One of the philosophies here at glamaFIT is “Know Thyself to Heal Thyself.” Understanding how our bodies work helps us better understand how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. All too often our bodies give us warning signs, but we miss the signals. Our struggles to lose belly fat is a perfect example of this. Belly fat isn’t just caused by too much fast food, it can be far more complicated. Excess belly fat can signal excess stress which leads to all kinds of other serious health crisises such as heart disease, breast cancer, and diabetes. Before you start cutting back on your diet, you might want to consider cutting back your stress levels first. To help us understand belly fat and how our bodies react to stress, Stacy Berman of Stacy’s Bootcamp breaks it down into cavewoman terms.
“One of the major culprits of belly fat is stress. It might seem counter to logic to think that an emotion can cause a physical effect on the body but when speaking about emotions, it doesn’t really have to make sense, right? Actually there are specific biological processes at work that cause the retention of belly fat around the mid section.
We have all heard of the “Fight or Flight” response. In a nutshell, it is a response left over from the cavewoman days to prepare the body to either, “Stay and Fight,” or “Run!” when faced with stresses like, oh lets say a Tyrannosaurus Rex! The brain will run on overdrive to allow our inner cavewoman to make the right decision quickly. The general principle in the fight or flight response is for the body to hoard resources for immediate needs without thinking about the future; act now, ask questions later.
This causes the brain to release a cocktail of hormones to get the body ready for survival mode. Hormones like norepinephrine, epinephrine or adrenaline are released causing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to increase. Next, the adrenal gland releases the dreaded cortisol. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels so that the brain, has a quick, steady flow of energy. It signals insulin receptors in all nonessential tissue and organs to shut off. All of the glucose normally designated for the stomach, liver, kidneys, etc. is diverted to the brain. The brain, which only accounts for 5% of your total body mass, will use over 15% of the glucose available. In emergency situations, this will increase even further. To aid in the process, all remaining energy is converted into fat and not distributed to the organs which would normally require it for their respective functions.
So why is belly fat bad? Fat around the mid-section is linked to increased risks of breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease so it has much larger implications than looking good in a bikini. Anyone who has ever tried knows that spot reduction just doesn’t work. Your body is a complete system so working one spot with the hopes of effecting only that spot is fruitless. A better approach is to work the entire body both through strength and cardiovascular exercise. That way you burn lots of fat and calories during a cardio workout and increase your metabolism even at rest during strength workouts. That combined with a healthy diet will result in a flat stomach, nice behind and killer arms!”