Spring clean-up is a time to rid the basement of non-essential things stored over the winter. After shuffling around and shuffling out, energy can now be directed to cleaning out flower beds, planting some immediate color, then sitting back to watch God’s natural beauty grow. But, as I’ve anticipated the blooms of Springtime, I’ve noticed that most of the winter I watched as my waistline grew an extra inch (or two!).

During the long winter days, some of us have dreamed of summertime and sunning ourselves on a warm sandy beach. That dream also includes us being in the newest fashioned bathing suit that’s guaranteed to make us look slim and trim. Passing by my mirror tells me that it won’t be me in that suit unless I rid my body of that once needed winter belly fat.

We know that keeping a trim midsection does more than make us look good. It leads to a healthier and longer life. Belly fat is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Losing belly weight also improves blood flow which helps to improve our quality of sleep.

I like what Dr. Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., Director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins says:

“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.”

Now that I know why and where to focus losing weight, how do I get there from here?

I have never had luck following trendy diet regimens. They are either not appetizing enough or don’t sit well with my overall body’s constitution. Dr. Stewart says that a low-carb diet aids in fat loss versus lean tissue (muscle) found in a low-fat diet.

So, for me, staying away from problem foods such as high carbs and sugar and reaching for more high-fiber and high-protein like vegetables, beans, and healthy meats, helps get me closer to fitting into that slimming bathing suit.

In addition to a changed diet, now that the snow and slush are gone, it’s more fun to go outside and get moving! Dr. Stewart says that physical activity helps burn belly fat by reducing circulating levels of insulin which would otherwise signal the body to hang on to fat. We generally know our body limits when it comes to exercise. Most of us can manage 30 minutes of moderate exercise nearly every day.

I have scales in my bathroom that I look at daily. Truth be told, I’m more comfortable focusing on how well my clothes fit than reading that scale. With more exercise, we add muscle mass and lose fat. The bathroom scale may not change much, but your pants will be looser. To me, that shows progress!

One more thing that helps me on my journey to becoming a beach beauty:

I love my friends. Each has their special characteristics that make me smile. Some, however, are more health conscious than others. I’ve found they are the friends who inspire me to want to eat better and exercise more. In turn, perhaps I can encourage those friends who aren’t so inclined.

Hope to see you on the beach!

Need some help with that? Johns Hopkins Guided Care ® plan is a proven comprehensive care plan which integrates input from the nurse and the primary care providers and the patient. This plan works especially well for the high-risk people, such as Parkinson’s disease patients. For more information about how Guided Care® can help you, contact Youthful Aging Home Care.

Lani Kelly is a research writer for Youthful Aging Home Home Care