing of cholesterol and insulin – and may also compromise the function of other tissues and systems. In December a study conducted at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam found links between belly fat and capillary inflammation (a contributor to heart disease) and between belly fat and insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes).

Unfortunately, the flow of fat from our arms, legs, and hips to our stomachs is a natural part of aging. “Up until about age 40, estrogen in women and testosterone in men controls fat allocation, keeping it away from the abdomen,” Peeke says. “Once these hormones decline, it becomes easier for excessive calories to be stored deep inside the belly.”

While you can’t control the buildup of belly fat, your lifestyle habits can influence how much midlife fat you accumulate. Read on for your complete guide to banishing belly fat forever.

 

Helpful Terms Defined:

belly Fat Epidermis –

The outermost layer of the skin. The epidermis contains no nerves or blood vessels, so the epidermis alone is incapable of sensation or bleeding. Composed of a protective outer layer of nonliving keratin-derived scale cells, the epidermis acts as an envelope or seal against the environment and exerts some control on the amount of moisture lost to the environment. The epidermis contains keratinocytes (cells that make keratin) and melanocytes (cells that make pigment), as well as other specialized cells.

Fat

When referring to the skin only, fat is stored in cells and usually makes up the bulk of the subcutaneous layer. This is the only layer in which liposuction takes place. However, it is interesting that there are many locations for body fat that are not part of the skin, including omental fat around the intestines, fat in the eyesockets, fat inside the bone, etc. Fat is composed of triglycerides, which can take on the form of oil, lipid, or lard, depending on the temperature, when removed from the body. Fat is a highly concentrated energy source well suited to helping our distant ancestors cope with starvation. Some fat deposits are genetically determined. There are two major deposits of almost pure fat: the subcutaneous fat and the omental fat. Both of these can almost naturally vanish with starvation, a condition that is unhealthy.

Omentum and omental fat

Deep in the abdomen and protected by a muscle wall the bowel sits in a soft “cushiony” fatty layer called the omentum. The omental fat currently cannot be safely suctioned without risking severe life-threatening bowel problems. Omentum fat can become gigantic. It stores fat and calories as well as surrounds, protects, and encases the all-important human bowel.

Skin

The largest organ of the body. Skin is composed of living and dead layers. The dead layers include the surface scale, outside hair, and nail plate. The living layers include the epidermis, dermis, subcutaneous (fat, the area liposuction targets), and all of the structures found within those layers, including blood vessels, sweat glands, etc.

Subcutaneous –

Lying below or under the cutaneous (dermis, leather) tissue. This tissue is usually composed of fat cells and the structures that run through it, i.e., blood vessels, nerves, etc.

Fat is a soft, shock-absorbing barrier that acts as a conduit for the nerves and blood vessels. As well, subcutaneous tissue is an energy-storage device. See Fat in the glossary. The sebaceous glands of the hair follicle arise in the subcutaneous layer and are in high concentration on the face and scalp. There are no sebaceous glands on the palms or soles.

Subcutaneous fat –

Subcutaneous fat sits just below the skin’s surface

Visceral fat –  

Visceral fat is buried beneath the muscles. Visceral fat can go largely unnoticed because it’s not visible to the naked eye. In fact, the only effective way researchers can locate visceral fat is by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnetic waves to take a picture of the inside of the abdomen. Researchers can use this picture to estimate the amount of visceral fat a person is carrying.  Visceral fat is the more worrisome variety because it surrounds vital organs and is metabolized by the liver, which turns it into blood cholesterol.

What gives your Omentum Momentum?

Our bodies are very well designed to deal with periods of acute stress–and then relaxation. That’s a typical mode of survival. Those stressful events are actually very healthy for us. They rev up our engines and work out the kinks in the complex enzymatic reactions that control our bodies. In the end, these systems should reach homeostasis, a peaceful, balanced coexistence that is ready to spring into action in an emergency. But if we don’t get time to idle, the balance gets thrown off and problems can develop.

Stress:  The Fat Storage Starter

belly FatWe have all seen the commercial for the Weight loss pill that talks about how cortisol causes fat When stress is chronic, it forces an excess of steroids and other stress hormones into our bodies from the adrenal glands stimulated by the brain (specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary). These are stress steroids, and our system has to cope with them. It does so in several ways, and one of the classic ways is that the omentum, a fold of fatty tissue that encases your intestines, sucks up the excess circulating steroids to clear the system. This stimulates the omentum to inappropriately store fat whenever we eat–which is one of the reasons that stress induces you to grow a beer belly. When you’re thin, your omentum looks like a wide, webbed pantyhose. But as it grows, the fat globules fill and engorge the gaps in the webbing.

At this point, the excess omentum actually becomes a reservoir that releases inflammatory chemicals into the body: You’re basically being poisoned by the fat in your belly. That creates a chronic condition called metabolic syndrome. It includes high blood sugars, high blood pressure, and high bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Sound familiar? That’s America. Most people in the thirty-five-to-forty-five-year-old range start getting it. And that is the exact process we need to arrest.

So how do you deal with it?

The quick answer is: Stress Less and loses some weight. The omentum and the fat around your solid organs like your kidneys are the first things to shrink when you start shedding pounds. And when you reduce this fat, you automatically reduce the number of inflammatory chemicals that are being dumped into your liver, which in turn leads to reduced production of stress-inducing hormones. That’s why weight loss affects blood pressure. It’s not just because your belly is smaller; it’s because there’s less fat surrounding your organs.  The weight loss will take the belly fat down, stressing less will keep it off.

Seven Steps to Stress Less

We crunch do sit-ups, Ab Blast, eschew carbohydrates and some people will even go under the knife to get rid of ab flab, the muffin top or big belly.  Unfortunately, recent research shows that you can crunch until you crumble and diet till you’re drained of energy, but if your days are full of stress, the perfect six-pack–or even a flatter midsection–will continue to elude you.

Fat in the abdominal area functions differently than fat elsewhere in the body, it has a greater blood supply as well as more receptors for cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol levels rise and fall throughout the day, but when you’re under constant stress, the amount of the hormone you produce remains elevated. With high stress and, consequently, high cortisol levels, more fat is deposited in the abdominal area since there are more cortisol receptors there.

Ab flab is not the only price you’ll pay for chronic stress (the kind created by a marriage that’s unraveling, a job you hate, problems with your health–rather than, say, tension caused by a traffic snarl). Chronically high cortisol levels also kill neurons in the brain and interfere with feel-good neurotransmitters–such as dopamine and serotonin–which can lead to depression and feeling more stressed.

More Stress = More Fat

Stress can be an overwhelmingly powerful emotion.  Ask anyone who’s ever experienced an anxiety attack while standing in line at the grocery store and they can quickly attest to the powerful punch that stress packs.  In addition, long-term neglect of a stressful lifestyle can contribute to premature aging and medical conditions, including hypertension, and digestive disorders.  If you want to improve your health and decrease your fat you must eliminate stress.

Signs of Chronic Stress

relaxStress Warning Signs and Symptoms

Cognitive Symptoms

    * Memory problems
    * Indecisiveness
    * Inability to concentrate
    * Trouble thinking clearly
    * Poor judgment
    * Seeing only the negative
    * Anxious or racing thoughts
    * Constant worrying
    * Loss of objectivity
    * Fearful anticipation         

Emotional Symptoms

    * Moodiness
    * Agitation
    * Restlessness
    * Short temper
    * Irritability, impatience
    * Inability to relax
    * Feeling tense and “on edge”
    * Feeling overwhelmed
    * Feeling Angry
    * Sense of loneliness and isolation
    * Depression or general unhappiness

Physical Symptoms   

    * Headaches or backaches
    * Muscle tension and stiffness
    * Diarrhea or constipation
    * Nausea, dizziness
    * Insomnia
    * Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
    * Weight gain or loss
    * Skin breakouts (hives, eczema)
    * Loss of sex drive
    * Frequent colds
    * Ringing in the ears

Behavioral Symptoms

    * Eating more or less
    * Sleeping too much or too little
    * Isolating yourself from others
    * Procrastination, neglecting responsibilities
    * Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
    * Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
    * Teeth grinding or jaw clenching
    * Overdoing activities (e.g. exercising, shopping)
    * Overreacting to unexpected problems
    * Picking fights with others

Know Your Stressors

It is important to understand that consistently worrying about a problem will not solve the problem, in fact, perseverating will only create more anxiety.   Identify what the source of your stress is, and work through it to find a resolution instead of generating more stress about the issue.  Taking advantage of a variety of resources such as personal reflection, consulting professionals that specialize in modifying your specific issue, or talking to trusted friends and loved ones all guide you down the road to resolving a stressful situation.

Breathe Easy:  Deep Breathing = Deep Relaxation

For centuries, many Eastern cultures have realized the benefits of practicing proper breathing techniques as an effective tool to manage stress.  According to health and fitness consultants, 8 to 10 breaths a minute when you’re relaxed signifies normal, healthy breathing while 15 or more is the signal you are in stress mode.  Guide your breathing by focusing on long, complete exhale and your body will notice the difference. 

When you inhale does your chest expand or does your abdomen expand? If your chest expands, then you are a shallow breather.  To learn how to be a deeper breather and breath properly, you may want to take a yoga or mediation class that focuses on breathing.  In the meantime, here are a few pointers:

    • Breathe into your diaphragm, not shallow “chest” breathing
    • Inhale through the nose,
    • Exhale through the mouth,
    • Take longer to exhale than to inhale,
    • Slow down! (reduce your breaths-per-minute)
    • Practice until it becomes your natural breathing pattern.

Say No and Talk it out

Say no. Don’t commit yourself to things you can’t or don’t want to do.

Sure it’s easier to say yes, but at what price to your peace of mind? Here’s why saying no maybe a healthier option for stress relief.

Be honest with yourself. Is your plate piled too high with deadlines and obligations that you’re trying to squeeze in between meetings? Are you trying to cram too many activities into too little time? If so, stress relief can be as straightforward as just saying no — or no more.

Why Say No?

friendshipSaying no can be good for you. Saying no is not a selfish act. In fact, it may be the most beneficial thing that you can do for your family and your other commitments. When you say no, you’ll be able to spend quality time on the things you’ve already said yes to.

Yes isn’t always the best answer. If you’re overcommitted and under a lot of stress, you’ve got a much better chance of becoming sick, tired, or just plain old crabby, which doesn’t benefit you or anyone else.

It’s important to recognize the power of other people. Let those around you come through. Although others may not do things exactly the same way you would, you can learn a valuable lesson by allowing others to help, while gaining treasured free time.

When To Say No

Sometimes it’s tough to determine which activities deserve your time and attention. Use these strategies to evaluate obligations — and opportunities — that come your way.

  • Find yourself. Saying no helps you prioritize the things that are important to you. You’ll gain time that you can commit to the things that you really want to do, such as leaving work at a reasonable hour to make time for a mind-clearing run at the end of the day. Examine your current obligations and overall priorities before making any new commitments. Ask yourself if the new commitment is important to you. If it’s something that you feel strongly about, by all means, do it.
  • Weigh the yes-to-stress ratio. Is the new activity that you’re considering a short- or long-term commitment? Taking an afternoon to bake a batch of cookies for the school bake sale will take far less of your precious time than heading up the school fundraising committee for an entire year. If an activity is going to end up being another source of stress in your life — especially for the long term — take a pass.
  • Let go of guilt. If friends want to get together for an impromptu evening out on the town when you’ve already scheduled a quiet evening at home with your partner, it’s okay to decline their offer. Do what you’ve set out to do and don’t veer off that path because of feelings of guilt or obligation. It will only lead to additional stress in your life.
  • Keep your current commitments in check. If you have relatives coming over for dinner, don’t go overboard. Order pizza or ask everyone to bring a dish to share.
  • Sleep on it. Are you tempted by a friend’s invitation to volunteer at your old alma mater or join a weekly golf league? Take a day to think over the request and respond after you’ve been able to assess your current commitments as well as the new opportunity.


How To Say No

Oprah Winfrey said it best when she said that No is a complete sentence it needs no explanation.  No. Nope. Nah. See how simple it is to say one little word that will allow you to take a pass on the things that aren’t a priority? Of course, there are always instances when it’s just not that easy. Here are some things to keep in mind when you need to say no:

  • Practice full disclosure. Don’t fabricate reasons to get out of an obligation. The truth is always the best way to turn down a friend, family member, or co-worker.
  • Let them down gently. Many good causes land at your door, and it can be tough to turn them down. Complimenting the person or group’s effort while saying that you’re unable to commit at this time helps to soften the blow and keep you in good graces.

A great way to say it is “I would love to, unfortunately, I have another obligation”.

Saying no won’t be easy if you’re used to saying yes all the time. But learning to say no is an important part of simplifying your way to a better, less stressful life.

If something still bothers you, find an ear to listen and talk it out.  They may have some ideas or offer assistance on how it can be worked out.  You do not have to shoulder the problems alone.  If you are having financial problems, health problems, or relationship issues, seek out the advice of a professional.

Take a Time Out

Use a daily time-out to manage your stress with a moment to get in sync with your goals, feelings, and concerns. Performing a chore does not fully promote the peace and relaxation needed to regenerate your body.  So get a massage or a facial, read, soak in the tub, make sure that what you’re doing is not one of the items on your ‘to-do’ list.

Enhance the experience by finding a tranquil space and peaceful music create a serene environment that promotes effective stress management.  Dotting your house with potpourri, candles or oils scented with fresh and natural fragrances subtly help promote relaxation and a peaceful environment.  Create pockets of quiet time to spend in your own ‘time out’ chair during your day.  Replicate the serenity experienced at a spa by spending time listening to a relaxation CD or tabletop waterfall in a lowly lit area, or indulging in an at-home treatment on your hands or feet.

Practicing meditation is said to be one of the best anti-stress solutions and allowing them time to meditate and completely unwind will decrease your anxiety-driven mental chatter.  Attend a mediation seminar offered through the park district or at a local community college to garner some of the physical benefits meditating offers such as a lowered heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Exercise

Exercise can decrease ‘stress hormones’ like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost.  In addition, physical activity itself can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity at hand or get you into a zen-like state. Exercise usually involves a change of scenery as well, either taking you to a gym, a dojo, a boxing ring, a park, a scenic mountain, a biking trail, or a neighborhood sidewalk, all of which can be pleasant, low-stress places.

Smile & Laugh

Those who aptly manage their stress recommend not taking life too seriously.   Infuse laughter into your life and the lives of your family as often as possible.  According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, studies have shown laughter positively affects the immune system and increases the number and activity of T cells and natural killer cells which attack viruses, foreign cells, and cancer cells.

Spirituality and Stress Relief

Certain tools to reduce stress are very tangible: exercising more, eating better, talking it out with friends. But there is another tool for helping you manage difficult times that can be just as beneficial, albeit harder to pin down — embracing your spirituality. There are many benefits of spirituality. It can help you:

  • Focus on personal goals. Cultivating your spirituality may help uncover what’s most meaningful in your life. Bymassage clarifying what’s important to you, you can eliminate stress by focusing less on the unimportant things that can sometimes seem to consume you.
  • Connect to the world. The more you feel you have a purpose in the world, the less solitary you feel — even when you’re alone. This can lead to inner peace during difficult times.
  • Release control. When you feel part of a greater whole, you realize that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in life. You can share the burden of tough times as well as the joys of life’s blessings with those around you.
  • Expand your support network. Whether you find spirituality in a church, mosque, or synagogue, in your family, or in walks with a friend through nature, this sharing of spiritual expression can help build relationships.
  • Lead a healthier life. Some research seems to indicate that people who consider themselves spiritual are often better able to cope with stress and heal from illness or addiction.

When you are feeling stressed, then perhaps you should just let go and let God. 

The Flat Belly Diet

Are you ready to start on a path to a healthier you by shedding some of those extra pounds? It is easy to be tempted by promises of rapid weight loss that are held out by some weight loss programs, or offered as a result of diet pills, or other “miracle weight-loss diets.” There are a few things you should know before you decide on how you will proceed.

dietFirst, understand that there is no miracle weight loss treatment. It is possible that if you adhere to a highly restricted or another fad diet, you may lose significant weight. The problems are that crash dieting solutions are harmful to your body, because they deprive you of essential nutrients. These diets can leave you with weaker bones, and overall health that is worse. More important, though, is the problem that if you make no changes to your normal life, as soon as you stop depriving yourself of the crash diet, you are very likely to return to your previous eating and exercise habits, which leads to an inevitable Yo-Yo phenomenon. Studies have demonstrated that people who are overweight and crash diet, then regain the weight are in a much worse state of health than those who remain at their original overweight size

Like so many others, I have a muffin top.  Despite all my best nutritional and exercise efforts, I just couldn’t lose weight around my middle, especially since I hit 50. So who could turn down a book that will get the flat belly you’ve always dreamed of with the brand new Flat Belly Diet! Created by the health and fitness experts you trust at Prevention, Flat Belly gives you all the tips and moves you need to eliminate belly bulge – for good.

The Flat Belly Diet book is written by Prevention Editor in Chief Liz Vaccariello and Prevention Nutrition Editor Cynthia Sass.  The book’s cover reads: “A Flat Belly is about food and attitude. Period. (No crunches required)! With the Flat Belly Diet Book, you’ll trim your waistline and sculpt a lean, sexy belly – without ever doing a single crunch! Filled with fast, effective workouts, belly-flattening eating tips, and stay-slim-forever advice, the Flat Belly Diet gives you everything you need to help you flatten your stomach, trim your waist and streamline your entire core – in just 32 days.”

Shrinking an expanding waistline is not only a matter of vanity: Excess belly fat can significantly up your risk of heart disease, the number one killer of women, as well as other dangerous medical conditions. We’re all familiar with subcutaneous fat – the jiggly stuff that makes it hard to zip up your jeans. But it’s the visceral fat – the type residing deep inside your belly – that’s so deadly. This compact fat, sometimes called “hidden” belly fat, builds up between and around your internal organs. Even small amounts can increase your heart disease risk.

It can also cause metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that include high LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, as well as high blood pressure and high blood sugar, which can progress to type 2 diabetes. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that in a sample of more than 3,000 people, 46% of overweight women and 22% of normal-weight women had metabolic syndrome, and those who did had 50% more visceral fat.

Since most of us take measures to eliminate only the fat we can see, how do you get rid of the dangerous stuff hiding inside? Better yet, is there a way to eliminate both? Prevention editors dug into the science and developed a plan that can change your body and protect your health:

Researchers have discovered that eating fat – a very specific kind – is actually one of the best ways to fight both subcutaneous and visceral belly fat.

A new, cutting-edge study published in Diabetes Care in July 2007 and conducted by scientists at Reina Sofía University Hospital in Córdoba, Spain, placed a group of overweight people on 4-week diets containing the same number of calories but with different ratios of carbohydrate and fat. The plan rich in monounsaturated fats prevented the accumulation of both types of belly fat – without additional exercise.

The Stealth Belly Flattener

tomatoThe idea that fat can help you slim down isn’t new. In 2001, Harvard researchers reported that moderate-fat diets actually produced better weight loss results in the long run than low-fat diets. But not until the Spanish study did researchers uncover the notion that a single type of dietary fat targets such a specific area of the body.

Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs for short, pronounced MOO-fahs) come from the healthy oils found in plant foods such as olives, nuts, and avocado. MUFAs have been linked to overall weight loss in previous studies, including a report published in the British Journal of Nutrition, which found that a MUFA-rich diet helped people lose small amounts of weight and body fat without changing their calorie intake. Another report found that a breakfast high in MUFAs could boost calorie burn for 5 hours after the meal, particularly in people with higher amounts of belly fat.

However, it’s the additional health benefits that make this type of dietary fat so unique. Not only can it prevent and control type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease (by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and boosting the “good” HDL), but a 3-year Italian study found that diets high in MUFAs from nuts and olive oil also helped reduce markers of inflammation, a known trigger for aging and disease.

Using this arsenal of data, Prevention’s, nutrition director, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, constructed an eating plan that incorporates MUFA-rich foods into every meal (exercise is optional). Their goal: to make this a reduced-calorie diet that’s easy to stay on because these good fats are satisfying and filling. To ensure their plan delivered, they also tested it on readers of Prevention Magazine. The results were impressive. In a 4-week period, their 11 panelists lost a total of 91 pounds and 83 inches. Not only did each lose an average of 2 inches of belly fat, but they lost fat all over their bodies and felt more energized than they had in years.


The Way to Eat

The Flat Belly Diet follows a few basic rules:

  • Include a MUFA (monounsaturated fat) at every meal

Incorporate a serving of one MUFA-rich food every time you eat to reap the benefits of this amazingly healthful belly-flattening fat.

  • Have a clear calorie goal

Consume four 400-calorie meals a day. Significant weight loss requires calorie control. For the average woman, 1,600 calories per day is ideal because it’s low enough to create weight loss while maintaining energy and preserving calorie-burning muscle.

  • Eat often

Have a meal every 4 to 5 hours to help control your blood sugar and hunger and keep your metabolism in high gear.

  • Drink your water (8 glasses a day) or Sassy Water

Sassy water is a great water recipe for people who do not like plain water.  It is similar to spa water which contains lemon slices, cucumber slices, grated ginger, and spearmint leaves. 

  • Change the way to think

What you put in your mouth is only half the equation. The other half is your attitude toward food and eating. Put these tips into practice:

  • Manage stress

This emotion causes a spike in the hunger-stimulating hormone cortisol, sending you straight for the sweets. And when cortisol is high, extra calories are deposited directly as belly fat.

  • Ask for help

Among people who have lost weight and kept it off, 70% reported having strong social support, compared with only 38% of those who lost and regained weight. Recruit others to join you (or encourage you), or sign up for an online support group.

  • Beat emotional eating

Keep a food diary, but don’t just record what and how much you eat. Journaling about your feelings can help you identify what triggers you to eat and why, so you can break unhealthy habits for good.

5 Flat Belly Foods

These ingredients hold the power to truly transform your body, not to mention lengthen your life. The secret is their magical “MUFA”

Flat Belly FoodTo the ancient Greeks, olive oil was liquid gold. For the Aztecs, chocolate was sacred. Almonds were prized by Egypt’s pharaohs, and avocados have symbolized fertility for centuries. These cannot live without their food share more than history; they also share unique health properties. They’re packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, these good-for-you fats that protect you from chronic disease and, according to new research, can help you lose fat, specifically around your middle. That’s why they’re at the heart of the Flat Belly Diet, a unique Prevention-tested weight loss plan.

There are five major categories of MUFAs: (1) oils, (2) nuts and seeds, (3) avocado, (4) olives, and (5) chocolate.

Eating one serving of any of these foods at every meal will help reduce your accumulation of dangerous belly fat; control your calorie intake and you’ll lose inches and pounds, too–especially around your waistline.

You can easily fit these MUFAs into the Flat Belly Diet menu plans, but even if you’re not following the diet, you can still enjoy the rich flavor of MUFAs and their numerous health benefits. For centuries, these foods and fats have been hard to resist.


1. Oils 

Pick your MUFA: Canola oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, peanut oil, pesto sauce, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil

 A serving equals: 1 tablespoon

Use them like this: Stir-fry with sesame, peanut, or canola oil; pan-fry in walnut or olive oil; spread pesto on a sandwich, drizzle it over soups or grilled foods, or toss it with rice or pasta; add walnut, sesame, or olive oil to marinades; cook with safflower, soybean, or sunflower oil; use flaxseed oil in salad dressings (flaxseed oil cannot be used for cooking) I like to put flaxseed oil in my fruit shakes.  You have all of the benefits and you do not taste it.


2. Nuts & Seeds
 

Pick your MUFA: Almonds, almond butter, Brazil nuts, cashew butter, chunky natural peanut butter, dry-roasted cashews, dry-roasted peanuts, dry-roasted sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, roasted pumpkin seeds, smooth natural peanut butter, sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, tahini (sesame seed paste), walnuts

 A serving equals: 2 tablespoons

Use them like this: Eat these foods as a snack; sprinkle on a salad; crush and use as a crunchy topping for fish and chicken (dip fish or chicken in lightly beaten egg white to help nuts adhere); spread nut butter on crackers, bread, or fruit; stir nut butter into soups and sauces to add body and flavor


3. Avocado 

Pick your MUFA: Florida avocado, Hass avocado

 A serving equals: 1/4 cup

Use them like this: Slice and serve with a salad or any entrée; mash with lime juice, salt, and pepper and serve with chips; chop and fold into store-bought salsa


4. Olives 

Pick your MUFA: Black olives, black olive tapenade, green olives, green olive tapenade

A serving equals: 10 large olives or 2 tablespoons of tapenade

Use them like this: Serve olives as a snack; sprinkle sliced olives on pizzas, salads, or pastas; spread tapenade on crackers or sandwiches; stuff tapenade into chicken breasts or fish fillets

Chocolate5. Chocolate 

Pick your MUFA: Dark or semisweet chocolate chips, shavings, or chunks

A serving equals: 1/4 cup

Use chocolate like this: Any way you crave! 

 

Belly Bloat … Foods to Avoid

 

sugarWhile there are many foods that are touted for their advantageous impact on flatter abdominals, there’s a flip side of the coin, too. Certain foods and beverages have been shown to directly counteract your efforts to reduce belly fat, contributing to the dreaded “spare tire” we all want to avoid. Below, we’ve compiled a listing of these abdominal adversaries. If you must indulge in any of these, remember that moderation (and portion size) is key.  With the Flat Belly Diet, they ask you to give certain foods up for four days.  After that, you can add them back in.  For each person, the impact on these foods on their body may be different.  So, if you still feel bloated and have a difficult time achieving a flatter tummy, eliminate the following gas-forming foods from your diet one at a time to determine the culprits:

Excessive Amounts of Carbohydrates

We’re not recommending that you cut them out of your diet entirely, but too many carbs can cause bloating and weight gain. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which nestles itself into your muscles in the form of water-retaining glycogen. When planning your menu, choose your carbs carefully. For example, fruits and vegetables are better carb choices than “white foods” like bread, pasta, and other gas-producing starches.


Empty Calorie Foods (sugar alcohol, fried foods)

While they may taste great, these high-carb treats aren’t doing you any favors in the abdominal department. Avoid any foods that are high in carbohydrates or sodium, such as sweets, candy, and greasy fast foods.  Fried foods digest slower and can cause you to feel bloated.  Sugar alcohols are used as sugar substitutes.  They do not digest and cause gas, bloating stomach distention, and diarrhea. These are usually lacking in nutrients, with little to no fiber content. Filling up on this type of fare will gain you little in the way of energy and much more in the way of bloating.


Chewing gum


When you chew you swallow air.  This air gets trapped in your GI Tract and causes gas and bloating.  Whitening gum usually includes a Sodium Carbonate Peroxyhydrate which increases the amount of oxygen and creates more gas, bloating, and belly expansion.


Carbonated Beverages

Many dieters believe that drinking zero-calorie soda won’t have a negative impact on their physique, but the truth is that the carbonation in fizzy drinks — even sparkling water — can cause belly bloating when the gas from the carbonation settles in the stomach. Also, the artificial sweeteners used in many diet drinks can have a bloating effect. Stick to iced green tea or regular spring water for the best results.


High-fiber Foods

Although fiber is generally viewed as an aid in achieving a trimmer tummy, too much of a good thing can go bad. Some high-fiber foods can cause a puffy midsection when consumed in large quantities. Be selective when munching on such offenders as beans, cabbage, garlic, broccoli, onions, and sprouts.  Eat only cooked vegetables they will take up less room in your GI tract.


Gassy Foods

As we all know, certain foods just create more gas, beans, cabbage, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers. So when you need to fit into the slim black dress or swimsuit you may want to avoid these. 


Salt & High-sodium Foods

Sodium is a known culprit when it comes to bloating of the midsection and gastrointestinal discomfort. The Sodium in salt attracts and retains water which will give you a puffy appearance.  Try to stay away from processed foods, such as pre-packaged meats, and foods with large amounts of seasoning. Also, refrain from liberal amounts of salt when preparing your own meals.


Alcohol or Coffee

These high acid drinks can irritate your Gi tract and cause swelling.

The occasional social drink is fine, but a little goes a long way. Large amounts of alcoholic beverages –especially in the evening — are proven to have a bloating effect.


Milk & Dairy Products

For those with lactose intolerance, milk and dairy products can cause bloating and discomfort in the abdominal area. To counteract this, opt for calcium supplements instead.

Avoiding these foods and beverages — or, at a minimum, reducing their prominence in your daily diet — will aid you tremendously in your efforts to achieve lean, sculpted abdominals. 

Spa Wraps a Great Belly Buster

The most noted body wrap for slenderizing the body is the Suddenly Slender Body Wrap which has been featured on television on Dr. Phil,  Rachel Ray, Montel Williams, and The Tyra Show.   The wrap was created in 1969 by Victoria Morton to resolve her own weight and water retention problems. A testimony to her own invention, Ms. Morton has a better figure now, thirty-eight years later, than she did at 34 years of age. 

The Process:

A trained wrap technician wraps the Spa client in bandages soaked in an exclusive mineral solution, visibly contouring the body with each placement of the porous bandages.
                       
The exclusive techniques used in applying the mineral soaked bandages are designed to help visibly contour/shape the body with tension applied to specific areas throughout the wrap
                       
The Wrap Technicians are trained to apply bandages with a specific purpose, to help visibly reduce, lift and tone areas of the body
                       
Once the patron is fully wrapped, they are “basted” all over with an exclusive mineral solution. A poncho is applied to help retain the body’s natural heat.

On all of the television programs, the client also exercised while they were wrapped up in the bandages and plastic.

After an hour, the wraps are removed and you feel and look wonderful!

Start Summer Slimmer Series

I really like the Flat Belly Diet Program. It is based on sound theory and incorporates many of the best eating habits. Basically it adheres to eat small frequent meals, it has a great deal of variety, you can choose what you like and not feel deprived. With the four days quick start, you can see immediate results and your tummy will definitely be flatter. Combined with a spa wrap like the Suddenly Slimmer Wrap, you can see fast results and be motivated to do more. Of course, every nutritional or dietary program should incorporate exercise and weight training and the Flat Belly Diet does incorporate this into it as well.

We didn’t address that issue this week, but over the next several weeks, we will take a look at other diet books, weight loss programs and see what else works for long term results.

Till then, I hope to see you at the spa getting a slimming wrap!