Fighting My Big Belly – Diet and Exercise

bronze Buddha - big belly Years before I completed my 20 years of active service in the military (1998), fat started building up on my belly. You know, that area in front of the abdominal muscles? Over the course of time, I developed what I call my big belly. Despite my efforts to control the fat collection in that particular spot, I have a hard time keeping it under control. Frankly, it’s the only part of my body that I’m concerned about. Some people are fat all over; I’m just fat in that particular area (but it’s spreading). Well, after getting my diet under control, there is a solution I’m working on.

Can Diet and Exercise Get Rid of a Big Belly?

We all know that exercise burns calories. Does it burn the fat your body has accumulated? Not necessarily. If your exercise routine is the same routine every time you exercise, your body will become accustomed to it and it will have little effect. Even though I ran three to five miles at a time, three or more times a week during my last two years in the military, my big belly didn’t seem to get any smaller. Another reason is as you get older, your metabolism gets more efficient at storing fat. It’s almost like it protects itself from external influences. In other words, you can eat less, exercise more and still gain weight.

Trans fats make things worse. Consuming trans fats not only makes you gain more weight than with non-trans fats, it causes the fat to collect around your abdomen. It will even cause your other excess fat to redistribute itself to the abdominal area. This is what I call the big belly syndrome. Most foods that contain trans fats also contain saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are good for you because they help you to absorb nutrients and saturated fats are not because they absorb nothing else. Think about it – unsaturated fat is a like a sponge that’s dry and saturated fat is like a sponge full of water.

Although I’ve eliminated the things in my diet related to trans fats as much as possible, I’m sure there are things I haven’t identified yet. Even so, I don’t eat a lot – I eat two meals a day and I usually don’t snack between meals. I do eat snack foods, however, but only when I’m partying with relatives (which isn’t very often at all). I get most of my carbohydrates from rice, but only when I eat rice – rice has unsaturated fats. Carbohydrates of any kind will add to the fat problem if too many are consumed without being used as energy. What I learned from a nutritionist is that your body uses sugar as instant energy, converts carbohydrates to sugar to use as energy and then uses fat converted to sugar as energy, in that order. So you see, you can eat healthy food and still gain weight (and a big belly) if you don’t exercise enough to burn off what you consume. Instead of eating tasteless food that’s low in carbohydrates, you’re better off exercising just a bit more.

Beware of anything that says “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the package label. The hydrogenation process causes the formation of trans fats. Cooking with vegetable oil does as well, so it’s important to drain excess cooking oil after you’re done cooking with it. Don’t use “shortening” at all when cooking. It’s actually a can full of trans fat in itself. If your recipe calls for it, find a substitute. Trust me.

My Exercise Routine

My exercise routine is simple. I walk as much as I can. The whole reason I gained weight and my big belly got larger after retiring from the military is because I couldn’t run anymore and I had difficulty walking due to knee and ankle injuries, along with other injuries (after the military). I got over all of my injuries, but it took more than 10 years.

Walking is probably the best exercise in the world for getting rid of a big belly. Unfortunately, walking in the streets of Olongapo (even in the rural area I live in) can be harmful to your health. I won’t say anymore about it – you have to experience it to understand where I’m coming from. Of course, it’s out of the question during rainy season.

I’m planning to buy a treadmill someday. It doesn’t have to be a fancy treadmill. I just need a treadmill that tells me how far I’ve walked during any given session. It doesn’t even have to be an electric treadmill, but I probably won’t be able to find the type that doesn’t use electricity.

Any exercise is better than none, but I like to walk and it’s something I can do every day, with or without a treadmill. A treadmill will just make it easier to concentrate on walking a lot more. I have my diet under control and now I’m going to get my big belly under control. I’m 52 (almost 53) and I plan to live longer, and in better health, than my father who lived to be 84.

[Photo Attribution: Bronze Statue of Buddha, Public Domain]


 

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