You've probably been a little worried about the size of your derriere all your life, but if you've started to notice that your middle seems a little pudgier than it used to be, it may be time to really worry and take action. As women get older, especially after menopause, their fat starts to shift from their legs and hips to their stomach. This type of fat, known as visceral fat, lies deep in the abdominal cavity surrounding your organs, and is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. While this may sound scary, it's actually easier to get rid of the fat surrounding your organs than the fat on your hips and legs.
Walk briskly for 30 minutes five days a week. Regular exercise is key when you're trying to lose visceral fat. Walking is free, you can do it inside or outside and the only necessary equipment is a good pair of walking shoes. Of course, any aerobic activity that gets you breathing a little heavier and your heart pumping works, such as a dance class, a bike ride or a game of tennis.
Add strength-training exercises for 20 to 30 minutes twice a week to lose fat around your organs. Strength training helps you build muscle and burn fat. You can use free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or your own body weight -- doing squats, situps and pushups -- to get lean and lose fat.
Control your calories to get to, and maintain, a healthy weight. Most women can safely lose weight eating 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day. If you weigh more than 165 pounds, you can lose weight eating 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day. Keep a food journal to help you track your intake.
Eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and can help you stay within a healthy calorie range while keeping your hunger under control. Fiber in whole grains slows digestion and also improves appetite control.
Replace foods high in saturated fats with foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. That means eating less red meat and high-fat dairy foods, and more seafood and poultry. You should also use healthy oils, such as olive oil, in place of butter.
- To burn more fat, increase your daily exercise to 60 minutes a day or increase your exercise intensity by turning your walk into a jog.
- If your weight-loss diet is leaving you too hungry, bump up your daily calorie intake by 100 to 200 calories.
- Talk to your doctor about diet and exercise safety before making any changes.
- Situps are good for toning your abdominal muscles, but they can't spot reduce your belly fat.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.