I asked this question to my ladies over 40. What are the things that frustrate you the most with this over-40 body? And one of the BIGGEST responses I got was belly fat. So, today we’re going to unpack belly fat because I knew for me personally when this happened to me, it was when I couldn’t eat any cleaner, I was working out, I was doing ALL the things, but my body said NOPE. So, I wanted to really unpack this for you guys to dive into it a bit.
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A bit of a side note… This will be a multi-conversation thing when it comes to this. I will also be hosting a master class to unpack this concept of belly fat and how the heck we can combat it as women!
So, let’s keep this really simple! What are the 3 reasons why we accumulate belly fat!?
Step 1… HORMONES! We all know our hormones are going buck wild at this time! You get to your late 30’s and it’s like a wild party in there!
Step 2… Blood sugar! We don’t think about blood sugar unless we are diabetic. But we still should take a look at it.
Step 3… Excess calories or under-caloric eating. This is pretty self-explanatory!
Let’s start with Excess calories! You all know that if you eat too much, your body is going to store it as fat. That is going to cause you to have weight gain. For many of us, we think weight gain happens like that! You don’t notice 1lb or 2lbs here and there. And on top of that, can blame another 10 lbs on menopause. (the average woman gains this during menopause.) Anything more than that then it’s the things we are talking about now.
Here is where I am going to challenge you right now to take a look at what you are eating. I can’t say this enough, make sure we are getting protein with every meal. This includes snacks. Look at them. Are you snacking too much? Are there more treats than healthy snacks? Am I eating off my kid’s plates? Am I grazing throughout the day? Am I drinking too much wine? Take a look at what you are actually eating! – ASSESS!! How do you know where you are, how do you know how to navigate that place?
Many of you don’t think about this. What happens to your blood sugar is you have an excess of blood sugar that is floating around in our bodies. The primary hormone that manages blood sugar is insulin. And when there is an excess of sugar after our liver and muscle receive there share its then sent to our fat cells. Sugar is a fast energy source for our bodies. So, the more sugar and excess sugar, our cells are going to be like, “Woah, I am tired!!!”
Then there is more sugar floating around in our blood. The more sugar in our blood it becomes corrosive and starts to eat away at other parts of our body. That is why it’s important to keep our blood sugars in check, and why we start to see our weight increase because we are taking in too much sugar. Because of this, we should have our blood sugar levels tested regularly to make sure you aren’t getting close to diabetes.
Here is a list of rests you should be doing with your PCP (primary care):
● Fasting blood sugar tests – want to be 99 or lower.
● Test A1C – 5.7% or below.
● We want to know what our cholesterol numbers are – LDLs below 200, we want to be low. And what our HDLs are.
● Check blood pressure.
● Check triglycerides. – less than 150.
● Check our waistline – less than 30.
● Check kidney function.
We want to know what is going on there with everything and by doing this, it can help us unpack what is the challenge for you. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most preventable diseases that we have right now. Over 29 million Americans have some form of diabetes. But we can help to prevent it by eating better and moving our bodies more. Start focusing on what your numbers are and get a physical!
Yes, hormones do cause problems! We have 3 main sex hormones.
1. Estrogen – Estrogen is responsible for your ovulation. As we march our way toward menopause, our estrogen levels decline rapidly.
2. Progesterone – Progesterone is also involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and changes as we get older.
3. Testosterone – Testosterone is produced from our ovaries and adrenal glands. We don’t have as much as men, but we have some. It gives us a sense of well-being and helps us to build lean muscle.
Then there are 4 sub-hormones that are affected by our transition toward menopause.
1. Leptin – This is released in our bodies to help maintain our weight. Tells your brain we are full.
2. Ghrelin – The hormone that is produced by our stomach. Tells us when we are hungry.
3. Insulin – This helps us to clear blood sugar. It’s a storage hormone and helps collect blood sugar.
4. Cortisol – Comes out of our adrenals. Helps protect us from flight or fight scenarios.
These things all start to shift and change as we get closer to menopause which usually lasts about 8-10 years from the start of becoming peri menopausal. (in order to be classified as being in menopause, you have to not get your period for an entire year and 1 day.)
Throughout your cycles each month, estrogen and progesterone play a little dance as they move through your cycle. But when our bodies start to get wonky is when that dance throughout the month doesn’t happen. When this happens, our ovaries don’t get the signal to produce estrogen. Therefore, our body needs to produce it somehow and from somewhere, and this is when your body needs to get it from other sources. Other sources, like body fat, which I am sure you did not know can produce estrogen! (Even if it is not from the ideal source, we can still create that estrogen because our body want to procreate.)
Estrogen is responsible for us changing the shape of our bodies! It’s the female shapeshifter. It needs to store this excess fat so we can make estrogen. And where does it store it? Well, it stores it in our hips and our butt!! We have to now start getting in tune with what the heck is going on with our bodies! So that when these little signals come out, we know what is going on and we can start to make adjustments.
It’s the shift in estrogen and progesterone that changes how our bodies respond to the different cues in our bodies. It’s how our body responds to the changes in insulin and blood sugars that lead to excess body fat.
Yo-Yo dieting also ups the excess fat storage. This throws off the estrogen balance and pushes our bodies into extreme menopause by pushing our bodies to extremes to fight this.
If you are holding on to more weight, you need to:
● Focus on the types of foods you are eating. Am I eating in excess?
● Make small changes. – It’s not about going big or going home, it’s about how I can start to create these more sustainable habits.
● What can I scale back that is not an everyday thing and every weekly thing and in excess?
And the last thing about belly fat… Belly fat can be categorized into 2 categories.
Subcutaneous Fat – this is the fat that jiggles, we can pull on that fat. That is relatively to lose.
Visceral fat – the fat that is woven into our bodies. All around our organs. This is very challenging. Think of the men with hard bellies. This rises in women and starts to happen to us and gain weight like a guy because of the increase in testosterone.
Ladies, I am just touching the surface of this belly fat stuff. I wanted to just give you a snapshot of what is happening. There are lots of moving pieces to this and chances to go deeper into this within my FREE master class in the fall on cracking the belly fat code! In this, I will break down this 3-step framework around how we make better choices, and how we create our own personal health code. Ultimately, how do we maintain this long-term consistency so that we don’t always feel like we are chasing our tail when it comes down to this belly fat?
Here are your takeaways! What are you going to do today?
1. First, let’s focus on making sure we are having more protein. Protein-based meals!
2. Make sure you are getting plenty of vegetables with each meal.
3. We need to sleep. We need to rest and recharge. A lot of us are living stressful lives. We need to focus on that rest and restoration piece.
4. Less HIIT exercises. So many of us want to go and CRUSH a workout! Let’s focus on less crushing and more on am I lifting? No judgments, I was that crusher. It’s just about shifting our focus and more about us saying to ourselves, “How do I get it done?” I love these 30-minute workouts because I know I am able to do it.
So, if you are like, “Okay this is happening to me… I don’t know what is going on. I know I need to make some changes.” I am going to be unpacking this on November 3rd and all you have to do is go into the links below and get yourself on the waitlist so you will be the first to know!
If you have any questions about this! Holla at your girl!! Reach out! This is a pain in the rump shaker, and I want to make sure that you are supported. This is one of the biggest reasons why I started this podcast and started to do the work I do because I felt unheard. I felt no matter where I turned it was either in my head or I was told I have to suck it up or give up all the things. I hear you; you are supported and there is a solution!
Cracking The Belly Fat Code: