You may have noticed a funny thing happening to your body ever since you left high school. Without the daily routine of school, sports, and gym class, an ever-growing paunch begins to develop. Your flat-belly becomes a round-belly, and before you know it you have developed a gut. Although this is a fairly common problem as people change their lifestyle, it has become a phenomenon with graduates from universities and colleges.
Faced with the computer age, more and more of us stuck behind a computer all day long, and the inactivity is starting to show. So if you are worried about your ever-expanding belly, or the potential for other health related problems like diabetes, then read on and learn a few simple ways to help reduce the problem.
What Is It?
A quick search of the net uncovered many a blog or life story where a person realized – about 5-10 years out of university – they had put on some serious pounds. The problem is twofold.
First, during high school most of us were encouraged (forced, in some cases) to participate in gym class or physical education, 3-5 times per week. The school exercise activity was normally coupled with an outside sport, or at the very least a desire to get out of the house and away from our parents.
Second, many of us managed to coast through university without doing any sports, but our lifestyle was still somewhat active. Walking, group sports, dancing, and low-cost university/college health facilities all attributed to a more active and physical lifestyle. And let’s not forget another crucial factor – trying to remain attractive to members of the opposite sex.
Being single is a strong motivator to stay in shape, and during university and college, you are surrounded by multitudes of available partners. But post-high school is where the problems start, since the odds are good you are too busy between work and post-secondary school to even contemplate working out.
Finally, age is the last piece of the puzzle. After you hit puberty your metabolism starts to cool down. You are no longer growing, so your body no longer needs to operate in hyper drive. Couple that slowdown with an ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle, and you have a recipe for a large, round belly.
How Do I Get Rid of It?
The belly is a favorite place for the body to store fat. Fat is created when you take in more calories (food energy) than your body needs to operate properly. The body never wastes a thing, so it turns those excess calories into fat and stores it away until it is needed. Fat is stored nearly everywhere in the body, but in men – after a certain point – the bulk of it tends to be stored in the abdomen. So in order to reduce the size of your belly, you need to focus on two things.
First, you have to lower your caloric intake to a point that is best suited for your body mass. The best way to find out is to consult a food guide, nutritionist or your family doctor. For example, if you need 500 calories to live, than don’t eat 1,000 calories. A diet (losing weight) is not necessarily required, but a diet (eating proper foods) is. Second, in order to get rid of the fat build-up, you need to increase your metabolism and caloric output. It is the second part that we are going to look at next.
1. Flex at the desk – since you are sitting behind the computer all day, it is very easy to relax your stomach muscles and let your gut sag. Bad idea! Like any muscle, the abdomen requires constant stretching and flexing, or you risk the chance of losing the elasticity and firmness you crave. Make sure you are constantly sucking and holding the stomach in, and then release it. This will help reduce sag, and start to tighten up your abs. Furthermore, holding in your stomach will help to visibly reduce the size of your stomach, since it will look smaller.
2. Get Up – getting up and moving around, at least 10 minutes out of every hour, can make a huge difference. Not only is it good for your circulation and vision, it will give you the opportunity to change your ab muscle position. Better blood flow and better muscle movement are two benefits you will get form this simple movement.
3. Sit-ups & Crunches – last month we printed an article teaching you how to do some of the most common abdominal exercises, and every single one of them can be done at work. All you need is a flat surface, and 15-minutes out of your lunch break. Embarrassed? Don’t worry about it. We are not proposing a hard-core workout here, just a few simple exercises. In fact, you can break them up into a 5-day week. Just do one different exercise per day, before you go to lunch. At the end of the week you will have done 75 minutes of abdominal exercises! Check out our article on how to “Flatten Your Stomach” for more information on specific exercises.
1. In front of the TV – following similar patterns at home and work is not uncommon, so the odds are good you will park yourself in front of a TV for a few hours each night. If you must do this, then make sure you follow tips #1 & #2 listed above. Furthermore, you can buy yourself an inexpensive sit-up machine (like the ab-roller), which you can actually use while you are watching the TV. If you want to increase your metabolism, buy a recumbent exercise bike. They have a chair built-in, so you can watch TV and work-out at the same time.
2. Bike, Walk, Roller Blade, or Run – any one of these methods, or all of them, should be your means of getting around after work. You no longer have to worry about being sweaty, so don’t be afraid to walk or ride to the store or theater. Urban dwellers tend to get into a bad pattern of driving everywhere, but it isn’t necessary. Remember what you did before you had your drivers license? That’s right, you rode or walked everywhere and you were skinny as a rail.
3. Join a League! – There are lots of leagues out there from everything from Ultimate Frisbee to Bocce Ball. The league(s) may not have a direct impact on your stomach size, but participating in them will help in two ways. First, you will get out and do something active, versus sitting at home and eating chips. Second, you will be increasing your caloric outtake, by increasing your metabolism. As long as you don’t compensate by eating a chocolate cake, your body will be forced to burn off some of that stored up fat.