Stress wreaks havoc on every part of your body, and can lead to breakouts, joint pain, headaches, and yes, even excess belly fat. That’s because when you’re stressed, your body pumps out extra cortisol, that not-so-great hormone you keep hearing about. Studies show that cortisol not only spikes your appetite, but may also redistribute body fat to your belly area, according to a review published in the journal Obesity.
Even if you do meet your goal, it's nearly impossible to keep off the weight over the long term: "The amount of restriction required [to maintain that number] will make you so hungry that you’ll eat everything in sight—it’s survival instinct," Dr. Seltzer says. And since calorie restriction gradually slows your metabolism, your body will be less prepared to burn the foods you binge on, he adds. That could mean gaining more pounds than you lost in the first place.
It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
Another question I get often is “if I am exercising how many extra calories can I have per day?” and my answer is (sorry, you’re not going to like this) “None! Unless you are training for a marathon or the like you don’t need more calories.” Too often we erase all our hard work by justifying eating more calories, and if you do your research you’ll find that the “calories burned” ticker on your exercise equipment is not accurate. Exercising is not an excuse to eat more, exercising will help tone your body, give you a healthy heart and burn off a few calories… what’s the point in burning them off if you’re just gonna add them back?!
After the long winter, it’s nice to have the getfit program to give me the momentum to be more active. The support of the getfit network helps me to be more mindful and more conscious, and the discounts and perks are wonderful incentives. The support does not end when you leave campus—getfit links to an array of fitness programs both on campus and in the community. Meeting new people while taking a power walk around the Charles, through the tunnels, or in after-work activities is an added bonus.