Google “How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat” and you will find a plethora of advice. Many people on the journey of weight loss battle “belly fat”. As the infomercials tell us, belly fat is wrong and cortisol is bad, but I can take a pill and make it all go away. Great! I have finally found the solution to my problem, right? Not so much! I can assure you that this pill is not what you need. Yes, cortisol does have a hand in belly fat, but its intentions are good. Let me start from the beginning with this one. Americans are stressed!! If you ask most people about their lives, it is full of stress. When we experience stress, our adrenalin kicks in. Adrenalin is our hormone responsible for protecting us through the “fight or flight” response. In the process of getting ready for fight or flight, adrenalin dumps sugar into our blood for energy. Historically, from an evolutionary aspect, we have needed that energy for our muscles to help us outrun or fight a predator like a tiger. Let’s just face it, these days, the only tiger most of us try to outrun are deadlines! So, here we have all of this extra sugar in our system and have not used any because paperwork doesn’t require much energy. This is where cortisol comes in. Cortisol’s role is actually to help us by calming our stress response. The way it does this is to dump more sugar into our blood (to replenish the sugar it thinks we have used outrunning the imaginary tiger) and it also resists insulin which would break the sugar down. So, at that point, we have two extra doses of sugar and no way to break it down. This is where belly fat comes into the picture. So, belly fat is just the unintentional consequence of your body trying to help you cope with stress.
In addition, for those lucky women you have begun or are well down the path of menopause, belly fat also comes from hormone dysregulation. Most people don’t know this, but our fat cells create estrogen, so when our estrogen levels dip like in menopause, our body wants us to retain fat (particularly around our reproductive organs) to help us regain hormonal balance.
I’m sure knowing all of this makes you feel %100 percent better about having belly fat now, right? I’m guessing you wouldn’t read this article if that were the case. There are a few things that will likely help. You must work on reducing your stress. I realize this is easier said than done. For many people, there are life events that simply cannot be avoided. You do, however, have a choice in how you deal with these events. Here are a couple of strategies for stress management:
1. Make sure you get enough sleep. I cannot emphasize this enough! Sleep is a key factor in being able to manage stress and balance hormones.
2. Engage in stress management activities: meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises. When it comes to meditation or relaxation exercises, I suggest downloading mp3 files from the internet. It makes things much easier. Lets be honest, yoga isn’t for everyone, but even engaging in some sort of stretching activity will help.
3. Physical exercise. This really helps keep your serotonin (mood, stress and sleep management) levels optimal.
4. Sunlight. This also helps you produce more serotonin.