Are you fat around the middle? Belly fat is something I personally struggle with and it's not getting any easier. No matter how many sit ups, I’ve never had an entirely flat stomach and I’ve grown to love my curves. But lately, time has not been my friend, and I’m battling a transition from pear (where fat is stored more around the bottom), to apple (where it’s stored around the middle). I plan to win! Which are you, and has there been a recent change? Take note!
Skinny fat* people, this means you too!
*People who look fit and healthy on the surface, but due to a lack of exercise or poor diet, have a slew of health problems brewing beneath it.
Fat is necessary for your body to function optimally. It’s one thing to have fat evenly distributed throughout the body, but too much around the belly can be a sign of dangerous medical issues (beyond just the sugar rush of eating a pint of ice cream).
When you see someone with a booming belly that looks like he/she has swallowed a big hard ball, you’re seeing visceral fat. Visceral fat is fat that collects around the abdomen, and is associated with some scary and life-threatening problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Fat around the rest of the body is considered subcutaneous fat.
I love this description about the difference: “Subcutaneous fat is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. Visceral fat stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.”
The only way to definitively diagnose visceral fat is with a CT or MRI scan, but if your gut is your trouble spot, it’s time to pay attention.
Visceral fat is close to and wraps around major organs including the kidney, liver and pancreas causing stress on their function. “It’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs, and because it sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals can be dangerous.”
According to a recent NY Times article, the development of visceral fat seems to only happen if there is dysfunction, which can be tied to age (ah, the fun process of aging!). Women often see a change in the distribution of body fat to the belly when hormones change during menopause.
If you have a waist circumference of more than 35” if a woman, and more than 40” if a man, it’s time to do something about it, and it’s simpler than you think.
According to myfitnesspal, visceral fat is the easiest to lose: “Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn”.
So if you have some poundage you want to take off this fall, whether visceral or not, get on it now!
- Sorry, no magic pills here, just the standard adoption of a healthier lifestyle:
- Get out and move (and sweat)! Dancing counts.
- Eat well (follow the 80/20 rule – eat well 80% of the time, and do the best you can the other 20%)
- Avoid long periods of high or spiking cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Get quality sleep, practice calming methods like deep breathing, meditate, or incorporate gentle stretches or walks into your day.
- Take measurements and track your progress – you’re sure to see results fast.
Let’s save the apples and the pears for eating enjoyment, and reshape our bodies. Not only will you look good on the outside, but your insides will thrive!
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™