It seems to happen without our even noticing it. Seemingly all of a sudden one day, your pants seem a little bit more snug around the waist although not in the hips and thighs. Huh. I wonder why?
So, you set out to lose that belly fat: go low carb, and wake up earlier so that you can dedicate more time at the end of your workout for ab exercises. Running! That’ll do it! Move more & eat less!
But it doesn’t seem to be working.
Nothing you do seems to be working!
As we age, the calories in versus calories out approach doesn’t work like it used to. Gone are the days of just working a little harder at the gym to drop a few lbs. Here are the top reasons why you might be having trouble getting that belly fat to budge.
You’re getting older
This is especially true for women who are post-menopausal: as we age, our fat starts to accumulate near our waistlines. It’s an unfortunate result of our shifting hormones as time goes by. When we get older, hormones play a larger part in our overall health, and especially in gaining and losing weight; Therefore, you can expect that it will get more difficult to target the extra fat around our waistlines.
You’re doing the wrong workout
When we were in our 20’s, if we started gaining weight, all we had to do was double down on our cardio for a little while, and go back to a comfortable weight. That doesn’t work as we age. The strategies that we uses as young women don’t work the same as we age.
As we get older, we want to spend less time doing cardio, and more time doing strength training. Strength training 2-4 times a week will produce better, long-lasting results than using that time for cardio sessions.
You’re eating too many processed foods
Yes, calories count, but so does the quality of the food that we eat. The more processed a food is, the more readily available those calories are for our body to use as energy. Put another way, our body doesn’t have to work as hard to make that energy available; or it doesn’t use as many calories from the food we eat to turn it into energy for our body. (See: Let Your Food Burn Calories For You)
The closer food is to its natural state (whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, and cuts of meat), the better it is for our waistline.
Your workout isn’t challenging enough
If you don’t have a workout partner or trainer, it’s easy to get comfortable in your workouts. When we have someone there to challenge us, our fitness level will grow to meet that new resistance. The problem comes in when we gravitate towards what’s comfortable: automatically setting the same speed on the treadmill, choosing the same weights for your exercises, or not playing with different exercise techniques.
Our muscles and cardiac health grow to meet increasing demands. If you’re not challenging yourself, you won’t see any progress either.
You’re doing the wrong exercises
It makes sense that we might think that to reduce belly fat, you’d want to do ab exercises. But research repeatedly shows that spot reduction doesn’t work. Spot reduction is the idea that we can reduce a specific area of our body by exercising that part (example: doing crunches to eliminate belly fat). So, unfortunately, doing crunches will not produce a trimmer waistline.
A better strategy is to perform exercises that use your major muscle groups: chest, back, and legs. So, movements like Squats, Push-Ups, Lunges and Rows are best. These movements have more calorie burning power, and will reduce total body fat – including your waistline.
I think we can all agree that stress doesn’t have any calories, however chronic stress and episodic acute stress both produce the hormone cortisol. And cortisol production can increase fat around the waistline.
Sometimes, we may not have control over the amount of stress in our lives, but we can change the way we internalize stressful events.
You’re skimping on sleep
Connected to stress, sleep is one of the best stress management techniques out there. When we sleep, our body’s cells repair and reset themselves. When we skimp on sleep, our cells don’t process energy effectively. This can lead to lethargy and/or strong cravings for starch and sugar – your body’s preferred energy source.
You’re apple shaped
The one thing that we don’t have control over is our genetics. Our genetics play a large part in where our body likes to store fat, and how difficult it might be to lose it. But that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a body shape identical to your mother or father. However, you may never get the abs of a fitness model.
One thing is for certain: folks who store their body fat around their middle are at increased risk for heart disease and other health problems because the fat’s proximity to the other organs.
When we’ve lost our motivation to do something, we tend to do it with less gusto, less intensity, and therefore, don’t generally get the results that we’re after.
If you find that you’re unmotivated, you may just need to switch up your routine. Try out some different workouts until you’ve regained your mojo.
If you’re having trouble losing belly fat, try one of these techniques to change things up. Often, all we need to start seeing progress again is to try a new approach, and that will get us unstuck.
Interested in implementing the suggestions in this article, but aren’t sure where to start? The Bye-Bye Belly Blueprint is a coaching program completely focused on losing belly fat. Enrollment opens soon.