Although men are more likely than women to pack on the pounds around the middle, factors such as age, pregnancy, menopause, and even polycystic ovaries can contribute to women having belly fat. Belly fat, in addition to being unsightly, can also indicate health problems. If you’re a woman looking to lose belly fat, you must watch your diet, do cardio, and also perform specific exercises to build core strength.
Belly fat is a combination of both subcutaneous fat, which is just below the skin, and visceral fat, which lies deep inside your abdomen and surrounds your internal organs. According to the Mayo Clinic, visceral fat can lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. Stomach fat can be stubborn—only young children and teenagers have a high enough metabolism to quickly build up those six-pack abs; for the rest of us, hard work and self-discipline are necessary. When you do need to shed those pounds, just doing crunches until it hurts isn’t enough. In fact, going beyond your threshold is dangerous and can lead to injury—slow and steady will make you win this race.
If you are a woman who wants to replace her flabby midsection with a tough tummy, you should definitely start slowly and don’t overdo it. Exercise and diet are important, and it’s important to stick with a good program. Two of the major reasons people stop diet and exercise programs are because it is too monotonous and they see a lack of results. A good professional trainer, a group of friends to motivate you, or even a family pet can get you out that door and get moving. Even if you only rely on yourself, you can vary your routine by adding fifteen minutes low or moderate cardio to your regimen of lifting weights or doing yoga. Devote twenty minutes a day of intense cardio, and you’ll see results sooner, rather than later. But keep your weight loss goals realistic; you’re better off trying to lose two to four pounds a week rather than look to strip down pounds in a hurry then gain them right back. The first 45 minutes after a workout is the best time to eat, because the carbs and protein are going to rebuild muscle rather than be stored as fat.
The most important muscle to build when working out isn’t a muscle at all: it’s your brain. Always believe in yourself, set realistic goals, and stick to them. Don’t get in a cycle of rewarding yourself with cheesecake after an intense workout, although it is a good idea to have a piece of fruit or some granola right after a workout to build muscle. Vary your routine to avoid getting bored, and stay motivated. Soon you’ll be looking slim and trim in your favorite little black dress.