3 Things You Can Do Today To Decrease Belly Fat

Inexplicable Weight Gain

The other day I was out talking to a friend in the neighborhood.  She told me she had recently gained a few pounds in her mid-section and doesn’t understand why. She did say she had not been sleeping much and that she is worried about a few things with her husband’s health.  When I heard this, I understood immediately why she gained a few pounds.

Experts in the field of weight loss agree there are two main reasons that we may gain weight in the mid-section:

Stress hormones

The stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin actually prompt the body to store fat around the middle (even in skinny people).  Compounding the effects of cortisol being released in the body due to constant stress, is the fact that cortisol breaks down muscle mass.  This explains why we may see people who have a normal weight and in fact may even appear underweight because their arms and legs are thin due to decreased muscle mass, while their abdominal regions can be quite large.

Inflammatory cytokines

When we are stressed we are often sleep deprived. Stress hormones caused by sleep deprivation can prompt the release of inflammation.  Many experts now agree that it is inflammation in our bodies that causes havoc to our systems increasing the possibility of disease. For more information on this take a look at this post on ‘How Stress Wreaks Havoc on Your Gut

Three Things To Do Today if You Have Gained Weight In the Middle:

  1. Sleep.
  2. Eat an abundance of vegetables to crowd out your desire for sugar and carbohydrates.
  3. Take a walk.

Keep It Simple. Be Mindful.  Monitor Your Progress.

Mindfulness means being in the present, being aware of what is happening and what you are doing, observing what is going on, participating fully in what is going on around you.  By learning to live in the present, you can have a life that is more in tune with your activities and in what you want to accomplish.

So what does this all mean with regards to losing a few pounds?

Everything. If you approach this challenge following the above three suggestions: sleep, eat vegetables, and walk with what is called a reasonable mind then you will tackle the 3 tasks with more of a planning behavior. This means you would approach doing these tasks with an eye towards solving a problem intellectually. The problem is belly fat and how to lose it. The tasks are the method you use to solve the issue.

How to Achieve Long Lasting Success

If you simply follow the plan and monitor the outcome, you probably will have great results – yes.  The thing is, most people stop at this point, trying to make weight loss a strictly intellectual rational mind process – you  know that kind of thinking that says, “do this, do not do that?” Long term healthy living and weight loss does not work this way.

That’s why so many healthy living diets fail. If you really want to do this simple plan right, then you must give it up emotionally as well. I know none of us want to believe that emotion should be tied into weight loss, but it must. Forget that emotion is for the weak and consider that the most successful people, when it comes to maintaining weight loss, have both the emotional component of weight loss covered ( ‘I messed up-now get back at it’), along with the intellectual ‘do this don’t do that’ component.

The most successful clients I’ve coached have these two aspects in sync:  The Reasonable Mind and the Emotional Mind.

In The World of Psychology They Call it Wise Mind

Wise Mind is the coming together, the overlap of Reasonable Mind and Emotion Mind. But when they come together or overlap, they produce something bigger than either of them were separately. What is added is intuition, a feeling of “knowing” what’s right, a felt sense, a sense that some people feel in their body (head, heart, stomach or somewhere else) that something is just right, the right thing to do or the right way for things to be.  You can experience intuition about what’s right or appropriate without thinking about it, without knowing it intellectually, just feeling it.

Some of you will experience Wise Mind after a crisis. It is like the calm after the storm.

Sometimes you may “feel” the right choice in some dilemma, when the feeling comes from deep inside you.

Regardless of how you arrive at this wisdom in healthy living it is important that you take steps to help you arrive there.

My Challenge to You

Take the 3 steps mentioned above: sleep, increase vegetables, walk daily, and see if you can integrate your Reasoning Mind with your Emotional Mind arriving at your Wisdom Mind in healthy living. Think of this as practice, getting you one step closer to a healthier lifestyle that will stick.

And, if you get a chance let me know how it is going.


How to Get Back into Shape After an Injury

Runner training knee pain

So often we are focused on feeling good through exercise that we forget to take the time to monitor how we really feel. Most everyone agrees that exercise makes us feel better about our bodies and our lives in general. All too often though we get wrapped up in the psychological feel good endorphin  rushes that we forget to monitor those little aches and pains that are often precursors to impending injury. Below are a few pointers I hope will guide you along if injury gets in your way.

Use Correct Form

Side Leg Raise 4 Stock Photos

Proper exercise form is always important, but is critical when coming back from an injury. At the very least, review the correct form for any exercise that involves the previously injured spot.

Regardless of the exercise, these cues will help you maintain good form:

1. Keep your spine straight and extended with a high chest. This ensures good posture without overcorrecting.

2. Relax your shoulders. Stress and computer time make shoulders and chest muscles tight. Keep a high chest and let your shoulders feel down and back.

3. Move from your hips. During full-body and lower-body exercises, movement initiates from your hips. Keep your spine long and move from the hips to avoid lower-back involvement.

Right Exercises Are Key

Abductor Squeeze 1 Royalty Free Stock Photo

Take your exercises down a notch, even though you may not want to. Trust it is exactly what you need to do when returning to workouts post-injury. Either choose an exercise that is less challenging than the exercises you did pre-injury or choose to limit the weight and range of motion of the exercises.  

For instance, when coming back from a knee injury, decrease the weight of your squats and then only squat down as far as you can while remaining pain-free. When first coming back, you may even want to remove the weights altogether and limit yourself to bodyweight exercises.

Then, every time you do squats, test your range of motion to see if you can get a little lower without pain. Over time, you’ll be able to reach full range of motion. You can then safely increase the amount of weight you are lifting.

My Friend’s name is Pain

wet and wild : whitewater kayaking

Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. Stay away from painkillers before your workout so you can listen to your body. If your injury site hurts while you are working out, you may be doing more harm than good.  But also note that there is a fine line and sometimes pain subsides as you do a few more reps. Be smart and keep the weight minimal as you make note of your increased, same, or increased pain the next day. Notice pain during an exercise? Try any or all of these tips:

1. Limit your range of motion to stay in a pain-free range.

2. Switch to a different, pain-free exercise.

3. Decrease the amount of weight you are using.

This can be the tricky part of getting back to workouts. If you have a limited knowledge of exercise modification or variety, you may have a hard time finding a pain-free exercise that also strengthens the previously injured area. If that happens, give me a call and I will be happy to get you through your injury in a smart progressive manner.

Be Active During Recovery

Active Recovery is a Must

Active recovery post-workout can mean several things depending on your goals. Post-injury, I recommend the following:

  • Weekly massage, or use a foam roller for  deep-tissue massage to the muscles around the injury.
  • Ice! Ice is the miracle “drug” and a  post-workout ice pack for 20 minutes or a swim in a cold pool are great ways to get the benefits of the cold.
  • Stay hydrated and eat well. Make sure you are drinking enough water every day and getting the nutrients you need for your exercise level.
  • Stretch. End your workouts with a foam roller and stretch routine for the muscles surrounding your injury. Focus on deep, long stretches. Hold the stretch for at least 60 seconds.  Restorative yoga with a qualified instructor can be a huge benefit to people who are recovering from injury and understand the need for active recovery.



All My Best,



´Walking Doesn´t Work For Me´: Myth Busting

Couple, Lovers, Walking, Love, Young, Relationship

How it Starts

Do you believe that walking doesn’t work for you? Do you think that walking doesn’t count as exercise? Think about this.

Myth: Walking Doesn’t Work For Me

Truth:  Walking has been proven to be an effective way of managing a healthy weight, achieving performance goals, releasing stress, and improving overall health.

There are a variety of reasons why someone might feel like walking doesn’t work. Novice exercisers often become frustrated if they don’t immediately achieve results; many fitness programs promote false-hope promises like losing 10 pounds in 30 days simply from walking.  And sometimes people enter into a walking  routine with great intentions but start too hard, too quickly, and burn out and or get injured.

In my practice of health coaching and healthy living, I like to meet people where they are at. Often where they are at is searching for an activity that they enjoy. Walking is a go to for many people who want to just feel healthy. I encourage walking but recommend  the following tips.

5 Tips

1. Do not expect to lose 10 pounds in 30 days by increasing your walking/exercise.  On the other hand most people who are even moderately  overweight can expect to lose 10 pounds in 30 days if they change what they eat. If feeling healthy is your main focus, get out there and move, but if weight loss is your main focus, change what you eat, and exercise yes, but do not think you will exercise your body to a lean body weight without also changing your other habits.

2. Increase your walking time and or distance incrementally. A consequence of not being smart about exercising progressively is that the body tends to break down when it is ill prepared. Though you can ” walk all day and it feels easy” it may not actually be easy on your body.  So many people are injured prematurely because “it feels easy and my body should be able to do this” mentality.  Don’t let this be you. Incorporate long and short walk days mixed in with thoughtful mileage or time goals for each week as you progress.

3. Stretch all the key muscle groups after long walks. Walking on flat surfaces increases endurance in the muscles especially in the back of the body: calves, hamstrings, and lower back, and hip flexor muscles.  You should stretch these muscle groups once a day and right after you walk preferably. If you are climbing hills, then the quadriceps/ front of the upper thighs, as well as the gluteal muscles are also engaged. They should be stretched as well.

4. You should size yourself up with a good running/walking shoe. Research is changing and the old days of sizing up your feet for shoes based on whether you are a pronator striker ( feet and ankles tend to rotate inward on impact), supinator striker ( feet tend to bend outward on impact), or neutral striker ( feet tend to strike evenly) are gone. Best advice: choose a comfortable shoe that feels great. Walk around in the store with the shoes on  and make sure it fits and feels great. Don´t buy something you feel you need to ´break in´.

5. Go  into your walking routine with a lifestyle change mindset. Often in the beginning of forming new habits it takes a while to get into the flow of simplicity and healthy living, but as you continue on with your new challenge things start changing inside of you. We can’t force this change inside of us, we just have to, as one client says, trust that you’re going to feel better and begin to look forward to getting out and walking and or exercising. I love this thinking. We can’t force things.  We just have to trust that all is going to be fine and that soon walking/walk running/ running  or whatever it is you are working on is going to soon feel fine.


How To Get Back On The Wagon

Cart, Wagon, Old, Wheel, Vintage, Retro, Carriage

The other day John and I had to unexpectedly make a trip to Ohio to assist my mother. Our long distance driving trip came at a time  when we were both feeling grooved in our daily exercise habits, eating habits, and work-life balance habits.
 I mention this because often in my health coaching practice, client’s main goals are often to  liberate themselves from the stresses of their day to day lives by increasing their good health habits and eradicating poor health habits.
But what do we do when emergencies arise?  Being as they say, “on the wagon”, or as I like to call it, “grooved” is a great feeling no doubt, but then… real life happens

A two-week vacation! A business trip.  A visit to the see the kids, or a surprise emergency situation.

And we fall “off’ the wagon.”

Vacation time or visiting family used to get me out of my groove.  These days, I am a pro at it. And My husband John is kinda good at it.
Here’s What We Do:
Instead of  stressing  out about how to continue our good routines during this period of disruption with hotels, eating out, sitting in cars/airplanes, and not getting home until after 10pm, we just take another wagon. We tell ourselves ( sometimes I just tell him) we’ll be taking another wagon for a while. It won’t be the same wagon as when we are grooved in our lifestyle at home getting up at 5 a.m., stretching, walking the dogs, reading meditations, and enjoying breakfast before the day’s work begins, but it will be a better wagon than simply resigning ourselves to poor health habits because we are too stressed about where we will work out and run or walk.
A Better Wagon For You
Could it be possible to find different ways of staying healthy while in different scenarios? When I’m in control of my schedule/food sources/exercise equipment/comfortable bed, I will have one routine. Then, when on the road I will have another routine.  And on vacation, I will find another routine.

Even on weekends! I will have a weekend routine!

I will never be ‘off’ my wagon.

Each routine will incorporate as much goodness as possible.  Sometimes more goodness than others, but at no point will I just throw in the towel.

I will always stay ‘on’ a wagon.

Here is an Example of My home wagon and my travel wagon (previously known as ‘off’ the wagon). See If it helps:
Home Wagon:
– 16 oz water with lemon zest. 6 oz. coconut water. Coffee. 20 minute stretch routine.
– inspirational readings 5 minutes. Dog walk  with dogs and husband.
– morning shake and supplement routine including multi -vitamin, fish oil, vitamin D, b complex vitamins.
Afternoon Exercise:
– cardio exercise run/walk, singles tennis, elliptical, bike, steps, or rowing.
– strength training workout at Serenata Beach Club or World Gym.
During the Day:
well balanced meals including good fats, abundance of vegetables and low sugar fruits, proteins, nuts, seeds, and some beans and whole grains depending on weight goals.
Bedtime Routine:
Walk the dogs with John.
Watch 30 minutes of Ted Talks/or Netflix Series.
Read 10 minute in bed.
Lights out.
Work/Family Travel Wagon:
– 16 oz water.  20 minute stretch and strength routine in hotel room including pushups, squats, and abdominal curls.
– 2 minutes meditation mantra – mantra changes with situation. For example recently: ” I can do whatever it is I set my mind to do.”
– multi vitamin supplement only if traveling for under 5 days. Starbucks high protein snack pack and coffee for breakfast
Afternoon Exercise:
– Find ways to include more walking while at airport, between car stops and while visiting family friends/or during conferences
During the Day:
Make best possible choices while at restaurants/family/friend homes being sure to always eat lots of vegetables, good fats when possible and lean proteins.
Bedtime Routine:
10 oz water. 15 minutes easy television watching.
Lights out.
Here’s the Thing
Don’t beat yourself up.  Don’t stress out about real life interference.  Don’t feel guilty about enjoying your vacation. And  don’t sabotage your weekly progress on weekends. Just identify your wagon and create an easy plan for each one.
You need never be ‘off’ your wagon again.  Just hop on a different wagon, and make the most of the ride.
30 Days To Lean Good Stuff!
Congratulations to Brandon and Robin who lost a total of 57 pounds together in 60 days on BodySmartWay’s 30 and 60 Days to Lean Program
And guess what? They just got married!
Good stuff Robin and Brandon! Congratulations!All My Best,

Why Do I Gain Weight Just In The Middle?

Belly, Body, Calories, Diet, Exercise
Hi Everyone,
It is  Lose Your Waist Wednesday  and it is the day we talk about belly fat.
This question came to me over the weekend.
A reader asks, why is it that whenever I gain weight I gain it in my mid section? My legs look fine. My arms look fine. And even my hips look fine.
I don’t see why the extra pounds go right to my middle.
Answer: You Must Know
When you begin to put on weight, especially visceral belly fat, your body is telling you that it is shifting out of balance, veering into an unhealthy state.  And… a vicious, sickly cycle often ensues unless you take control of your weight. Sounds dramatic I know. But if you  do not get a firm grip on fighting belly fat then your chance for disease is magnified in ways that curtail your vitality big time. Know that when one fattens up in the midsection, it has everything to do with what we eat, what we do not eat, as well as  how we exercise. The how’s of exercise we’ll go into at another time, but just know that for now, over exercising often has negative effects on belly fat storage.
Here’s the thing:  First congratulations on being concerned about weight gain in the middle.  Often people just assume that they will gain weight in the middle as they age, and that this is normal. You need to know that it is not normal and can have devastating health effects if the visceral fat increases as the years unfold.
To get you started, and to put you fully in  awareness mode, you should take the waist to hip ratio test. This test will let you know what your probabilities are of incurring diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular attacks, strokes and other life debilitating diseases. Scary yes, but the good news is we have control to live a more vital lifestyle than we ever imagined through proper diet and proper exercise plans. You’ve done well to identify that your mid section is increasing in size and your next step is to go to http://www.bmi-calculator.net/waist-to-hip-ratio-calculator/  to get the waist to hip ratio test. Then come back and finish reading how insulin is the key player in reducing belly fat.

Insulin: The Key Player in Belly Fat

Numerous hormones contribute to belly fat, but none proves more powerful than insulin, your fat storage hormone. High levels of insulin tell your body to gain weight around the belly, and you become more apple-shaped over time. Additionally insulin drives inflammation and oxidative stress, creating myriad downstream effects.

Eventually you become insulin resistant, which leads your body to generate belly fat and hold on to that spare tire for dear life. Fatigue after meals, sugar cravings, blood sugar swings or hypoglycemia, high triglycerides, low HDL, low sex drive, and problems with blood clotting are also common among people who are overweight.

Simply put, less insulin equals less belly fat, since insulin makes you hungry and stores belly fat. The best thing you can do to prevent disease and all its problems is to lose weight.

The Number One Thing You Can Do to Reduce Belly Fat

High insulin levels don’t just exist in a vacuum. They influence other hormones like leptin, your satiety hormone.  When insulin blocks leptin, your body thinks it is starving even after a Big Mac, fries, and a large soda. Ever wonder how you can still be hungry right after a big meal? It is the insulin surge and the leptin resistance.

More than any other food, sugar becomes responsible for hijacking your brain chemistry and your metabolism to create insulin resistance and all its repercussions.

Calorie for calorie, sugar is different from other calories that come from protein, fat, or non-starchy carbs such as greens. Sugar scrambles all your normal appetite controls. So you consume more and more, driving your metabolism to convert it into lethal belly fat.

Fructose, the most metabolically damaging sugar, just makes things worse. It goes right to your liver, where it starts manufacturing fat, which triggers more insulin resistance and causes chronically elevated blood insulin levels, driving your body to store everything you eat as – you guessed it – dangerous belly fat.

You also get a fatty liver, which generates more inflammation. Chronic inflammation causes more weight gain and diabesity. Anything that causes inflammation will worsen insulin resistance.

Another problem with fructose is that it doesn’t send informational feedback to the brain, signaling that a load of calories just hit the body. Nor does it reduce ghrelin, the appetite hormone that is usually reduced when you eat real food.

We are programmed to store belly fat in response to sugar so that we can survive the winter when food is scarce. Genes do play a role, but they are a minor contributor to the epidemic we are experiencing currently. We need to  shut down the insulin surges—and thereby arrest belly fat storage and cravings. 

Why Belly Fat is Not Your Biggest Challenge

You should know that the biggest challenge you’re facing with being overweight in the middle  is not your waistline or your weight. It’s not your belly. It’s your brain. Changing the way you think about food so you get your mind working with your body, not against it, is critical to weight loss and healthy living that is with less pain and less mental anguish.

In my program that has been successfully running monthly  for two years called 30 Days to Lean, you will learn how to train your brain. You will learn what foods to eat and what foods not to eat. This program, is designed for readers that are just tired of not knowing what to eat or are sick of diets. We focus on real foods. We focus on bringing health back to the body.  We focus on hormonal balance. And we focus on Eating. Yes eating. For more information go to http://www.bodysmartway.com/30-days-to-lean/  The  last day to sign up for my June 30 Days to Lean is this Thursday June 2nd. Call, email or text me directly to get more information on this unique program that is literally changing  the body shapes and minds of members.

I leave you with the question: What can you do now to empower yourself?

With Gratitude,


[email protected]



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