Why I Care About Flat Abs?
I don’t really, I just never knew how uncomfortable it was (other than pregnancy) to have my stomach stick out and as a result feel lazy and unmotivated.
I’ve always had a flat stomach and never had to work at it, even after 5 kids and age 33. In fact, I never thought about “fitness” or getting flat abs, or any of that. Then, a few months ago I started feeling bloated all the time, and thought it was time for me to do more than yoga, which I’ve been doing for the last few years (nothing too intense, just enough to stay flexible).
So, I started doing research and trying to find a “fitness” program to help motivate me to be more active. I found a great site called No Skinnies and I really liked her challenge, but I have been doing yoga for the last few years, I’m not used to jumping around or anything too rigorous. So I developed my own routine which I will share in an upcoming post; It’s fitness for people who don’t do “fitness” or who are new to exercise (the previous post on Toning Abs is part of it). I also started walking 3 miles every morning (or at least 5 days out of the week).
Still after 1 month, I didn’t feel any different. So I sought elsewhere and did research on the possible reasons why. I mean, I eat healthy; no processed foods, I cook all my meals at home, I don’t over eat, wheat else could it be?
It turns out that although diet and exercise are the key to flat abs, they are not the only factors! It’s not that simple. Here is a list of other hidden culprits that may be causing bloating, digestive problems, and even weight gain:
- Stress and/or Depression- If you are suffering from stress or depression, you should consider opening up to someone who may be able to help put things in perspective and start a journal to help you reflect on your situation.
- Bugs -Bacteria like H. pylori, C. difficile, E. coli, Salmonella, yeast and fungi such as Candida and parasites of all sizes, shapes and colors. These bugs set your gut on fire, they eat your food and make your stomach extend out like a balloon. If you suspect a bug, see your doctor immediately to be tested. There are many symptoms, you can read about them here and here .
- Excess Sodium – Too much sodium in your diet can cause you to retain water so when you drink too much water, it can look like excess fat. This is actually excess sodium causing you to retain water. It’s important to stay hydrated and keep drinking water when you feel this since water helps to flush out toxins in your body. Try reducing the amount of sodium in your diet instead. You should switch to an unrefined salt and avoid foods with added salt of any kind.
- Gas and/or Indigestion – Some fruits and vegetables don’t do well with certain people. Also, the wrong kinds of fats in your diet, processed food and GMO foods; all are difficult to digest adding inches to the waist line.
- Food Allergies – This can cause inflammation, which is your body’s way of defending itself against allergies to food or medications you might be taking. Most people don’t even know they have a problem. Talk to your doctor about an allergy test if you suspect that this might be an issue.
- Medications – Some may interfere with your ability to lose weight. Do some research on your own or talk to your doctor about what you are taking and if there might be an effective alternative.
- Not Enough Calories -You may not be eating enough. This might sound strange, but if you are restricting your calories too much, your body will go into “starvation mode” and store the few calories you eat as fat.
- Wrong Food Combining – There is a theory that certain foods combined together can cause digestive problems and other health issues.
- Hormonal Imbalance – most women with hormonal imbalance have no idea how many symptoms they experience, please click Hormonal Imbalance to find out more.
- Unhealthy Metabolism – To understand what that means and to read further on the subject, click here.
How Did I Use This List?
To get rid of the bloating, went through the above list to try and figure out where I’m going wrong.
I thought the first thing to do is to look at the stress/depression in my life:
- I re-evaluated my life and decided that some things aren’t worth stressing over and the situation in life that was causing depression is meant to happen and the outcome will depend on how I look at it, receive it, and deal with it. I sought out the help and advice of my husband, told him what I was going through and with his help, I was able to overcome the obstacle with him, in just a matter of hours. It really helps to get an outside perspective from someone who cares and is understanding.
Then I looked at my diet:
- I adjusted my diet, I also found out which foods were not helping: White rice, dairy (even raw/grass-fed! Yogurt was fine), wheat (even sprouted or soaked), and sometimes beef. Beef? Yes…beef. As I did further investigating, my organic “grass-fed” meat that I buy, is fed grain (corn/soy) before they process it to help put fat on the cow since grass-fed meat is more lean naturally.
- Some of the main contributors to digestive issues are soy, corn, wheat, and dairy, that is because of modern day agricultural practices/GMO’s.
I did not get rid of these foods completely; I just cut down and found my limits. I did switch from beef to lamb (pasture raised and fed alfalfa). I stopped using milk other than to make yogurt and strained yogurt and used home-made coconut milk in place of milk when needed.
I thought if these 2 things don’t work, then I will look further into the possibility that I may have a “bug”. Luckily, by taking those 2 steps I was able to reverse the bloating and along with exercise gain back my flat stomach, energy, and motivation. I now know my limits and that I shouldn’t eat the foods I mentioned on a daily basis.
Reasons Why You May Not Have Achieved A Flat Stomach After Working So Hard
If you are working out regularly, eating healthy and not achieving a flat stomach, consider the following:
- Working individual body parts to trigger weight loss or muscle development is a myth. In order to flatten your stomach or define your abdominal muscles, you need to focus on working the entire body, plus target abs or other areas. For faster, more effective results you should include in you full body workout; planks, push-ups, lower-abs raises and mountain climbers. Full body workouts will boost your metabolism and help you burn fat even while you sleep.
- You may not be consistent. You should set a realistic goal and go for it.
- Diet and exercise is the key to a flat stomach, but everyone’s body type is going to be different.
Focus on being healthy and fit inside and the rest will follow. Try not to get caught up in the details of body image; we are all built different and not everyone can obtain that “perfect shape”. At some point you have to learn to love your body for the shape it is.
A near future post will be on the different “Body Types” and how determining yours can help in getting your body in shape for your type.