Warmer weather is just around the corner. Every year, as I shed the warm layers of clothing, I also start thinking about how to release the extra pounds.  The desire to slim down isn’t just for vanity reasons.  It gets incredibly hot here in the summers and I can’t stand to carry extra weight in the sweltering heat.  It just makes everything so much more uncomfortable.

I tend to gain weight in my thighs/legs & in the abdomen.  Obviously, the extra weight in my lower half doesn’t bother me as much as the pot belly.  Once, I messaged a personal trainer on social media about how I could target my abdominal fat.  His answer, like many others, was that I could not target fat loss to one area of the body.

His response didn’t alter my curiosity.  I wasn’t asking if there was a way to only loose fat in the belly and no where else. I’m aware that unless I got lipo, I wouldn’t be able to loose fat on my stomach without trimming down in other areas.  What I wanted to know is if there were exercises that really target abdominal fat like no other.  Although most fitness professionals will tell you that this type of exercise doesn’t exist, I think I may have stumbled upon the real answer to my question.

Because, according to a study published in 2010, there is a type of exercise that creates a significant reduction in belly fat.  And no, I’m not talking about sit ups.  Sit ups are meant to work on the abdominal muscles, not burn fat.  In fact, all of your crunches will be in vain if there’s excess fat surrounding the muscles.

Our next option is to do some aerobic exercise. “That’ll get rid of our belly fat…..right?”  Well, maybe. But typical aerobic exercise isn’t as powerful for releasing belly fat as you may think.  When you or I get on the treadmill or elliptical for 40 minutes, we’re engaging in steady state exercise.  Steady state exercise is better than nothing, but if you are on a mission to target fat (especially belly fat), you have to take an alternative approach.

And what is the alternative?  It’s High Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE) also known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  According to studies, this type of exercise can better target belly fat versus traditional cardio.  When they compared the body fat percentage of a group of people who trained the traditional way vs. those who engaged in HIIT, they noticed that the HIIT group lost more overall body fat.

But what’s even more interesting is that one study found that a group of women who engaged in HIIT for a total of 15 weeks experienced “a significant reduction in abdominal fat.” In a study conducted with overweight men, 8 weeks of high intensity training resulted in a 44% reduction in belly fat.  What they realized was the more fat a person was carrying prior to incorporating high intensity training, the more HIIT was in belly fat reduction.  

Why is that?  They speculate that the post exercise fat burning effect of HIIT could be a factor.  Not to mention that intense training can help decrease appetite.  Studies show that, in rats, “hard exercise resulted in lower food intake.” And in humans, it’s been shown that intense aerobic exercise can decrease feelings of hunger.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Have you ever noticed that your belly fat seems harder to shed than in other areas of your body?  I have.  Which is why I reached out to that trainer in the first place.  What he didn’t explain is that all fat cells aren’t created equal.  The fat burning process is mobilized by the production of catecholamines.  Catecholamines travel our bodies and latch on to fat cells. Once that happens, they help the fat stores to be metabolized and utilized as fuel.

 All fat cells have receptors for the catecholamines to attach to. The fat in our abdomen have high levels of alpha-receptors.  Alpha-receptors are more resistant to lipolysis (the breakdown of fat).  But fat cells located in other parts of our body have beta-receptors which are highly responsive to exercise.  Because our belly fat cells are more resistant, they require higher levels of catecholamines to activate fat loss.  Do you know which types of exercises create a spike in catecholamines?  You guess it….HIIT.

So basically, our belly fat cells are extra stubborn and require additional amounts of catecholamines to break down.  Steady state cardio (40 minutes on a machine) does not have the ability to elevate catecholamine levels like higher intensity training can.  So in order to effectively target the belly fat, you’ve got to change your workout strategy.

The good news is that high intensity training doesn’t require a lot of time.  In fact, most people only recommend 20-25 minutes per session. Basically you push yourself to operate at almost maximum capacity for short period of time then recover.  In some of the studies, the participants pushed themselves for 8 seconds then rested for 12 seconds or pushed for 12 seconds, rested for 24.  The great thing about HIIT training, is that you can adjust sprint and rest periods to your fitness level.  And if you’re a beginner, start slow by toggling between a walk and job for short bursts instead of a full all out run.

I’m not a fan of HIIT training but I know it works so I’m willing to push through.  And I’m really happy about how little time is required to get results.  Results keep me motivated, so the faster they come, the better.  Lastly, I love the after workout high I experience long after the interval training is complete.  They say that you’re burning calories at a higher rate even after the workout is complete. Best of all, you don’t need to do this every day.  In fact, you can do high intensity training only 3X a week and still experience impressive results.

Now that I think about it, the one time I had the flattest belly of my life was when I was training for a timed 5k race.  To increase my speed, a personal trainer friend of mine suggested that I do high intensity sprint training.  Little did I know, but I was activating the chemicals that metabolized my belly fat muscles with every sprint. And when I wanted to target belly fat with laser focused intensity, I also made sure to manage my carb intake and indulge in more leafy greens.

 HIIT exercise, resistance traning and a healthy diet is absolutely the recipe for the flattest belly of your life.

Suggested reading: Your Ultimate Small Waist Routine.

Warmer weather is just around the corner. Every year, as I shed the warm layers of clothing, I also start thinking about how to release the extra pounds.  The desire to slim down isn’t just for vanity reasons.  It gets incredibly hot here in the summers and I can’t stand to carry extra weight in the sweltering heat.  It just makes everything so much more uncomfortable.

I tend to gain weight in my thighs/legs & in the abdomen.  Obviously, the extra weight in my lower half doesn’t bother me as much as the pot belly.  Once, I messaged a personal trainer on social media about how I could target my abdominal fat.  His answer, like many others, was that I could not target fat loss to one area of the body.

His response didn’t alter my curiosity.  I wasn’t asking if there was a way to only loose fat in the belly and no where else. I’m aware that unless I got lipo, I wouldn’t be able to loose fat on my stomach without trimming down in other areas.  What I wanted to know is if there were exercises that really target abdominal fat like no other.  Although most fitness professionals will tell you that this type of exercise doesn’t exist, I think I may have stumbled upon the real answer to my question.

Because, according to a study published in 2010, there is a type of exercise that creates a significant reduction in belly fat.  And no, I’m not talking about sit ups.  Sit ups are meant to work on the abdominal muscles, not burn fat.  In fact, all of your crunches will be in vain if there’s excess fat surrounding the muscles.

Our next option is to do some aerobic exercise. “That’ll get rid of our belly fat…..right?”  Well, maybe. But typical aerobic exercise isn’t as powerful for releasing belly fat as you may think.  When you or I get on the treadmill or elliptical for 40 minutes, we’re engaging in steady state exercise.  Steady state exercise is better than nothing, but if you are on a mission to target fat (especially belly fat), you have to take an alternative approach.

And what is the alternative?  It’s High Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE) also known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  According to studies, this type of exercise can better target belly fat versus traditional cardio.  When they compared the body fat percentage of a group of people who trained the traditional way vs. those who engaged in HIIT, they noticed that the HIIT group lost more overall body fat.

But what’s even more interesting is that one study found that a group of women who engaged in HIIT for a total of 15 weeks experienced “a significant reduction in abdominal fat.” In a study conducted with overweight men, 8 weeks of high intensity training resulted in a 44% reduction in belly fat.  What they realized was the more fat a person was carrying prior to incorporating high intensity training, the more HIIT was in belly fat reduction.  

Why is that?  They speculate that the post exercise fat burning effect of HIIT could be a factor.  Not to mention that intense training can help decrease appetite.  Studies show that, in rats, “hard exercise resulted in lower food intake.” And in humans, it’s been shown that intense aerobic exercise can decrease feelings of hunger.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Have you ever noticed that your belly fat seems harder to shed than in other areas of your body?  I have.  Which is why I reached out to that trainer in the first place.  What he didn’t explain is that all fat cells aren’t created equal.  The fat burning process is mobilized by the production of catecholamines.  Catecholamines travel our bodies and latch on to fat cells. Once that happens, they help the fat stores to be metabolized and utilized as fuel.

 All fat cells have receptors for the catecholamines to attach to. The fat in our abdomen have high levels of alpha-receptors.  Alpha-receptors are more resistant to lipolysis (the breakdown of fat).  But fat cells located in other parts of our body have beta-receptors which are highly responsive to exercise.  Because our belly fat cells are more resistant, they require higher levels of catecholamines to activate fat loss.  Do you know which types of exercises create a spike in catecholamines?  You guess it….HIIT.

So basically, our belly fat cells are extra stubborn and require additional amounts of catecholamines to break down.  Steady state cardio (40 minutes on a machine) does not have the ability to elevate catecholamine levels like higher intensity training can.  So in order to effectively target the belly fat, you’ve got to change your workout strategy.

The good news is that high intensity training doesn’t require a lot of time.  In fact, most people only recommend 20-25 minutes per session. Basically you push yourself to operate at almost maximum capacity for short period of time then recover.  In some of the studies, the participants pushed themselves for 8 seconds then rested for 12 seconds or pushed for 12 seconds, rested for 24.  The great thing about HIIT training, is that you can adjust sprint and rest periods to your fitness level.  And if you’re a beginner, start slow by toggling between a walk and job for short bursts instead of a full all out run.

I’m not a fan of HIIT training but I know it works so I’m willing to push through.  And I’m really happy about how little time is required to get results.  Results keep me motivated, so the faster they come, the better.  Lastly, I love the after workout high I experience long after the interval training is complete.  They say that you’re burning calories at a higher rate even after the workout is complete. Best of all, you don’t need to do this every day.  In fact, you can do high intensity training only 3X a week and still experience impressive results.

Now that I think about it, the one time I had the flattest belly of my life was when I was training for a timed 5k race.  To increase my speed, a personal trainer friend of mine suggested that I do high intensity sprint training.  Little did I know, but I was activating the chemicals that metabolized my belly fat muscles with every sprint. And when I wanted to target belly fat with laser focused intensity, I also made sure to manage my carb intake and indulge in more leafy greens.

 HIIT exercise, resistance traning and a healthy diet is absolutely the recipe for the flattest belly of your life.

Suggested reading: Your Ultimate Small Waist Routine.

All my life, I’ve been a petite girl.  Although I always enjoyed working out, I didn’t have to do it to stay slim.  Exercising was more about making sure I didn’t get winded climbing up a flight of stairs.   I could eat whatever and not have to worry about a thing.  Life was good.

Then my thirties hit and I noticed something strange happening.  Although I stayed relatively the same size, my legs weren’t as toned.  Suddenly, my food belly wasn’t going down hours after a meal like it used to.  The more closely I examined my body, the more I noticed what was occurring.  Slowly, muscle was being replaced by fat.

For a while, I played it off. I still tried to squeeze into skinny jeans and fitted tops, but there was no denying the change.  So, I made some changes, and noticed the positive impact.  But the moment, I slacked, the pounds came back on.  Finally, I had to accept once, and for all, that my metabolism (my once trusty friend who never let me down) was slowing.

In my younger days, my metabolism was on over drive!  I could eat from a drive through 5 days a week and suffer no consequences.  ‘Cause my beloved metabolism always had my back.  But now I realize that it needs my help to rev it back up again. No longer can I neglect it and still expect it to perform at optimum levels.  My metabolism was always there for me and now it needs my help!

Are you over 25? If so, your metabolism has been slowing down by between 1-4% every year.  Not 25 yet, well enjoy these last few years of worry free eating because it won’t last forever. Luckily for us, we can do something about it.  If we make conscious decisions that speed up our metabolism, we can be burning mega calories even while at rest.  Let’s talk about how to do that.

One of the foundational tips to improve metabolism is to eat more often.  But immediately, my mind starts to think “but if I eat more, won’t my body store more calories?”  The important distinction to make is that eating more DOES NOT MEAN  more of what you currently eat.  You’re not supposed to be consuming 5-6 plates of food a day.  When the fitness experts say eat 5-6 meals a day, what they really mean is “shrink your meal size and spread it throughout the day instead of eating 1-3 large meals.”  Or eat small meals and include healthy snacks in between. This is to make your body think that there’s a steady flow of calories all day, so there’s no need to store it.  The idea is not to allow yourself to get too hungry.  This will also keep you from binge eating or having to battle crazy cravings.

My tip regarding this technique is to practice mindful eating.  Once upon a time, I took on the challenge of chewing my food until it was nearly liquid.  I hated to do it but I wanted to experience the potential benefits.  Let me tell you, not only did I get full on less food. My digestion improved and my stomach flattened.  The only change I made was to eat with single minded focus (not eating in front of tv, phone, etc) and chewed way more than normal.  I’m convinced that combining mindfulness eating with multiple small meals a day will improve your metabolism.

Improve your resting metabolic rate.
Let’s say you’re awake for 14 hours today.  And you work out for an hour before work, for less than 10% of your day, you increase your calorie burn.  But what about the other 90% of your day?  If you work in front of a computer, then you come home, eat, and catch up on your shows, you’re sedentary for most of the day.  That work out has to be pretty awesome in order to impact how you burn calories all day while you’re at rest.

Eating 5-6 small meals will help, but if you want to make a MAJOR IMPACT ON YOUR METABOLISM, you need to increase your resting metabolic rate (basically, how many calories burned while you’re inactive).  This, my friends, is the key to getting the metabolism of a youngin’ in their twenties.  

Simply put, the most effective way to increase resting calorie burn is to have more lean muscle.  MUSCLE EATS FAT!  Maintaining muscle requires more calories than maintaining fat.  So if you are serious about boosting your metabolism, you need to be strength training on a regular basis.

Adding muscle shrinks you!

I started incorporating strength training in my exercise routine a few years ago.  Not only did I not bulk up, my body was sculpted in a way that was way greater than in my 20’s.  Then I experienced a wonderful side effect of adding muscle….increased energy.  And when I have more energy, I move more, which means burning more calories.  Best of all, muscle takes up less room than fat so I was able to enjoy having a slim body again.

If you are ready to kickstart your metabolism boosting journey, I recommend you start strong by incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine.  This is a serious fat burning technique that helps you see results fast.  Basically, you exercise in short high intensity bursts coupled with less intense recovery periods.  Another benefit of high intensity training beyond faster fat loss, is increased human growth hormone levels (which slows down as we age).  While people are paying for human growth hormone shots, you can produce your own all natural version with high intensity training.

This morning, I completed a high intensity burst session on the treadmill (after strength training).  My session wasn’t long (only 15 minutes total) but it was powerful.  There’s  an obvious difference in my energy levels compared to when I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes the day prior.  I feel amazing.

Just knowing that an HIIT session can burn fat (for up to 36 hours after the workout) and spikes human growth levels is enough to me motivated to continue.

 Looking forward to having my old metabolism back again.

All my life, I’ve been a petite girl.  Although I always enjoyed working out, I didn’t have to do it to stay slim.  Exercising was more about making sure I didn’t get winded climbing up a flight of stairs.   I could eat whatever and not have to worry about a thing.  Life was good.

Then my thirties hit and I noticed something strange happening.  Although I stayed relatively the same size, my legs weren’t as toned.  Suddenly, my food belly wasn’t going down hours after a meal like it used to.  The more closely I examined my body, the more I noticed what was occurring.  Slowly, muscle was being replaced by fat.

For a while, I played it off. I still tried to squeeze into skinny jeans and fitted tops, but there was no denying the change.  So, I made some changes, and noticed the positive impact.  But the moment, I slacked, the pounds came back on.  Finally, I had to accept once, and for all, that my metabolism (my once trusty friend who never let me down) was slowing.

In my younger days, my metabolism was on over drive!  I could eat from a drive through 5 days a week and suffer no consequences.  ‘Cause my beloved metabolism always had my back.  But now I realize that it needs my help to rev it back up again. No longer can I neglect it and still expect it to perform at optimum levels.  My metabolism was always there for me and now it needs my help!

Are you over 25? If so, your metabolism has been slowing down by between 1-4% every year.  Not 25 yet, well enjoy these last few years of worry free eating because it won’t last forever. Luckily for us, we can do something about it.  If we make conscious decisions that speed up our metabolism, we can be burning mega calories even while at rest.  Let’s talk about how to do that.

One of the foundational tips to improve metabolism is to eat more often.  But immediately, my mind starts to think “but if I eat more, won’t my body store more calories?”  The important distinction to make is that eating more DOES NOT MEAN  more of what you currently eat.  You’re not supposed to be consuming 5-6 plates of food a day.  When the fitness experts say eat 5-6 meals a day, what they really mean is “shrink your meal size and spread it throughout the day instead of eating 1-3 large meals.”  Or eat small meals and include healthy snacks in between. This is to make your body think that there’s a steady flow of calories all day, so there’s no need to store it.  The idea is not to allow yourself to get too hungry.  This will also keep you from binge eating or having to battle crazy cravings.

My tip regarding this technique is to practice mindful eating.  Once upon a time, I took on the challenge of chewing my food until it was nearly liquid.  I hated to do it but I wanted to experience the potential benefits.  Let me tell you, not only did I get full on less food. My digestion improved and my stomach flattened.  The only change I made was to eat with single minded focus (not eating in front of tv, phone, etc) and chewed way more than normal.  I’m convinced that combining mindfulness eating with multiple small meals a day will improve your metabolism.

Improve your resting metabolic rate.
Let’s say you’re awake for 14 hours today.  And you work out for an hour before work, for less than 10% of your day, you increase your calorie burn.  But what about the other 90% of your day?  If you work in front of a computer, then you come home, eat, and catch up on your shows, you’re sedentary for most of the day.  That work out has to be pretty awesome in order to impact how you burn calories all day while you’re at rest.

Eating 5-6 small meals will help, but if you want to make a MAJOR IMPACT ON YOUR METABOLISM, you need to increase your resting metabolic rate (basically, how many calories burned while you’re inactive).  This, my friends, is the key to getting the metabolism of a youngin’ in their twenties.  

Simply put, the most effective way to increase resting calorie burn is to have more lean muscle.  MUSCLE EATS FAT!  Maintaining muscle requires more calories than maintaining fat.  So if you are serious about boosting your metabolism, you need to be strength training on a regular basis.

Adding muscle shrinks you!

I started incorporating strength training in my exercise routine a few years ago.  Not only did I not bulk up, my body was sculpted in a way that was way greater than in my 20’s.  Then I experienced a wonderful side effect of adding muscle….increased energy.  And when I have more energy, I move more, which means burning more calories.  Best of all, muscle takes up less room than fat so I was able to enjoy having a slim body again.

If you are ready to kickstart your metabolism boosting journey, I recommend you start strong by incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine.  This is a serious fat burning technique that helps you see results fast.  Basically, you exercise in short high intensity bursts coupled with less intense recovery periods.  Another benefit of high intensity training beyond faster fat loss, is increased human growth hormone levels (which slows down as we age).  While people are paying for human growth hormone shots, you can produce your own all natural version with high intensity training.

This morning, I completed a high intensity burst session on the treadmill (after strength training).  My session wasn’t long (only 15 minutes total) but it was powerful.  There’s  an obvious difference in my energy levels compared to when I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes the day prior.  I feel amazing.

Just knowing that an HIIT session can burn fat (for up to 36 hours after the workout) and spikes human growth levels is enough to me motivated to continue.

 Looking forward to having my old metabolism back again.

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow I became a little pudgier than normal.  Maybe it’s because of those amazing butter cookies that I couldn’t seem to get enough of.  Perhaps, it had something to do with skipping the meal prep process.  Or could it be because I opted to spend more time under warm blankets than I did getting my desired steps in for the day?

In either case, it happened and if I’m not proactive, those extra few pounds could multiply.  Months later, I could be slipping on a tank top wondering where I went wrong, or I could be feeling really good about the decisions I made today.  Another reason to take action now is to make it easier on myself in the future.  Working off 5-10 lbs now is way better than 15-25 lbs down the road.

Let’s talk about some quick shifts we can make to stave off pesky winter weight once an for all.

Stick to form fitting attire
I was on cloud 9 after finding a pair of hubby’s sweats.  They were super baggy on me and felt so cozy.  Sweats and oversized tops became my new uniform.  While that was going on, I was secretly putting on weight.  But I was completely oblivious until a friend invited me for breakfast.  Sure, no problem…I’ll just slip on my favorite skinny jeans.  And that’s when the truth came out. Those skinny jeans didn’t fit nearly as comfortable as they used to.  Add insult to injury, my friend referred to me as “thickums” during our conversation.  That was all I needed to hear.  From that point on, I swore off baggy sweats and stuck to wearing fitted clothing around the house as a measurement tool.  Never would I be caught off guard again.

Warm up with broths 
As the temperature drops, we tend to crave warm, comfort foods.  If we aren’t careful, those comfort foods are a recipe for extra weight gain.  My solution to this dilemma came in the form of bone broth.  Every morning the past few days, I’ve whipped up a small bowl of broth with onions, spices and rice noodles.  Not only does it warm me up, but if fills my belly and nourishes from the inside.   The benefits alone are enough to keep me coming back.  Plus it’s really yummy and keeps me full all morning.  Broths are a fantastic alternative to your typical high calorie winter beverage.  If broths aren’t your thing, opt for warm lemon water or nutrient rich tea.   You can enjoy several cups throughout the day without having to worry about expanding your waistline.

Move!
When it’s cold out, I just want to nestle under a pile of blankets for warmth.  Sure, that’s one way to do it, but I’ve come to realize that the most optimal strategy is to move.  Even if I lay under a blanket for 15 minutes, I’ll still be cold.  But, if I do cardio for the same amount of time, my temperature instantly rises.  Whenever I exercise in cold weather, I find myself peeling off layers of clothes as my internal temperature rises.  Blankets rarely ever offer those same results.  

My strategy for the past week has been to head to the gym first thing in the morning.  I know that minutes into my workout being cold will be the last thing on my mind.  Yes, the pounds will eventually come off, but I’ll also enjoy instant gratification.  The short term benefits of feeling warm is enough to motivate me each morning.  It’s a win-win.