Smutty Fitness: Stress and Belly

February 27, 2015 16:43:58 Posted at February 27, 2015 16:43:58
Hayley Posted by Hayley

Hi Hayley!

I was just wondering if you could recommend any exercises that slim down the waist specifically (i.e. without also slimming the hips/chest)? Basically my dream body is the hourglass figure. I'm in my early 20s and my stomach is (already) very much my problem area. While I know that it's not really genetically possible to reconfigure body shape, nor to spot-reduce fat, I keep holding out the probably illogical hope that there is some exercise or even food that encourages weight loss specifically on the waist/abdomen region. Am hoping you can confirm or deny.
Thanks for your help.


I am sure you knew that this was going to be my answer but there is no way to spot reduce. Your body puts on and loses weight from head to toe, and no matter how many sit-ups and crunches you do, they will not burn the fat away from your waist line. However, all hope is not lost and there may be a way that you can keep your hour glass figure while having a slimmer waistline. In this post I am going to tell you how lifestyle changes may help reduce your problem area, but check back next week when I will show you my favourite posture and core exercises that will help reshape your body, not by reducing belly fat but by toning your abs and changing how you hold your body.

One of the main culprits in mid-section weight gain are life stresses. Back in the day, when we used to be cavemen and women and our number one stress in life was whether or not we were going to have food to eat, our bodies learned to store fat, especially around our waist line, to make sure that if we could not catch our next meal we had something stored on our bodies to keep us from starving. Flash forward thousands of years later and we find ourselves in a world where we are constantly under stress. Deadlines at work, financial troubles and relationship troubles are just a few of the stresses we inflict on our bodies every day. 

What happens when we are under stress is that our body goes into its flight or fight response and releases a stress hormone called cortisol. The only time our body eliminates this hormone is when we are at rest, and if you are never resting those levels will never drop, the end result being added weight around your midsection. 

So, what do you do? Relax! See where you can eliminate stress from your life. Can you cut back your workload, can you go to bed earlier or wake up later? (Sleep is the best time to combat cortisol.) Are you maybe exercising too intensely too frequently? Can you add in a weekly yoga class or try meditation?

There are also things you can do in your diet that will combat stress. Cut out sugar and stop drinking alcohol, both of which are major adrenal stimulants which causes cortisol production in your body. Add in an omega supplement, such as hemp seeds or fish oils, as omegas can help combat this pesky hormone. Take an adrenal support, add Vitamin B into your diet and cut out coffee.

When I was training for the Boston Marathon, my body was under so much stress from my 50 hour a week work load, plus my high training volume and my regular life stresses.  I was at the point where I was experiencing night sweats every night and found myself so fatigued, yet unable to rest or sleep.  Working less and training less were not an option but I was at risk of adrenal fatigue, so I had to take drastic measures. I cut out sugar completely as well as alcohol and coffee. I added in an adrenal support, Omegas and Vitamin B and I tried meditation. Although it was not weight gain that I was concerned about I still needed to lower the level of stress hormones that I had in my body. Take a look at your lifestyle and see if you may need to make lifestyle changes to help reduce your current stress level. This may help you reduce the abdominal fat and get you closer to your dream body.  But make sure to check back next week for my exercise recommendations to help tone and strengthen your core.

Attached - Emily Blunt at the gym the other day in Los Angeles. 

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