Q&A Wednesday: Inches, Belly Fat and The Quitter’s Disease | A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

Q&A Wednesday: Inches, Belly Fat and The Quitter’s Disease

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Got four questions – all sort of related – for Q&A Wednesday:

Q:I have a problem with belly fat – after I had my son in ’07, people keep asking me how many months I am… it looks like I’m about 6mos pregnant, and I hate it! Can you please help me?

Hmmm.. If your tummy is sticking out like it was when you were pregnant, it sounds like – for starters – you might want to try to add WAY more fiber to your diet. It will help rid you of some of that excess waste (which means you’ll be spending lots of time on the potty), but it will help you figure out where your tummy really is.

Secondly, here’s the short version of dealing with fat: you can’t control where it burns. Sure, you might be able to do crunches to tone it up, but if you have lots of fat covering it up, you’ll need to tend to that first. Aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is your best bet. Give yourself a slow start – walking each day. Walk for weeks until you feel like running, then run. Take your little one for a walk in the stroller. Walk until you feel like running (I put my daughter in an umbrella stroller and pushed her while running). If you can hit a gym, hit the treadmill. You’re going to have to move something to get it down.

You’ll also have to ease up on the processed foods. Go light on the breads, fries, and excess sugars. That alone will get you down to looking more like 3mos than 6, at least! Couple it with the walking, and you’re on your way.

Q: Is losing inches a prerequisite to losing pounds?

If you’re losing pounds, you’re definitely losing inches, but if you’re losing inches, it doesn’t always mean you’re losing pounds. Here’s why:

Losing inches can mean that you’re either losing fat, or becoming leaner by developing muscle. Since a cube of muscle weighs just as much as fat, if not more, you can lose inches and not see any change on the scale (unfortunately.)

Losing pounds means that you’re losing mass. So theoretically, this means that the tape measure has to move. Just don’t always expect it to move in the exact same place each time.

Q: How many times did you quit exercising/eating right before you started toughing it out?

Honestly… I went back and forth countless times. I’d actually give up out of embarrassment. I’d be ashamed of being at the gym and seeing all these fit people struggling to not snicker at the fat girl who couldn’t survive an incline on the treadmill. I’d be embarrassed and frustrated by eating a salad around my skinny friends who OD’d on pizza and crap when we dined out. I’d be mad that I couldn’t figure out the formula…

…until I figured out the formula. I stopped giving a damn what the people around me thought/were doing, and started focusing on me and what I needed. I realized just how WRONG the people around me get it, so I figured I couldn’t trust anyone else’s understanding of what was best for me BUT me. From there, I sought out my own answers, and I was straight. It took one final time of quitting the gym, frustrated that I hustled for 6 months only to lose 20lbs and then gain 10 back in 90 days (that’s one pound every nine days…sigh) for me to realize I didn’t have my head together. Once I got my eating habits right? I was straight. I’ve been smooth sailing ever since.

Q: How important is it to actually eat three meals per day? If you don’t, how does it affect your metabolism?

I have a post coming up on this, but you absolutely must nourish yourself regularly throughout the day. Without it, you become sluggish, and your body – now feeling like food may not come for a while – starts to hold onto the energy it has stored within (read: the fat you have on your body) and makes it harder to burn. This is why you become sluggish. It’s also worth noting, that not eating affects your ability to control yourself and prevent overeating.

Keep those questions coming, and I’ll have ‘em ready for next week! Have thoughts? Let me hear ‘em in the comments!

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. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

25 Comments

  1. Nikki

    April 7, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    I truly relate to “I stopped giving a damn what the people around me thought/were doing, and started focusing on me and what I needed.” That’s an important step to finally getting it right. Once I achieved that, everything became much easier. Our minds are powerful and can keep us trapped in a box because of fear. Most times people ain’t even checking for us or what we look like in the gym… we just assume. But for the ones who do stare, I just wink, smile and give em a headnod. :-)

    • Erika

      April 7, 2010 at 8:52 PM

      Exactly! My biggest hurdle was practicing yoga in front of others. Now, I get into my zen mode, and while I might notice people watching me, baffled, I’m always so at peace when I’m done that I no longer care. I’m usually too proud of how my body held up to the stress of the routine!

      Our minds are powerful, but the collective that is the individual is MUCH stronger! :)

  2. dst399

    April 7, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    OMG!!!! ALL of the questions are questions I have had and continue to have weekly. Belly fat, check! Start and stop exercise routine, check! Not eating, holding on to fat, check!!! Thank you so much for this blog and for your candid responses to these questions. I am just getting in from the gym and decided tonight not to ever go back!!! Thank goodness I read this tonight…off to the gym in the morning as planned!!!!! :-)

    • Erika

      April 7, 2010 at 8:51 PM

      You better take your tail to the gym AS PLANNED! I’ll be there – why shouldn’t you? :)

      • melodyinBarbados

        March 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM

        Girl i admire your strength and must say that looking at your pics with the prgress you made has inspired me to push harder in the gym & keep focus on my eating……..thanks…continue to do you girl

  3. Therese

    April 8, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    When I first started working out after not having done it for over a year, a brisk walk on the treadmill and some Pilates did the trick. However, Once I lost 40 pounds and had some great fitness gains, I knew I needed to step it up a bit. I was at a plateau until now. I have had a lot of success in losing inches (although not pounds…yet) with interval training. If your gym has a pre-season sports conditioning class, that will get you better results faster than walking or jogging. It combines the best of both worlds: cardio and resistance training. Just struggle through it and do the best you can and you will lose inches very fast! I’ve dropped a dress size in 3 weeks. The shape or your body will change significantly!

    • Sharon

      July 21, 2011 at 8:09 PM

      Thank you for that information your Website has been a Blessing to me. I had Gastric Bypass surgery in 2006 and I loss a lost of weight But, the last 40 pounds have been a struggle. With the help of your website and making my mind UP I AM DOING IT so thank you

  4. Tina Fite

    April 8, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    This was very interesting!! You answered many of the questions I had about your weight loss. Great to know someone who struggled with finding the formula not only found the formula but made the formula work for them! Way to GO!!

  5. Ben

    April 11, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Erika, for someone that needs to get more fiber in their diet, what do you think about adding Benefiber or Metamucil to food or drinks?

    I think I’m getting plenty of fiber but I still add some to my in-between meal snacks (either a protein drink before a workout or some yogurt between meals) to help me feel full.

    • Erika

      April 11, 2010 at 6:04 PM

      Honestly, I don’t have personal experience with either… but I am a fan of laxative teas, though. They’re usually labeled as “slimming teas” because they tend to clean out the insides, lol… leaving a flatter tummy appearance.

      There are also lots of fruits/foods with high fiber in them – grapefruit, avocado, rolled oats, black beans, shoot.. most beans, really – that you can get away with adding to your daily diet, and you’ll be fine. :)

  6. cakediva77

    April 23, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    IAM GETTING SO MUCH INFO FROM UR SITE THX YOU SO MUCH…………..TO KEEP IT REAL IAM SAYING THIS AS I EAT A 1/2 CUP OF FULL FAT ICE CREAM BUT STILL LEARNING SO BARE WITH ME ………..LOL

  7. victoria

    May 11, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    hi i love ur latest post . keep more coming they’re very inspirational. i also so on past posts that u talked about fiber and ,slimming teas’ i was wondering do they actually help and which ones to use. and also how good is oatmeal for you and does it make you gain weight ? thanks

  8. hill

    May 25, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Hey,

    Why do I fall asleep if I sit on the couch and relax after a meal? Is it because the meal is too heavy, did I eat to much, or do you think my metabolism has slowed down and my body can’t process too much at one time. What is happening?

    Thanks.

  9. mis4ta

    November 24, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    How do you handle the “I’m going to start on ……?
    42 year old ex-ballet dancer…just been through a major surgery..gained 20 pounds….think it’s depression or maybe just plain ole’ laziness after recovery… belong to two health clubs which are very boring. being a dancer….i need direction and choreography…:) Thinking about going back to dance but expensive when retired and you have to pay for it instead of getting paid to do it..I pack and bring my work out bag every day to the office so I can be encouraged to get dress in the bathroom after work and go to the gym but my car always goes home instead..job is so exhausting from thinking ..i’m just burnt out…I never used to be like this..I even tried people from the gym call me sometimes it works but I need to find my own encouragement to get there…
    Please help.

    • Rooo

      April 25, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Have you thought about group Pilates, yoga, or dance conditioning?

      I’m spoilt b/c I live in NYC where there are companies upon companies but most of the major cities that have at least one ballet and one modern company also offer group fitness classes, at much more reduced rates than private instruction. Maybe to look into that …?

  10. Simone Hinds

    March 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Currently, I am 170 lbs working towards by goal weight between 135 to 145lbs. I’m beginning to start my weight loss journey; however, I don’t know if my goal of lossing 30-35 lbs by June is attainable or measurable. How can I determine if my goals are attainable or just unrealistic?

    Thank you!

  11. SJ

    October 31, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    I find myself also needing to get back to exercising. Everyday is going to be the “day”. Except it never is. If I exercise today, I say that’s it, I’m on track to exercise each day but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Last year, I exercised at least 5 days per week. Then I decided to beef up my workout by using a BL dvd. I hurt my knee and it has been downhill ever since.

    I need to find exercises that won’t aggravate my knee, leaving it swollen and sore. If I do a dvd, then my knee acts up causing me to skip the exercising the next day.

    I need some advice and help to jumpstart my exercise program again.

    To be totally honest I changed back to my old eating habits also. I have not been grocery shopping and have stopped wayyyy too often at the fast food restaurants.

    HELP!!!

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      October 31, 2012 at 10:16 PM

      Have you been advised to use some kind of knee brace? How does walking feel? And why are you junking up your diet again? LOL Do what you need to do on the diet front, and then try basic exercise – extended walking, for starters – with a knee brace and see how that feels.

      • SJ

        November 11, 2012 at 3:10 PM

        I think I’m junking it up again because it’s easier to pull up, order, pay and eat instead of cooking everyday.

        I will try the knee brace option for my exercise time. Sometimes it’s just easier to not to anything but I need to remind myself of how I felt when I was exercising 5 days a week. I was full of energy and had pep in my step. Now I’m sluggish, barely any energy, I’m getting off the seat of my pants and getting to moving.

        So it seems like I want to take the easy way out(notice my use of the word easier 2 too many times LOL). I’m going to start the hard work of fitness and eating healthier…..tomorrow.

  12. Gabriella D

    February 13, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    How do you know the difference between being sore from working muscles you haven’t worked in a while (or ever…) and actually hurting your body? I’ll be doing reps on the machine and my knee area will start to hurt, and I just push it telling myself that it’s the muscles working.
    What’s the difference?

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      February 13, 2013 at 8:17 PM

      I think this is a REALLY good question. I may dedicate a blog post to it later on, but I think I can answer it quickly, here.

      There’s a difference between a sore muscle and a sore joint. None of your joints are covered in MUSCLE, and good exercise will strengthen joints and fatigue muscles. Not fatigue joints, and certainly not cause pain, like something’s not working right. Even IF you’re a newbie.

      If you’re on a machine, I’d troubleshoot this in the following ways:

      1) Is this pain directly on the joint, or above it/in the lower area just behind it? If it’s above the knee – literally, not at the point where the leg bends – then I’d wonder if you’re merely experiencing burn in your lower quads, which are the front thigh muscles. I’d ask the same set of questions if we were talking about your elbow, too.

      2) Are you experiencing the pain when you use the joint, or only after the exercise? If it’s while you’re using it on the machine, you need to come off of that machine, first and foremost, but secondly you need to see if that particular bending motion causes you grief or if it’s just that machine. Is it the “leg extension” machine? Try to squat outside of the machine. Still hurt? Then you might have a big problem on your hands.

      Machines cause problems for people because they limit the way your body functions and limit your range of motion in unnatural ways. You may be one of those people who needs to strengthen those joints OUTSIDE of the realm of the “weight machine” world. You may also be one who needs to consult with a trainer or physical therapist before going further.

  13. Sonali

    May 13, 2013 at 6:56 AM

    Hey Erika, love your blog it has changed my relationship with food completely and therefore changed my life: all for the better. I have been working out regularly for the last six months, as well as eating healthy with numerous slip ups along the way and initially the weight was just melting off. Then I got cocky lol and stopped being as careful about my eating habits…also I guess what happened is my body got used to the number of calories I was consuming (learnt that from another post here!). And surprise, I started getting frustrated that my measurements were no longer decreasing as much as they were previously, particularly my belly. For the past two weeks I have been eating clean, with the only sugar in my diet coming from fruits, and I can literally see my waist shrinking everyday!! SO chuffed with this, and it keeps me going…my period has also regulated itself without any medication, and I feel like I’m radiating health and positive energy and I love it!

  14. Annette

    May 30, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Thank you so much for always keeping it real. I also struggled with what other people thought and listened too much to their opinions. I was told by this guy that oh don’t lose too much more weight. Hmm like he had a vote in this at all. Or another woman who mentioned about weight loss oh you lost enough blah blah blah.

    You never know what these people who share their opinions are motivated by. After all of this time I just don’t care. It’s about what I am feeling what my body feels is right for me. After I stopped caring what their opinions were it got easier.

  15. Kami

    November 10, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    I am trying.

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