Battling the bulge on your belly is a constant struggle for some women (and men!), especially those of us who are otherwise Healthy Senior Women. For some reason, you can look good all over your body, but when it comes to your belly – boy oh boy!
There are a lot of reasons for belly bulge – improper diet with too many of the wrong kinds of fats and carbs; an excess amount of sugar in the diet; a lack of exercise to burn up the fat; childbirth and its effects on the muscles around the middle; and – sorry to say – aging. It just happens as you get older.
Yes, you can do abdominal exercises like sit-ups and crunches, but I hate to tell you – they are less effective as you get older (unless you have been doing them since you were young and kept it up every day forever!). And as a matter of fact, sit-ups and abdominal crunches do not actually help in burning excess fats but are helpful in strengthening abdominal muscles and flattening the bulge.
The tendency to gain or carry weight around the waist — have an “apple” rather than a “pear” shape — can have a genetic component as well. Where you store you fat is also an indicator of your eventual disease risk. Apple-shaped women, those of us who tend to get the bad belly bulge, are more at risk to develop heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer. Pear-shaped women, on the other hand, who retain more weight around their hips, buttocks and thighs are more at risk for problems like osteoporosis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, belly fat is not just ugly, it’s also an indicator of your risk of certain kinds of diseases, like cardiovascular or cancer. Menopause is a big factor in increasing belly bulge because of decreasing level of estrogen, which changes how and where fat is distributed in the body.
To figure out where you stand in the battle of the bulge, you can measure your middle:
- Place a tape measure around your bare stomach, just above your hipbone.
- Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you, but doesn’t push into your skin.
- Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
- Relax, exhale and measure your waist, resisting the urge to suck in your stomach.
For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches (89 centimeters) or more indicates an unhealthy concentration of belly fat and a greater risk of problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches (102 centimeters) or more is considered cause for concern.