SLIM DOWN: 4 Tips on How to Lose that Beer Belly
Written by Izzy David
I gained 60 pounds with my first child, transforming my body from that of a size 4 lingerie model’s to a much healthier size 10. Most of the weight was on my stomach, where I’d never gained weight before; but overall, I liked my new curves and considered keeping them. Then I’d go into my closet or open my bureau drawers and clutch at all my clothes. I just couldn’t see investing in a whole new wardrobe. I decided I would lose the weight, but I wasn’t doing it Miranda Kerr’s way, solely drinking green juices (ugh) or Jessica Alba’s–jumping on a treadmill and torturing myself a week after I gave birth. I waited for the doctor to clear me and then I began a workout and diet regimen that has helped me regain my prenatal figure without any extreme or painful celebrity-learned behaviors.
Here are some simple and practical tips that worked well for me and should work for anyone looking to trim and tone their gut:
1. If you don’t feel like working out, don’t.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but this has been my most important epiphany. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, we’re all used to hearing countless anecdotes about buff celebrities pushing themselves to the point of pain. Working out has become equated with having nerves, if not abs, of steel. Personally, I’ve found it’s much more effective to take the “work” out of working out. If it feels like work, if I really don’t want to do it, I don’t. The more you torture yourself, the more working out is going to feel like torture. It should feel like fun: moving around, dancing or running in a park or whatever you’re feeling. It does take a degree of motivation, but if you’re having a bad day and what your heart needs is a rom com and a fro-yo, then you owe that to yourself! Treat yourself well and you’ll want to work out because working out should make you feel good about yourself. On that note…
2. Don’t follow a strict diet regimen.
A few weeks ago I read The Beauty Detox, one of the most celebrity-touted diets currently out there…way, way out there. It’s all about those Miranda Kerr green diet secrets, and the strangest thing happened: the more the writer called junk food “sludge in your system” the more I wanted to stuff my face with delicious sludge: beer, cheese, sugary carbs– everything she forbade became forbidden fruit. I ended up re-gaining several pounds. While Kimberly Snyder, the diet book’s author, does make some great points–sure, we all could benefit from more veggies in our diet–anything too restrictive is going to backfire. Again: be nice to yourself and you’ll want to eat well, and eating well just means eating sensibly. Eat some fruit, eat some veggies, don’t eat huge servings of cream cheese or french fries, and you’ll probably find yourself slowly losing that beer or baby gut created by eating lots and lots and lots of delicious sludge.
3. Figure out how YOU like to move and do it!
Here’s where motivation does come in, but it’s low-level motivation. Figure out several activities that you find fun–on my roster is this New York City Ballet workout, yoga at home, running outside, doing the Insanity video with my husband from time to time, clicking on Blogilates workouts, Zumba classes with the fabulous Richard Martinez … my list goes on. I can pick and choose an activity based on my mood and the weather. Again, if I really, really don’t want to move, I don’t. The big secret is: the more you make exercise hateful, the more you’ll hate it. What’s the point of that? If all you want to do is turn on the tunes and dance around for twenty minutes, then that’s great, too! The point is just to get your heart rate up. The more you exercise, the better you’ll feel, and the more you’ll crave doing it.
4. Find exercise partners but avoid torture tutors.
I’m lucky to have an exercise partner in my husband. In fact, that’s kind of how we spent our first date. He loves break-dancing, and I love yoga (I’m a certified vinyasa yoga instructor). When we shared this key fact, we spontaneously cleared his living room floor, pushed back the couch and started doing handstands. It was like being five years old again and we both kind of knew we’d met the one. When my husband’s not available, I love to go running or walking with friends–we usually end up gossiping, so we usually end up walking, but it’s all about keeping that heart rate up and walking is the best exercise anyway! Meeting up for classes can be very motivating as well. Zumba classes are a lot of fun to do with friends if you don’t mind looking silly in front of others; obviously, based on my dating behavior that isn’t one of my hangups. Again, the key is to find fun people to work out with not drill sergeants, unless you’re in the army. Then you don’t have a choice!
It didn’t take six weeks for me to lose the extra weight with this kind of regimen. It’s taken 6 months plus. I’ve only lost the first 50 so far, but I feel great and I’m in the best shape of my life. It’s a sustainable lifestyle change and that’s what exercising and eating healthy should be about.
What do you think? Do you prefer to follow fad diets? Have they worked well for you? Have you been able to keep the weight off when you went back to your regular eating habits? Do you have any practical (and preferably easy-going) tips for me? I have another ten pounds to go and would appreciate hearing them (so long as they’re not too torturous!)