Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: My Belly Won’t Shrink!

Q&A Wednesday: My Belly Won’t Shrink!

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Q: i started off at 286lbs and i’m with you about the scale, i don’t like it i know that muscle takes up less space and weighs more. I see inches going down in areas like my arms..my legs..but my belly?!? Erika that sucker aint moving!!! I mean it’s going down, but slowly. I’m trying to eat 6 meals a day and my times to eat are about the same range as yours give or take an hour or 2. When i’m at work i’m GOOD right on point and on time. On the weekends all set times are tried and i don’t eat my true 6 meals. I work out smart…i keep changes in it, i get my cardo on, and push my body to the point of rubber legs and soaking wet with sweat and i feel great! My mind feels good, i feel empowered!! Unstoppable….BUT….my belly wont go down, im not sure what im doing wrong..is it my food? Why wont it go down?????? Any suggestions will help. I read your blog like the newspaper, so i’m here everyday…Tks and i love what your doing here for us!!!

“I mean it’s going down, but slowly.”

Is it supposed to move quickly? It won’t. I can tell you that much.

I know that my tummy is flattening out and my skin is tightening up, but I’ve also been watching my tummy for at least 18 months. There’s nothing quick about that.

For me, my tummy was among the first to go. I kept my sugar intake to a minimum – the only “sweet” I got came from fruits and vegetables. That made a huge difference. You know how you see men with beer/liquor bellies? You know how we always see college freshmen who’ve clearly gone a little hard on the bottle with the “buddha bellies?” What is alcohol, but fermented sugar with no fiber to temper our intake? An abundance of sugar translates to excess belly fat. (Let’s not even get on what an abundance of high fructose corn syrup translates into within the body. Just… let’s not.)

The reality is… it’d make sense if it was harder to lose weight in the lower half of the body, because fat is supposed to be hard to get rid of there. It’s there to protect our reproductive system, as women. To me, that implies that if things aren’t happening that way for me… its because an outside force is interfering. That can usually be found within the diet. (It could also be something hormonal… but the diet issue is far more likely, to me.)

Having said allll that… here are my original tips for beating belly fat:

Skip the processed foods.

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.

[…]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.

I say take a long hard look at the food you’re eating, and see if you’re sneaking sugar (or enriched flour) in places you didn’t expect – pastas, breads, biscuits, most baked goods, anything processed and creamy – and start cutting down. Before you know it… you’ll be spotting the problems and things will start going much more smoothly at a quicker pace!

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54 comments

TheFeministGriote January 12, 2011 - 1:40 PM

I took a long hard look at my diet and realized that I need to really cut out the Haitian bread(white flour heaven), baked goods, and the juice. From now on the only sugar I will consume will be from my fruits, veggies, and the honey in my tea. Thank you!!

Farah January 18, 2011 - 1:17 PM

lol …THat haitian bread is deadly ..however so delicious …I cant go cold turkey yet so now I am eating whole weat .

Fancysmiley May 2, 2012 - 3:15 PM

As a Haitian woman, it’s very hard to give up on the rice and bread. I’m a very picky eater and don’t like about 80% of the healthy I should be eating. This makes it very difficult for me to diet without having to starve myself.

Jennifer May 1, 2013 - 3:46 PM

@FancySmiley – I, too am Haitian, and love haitian food! I’ve also lost about 67lbs and about 22% body fat. It is possible to eat haitian food and still lose weight. For example, when I make cabrit en sauc, I thaw frozen spinach and squeeze the excess water so it’s really dry then I chop it and add it to the sauc. I also boil plantain and eat that with only 1c of rice (using a measuring cup!) . I’ll bulk up the stewed meat w/ frozen vegetables or fresh spinach, kale, eat 1/2 plantain with exactly a cup of rice so I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself. I make boy w/ half whole wheat flour half white flour (unenriched). I also cut out a lot of bread, esp haitian bread and only eat it when I really want some. I won’t take a piece bigger than the palm of my hand. I hope this little tidbit helps!

Erika Nicole Kendall May 1, 2013 - 8:58 PM

My in-laws are Haitian… chile…I struggle, too. ROFL

Jennifer May 1, 2013 - 3:24 PM

@TheFeministGriote – that Haitian bread is NO JOKE!! It taste delicious, but it is a brick in your stomach and slows down your digestive track significantly! I’ve had to step away and it was a hard break-up but very beneficial!

Tina (laidbackchick) January 12, 2011 - 4:02 PM

That is where I am working right now. I do still have somewhat of a penchant for sugar, instead of simply eating packaged ones and boxed ones Idecided I would make sweet potato pancakes and tarts instead of eating at the Caribbean bakery and such. I do think you nipped it in the bud for me especially it is sugar. I have lost a substantial amount of weight and I am a runner so reducing sugar is where I am stepping it up this year. Thx

Shawnie January 12, 2011 - 6:44 PM

I totally agree with all the above. My stomach didnt start going down until I incorporated more veggies & high fiber starches like sweet potatoes in my diet. I also tried green smoothies for those days when my green veggie intake wasnt good and it really helped me alot.

Nicole (akascholar) January 12, 2011 - 7:02 PM

I am so glad this Q and A was about this! I was just getting down on myself about my never shrinking belly. Ugh. Its so frustrating. But in reading your post, I can see a few things I am doing wrong (Thanks!).

I will be working on it.

BTW, Whats up with the poles? !!

Divadiya January 13, 2011 - 11:27 PM

I think you are right on! Cutting back on process food and making sure you get the proper fiber intake is very important. Last year I started incorporating some of the principles of the Flat Belly diet in my lifestyle plan and I’ve seen results especially with my stomach and in reducing bloat. I don’t follow the diet to a “T” however and I’ve found it useful! I also have other gastro issues and it help me to identify the vegetables that cause bloat and other foods that may be causing you to bloat and retain fat in that area.

Curlytrini87 January 14, 2011 - 12:55 AM

Thanks I really enjoyed this article!
Question: So i am starting to change my diet and i want to start eating organic!
In the case of sugars should i starting buying brown sugar or maple syrup.
For flour I know i should use whole wheat, but i want to start baking what are some healthy flour alternative should i use?
I am taking your suggestion with bean, before I only use can bean but after reading your blog I am switching to dry beans.

Maria

Green Afro Diva January 15, 2011 - 10:24 PM

I think I can answer this one. Organic simply means food
that’s made without chemical additives. That means fruits and
vegetables that are grown without the help of chemical peticides
and not genetically modified(GMO) and other foods that have no
chemical additives and hormones in them. Be extra careful when
buying organic because some products may say organic but still have
preservatives in them. As for sugars, try agave nectar or maple
syrup over brown sugar. They are both sweeter than sugar and agave
nectar is made from the agave plant and used by diabetics. Use pure
maple syrup and a little goes a long way. Hope this helps.

Shante January 16, 2011 - 12:39 AM

If you are going to go with brown sugar try Turbinado,
Muscovado or Demerara sugars. They are naturally brown sugars. They
are not white sugars with molasses mixed in. Basically they are
sugar cane juice that has been cleaned enough to kill any bugs but
not refined like white sugar is. Whole wheat flour is perfectly
fine for baking. There is regular whole wheat flour, pastry and
bread. You can pretty much do everything with WW if you have the
right kind of flour. Now there are also flours such as tapioca,
rice, soy, nuts think almond, hazelnut, walnut etc. These can be
used to bake with but you will need to adjust the moisture in the
recipe. I almost forgot there is white whole wheat flour. It is
whole grain flour made with white/albino wheat not red wheat, it is
not bleached. So if you don’t like the taste of whole wheat this
has a flavor closer to that of regular bleached flour. HTH I’m a
chef so I know what I am talking about.

Tam January 17, 2011 - 1:29 PM

Erika and all, how do you feel about artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Truvia. I’ve read the book “Skinny B*tch” several times (each resulting in a 2-3 month “vegan” lifestyle change afterwards that never lasts) and they say sweeteners are basically the devil. For someone who counts calories these seemed like the perfect answer because they are “calorie free” where alternatives such as raw sugar and honey etc. still have calories. I am having the same problem with my “food baby” as I’ve named her but reading this I realized that I actually do have to cut OUT the sweets and “everything in moderation” does not apply!! I LOVE cupcakes and cookies!! WAAHHHH 🙁 I am willing to try a sugar free alternative, any suggestions?? Recipies??

Erika January 17, 2011 - 1:43 PM

SB actually annoys me because the book basically says “stop eating meat and live off of processed foods” – since it IS, in fact, a book meant to persuade women to become vegan under the guise of weight loss – but they were RIGHT on the money on this one. I actually quote the book here: https://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/what-are-you-eating/the-case-against-diet-soda-and-aspartame-and-splenda-and/

If you’re going to deal with sweets… stick to fruit. I don’t use sweeteners anymore – I’d sooner just use granulated sugar (and use the fact that an item HAS sugar as a reason to NOT OVERDO IT… or to basically not eat it at ALL) than I would use an artificially created chemical. No thanks. The thought actually makes me nauseous. Ugh.

Tam January 18, 2011 - 10:15 AM

Oooohh . . So you probably don’t drink coffee or tea either. That’s all I use Splenda for. I KNOW!! You don’t even have to say it but . . I’m an addict. I admit it but I BELIEVE that I need my coffee in the morning and at 3:00pm so maybe I’ll try to cut something else out and just use raw sugar, kind of a calorie swap. I’m going to try this less sugar thing because I have definitely hit a plateau in my weight loss and it’s driving me CRAZY!! I do 4 different workouts during the week (Zumba, Step, Kick Boxing, Spin and Body Defined- which is a weight training class) and am starting to train for a 5k this Spring (YAY!). I hear that you should change up your workout if you hit a plateau so hopefully when I start running it will help. PRAYERFULLY this “baby bump” will start to disappear!!
P.S. I toats LOVE your blog!!

CJM April 30, 2012 - 2:31 PM

Tam please take this advice with a grain of salt because I am a black coffee drinker…I almost stained my suit when McDonalds gave me someones very light and very sweet coffee one morning and I tasted it and wanted to find somewhere to spit it out. That being said when I want a tea with a little sweetness I find a tea with hibiscus in it. One commonly available one is Tazo’s passion. If you get pure hibiscus tea it brews in cold tap water and you can add ice for a really refreshing tart and sweet drink. No sugar needed. As a note, it is a more diuretic than a lot of teas so if you are hypertensive and are taking a diuretic for treatment, you might want to monitor yourself early on if you drink this regularly.

Sherese January 17, 2011 - 11:17 PM

Please PLease Help me. I am a 32 yr old African American woman standing at 5’7 and weighing 255 morbid obese. I cannot believe I made it get this far. After trying everything from Curves, Weight Watchers, Three personal trainers, Gold Gym, La Fitness, Alli and everything in the diet and weight loss books. I want to live a long life for myself and loved ones! I don’t know where to start. I have read your journey and bio and defnitely congrats to your success you look great. Thank you also for creating this page and spreading awareness to women. I am currently trying the HCG diet but I am on day 6 and cheating and failing terribly. 500 calories what was I thinking. My husband is losing weight and it is working for him. So my question is finally where do I start? How do I make daily changes and turn them into permanent changes to save my life. Please help!!!

Sincerely,
Sherese

Erika January 18, 2011 - 5:39 AM

Firstly…: https://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/fad-diets/the-hcg-diet-philosophy-execution-contradiction-and-stupidity/

Secondly… thank you for the kind words! Please browse through the site and feel free to search for specific topics as you come up with ideas that you have questions about… and feel free to e-mail me about anything not addressed, here. 🙂

MsPeaches43235 April 6, 2011 - 5:10 PM

I don’t think the amount of water intake was mentioned in the post, but I know from experience that 1-2 gallons of water a day helps with belly fat.

Lisette April 30, 2012 - 11:23 AM

I am so with this lady regarding the belly fat. I work out hard and have a very healthy body fat percentage, but I still have belly fat. So “duh” to me, it has to be my diet.

I’m embracing the clean eating lifestyle slowly right now with plans to go full out this summer once school is out. I’m sure that I will see better results regarding the belly fat once I completely clean up my diet. Pray for me ’cause I love an occasional Coke and chili cheese Fritos indulgence. LOL

Erika Nicole Kendall April 30, 2012 - 12:32 PM

Good grief. ROFL!

Kacee April 30, 2012 - 9:38 PM

I enjoyed reading this article. I am losing my “love handles” but my stomach is still there. Yeah…I need to let go of the cokes too. sigh…sometimes I grab one. Now, I have increased my veggie intake and I do love my raw sugar in my tea…but I eventually would like to let them go. sigh…such an addiction. thanks for your tips.

Shani May 1, 2012 - 10:38 AM

Ok I know you say added sweeta…but is crystal light ok in water? i get so sick of plain water…if i need to cut it out I will i just need to know…

Erika Nicole Kendall May 1, 2012 - 11:16 AM
Funlayo January 30, 2013 - 11:56 PM

Yeah Crystal Light, those “flavored waters” and anything with artificial sweeteners are a big no-no for me. Anything that begins with “artificial” is nothing I want in my body. I tend to drink flavored seltzer (no sugar, no artificial sweetener). You can also flavor your water by simply placing it into a pitcher with some fruits/veggies for an hour or so. Cucumbers are nice, strawberries, oranges, lemons or any number of other fruits work. All the best!

Lola Dee May 2, 2012 - 4:38 PM

I noticed that no one mentioned hormone imbalance, which can definitely cause abdominal bloating. I had a 6 pack at age 48, now at 55 and post menopause I have quite a bloated mid section, without significant weight gain. I think it is the wine. Menopause drives you to drink. How did I get a tight tummy before menopause, yet retain my feminine curves? 1 hour 3x week of Pilates, at least 100 situps a day on the big rubber ball (protects your neck& back) and my secret weapon, the mini trampoline, I have worn out 3 and am on my 4th. No gym required. Put on your favorite dance music, start out with 20 minutes, work up to 45-60 minutes, will tighten your abs quickly, when you jump, less wear & tear on joints due to zero gravity as you land. Fun too! Conciously, suck in your tummy as you move thru the day. This will strengthen it as well.

nadia May 29, 2013 - 3:39 PM

you just jump on the trampoline? that’s it?

Goldeelocks May 3, 2012 - 4:15 PM

I really appreciate this article. I am always looking for ways to improve my diet. I am in training fo rmy first 5k and need all the help I can get! I’m determined to get this weight off!

BklynBabe May 16, 2012 - 9:57 AM

Another thing that may help are isometric ab exercises. Sometimes we go all in, and it’s little things that help more. I try to do mine while driving. Also monitor your posture. Another thing is stress. Stress is notorious for putting weight on the midsection.

I will be getting on my sugar. I’ve had a hysterectomy so I actually accept that I may stay a bit puffy down there, but I definitely have lost some belly and waist along with my weight.

If those pics are the author then I say her midsection looks great!!!

Erika Nicole Kendall May 16, 2012 - 9:59 AM

Yep, those are me!

angie September 12, 2012 - 1:29 PM

What about natural sweetners like stevia? And xylitol?

Erika Nicole Kendall September 12, 2012 - 9:07 PM

Xylitol is not “natural.”

Stevia? It has its caveats.

Alicia May 16, 2012 - 10:44 AM

Thank God for this site, I found you on FB a few months ago. Only 26 pounds down since January and belly fat is destroying my inspiration. Now I know that I’m destroying my inspiration with that daily morning cup of coffee with the must have domino sugar and cream! Thanks for the great tips!

Tes June 27, 2012 - 12:40 PM

This article is very inspiring to me. I am 5’11 and weigh about 225-230. I want to be under 200. I really want to be a size 12 #thatisall. I am a 16 now and i realize it is time to give up sugar. I have been able to modify breads and most cake, pie and pastry items. My workouts are the bomb!, so they are not the issue. MY FOOD/SUGAR intake is the culprit. I have known for sometime now that I was an addict, but hearing how my fellow african american sisters are giving up sugar and living,lol! and losing weight is inspiring. I thought only white folks lived like that (stupid I know), but true. I’m ready now. I have a birthday on the 16 of July. I plan on having my favorite cupcake with a hamburger and fries (favorite indlugence food). I will keep it at that. I want more than anything in this world, except Gods love and good health, to LOSE THIS WEIGHT AND BE A SIZE 12! I am very encouraged. Thanks so much. If you have any offerings at this point I will take them all in. 🙂 I fell nervous and afraid to do w/o sugar (excepet in naturally occuring fruits and veggies), that is how I know I am an addict. Please pray for me! thanks ladies!!!! 🙂

Angela Mays June 27, 2012 - 2:35 PM

What I’ve come to realize is that achieving a flat belly/six pack is all diet. I’ve had to cut out all sugar, bread, alcohol and increase my calories cuz I wanst eating enough and increase my cardio by doing more HIIT training and start training my abs more. It is a slow process and I thought it wld be fast if I did those things but it doesnt work that way. I’ve learned that I need to be patient which is difficult for an impatient person like myself. So I just stick to and think abt how far I’ve come and focus less on where I am at this moment.

Teriya August 8, 2012 - 1:06 PM

Hi Erica, I’m having the same roadblock. I know I have started cutting out my carbs significantly, but what exactly did you do? You look great!

Erika Nicole Kendall August 8, 2012 - 3:36 PM

I did everything listed in this post… and I waited patiently. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Goddesslily September 27, 2012 - 11:56 PM

I have one thing to say….. “GREEN TEA”. Do you think Asians hit the gym exercising like crazy? Of course not! They drink green tea all day long which keeps them thin and it works. I’m 53yrs old, 140 and a perfect size 4 thanks to drinking green tea sweetened with Agave Nectar all day long. I probably drink about 5 cups a day… my favorites are honey ginseng, passion fruit/papaya & ginger peach all from the Republic of Tea Co. Just drink green tea and watch the fat drop off.

Erika Nicole Kendall January 31, 2013 - 9:20 AM

Do you really think green tea is the “magic answer,” and not, say, the fact that most asian countries are wildly pedestrian, they eat better, more whole foods and aren’t inundated with marketing telling them they need to give up their cultural favorites for a box of neon orange “happiness?”

I’m glad you’re a “perfect size four,” or whatever, but the reality is that if I took a long, hard look at your day, chances would be high that you’re drinking green tea… AND you’re probably not hitting the cheetos every day, too.

Signed,
Someone Who Goes to a Gym In a Diverse Community, and Sees Just As Many Asians In the Gym As She Does White Women

christine February 20, 2013 - 12:13 PM

You are so right about movement..it makes all the difference. I’ve always done some sort of exercise, but after my divorce I feel into the merlot, newport diet. Yeah, I’d work out then come home and sit in the chair with a glass and a smoke lol. Couldn’t figure out why I was gaining so much weight around the middle…IT WAS THE WINE STUPID! Once I cut out the merlot, the weight started to come off..funny how liquid can go straight to your middle.

LeAndra April 3, 2013 - 12:31 PM

Do you have any information available for black woman who wants to gain weight? Healthy weight? I need to lose my stomach but I also want to gain weight. I am 38, 5’6 and i only weigh 125 smh..

Can you provide any information to help me in my journey….

Erika Nicole Kendall April 4, 2013 - 7:39 AM

Yep.

Erica April 3, 2013 - 12:59 PM

A big thing for me was recognizing my gluten intolerance. While I am not a full blown celiac, my digestive system is not a fan of bread, pasta and the like…even the whole grain, sugar free, extra healthy stuff. I discovered this when I went thru a wellness program which required me to cut out carbs and sugar for a couple weeks and when I begin to reincorporate wheat back into my diet I would blow up. Breaks my heart cause a good slice of cheese pizza is everything to me, but now it can only be a very special treat in strict moderation. #officepizzapartyfail

Anyway, now that I do not eat gluten as often I am maintain my tummy shrinkage.

Arial April 3, 2013 - 1:02 PM

What about my wrinkly tummy that has succummed a great deal to gravity after birthing my two angels? It’s not bloated, just hanging skin that never got it’s firmness back. I’m just starting my journey to get back in shape. Do you think that there is hope for my midsection? Sorry to be so detailed but that’s the situation of things right now. I really love this blog!

Erika Nicole Kendall April 4, 2013 - 7:38 AM

Yep. Just keep at it. It takes time.

simplygoingtotry April 3, 2013 - 2:52 PM

don’t Agave have a lot of calories, the one I have says “organic raw blue agave” it has 60 calories for 1tbsp, now one tbsp isnt going to sweeten my coffee or tea it’ll probably take 3-4 tbsp!! now I don’t want to add 160 calories what do I use if not a sweetner

Erika Nicole Kendall April 4, 2013 - 7:37 AM

Stevia – not truvia or whatever the hell else other thing – pure leafy stevia. Otherwise, learn to start drinking your stuff sweet-free.

Kim July 31, 2013 - 5:13 AM

Hi, Erika!! You said that you were available via email. Can you please letl me know what that is so that I can ask you a question?

Erika Nicole Kendall August 1, 2013 - 10:14 AM

There’s a contact form linked up above.

Danielle July 31, 2013 - 8:58 AM

Hey!!!! I am STRUGGLING!!! I have always exercised 2-3 days per week, I drink mainly water, don’t eat fast food, cook 90% of my meals, and try to stay around 1400 calories per day…..with all that I still have not lost any weight…I am 34 years old and weigh 200 pounds. I am a teacher so when I stopped working for the summer, I up’d my workouts to 5-6 times per week sometimes 2x per day. I lift weights and do cardio, I change up my workouts, and I try to eat pretty good. I am definitely no where near perfect….I have my days, but overall I know I do a whole lot more than the average person. When I started the summer I weighed 195 after increasing workouts I went to 200……I can’t believe it. I am so upset. I talk to several people and they say maybe you are not eating enough, but on my bad days I know I eat more than enough so I don’t want to increase calories when I am doing good. I am at a loss…I was thinking of going to the dr. to see if it was anything wrong with me…..I just hate the fact that some people can give up pop or fast food and they drop and I am busting my butt almost everyday and I gain :o( I don’t know what to do.

Debra Blue August 14, 2013 - 6:18 PM

Perhaps your workout increased your muscle mass and that’s where the 5lbs come from. Sometime that scale can bring you down.

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