For many women, it’s the hardest thing to lose. At some point, I told myself it’s genetic and I just have to accept that I’ll always have a bloated lower belly. While I’m all for acceptance, my reasoning was flawed because I knew I hadn’t put in the effort to do something about it. That’s the good news: we actually can help our bodies torch the unwanted fat gathering around our lower bellies.
First of all, we will always be a little flabbier because we women know we tend to store fat in the mid-section and hips more than men. There’s also the possibility that the pooch is due to loose skin after childbirth or having lost a lot of weight. This may not disappear completely, but there are ways to help tone the area and diminish its flabby appearance.
I’m going to share some of the things that worked for me, but remember, what works for others might not work for you. Having said that, it’s no secret that exercise + eating well will definitely yield results and change your body. So these are what I did to finally shrink that belly:
1. Consumed less sugar and stopped using the processed kind.
One of the reasons why I really started getting into creating healthier versions of my favourite treats is because it was a less torturous way of keeping my sweet tooth in check. I don’t believe in restricting oneself, so I found another way to satisfy my sweet cravings without damaging my body with processed sugar.
2. Cut down on bread and pasta, experimented with gluten-free options.
I don’t know if I’m allergic to gluten because I’ve never been tested for it, but I did notice a change in the size of my belly when I ate less bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. I would still get my carbohydrates from other whole food sources, and I ate a lot of sweet potatoes (and quinoa) in lieu of the usual starch.
3. Understood that I cannot spot-reduce my belly. I tried to lose overall body fat through high-intensity training, weighted compound exercises and yoga.
There’s no other way around it—if you want to lose your lower belly fat, you need to sweat. I follow Kayla Itsines’ BBG programme (you can follow my progress here), I add a few TRX sessions a week to my routine (see here), and I go to yoga almost everyday.
4. A specific exercise routine where I saw changes the very next day: sprinting.
I set my timer to 35 seconds on, 25 seconds off. For 35 seconds I would sprint at 80-90% maximum speed, then walk for 25 seconds. Make sure you do your research on how to sprint with the proper form—very important! Repeat 10-15 times. So in 15 minutes, you’re done! It might be short, but I can tell you, all the muscles in your midsection, even the tiniest one, would be sore. It felt like my belly was in a constant state of contraction, but I already noticed a flatter lower belly.
5. Please remember, it’s all about BALANCE.
You’re not cutting OUT food groups unless advised by a doctor, but you’re cutting DOWN here and there, and ADDING to other food groups. You’re not OVER-exercising, you’re doing ENOUGH to push your body to change and get stronger.
The bad news: it’s not a magic pill. You need to get off your bum, sweat and maybe feel sore for a couple of days. The good news: the belly pooch is not a curse. It can disappear or at least shrink a little. Woohoo!
Follow my health and fitness journey on Instagram: @asphaire.a.