Eat less, move more, and you’ll lose your baby weight, they say. It’s missing something. ‘Calories in, calories out’ are not the only factor in determining fat loss, especially fat loss from around your waistline. Your hormones, your stress levels and how much sleep you’re getting are contributing to the fat around your belly too. Here’s 6 ways to balance yours!
I posted recently on how increasing your intake of essential FATS and dramatically decreasing the amount of sugar you eat, were 2 massively important factors in determining belly fat. We’ve established that all calories are not created equal.
We also know that certain types of exercise, ie high intensity, metabolic resistance training… (that means workouts like the ones MUTU System gives you) are much, much more effective and efficient at burning fat than long bouts of cardio exercise.
But that’s not all. Hormones and lack of sleep – kinda pertinent to us as mothers then – can make us store more fat around our middle too.
Your hormone balance determines what proportion of fat you store, and how much you burn
Not hours on the treadmill, or whether your sweet treats are organic or not, but hormones. Sugar in our diet (and remember this isn’t just the obvious sugar, but all refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta or processed foods as well) increases the insulin in our body, and it is insulin which makes us more likely to store fat, not burn it. The effect of insulin on our body fat storage is explained simply here and here.
Another important hormone in fat storage, and particularly on fat storage around your waist, is the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol decreases muscle mass and encourages belly fat storage. Not good then. It is caused by… STRESS!! Not just emotional, or mental stress (something many mums deal with on a constant and daily basis) but also physical, or body stress. Our bodies become stressed when we give then too much sugar or caffeine, when we’re not taking care of ourselves, or we don’t get enough sleep. All these factors will increase cortisol levels, and therefore, tummy fat.
Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep is a big factor affecting cortisol levels and unbalancing our hormones. The less sleep you have, and the later you go to sleep, the higher your levels of cortisol in the morning.
So for every mum chasing her tail trying to do it all, be it all and have it all, surviving on a few hours sleep a night and constantly stressing about everything and everybody else… (that’ll be most of us then)… we have some work to do if we’re going to get these hormones back in balance.
I know the sleep part often can’t be helped. That’s just the reality of parenthood. And the stress part isn’t always contain-able. But there are lifestyle changes, as well as diet and exercise changes, that we can make, which will have a dramatic effect on our body’s predisposition to hang onto fat around the middle.
Here’s some ways you can start to re-balance your hormones, within the confines of *being mom*!
Hormone balancing food
That’s Food, as in MUTU Food. Not Calories or ‘Diet’
- Eat mostly vegetables, followed by protein, with the smallest portion being starches or grains. Protein increases levels of other hormones (namely HGH and testosterone, but don’t worry too much about that, they just do. I’m working on a ‘need to know’ here 😉 ) which counteract the insulin spikes and bring levels down. Your plate should have portion sizes in the above order of size: biggest: vegetables; middle: protein; smallest: starches or carbohydrates.
- Get your essential fats. Fish oils (more on how to get your essential fats from the right seeds , fish or supplements here). Omega 3’s will also help balance your hormones and reduce fat around your waistline
Hormone balancing exercise
- High intensity, interval based workouts are infinitely more effective and efficient at burning fat and reducing fat storage than medium or long cardio sessions are
- Your workouts must include resistance training. Resistance training means using weights, heavy ones. But you don’t need dumbbells… your own body weight is heavy enough! MUTU Intensive moves like squats, the gecko, press ups and pull ups, using your core correctly, are resistance training but with your body as the weight! Resistance training is essential to balance your hormones in a way that will increase lean muscles mass (that means tone and shape, not bulk) and decrease fat storage around your waistline.
Hormone balancing your lifestyle
- Get more sleep. I know, I know. My daughter didn’t sleep more than 4 hours in one go until she was 5 months old (I might be an exercise ‘expert’… but I’m sure as heck not a parenting one…). We have to take what we can get. But there are probably some nights when the reality show really could be sacrificed and you could grab an extra hour or so. If you have a small baby, that advice to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ really does make sense! We all do it: ‘well I’m up now/the laundry needs doing/I’ll just get this room tidied up/ I’ll just watch this daytime show and have a cup of tea and a slice of cake’ But sometimes, just… don’t. Lie down and close your eyes instead. The laundry might not get done but hey, the world won’t stop turning and you’ll feel better (especially when you know you’re reducing your tummy fat by taking a nap!)
- Try, try try to reduce the emotional stress in your life. Take a leaf out of my favourite life coach Dolly’s (yes, as in Parton) book and ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’. Then take a moment to read this wonderful article by Momastery: Don’t Carpe Diem . Run a bath. Do some yoga, even if its only for 5 minutes… MUTU Breathe teaches you how (breathing *properly* is surprisingly relaxing you know). Forget the chores and play with your kid. Go for a walk. Phone a friend. Have a cuddle with someone. Smile at a stranger. Put lipstick on. I don’t care how cliched it is or how you do it, but just take a moment and CHILL OUT. You’re doing great at this motherhood thing. Seriously. You’re doing JUST FINE. And you’re allowed a moment.
So there it is. 6 ways to lose your baby belly fat without one word about how many calories you eat. I’d love to hear your strategies for *balancing* the hormones in your life… your comments are welcomed!