Friday, 8 March 2013

5 things that won't give you a flat tummy!

5 things that won’t give you a flat tummy

The elusive flat tummy, how do we get it?  Despite “a healthy diet and exercise programme” many people are still struggling with the dreaded jelly belly.  There is so much hype around what to do and what not to do, what to eat or not to eat and so many factors that contribute to why you’re not getting the results that you want that I thought I would share my top 5 tips with you.


1.    Low fat diets
Low fat foods do not help to get rid of excess belly fat!  When you take the fat out of a food to make it taste good and bind it back together again something has to be added to it.  If it’s a savoury food this is usually salt otherwise it will be sugar.  Sugar makes you fat.  It converts to fat quicker than fat itself because it raises your insulin levels which can cause fat storage.  Many so called “healthy foods” are full of sugar particularly cereal bars and indeed the breakfast cereals themselves.

2.    Alcohol
When people are trying to drop a few pounds they are generally careful about what they eat but tend to forget about the liquid calories especially alcohol.  Alcohol provides the body with empty calories meaning that aside from sugars there is no fat, protein, vitamins or minerals contained in it that the body can use.  However at 7 calories per gram it contains more calories than both carbohydrates and protein (4 cals/g).  Because it cannot be stored in the body it must be oxidised and converted into energy.  Whilst this is happening the body is not using fat and carbohydrates and these will be stored as fat.

3.    Stress
Another biggie as a cause of fat around the belly is that dreaded word - stress. 
Stressing and worrying causes your adrenal glands, (small glands on top of that kidneys that control stress and fluid balance) to release the nasty little hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. We do need some cortisol but when we have too much in the bloodstream we become less sensitive to leptin, the hormone that tells us when we are full.  No surprises what happens next – we overeat big time and then usually start stressing about how much we’ve eaten and so the cycle continues. Managing stress is key to balancing hormones and balancing hormones and blood sugar is key to weight loss particularly belly fat.

4.    Sit ups.
Onto the exercise approach.  Contrary to popular opinion and media hype simply doing endless crunches/situps will not give you that flat tummy if you have body fat to lose.  Below are a few reasons not to waist (pun intended) your efforts on sit ups.

a)    They are unsafe if you have recently had a baby because they can cause any separation you have in your abdominals to widen further.
b)    Ineffective at flattening your stomach, regardless of whether you’ve had a baby or not. What sit ups do are work the rectus abdominus muscle (that’s your six-pack muscle, by the way), but, have you ever noticed, when someone puts weight on their mid-section, it’s rarely above their belly button is it? It’s the lower abdominals you want to work to flatten or tone your abdominals. So its transverse ab work that’s important here, which those of you attending any of my classes will be familiar with.

c)     They do nothing to improve posture, mimicking the very same positions that most people find themselves in their day to day routines, driving, sitting at a computer and so on.  The very same position (flexion) that can contribute to everyday back pain and poor posture.

5.    Spot reduction
This means working only one area of your body in an effort to reduce body fat. Spot reduction is not possible.  To lose fat from the stubborn areas you have to work the whole body.  You will notice that during any of my classes we use a total body approach working legs, back, butt, chest, shoulders, arms and abdominals /core. Your heart and lungs get a workout and by using the bigger, thicker muscles like legs and butt you burn far more calories than lying on a mat doing endless exercises for your mid section!

So there we have it.  I hope that has given you an insight into why it can seem so difficult to slim the waistline.
Let me know and if you have any other questions that I may be able to help with please ask.  If you are thinking it, you can bet you’re your bottom dollar there are hundreds of other people puzzling over it too!

Have a healthy, happy week

Marie x

Sunday, 3 March 2013

5 reasons you're not losing weight

If I had a £1 for each time I am asked why despite a healthy diet someone is unable to lose weight, I would be sunning myself somewhere exotic writing my blog!   It’s a question that pops up so often, I thought I would share with you a few of the most common reasons.

  1. How healthy is your diet?
Quite often, when we dig a little deeper, it’s not very healthy at all.  Lots of low fat, high hidden sugar foods that have the blood sugar up and down like a roller coaster.  Remember, to make a food taste good, if you take out the fat, you have to replace it with something which in most cases will be some form of sugar. Taking in all this sugar can get us locked into a cycle of craving more and more.  Balancing your blood sugar level is key to achieving long term weight loss – sugar is the enemy, not fat!   Check out some of the foods labelled as “healthy” in your cupboards, particularly breakfast cereals/muesli’s, low fat yoghurts, no surprises if sugar is up in the top 3 in the list of ingredients.

  1.  Not eating enough calories
Yes, you read that right, while eating too many calories is the obvious answer, eating too little is very common if someone is trying to shift weight quickly.
Often people cut their food intake to very low levels thinking less is better. This is counter productive as all that happens is your body slows down its metabolism (the amount of calories we burn at rest) and holds onto the fat that it thinks it may need later. This will cause your body to make less energy and produce less heat so that you will end up feeling tired and cold. You will also feel hungry, making it harder to continue losing fat.  It is very difficult to keep the weight off if you lose it too quickly.  Rapid weight loss is short term weight loss.

  1. Alcohol
Aside from providing empty calories, alcohol will make achieving a slimmer body more of a struggle.  This is because alcohol contains several toxins that the liver will want to get rid of or metabolise as quickly as possible.  The problem is that your liver cannot metabolise alcohol and fat or carbohydrates at the same time so if its busy metabolising the alcohol, guess what’s happening to the fats and carbohydrates.  Yep they will be stored as fat, for men usually the “beer belly” and for women around the hips and thighs.  So if you are drinking more than once a week be aware that you will be slowing down your metabolism making your weight loss efforts much more difficult.

  1. No Excuses
A tricky one, I know, because we are all very busy these days.  However health and fitness need to become a priority.  If you are too busy to exercise (I would say this is the most common excuse I hear), you will have to accept the fact that you will never lose those excess pounds.  Think about all of the things which take up 30 minutes of your day – television, face book, ebay, reading the papers etc and then ask yourself if  investing that time in your body, your current and future health and wellbeing would be worth the trade off.  I have never worked with anyone who can’t find a way to fit some exercise into their weekly routine.

  1. Dieting v lifestyle change
All diets work for a while as long as you stick to them.  But who wants to be on a diet forever?  Food is one of the great pleasures in life.  It supplies us with energy, lifts our mood, balances our hormones and keeps our immune system healthy. If you view it in this way and choose healthy foods that are good for you, not only will the weight drop off but you will feel great.  It’s when you think of food as “bad” that you get stuck in that never ending cycle of deprivation and reward.  Inevitably the “reward “  ends up being a  blow out on sugary, fatty foods that give you a quick buzz followed by those feelings of sluggishness,  guilt and self hatred, so starting the vicious cycle again. 

Its time to adopt some healthy lifestyle changes and ditch the diet for good!

So there are my top 5 reasons that might be hampering your weight loss efforts, do they apply to you?  Let me know.

Have a Happy, healthy week

Marie  x