Health & Fitness
Muffin Top No More! 5 Tips to Shed That Belly Fat
I used to call it baby fat, but now that my “baby” is headed to middle school, I need to get it together and get a plan.
Whenever I see the bulge of my tummy peeking out over the top of my jeans, I’m tempted to just shrug it off with an—“Oh well. There’s goes my extra baby weight, I just can’t lose. ”
That excuse worked pretty well when my child was still in diapers. But now that she’s headed for middle school? Not as convincing. I need to get on this asap.
Muffin tops are just fine when they’re filled with blueberries and sitting next to your morning coffee. But when they’re pooching over the edge of your low-rise jeans—they’re not nearly as appealing. And as a recently divorced mom, I’m hoping to be appealing to someone sometime soon.
As a former dancer, tennis player and track runner who had break-neck speed metabolism and the slim physique to prove it, I feel a keen sense of nostalgia for my pre-baby belly. Not only is a bulging tummy unattractive, but the abdomen is also one of the most dangerous places on the body to collect fat.
Let’s face it, our bodies are different. In addition to the tummy, fat collects on our thighs and rear—not desirable locations. And with our high obesity rates, we have a lot of work to do. African American and Latina women have the highest and second highest obesity rates.
More than 76 percent of Latinas in the United States are overweight, with more than 45 percent of them considered obese. In comparison, 33 percent of white women are obese.
Studies show that several cultural factors may contribute to the high rates of obesity among Latinas. Those include unhealthy diets (consumption of high-calorie, high-fat, and starchy foods), not enough physical activity, and a greater acceptance of larger body types in the Hispanic community.
Still, tummy fat is one of the hardest areas to rid of fat, which is why I’ve decided to share a few tips on how to get it back into shape. Regardless of whether your baby was born two months ago—or eleven years ago, like mine—if you’re diligent about following these steps, you can have your flat abs back again. Or something close to it.
It Takes Two—Diet and Exercise
- First, realize that you won’t get a six-pack just by doing tons of crunches. You will develop some muscle, but it will be covered by a layer of fat if you don’t simultaneously watch what you eat.
- The best diet for erasing belly flab is one that’s high in lean protein (egg whites, skinless chicken breasts, fish, tofu) and whole grains (oatmeal, whole-wheat toast). These foods will fill you up so you won’t be tempted to snack on the sugary carbs that will only add inches around your middle.
- Once you’ve gotten the hang of the diet part of the equation, you can get to work on your abs. That still doesn’t mean doing dozens of crunches until your abs are sore. You have to work your entire body to lose belly fat. Walk, take an aerobics class, dance, ride your bike, or swim to get the 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise you need every day.
- Then add strengthening exercises, working not just your abs but your entire core—your trunk and torso—to tone the muscles that support your abs. Exercises like the plank (in which you get into a push-up position and stay there for a minute or so) will strengthen this entire area.
- Top off your exercise routine with crunches, but don’t do a thousand of them. Ten to 20 should be enough. Add in about the same number of bicycles—the exercise where you lie on your back and alternately bring your elbow to your knee. It’s a very effective way to work the sides of your waistline.
While your stomach is still a work in progress, wear clothes that flatter—not flaunt—your curvy shape. Sift through your closet for jeans with a slightly higher rise and shirts that fall a few inches below your waistband. Hang those low-rise jeans in the closet—at least until your muffin top has been whittled away to a crumb.