First, indulge me with a little digression. I'd like to talk about how both nature (what we're born with- our genes, heredity) and nurture (environmental conditions, behaviors, experience) play a role in what we look like (duh, you say) Bare with me. I think we all know the behaviors that have gotten us to where we're at body fat wise, and that behaviors can be modified. However, sometimes I feel we forget how much of a role nature does play in how we look, how fat is distributed within our bodies, length of bones and so on- our body type, you could say. Now, that is no excuse not to do the best with what we've got- to get and stay in shape (whatever that shape may be).
I bring this up, because I feel like as women we tend to focus on how we look instead of how we feel (by feel I do not just mean emotionally, but physically) when it comes to body image. For instance, when we focus on our looks and that is the impetus to losing weight, we tend to start to feel (emotionally) bad about ourselves if we don't meet certain milestones quickly. We set high expectations on how we look, rather than how eating healthy, being active makes us feel physically (hopefully more energetic, positive, happy!). Once we put priority on how we physically feel rather than the "look" of weight lose when beginning an exercise regimen and incorporating healthy eating in our daily routine, the way we "look" becomes secondary to the dramatic positive changes in the way we feel. Even more, if you exercise with friends and/or family, it can actually be fun- a social event you won't want to miss. That is when weight lose becomes about being healthy and not just about being a "hottie." If we start exercising for that reason, we'll be more apt to stick with it and make it a habit for life. Believe me, by making exercise a part of our daily routine, we'll all be the hottie's we're meant to be in due time. I hope that makes sense.
My suggestion is no matter what your body type, whether your skinny, chubby, tall, short, stocky, plump, a bean pole, average, what have you... always talk with your doctor about what should be and is a normal, healthy weight for you. Notice I say HEALTHY, not that you need to be bone skinny. A side note here: If you are skinny that does not necessarily mean your healthy either. If you tend to be skinny (you have the genes for it), but eat an unhealthy diet, it's possible you could have high cholesterol. The opposite may be true. If you tend to be a little plump, your cholesterol may be great (thank you heredity). Point being, don't take anything for granted. Please get a physical every year. Do it for yourself and your family.
Also, know your Body Max Index (BMI) (see links section for a BMI calculator and more information about using BMI as a good health indicator). My BMI is 23.7 and that's in the healthy range, but on the high end. It could improve and I know it. Again, talk with your doctor about what your BMI number means for you.
Whew, now back to belly fat- the infamous muffin top- the middle age bulge- mommy belly- o.k., I know, you get it. Well it's not good and here's why. I pulled this off the Mayo Clinic website: Gaining fat in your abdomen is particularly unhealthy when compared with other locations in your body. Excess belly fat increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers. I've been noticing more and more lately articles addressing this medical condition (carrying around too much fat in the midsection) in the health section of MSNBC.com, which I frequent quite often. Please check out the link in my links section to learn more. For me cardiovascualr disease runs in my family as does high cholesterol , high blood pressure- the works! That is why I have been obsessed with my muffin top, and now I intend to do something to get rid of it. It won't be easy as my time is precious- between being a mom, wife and managing Joy of Fitness. I just keep telling myself that I am not just doing this for myself, but for my family. For some reason that makes me want it even more. It's about time I heed my own advice.
Be active. Be happy!