Weight loss was important but I really wanted a flat stomach. Belly fat plagued me all my life, even after I’d lost 40 pounds. All the advice I found online, in magazines or in books told me to eat less and exercise more in order to lose belly fat.
It didn’t work.
The problem wasn’t that my exercise wasn’t adequate or that my diet was all that bad. I went to the gym 5 days a week, ran, did some weights, and threw in a few HIIT classes. I followed a clean-eating philosophy and avoided junk food as much as possible.
My problem, really, was that I was always hungry.
And that hunger hit me hard in the afternoons, and brought with it insatiable cravings for sugar, sweets and carbs. Plus, when my energy crashed around 3 PM, the ONLY thing I could think of to get through the rest of the work day was to eat.
In an effort to avoid overeating or going above my allotted calorie count, I turned to foods mainstream media told me were healthy: low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, granola bars, unsweetened cereal, quick oats, and protein bars.
Every single day, these cravings hit me, and no matter what I ate, it led to constant grazing from about 3 PM until bed time. This despite a healthy, nutritious dinner!
Frustrated by this incessant hunger, I started experimenting with foods. I’d figured out that some foods made me feel better than others. Cheese didn’t last long on my snack list because it always made me super exhausted. Milk chocolate bars also made me really tired and gave me a headache. Mixing dairy with wheat had me writhing in pain from atrocious stomach cramps an hour or two after eating it.
These learnings led me to look into the field of holistic nutrition, mainly to help deal with stomach issues and acne. However, when I dug into this alternative world of healing foods, I discovered these amazing connections between my hunger and cravings and things like inflammation and blood sugar imbalances.
Finally, after years of fighting my willpower, I was onto something! Here’s what I learned.
Constant hunger, despite enough calories, generally means you aren’t eating the RIGHT foods. Cravings for sugar and carbs generally means you’re not eating the RIGHT combinations of foods and that your blood sugar is out of whack.
Hmmm, interesting…So, I started to figure out what those RIGHT foods were. Over the course of about a year, I experimented a lot. What should I eat to reduce cravings and hunger so that I could finally see my belly fat shrink?
One day, sitting at my desk at work, it hit me. It was 4 PM and I hadn’t had a craving for sweets or carbs all week! I wasn’t exhausted and looking for quick energy to get through the day. I wasn’t hungry.
Finally, I’d stumbled upon what the RIGHT foods were to eat! AND, I’d learned that eating enough food is very, very important.
This is the key – NOT restricting calories and eating the RIGHT foods is really what gets rid of cravings so that you can lose weight and belly fat! In fact, when you choose the RIGHT foods, you can eat a LOT of food and still lose fat!
Amazing, right? THIS was a game-changer for me! It meant that, as long as I knew what the RIGHT foods were, I could pretty much eat anything at any time. I could eat out with friends, I could travel and not stress out about food.
And belly fat? Well, it definitely got better. It’s not perfect (nor do I ever think I’ll have the perfect stomach) but it’s something I can live with AND I now know exactly what to eat (and what NOT to eat) in order to keep it looking its best.
Weight and fat loss is not going to come from counting calories for the rest of your life; nor is it going to come from restricting your food intake to the point of starvation. Over-exercising is only going to make cravings, belly fat and blood sugar imbalances worse.
The KEY to losing belly fat is to reduce the inflammation caused by all the processed, junk foods and sugar that we North Americans typically eat. It means redefining your mindset about what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and not listen to all that mainstream weight loss jargon anymore!
Low-fat, processed, low-cal foods are so last century! It’s time to finally up your game and realize that the right types of healthy fats are what your body needs to be healthy and happy.