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Battling Belly Fat

This might be April of '09.. not sure.

I hate watching stories about health and obesity on the news. Why? Because to signify the “dreaded plague of obesity” in America, there’s always these video clips of people – never showing their faces, so we’re supposed to presume they have no identity… or, well, no head – and their bellies. You might get a little thigh in the shot, maybe if the cameraman can find a person walking around with a massive wedgie in their derriere you’ll get that too… but you always get the “Santa belly.” Never fails.

That, against the “my-tummy-is-so-flat-because-Photoshop-is-my-personal-trainer” images we see in the average magazine? It’s left us all hunting for an answer to how to avoid looking like the former, and get as close to the latter as possible.

Well… I can help. Sort of. I have three tips that have helped me shrink – and continue to shrink – my tummy down from what it was before to what you see now… and hopefully it will take me to the competition-level tummy that I seek.

Skip the processed foods.

Yes, yes, respect my scarf!

I know, I know.. I harp on this all day, but this time, I have very good reason. Two of ’em, actually.

First, processed foods are notorious for being devoid of fiber. I mean, there is little to no fiber in processed foods at all. What is fiber? It’s a substance in our food that your system is unable to digest, but it serves a very important purpose. Because the digestive system is unable to do anything with it, it basically serves the purpose of cleaning out your digestive tract and pushing the food out of your intestines into your colon… eventually leaving your system.

Yes, that means it helps you poop.

Think about it – all the food you take in, how much actually comes out? How much of it is still sitting in your intestines? Yuck. Take a look at where your digestive system sits: right in that belly area! I’m tellin’ you. Skip the processed foods, get your fiber in, treat your insides properly.

Secondly, you’ll be avoiding the sugar by default. As I wrote before, because sugar’s original purpose in nature was to draw us to the foods with the vitamins and minerals we need (think fruits), we do love it and can become addicted to it. But because it always came packaged with other vitamins and minerals, we were also able to get full from it, too. In a processed food item, that isn’t the case. It’s basically empty calories, meant to help you feel “belly full.” So because the sugar isn’t serving it’s original purpose, we’re eating too much of it. Couple that with the fact that since there’s no fiber to push the stuff out of your system… it’s a lose-lose for the belly. And again, like I wrote before… when you take in an excess of something, the body stores it… as fat. Not to mention, since high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is in almost every processed food you buy, it’s hard to escape.

I don’t even want to go into that study that says HFCS contributes directly to belly fat. Not at all. 🙂

So we’ve covered dropping the sugar and upping the fiber… what else could there be?

Get moving! No, really. Get some activity in your life. Changing your diet will help you avoid putting on extra fat, but you’ve got to get rid of the stuff you’ve already got… and being active is the best way to do that. Run! If you’re not a runner, walk. Hit the elliptical! Jumping jacks! Something.

Try to get your crunches in. I’m far too proud of the lines forming in my tummy to ignore what a good set of crunches can do for the tummy. Yes, regular ol’ plain ol’ crunches. Some days I add a little weight to my chest to make it more difficult, other days I just go a little longer in my sets. But the ab exercises are a must!

Figure out how this works into your life, and get on it! I know I am!

By | 2017-06-10T11:26:12+00:00 March 4th, 2014|Exercise 101|91 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and crtified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because lol why not.

91 Comments

  1. Crooky June 10, 2010 at 11:26 AM - Reply

    You KNOW I am sooooo paying attention to this entry. I’m so ready to seriously reduce “Lil Crooky”. She’s getting on my nerves in the WORST WAY.

    I need to find some breakfast alternatives that don’t require egg whites or cottage cheese. Suggestions?

    • Erika June 10, 2010 at 1:05 PM - Reply

      I’ve got two posts chock full of breakfast suggestions – oatmeal seems to win out (as well as the notion of making your own granola and using it as cereal – make a batch one day and eat it throughout the week, lol.)

      Q&A Wednesday: Oatmeal, Sweets and Workouts & What’s For Breakfast?

    • Michelle April 18, 2011 at 9:43 AM - Reply

      I’ve been following your site for some time…and for some reason i kept falling off the wagon. I cook a lot at home because I got tired of eating fast food. I completely gave up things along the way, calling it my slow transition. I gave up fast food, no more KFC, McDonalds, or Chipotle. I completly gave up Super Sweet Tea, and can now drink hot/cold tea with little to now sweetner. I gave up my beloved Dr.Pepper, Chips, Lunch meats, and anything with Nitrates.

      I started cooking at home even if it wasn’t clean. I started making the things that I got from restaurants. My Clean version of Veggie Benedict, all that stuff, even takeout, and pizzas. I must say that I haven’t been 100 perfect but these small changes are definitely helping me out a lot. While clean eating, I’ve learned about complex carbs, and new ways to enjoy my favorite foods, and i’m become painfully aware of how much crack is in processed resturant foods with my Eat this Not that cookbook. Our family had bonded by cooking together. My only issue is getting active at this point. I’m so bored by anything in the gym. The only things that give me life is Zumba, and even thats getting boring. I’m trying all these things now, and it’s just ….I don’t know. Anyway your blog gives me motivation, and your tweets as well. So keep it up!

      • Cindy May 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM - Reply

        This sounds like you’re writing my life.

        I can identify with the clean eating and all those things but what really resonates with me is the difficulty in maintaining a high activity level. I am still loving Zumba though, and have added using the elliptical half hour daily. I intend to increase to 1 hour in the coming week.

      • Andrea May 25, 2012 at 12:14 AM - Reply

        Ooh Michelle,
        Giving up Chipotles is hard for me. I’ve lost thirty pounds since December. I do still eat out but I make wiser choices. I had Chipotle tonight, but I had half a bowl, heavy grilled veggies, light brown rice, with chicken, salsa, light cheese and lettuce. In terms of working out, try some at home DVD’s. That’s been my main source of working out. I don’t like sticking to any one workout plan, so I mix it up. I really like Sean T’s Rockin Body and some of Billy Blanks newer DVD’s that can be picked up at Target or Walmart. Jillian has good ones too. I also walk/run to some of my old school jams helps . I’m kinda on a New Edition kick right now.

        • Sharon Moss June 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM - Reply

          I understand the boredom with doing the same exercise daily. I have become more better at sticking to my exercise commitment by putting together repertoire of exercises Ienjoy I am a walker either on the treadmill or outdoors, sometimes I run and I am learning to swim to add this to my exercise routine. I also I have fitness videos and purchased pedometer to log my steps, my aerobic steps, my time, my mileage and how many calories I have burned. These things have kept me from being bored and returning to my old habit of being a exercise drop out. I am now considering adding Zumba to my routine. Are the steps difficult to learn? I don’t want to bother myself with learning difficult dance moves, when I exercise I want to be able to get my workout in and move on. I

    • Ebony June 13, 2012 at 7:59 PM - Reply

      How about juicing? I started juicing about 8 weeks ago to incorporate breakfast into my diet, and I sometimes do it for lunch because it’s very simple and easy to plan for; since then I’ve lost about 25 pounds without working out. It’s summer now and I want to firm everything up and get crazy fit and have muscles, so I’m getting my exercise on.

      For me it was easier to first make a change in my diet and then move on to make changes in my activity level. I’m looking forward to getting my exercise on and to getting fit.

    • Lana April 20, 2013 at 7:34 PM - Reply

      I just have to say Thank you and thank you again! I’m so sick of this belly. I take kickboxing and now have hip hop abs. I do see a difference, but not loosing it the way I would like. I was 192 pounds and now I’m 176 I need to come down more. I’m skinny at the bottom and big up top. My waist is starting to come in nice and I have a nice dip in my back. However, that front view is still yucky. I’m 44 and will be 45 in July! My friend is 44 and she wears a two piece, what I would do just to bare my tummy again. I would like to see other things without going to the mirror, lol! I never thought about process foods. Now I do it fresh fruits and vegetables. I also Drink plenty of water, but I don’t make home made everything. I eat on letters for breakfast if you can share recipes that would be great. I heard crunches work, I guess I need to do sets everyday. I do them, but not a lot since I was working out. I took a pic, just for me to see my progress. Thanks for the encouragement.

      • Erika Nicole Kendall April 21, 2013 at 8:27 AM - Reply

        Crunches build abdominal muscles for six-packs; they don’t burn belly fat.

        • Zi-Asia August 13, 2015 at 7:53 AM - Reply

          Yea that makes a lot of sense because I think I have full abs under my stomach fat..its visiable.

  2. Elita @ Blacktating June 10, 2010 at 12:33 PM - Reply

    Also people need to keep in mind that spot reduction is a myth. You can do crunches all day, but if you’re 50 pounds overweight and not doing any cardio, the crunches are useless. You’re just firming up muscles that will be well hidden under a layer of fat. The only way to get rid of a belly is aerobic exercise, AKA cardio to burn the fat. Once you lose the weight, crunches are going to tone up your muscles.

    • Erika June 10, 2010 at 1:13 PM - Reply

      I agree with you, but with a caveat.

      I know a lot of people say that one shouldn’t work on developing muscle “until the fat is gone,” but my question is… “when is that?” According to that logic, I should STILL be doing cardio, not muscle development to flatten my belly.. and we see that doing the opposite of that works well for me.

      Not only that, but there are all-day benefits to the development of muscle – burning quite a few more calories during the day, to be exact – that can be taken advantage of.. couple that with the fact that (in my mind) the skin needs something to conform to when the fat is gone… it makes sense for the fat to melt away and allow the skin to conform to what is starting off to look like a great body underneath. I’m tellin’ ya… I would’ve looked like a bag of skin and been mad as sin had I not thought to start muscle development early. Some day, I’ll have to tell the story of my thighs – I could lean forward and the skin would… well… lean forward, too. All bad. So because of my experiences, I can’t co-sign that.

      So you’re right – you cannot choose where you burn fat AT ALL, and a person who is over 50lbs overweight is going to have a hard time seeing the fruits of their crunching labor, but muscle development is never useless to me.

      • Kaneka August 20, 2013 at 8:37 AM - Reply

        “Not only that, but there are all-day benefits to the development of muscle – burning quite a few more calories during the day, to be exact – that can be taken advantage of.. couple that with the fact that (in my mind) the skin needs something to conform to when the fat is gone… it makes sense for the fat to melt away and allow the skin to conform to what is starting off to look like a great body underneath.”

        I totally agree. I started my journey in March, and though I have only lost about 27 lbs I have lost so many inches and gained lots of strength. I started this journey not just to “get small” but to get FIT. To me being fit means being strong, eating clean, and also not being the slowest person when the zombie apocalypse hits (hahahahahaha). I have been working with a trainer who helps me to focus on lifting, HIIT workouts, and building strength overall in addition to cardio. So for me the process has been a bit slower, I see people who have been working out the same amount of time and they have dropped almost double the poundage that I have, but I am also preparing my body for what it will look like when all of those pounds are gone.

        Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Starr June 10, 2010 at 11:36 AM - Reply

    Thank you for this post. This is my problem area that I’m battling and I know I don’t get enough fiber in my diet. It’s like my tummy doesn’t match the rest of my body because I get smaller afterthe belly lol. So I know it’s diet. I’m slowly but surely cutting out bad habits. Thanks!!!

  4. Tiffany June 10, 2010 at 12:04 PM - Reply

    I do what I can to get my 21 grams and I keep fruits in the house at all times, whether it’s fresh, dried or frozen. My only problem is getting active. I think for the fact that I am constantly on the go with the kids, by the time I sit I’m to tired. I am hoping though your site will help motivate me a little more. You look great, keep up the work.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate
    Tiffany

    • Erika June 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM - Reply

      Thanks! How many little ones do you have? I used to take my daughter for walks around our complex, and then I kinda just started throwing her on my back and taking off running, LOL!

      Then again, I’m also a proponent for tossing all the kids on a shared leash and letting them sort it out after that. LOLOL

      (Just kidding… sorta. Ha!)

      There are ways to get in a little cardio here and there that you can try to take advantage of if you ever manage to get up before the little ones, or can sneak away five minutes to yourself. I know it’s tough as a Mommy to set aside time for yourself – and as a Mother of only ONE heathen, I would lose my mind couldn’t understand your struggle – but if you can pull together a quick five minutes, you’ve got this. 🙂

  5. Crooky June 10, 2010 at 1:24 PM - Reply

    Oh, did I mention that I despise oatmeal and all that it stands for?
    *lol* However, I will give it the old “college try” yanno?

    • Erika June 10, 2010 at 1:38 PM - Reply

      LOL I hated it too, until I learned how to freak it – fruit, cinnamon, a drop (and I do mean a drop) of maple syrup, jam, apple chunks or apple butter – and then, I was golden.

      I mean, there are other options, but you just have to get creative. I’ve learned that in most cases, it’s not necessarily the food that I dislike, just the way it was prepared – what it was paired with, whether it was processed or not, whether it was seasoned properly – so just play a little with it, and we can go from there!

    • JazzFest January 24, 2012 at 8:22 PM - Reply

      A friend of mine hates oatmeal because of the soft texture. She puts quinoa, cranberries, and cinnamon in a rice cooker and she loves it! I’m assuming quinoa would be more expensive than oatmeal though?

  6. tisha June 10, 2010 at 1:36 PM - Reply

    *going on my walk right now* lol. i KNOW that all i really need to do is move–well, and get more fiber–but my belly isn’t THAT big (though i call myself fat and i need to stop that. :() and what i have will go away easily if i just start moving.

    it’s been a bad two weeks but…

    *yeah, going on my walk right now.*

    • Erika June 10, 2010 at 1:40 PM - Reply

      *gives you the side eye* We don’t call ourselves names around here. Unacceptable. You’re the bomb.. belly or not. Focus on that. As punishment, I’ma need you to speed walk that walk.

      Chop chop! *claps hands* And make sure you pick those legs up high! LOL

    • dancing diva denise June 21, 2011 at 7:08 PM - Reply

      I am encouraged with all the comments of the ladies. I began walking in the last two weeks and is considering introducing weights. Do you think it is to early? I have not lost much weight but inches are coming off.

  7. SingLikeSassy June 10, 2010 at 1:58 PM - Reply

    I hate oatmeal, too, but I do get breakfast in and it’s usually some whole grain something and a fruit of some kind and I have noticed the difference in my tummy area.

    Right now, I’m working on being consistent with cardio. I figure as long as I can go outside with the good weather I’m going to use that to my advantage. I do try pushups and crunches at home, tho I’m still working on my form for the former. Once the days grow shorter and colder, I’m going to join a gym and really get into the muscle sculpting.

  8. Ashley D June 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM - Reply

    Of course I needed this post! But of course I have a question: …I don’t have to kill myself with situps?! LOL

    • Erika June 11, 2010 at 1:03 PM - Reply

      No pain, no gain – you should feel a little bit of a sting, but nothing so bad that you’ve got to call 911. Remember, it’s about building muscle – if you never test your muscle’s strength or push it to the limit, you can’t do that at all. Get it in!

  9. Jasmine June 10, 2010 at 3:16 PM - Reply

    First, as a newbie, I must say, this site rocks!
    As someone who’s lost about 80lbs over the past year, I can definately co-sign on being active to loose belly fat. Without cardio, crunches and sit ups are pointless. When I first started working out, I lost weight all over and then I became more defined from the top down (shoulders,waist,stomach, hips). I jog/run now and the belly and hips are getting smaller and smaller!

    Another suggestion for oatmeal is pumpkin pie spice. Its in the spice aisle at your local grocery store and has nutmeg,allspice, etc. (It has no sugar.) When added to oatmeal, it tastes like pumpkin pie! Dessert for breakfast is the best.

    • Erika June 11, 2010 at 1:03 PM - Reply

      Thank you!

      I’m going to have to try that pumpkin pie spice – last time I tried to put nutmeg in my oatmeal, I almost choked. LOLOL

    • KJ November 3, 2012 at 8:26 PM - Reply

      I use apple pie spice. It’s delicious!

  10. JoAnna June 10, 2010 at 3:45 PM - Reply

    Hi.

    Again, great post. I had mentioned that I visited NYC a couple of months ago and was forced over 3 days to keep up the walking pace my 60+ year old aunt set to take a multitude of subway trains to get across that town. I had mentioned my pained (not sore!) knees and feet. What I had not mentioned was the amount of time I spent on the toliet the next 2 days there, and then 2 more days at home. It was like of those late night colon cleansing commercials!

    I had already been eating healthier, but hadn’t added exercise to my routine. With just 30-45mins of determined walking and additional water (’cause I sweat when I move!)”sludge” was squeezed out of my intestines, and I lost that 7 month pregnant belly bulge. I’m still a big girl, but that hard bulge is NEVER coming back. I do leg lifts reps on my back and standing in the pool to help strengthen those muscles. I will admit that the extra fiber in my diet takes some getting used to. Gas will come at the most interesting times… But I’ve also noticed that with the elimination of processed foods, my breath and underarms (and other bodily excretions) don’t stink. My skin is clearing up, and my hair is growing in a lot thicker. I so wish I had started on this path YEARS ago…

    • Erika June 11, 2010 at 1:04 PM - Reply

      Years ago, yeah… but you’re on it now! Thank goodness for THAT! 🙂

      And yeah, to that hair point… my goodness. I’ve got hair for days now. I just.. I can’t. LOL!

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