We’re a nation obsessed with acquiring the coveted six-pack abs, and we’re spending billions of dollars a year trying to attain them. But no matter how badly we want them or think we want them, it’s not happening for many of us because the truth is, we’re going to have to get really uncomfortable to get them. And who wants to get uncomfortable?
So you need to decide, are you ready to get uncomfortable? Do you take into consideration what I’m offering up as an antidote to your ailment?
I gotta warn you, it’s a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of answer, there are no quick fixes. However, there are definitely ways that you can decrease your waist circumference and ultimately improve your health, build up your body confidence, and feel good that you’re finally taking control of your well-being.
All good things to be had, so take heed and come to terms with the fact that a little discomfort should not be the thing to stand in your way. These tips are the tip of the iceberg, but by making these small changes, you can begin to set yourself up for massive success.
Tip #1: Ease Up on the Salt Shaker
Every now and then, a salty treat is what the body is craving, but when your diet falls off the rails, there’s more convenience foods, fried foods, and take-out that circle back into the mix. These foods are heavily laden with sodium, which stimulates your brain, making you crave more and more of that salty goodness.
While every now and then indulgences like that won’t tip the scales too much in the wrong direction, if left unchecked, these little habits can wreak havoc on your systems.
Too much sodium in your body will produce water weight, but did you know that there is also the added bonus of a few extra inches around the belly? Yes indeed. Turns out excess amounts of sodium can deposit fat around the belly. (Who knew?!)
Science is shedding light on how a high-sodium diet may also kill off the beneficial lactobacillus bacteria in our gut, which leads to an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria. (A battle none of us want to be subjected to. Our gut should be our happy place!)
This is not good for your waistline because these good guys (that you’re inadvertently offing with your salty treats) have been found to inhibit the absorption of dietary fat. So by killing them, you’re severely limiting your gut’s ability to fight against disease, inflammation, and weight gain.
Your gut is the super powerhouse microbiome which, as we’re learning, seems to be the wizard behind the curtain in all things health-related. The recommended daily allowance suggests consuming 2,000 mg/day of sodium. Going over that limit regularly can compromise your body’s ability to maintain a happy home in your gut, which can affect your weight.
A simple solution is to cook most of your meals at home, eat less overly-processed foods, and when eating out, try your best to stay away from overly salted fried foods.
Tip #2: Eat More Fiber
We all tend to roll our eyes with this one and say, “Oh yea, more fiber, I know,” and then we go on living like we’re eating more fiber, but instead, we’re just eating candy bars claiming to be rich in fiber. What we need is more real fiber from real foods in our diets since an uptick in fiber can be linked to a decrease in waist circumference.
The recommended daily allowance is 25g for women and 38g for men. By getting the proper amounts, you can begin to notice the effects on your body. Adding in the right types of foods to your diet can make all the difference. That’s like an additional 2 cups of broccoli a day (my personal fave!), or 1 cup of avocado, or 2 apples, or 1 cup of raspberries, or 2 cups of strawberries, or 1 artichoke (a fiber superfood!), or 2 cups of Brussels sprouts, or 1/2 cup of lentils or kidney beans or split peas, or 1 ounce of chia seeds, or 1/2 cup oats.
As you can see, there are plenty of options! Fiber is also known as a prebiotic, so when you eat foods high in fiber, you’re also feeding the good bacteria in your gut (the probiotics) — notice how it all goes back to your gut! When it comes to your belly, your best bet is to keep your gut flora as happy as can be since it seems to hold the secret to a healthy and happy body!
Tip #3: Eat Less Sugar
This is an oldie but a goodie and is the more obvious of the tips, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of mentioning. Sugar is not your belly’s friend. (Fiber is!) Overly consuming sugar daily increases insulin levels, which promotes fat storage around your waistline. And once you get a taste for it, your brain lights up like a Christmas tree, and you’re craving more and more. (Just like salt.)
Insulin is a hormone that sugar messes with big time. In healthy doses, your body can regulate your blood sugar, and all things work according to plan. But when you influx your system with a heavily sugared beverage, bag of chips, or packet of candy consistently, you’re messing with science. Too much sugar in the bloodstream will get stored as fat. There’s no denying the science. And if you’re not working out — which allows your body to offer up some of the stored energy in your liver and muscles — all that fat is going to stay right where it is, and begin to invite some friends over.
If you’re not burning it, you’re storing it. And if you’re consuming too much of it, your belly is paying the price.
Clearly, you can guess by now that doing 100 sit-ups a day will not get you the abs of your dreams if you’re still eating a lot of overly-processed foods packed with high levels of sodium while you influx your system with too much sugar and not enough fiber.
If you’re looking to slim your waistline, your best bet is to get your fill of veggies every day — morning, noon, and night, and avoid overly sugared beverages — even veggie juices which eliminate the fiber and maintain the sugar.
A happy gut is a happy and healthy mind and body!