By Kareem Samhouri, DPT
Losing stubborn belly fat can be challenging if you are not living with the correct lifestyle modifications. Stress management techniques, regular exercise, and a decent diet are necessary strategies to ever achieve the exercise results and toned abs that you are seeking. Many people realize the importance of exercise, but very few understand the implication of stress on belly fat.
Stress increases production of a hormone called ‘cortisol,’ which results in a deposit of belly fat. This is a primitive reaction of the body as, historically, we used this belly fat deposit for food during long winter months of food deprivation. You see, cold weather and lack of food are two stress-producing stimuli that result in the exact same reaction. For this reason, it is vital that we understand starvation diets and extreme dietary modification works to increase deposits of fat in hard to reach areas. It’s a defense mechanism to ensure we don’t starve.
By regulating the amount of cortisol released in our bodies through stress management techniques we can alter body composition to our advantage. The next time you feel stressed by the thought of work, exercise, home, or what have you, I encourage you to practice deep breathing. The suggestion is to breathe in by sniffing, thereby inducing a diaphragmatic breath, and breathe out slowly while exhaling as if you were blowing through a straw. Pursing your lips, or exhaling like blowing through a straw, results in increased removal of carbon dioxide, as well as increased absorption of oxygen. Naturally, oxygen has an inhibitory affect on our nervous system, allowing us to relax and manage our stress level inappropriately.
Through regular practice of stress management to decrease cortisol levels, combined with a proper exercise and nutrition plan, you can legitimately skyrocket your results in the gym. Unfortunately, most people spend too much time worrying about their body weight, rather than reinforcing their habits by mental exercise as well.
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