It’s no secret I’m on a constant quest to find ways to whittle my middle – and every other part of me for that matter.  When I saw this article on Shape.com all kinds of bells, whistles and lights started going off in my head.  The first question was, “What could I be doing wrong?”

What can these ladies do to get rid of their bellies?
photo credit: Malingering via photopin cc

Here is what I gleaned from this well written, documented and researched article along with a few extra thoughts of my own –

1. You are low on magnesium.  Women over 30 need 320 mg of magnesium per day through supplements in addition to eating more leafy greens, beans and nuts. Avocados and almonds are high in magnesium and in addition to supporting your metabolism and weight loss are great for relieving constipation.

2. Your body has gotten used to your workout’s intensity level.  It’s time to speed things up and heat them up. HIIT High Intensity Interval training – like Tabatas or adding a sprint to you jog will have a longer lasting effect on weight loss and takes more energy to recover from the microtears that are created in muscles.

3. You aren’t getting enough sleep. You need 7 to 9 hours. Make your bedroom a place to relax not for reading or TV watching. Get rid of or hide anything that glows at night. You know exactly what I mean – your phone, tablet, watch or even a kids nightlight in another room could be disrupting your sleep habits.  Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Don’t worry about your favorite late night TV show.  If you have a DVR use it.

4. Stop the vicious soda cycle. Even diet soda interferes with your body’s hunger signals because the sweetness triggers a message to expect calories that it doesn’t get. This means you actually crave more and end up overeating because of drinking something you think will help whittle your waistline. It’s actually doing the opposite. Instead of reaching for the cola make water or unsweetened tea (green is best) your go to drink. If you want something sweet try slices of fruit to spruce up your drink. Coffee is OK, but reduce out the high calorie flavorings, sugar or other additions.

5. You eat too much salt. Either because you eat out often or have a habit of adding too much your consumption of sodium is making you feel and look bloated.  First of all, try to cook more of your own food.  Use powerful spices to add flavor to your meals. Try ones like rosemary, parsley, cumin, cayenne powder, chili powder, cinnamon and basil to add loads of flavor without the sodium. This will allow you to reduce the salt if not eliminate it all together without missing the flavor. Plus, these spices offer health benefits.

6. Reduce the booze. It’s no secret that many moms and dads out there like to have a glass of wine (or two or three) to unwind after a particularly stressful day of work and wrangling kids. This could be contributing to your growing mid-section. What to do? Don’t cut out your favorite brew altogether. Instead of drinking alcohol every night, try taking a warm bath with Epsom salts and baking soda to relax and detoxify. If your drink of choice is sugary daiquiris or margaritas maybe switch to a lighter less calorie laden choice.

What I’ve learned over the years is that it’s a lot of little choices that when put together make a big difference for the good or the bad.  Gaining 6 pounds a year doesn’t sound like much but when you compound that over a decade of bad habits and inactivity you end up with 60 pounds and a terrible gut to match.  Making the changes to impact your health will take time.  The effects will not be instant.  Don’t give up.  Remember little changes add up to big rewards.