Hump Day Health Hack
“Amy, what do you mean your abs hurt...you don’t have abs!” You’ve got to love the wisdom and honesty of an 8-year-old. I do in fact have abs (thank you Braxton) – they are just safely hidden away under my six-pack warmer - and I don’t plan on that changing any time soon! I like to think my abs (or lack thereof) tell a story – I like exercise but I also like food, wine, and having fun.
Why You Don’t Have Abs
Having visible abdominal muscles might seem like a good thing to aim for but the truth is unless you are naturally athletic, extremely sporty, or restrictive with your diet it is a goal many of us are unlikely to achieve, and for good reason. Many people who diet to the extreme, for body-building shows, or just to look good on the beach, can experience hormonal troubles and a severe lack of energy.
Why It’s Normal
Spoiler alert...doing sit-ups isn’t going to make them appear. The main way to ‘get abs’ or lose enough belly fat to get your abs on show is by losing overall body fat. Beyond the healthy physique, most of us strive for, reducing your body fat to the point where your muscles are showing through is not necessarily healthy. For your abs to be visible women have to usually get down to below 15% body fat and men below 10% - this can be ‘healthy’ but for many, it isn’t sustainable long term. Your body needs a certain level of fat to function. Any less our energy levels start to plummet and we don’t tend to be much fun.
When You Should Pay Attention To Belly Fat
At the opposite end of the spectrum holding a lot of body fat around our middle can have severe health implications. Rather than being distributed evenly across the body, more fat around our mid-section can indicate fat around our internal organs which can be dangerous.
What Causes Belly Fat?
- Sugar (specifically fructose, in things like fruit juice)
- Alcohol (predisposes us to store fat around our middle)
- Trans Fats (packaged food like crackers & muffins)
- Lack Of Movement
- Stress & Cortisol (promotes fat storage in the belly region)
5 Simple Ways To Reduce It If You Need To
- Cut Out Sugar (particularly in drinks)
- Increase Your Protein
- Reduce Carbohydrates (if you are eating a lot of them)
- Exercise Regularly
- Focus On Sleep & Reducing Stress
The Last Word It’s all about balance. If you know that losing belly fat could benefit your health (or self-esteem) go for gold. If you are being restrictive about your eating to the point of losing enjoyment - now could be the time to ask yourself whether or not that goal is the healthiest thing for you.
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