To get lean, hit the beach.
Everyone knows that feeling after a long frigid winter when that cold snap is finally over, the beautiful sun comes out, and that lovely warm weather reminds you that you are not in any shape to hit that beach. People scramble to the gym (finally remembering those New Year’s resolutions) and frantically try every super sculpt/ab blaster/body pump/extreme boot camp class possible in order to get that toned beach body. If you are trying to get rid of that stubborn belly fat (that you have been building all winter) these intense classes may not be the answer. Normally belly fat is easy to burn, however, when cortisol and other hormones aren’t balanced it becomes near impossible to lose belly fat. How do we balance those hormones? Soaking up some rays on the beach may be part of the solution. People with constant stress or anxiety will have higher cortisol levels. Cortisol, along with the other “fight or flight” hormones, has many effects on the body including raising blood sugar, depressing sex drive, and narrowing the arteries to allow blood to pump hard and fast. This is all great if you are running from a bear but not so great when sitting at your desk constantly trying to meet deadlines at work. Many recent studies support the hypothesis that cortisol secretion aids in increasing abdominal fat distribution. In other words, stress=belly fat. Therefore, reducing stress=reducing belly fat. Do you see where I’m going with this? Finally, here’s where the beach fits in! Implementing certain lifestyle changes can reduce stress and therefore cortisol. Taking time for yourself daily to relax is essential. Research studies from the likes of Duke University and University of Miami show a positive correlation between therapeutic massage and serotonin and dopamine levels and a decrease in cortisol post massage. (I wouldn’t be too stressed if I was getting a massage in Miami either.) A recent Japanese study linked a decrease in serum cortisol after yoga practice. Cortisol is shown to deplete vitamin D as well (which we can synthesize with the help of the sun). Obviously there are other factors involved- nutrition, exercise, sleep, digestion, etc. All for another article. Besides when someone tells you going to the beach can help you lose belly fat you don’t argue. So for your summer vacation it wouldn’t be bad for your midsection to take full advantage of the many services and natural resources available to you on beautiful Seven Mile Island. Take a yoga class, get a massage, then go relax on the beach and soak up some rays. A nice glass of red wine at Fred’s Tavern at the end of the day would be acceptable too.