If getting your pants on has suddenly become more of a workout than your workout, it may be time to stop blaming the pants. Having a few extra pounds around your middle can make you feel less confident, bog down your energy and have you avoiding mirrors you should be reveling in. Evaluate your diet, your posture and the effectiveness of your workouts. The solution is in making small changes to your daily life.
Open up your refrigerator, freezer and cabinets and throw out all junk-food, over-processed foods and sodium-rich foods. Foods like chips, crackers, soy-sauce and some salad dressings harbor sodium and other ingredients that can cause bloating, gas and other digestive issues. Incorporate foods that have a low number of total ingredients, are high in fiber and have a short shelf-life. Whole source foods like apples, dates, quinoa and olive oil keep your digestive tract humming and your waistline slimmer.
Count the number of glasses of water you drink everyday. If you can count them on one hand, you’ve actually come up short-handed in the hydration department. Your belly can retain excess water weight if your sodium levels are too high or if you’re dehydrated. This can happen temporarily depending on the foods you’ve eaten, premenstrual cycles and any stress you are experiencing. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water per day and 10-12 on days you are exercising.
Your mother was right. Sit up straight. Poor posture can hurt your back, slow down your digestive system and add weight to your waistline. Long periods of time sitting, stress or muscular compensation can compress your internal organs and lead to constipation, increased weight gain and fluctuating mood swings. A weak core is also a soft core. Incorporate back and abdominal exercises twice a week to your workouts to counteract the effects of hunched shoulders.
Incorporating whole body compound movements like a lunge with a shoulder raise improve muscle strength needed to increase metabolism. Compound movements work not only upper and lower body, but core as well. It is important to do multi-plane movements to cross-train so you don’t overwork some muscle groups while neglecting others. Exercises that use the most muscle groups simultaneously also expend the most amount of calories and add a balance element to engage your core.
Manage your stress. Psychological stress alters the release of cortisol causing fat to land primarily around the abdomen. Cortisol is responsible for maintaining blood pressure and the proper metabolism of fat and carbohydrates. Maintaining stress through yoga, meditation or simple breathing exercises can have lasting effects. Inhale through your nose for eight counts and exhale out for eight. Continue on for one to two minutes each day or as needed.