Ester Marsh column: How to get rid of belly fat

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 28, 2016

As promised —  tips on how to get rid of belly fat!

Yep, right after we probably ate too much chocolate and food for Easter. No worries, one “cheat” day is OK. Just don’t make it a cheat week or a cheat month.

How to get rid of a muffin top, belly fat or spare tire is the No. 1 question asked in any YMCA, fitness center or weight loss program.

With the arrival of spring and everything starting to bloom, the temperatures have been pleasant. With that comes shorter and thinner clothes and, as I mentioned last week, more skin is showing. Coming out of the winter where we typically wear warm baggy clothes and eat warm calorie-rich foods, most people aren’t too happy how their clothes fit for spring and summer. Of course, the “easiest” way is to continue a healthy lifestyle with exercise and sensible eating throughout the winter. That way, you are not shocked when you get in your shorts or sundress, but unfortunately for many people, this is not the case.

I wish I had a “magic potion” to get rid of belly fat. Of course, when you lose weight, you can’t pick which area goes away. Anyone can lose weight. When I speak for groups in the community and ask who has lost weight before, most hands will go up. And sometimes, it still amazes me the diets people follow or come up with. Anyone can lose weight when they only eat 400 to 500 calories. Typically, an average female needs a minimum of about 1,500 calories a day and an average male needs about 2,000 calories. Of course, this all depends on age, weight and activity level, but 400 or 500 calories is definitely not enough. Even when you are able to stick to this diet and you lose weight, you eventually have to come back to the real world. Losing weight is doable and being on a diet is workable, but keeping it off is the hardest thing to do.

I know when the results are quick and noticeable, it makes it easier to stay on whatever diet you are on but eventually real life will kick in again.

When you lose weight, your fat cells shrink. You can’t get rid of them unless you have liposuction. (That is a whole other column) and when you get off that diet you are on, those fat cells are waiting to fill up again. And on top of that, you can make more fat cells your whole life. Sound familiar? Lose the weight, gain it back and more?

It’s a vicious circle.

My advice to lose that belly fat again is to continue to exercise and change your eating lifestyle. That’s right — not a diet, a lifestyle change. That belly fat/weight will not come off as fast as when you are on these crash diets, but when you are losing it, 1 to 2 pounds a week, your chance of keeping it off will be much greater. When you are really having a hard time eating sensible, Weight Watchers is still my favorite weight loss program. They will teach you real life sensible eating. Even Oprah is happy she is losing weight and can still eat her breads. Besides exercising, eating a balanced diet, watch your posture. By standing up straight, shoulders back, belly tight, it looks that you took off 5 pounds instantly. Doing hundreds of sit ups, crunches and other abdominal exercises don’t make the belly fat/muffin top go away. Total body workout, good posture and eating sensibly seems to be the key. The key to success is to love your body, strive for health first by eating healthy and exercising regularly and the rest will follow.

Ester Marsh Associate executive Director JF Hurley Family YMCA