Weightlifting & Exercise/need help on a tiny issue


QUESTION: I am a 34 year old woman, who had a baby 1.5 years ago and now am 5'3 and 119 pounds.  I'm happy with everything I am doing, cardio, HIIT/30 minutes 3x a week and weigh lifting and some extra walking.  But I still can't get rid of this belly right at my bellly button.  My obliques are good, but just this. I don't know if I should cut calories or do another lifestyle change.  Hoping you can help.  My waist is 27.5"  and my belly button is 29" before any food, so you can imagine how big my stomach gets at the end of the day, I look pregnant

ANSWER: Andrea,  first of all I want to apologize for making you wait for an answer. The system didn't seem to alert me that you had posted. Or I goofed up...entirely possible.
I think this is an easy fix. You are doing all the right things. I would encourage you to cut breads and pasta from your diet or greatly reduce them. Be sure you aren't eating fat free or low fat anything. They add chemical stuff and sugar to them...that's what puts fat on...not fat.  

That said lets tweek your abdominal work. The best thing to do is to be sure you are compressing your belly without an air pocket in your low gut. To do that take a deep breath. Then blow out the air and BRACE your belly.  Think of it as knitting the matrix of muscles in the trunk. Do not pull the belly button into your spine -- yep I know that's what everyone says, but it's biomechanically bad advice. (See dr. Stewart McGill -- YouTube video type his name and New York Times).  This pulling the belly button in deal...which I taught up until 7 years ago...actually destabilizes the lumbar spine.  

That said the action of bracing your belly as if someone is going to punch you in the gut is far better for you. Without the air in the low gut and the belly braced then you can do your workout, abs, planks whatever.  Breathing in the upper part of the lungs.  Once you are used to this it will become second nature and you will be able to brace your belly everywhere and use the lungs to breathe....not the belly.  2 year olds use their diaphragm and bellies.  I have had people change to this method and lose 2" off their waist.  

Let me know!
Be Well!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks, I have heard that tip before, so "stomach vacuums" are not good to do??  Are you saying that just by doing the bracing, after a few weeks of doing that, people can lose inches?? I often notice when I do crunches, my belly bunches up in the middle. I don't do too much bread/pasta,but rather corn tortillas and potatoes sometimes.  I currently am trying 1700 calories and 40/30/30 ratio.  What do you think of those numbers?  Any other tips?  My biggest fight with my husband is he thinks it's loose skin and I say it's fat because when I"m sitting, I can grab a big chunk of it.  But my face is so thin that I"m afraid if I lose more weight, I'll lose it from my face and not my stomach.

The scoop or vacuum isn't the way to work abs. And "just" bracing isn't enough. They brace, empty the air to be sure the muscles are contracted as much as possible and then do crunches...or any other ab exercise.  Few weeks to months make the difference depends on there son. However, abs are built in the kitchen so diet plays a big part.

I can't speak to the skin vs. fat issue you discuss with your husband, but I do know that every BODY is different and some of my clients can't have potatoes at all without adding weight. I recommend restricting bread, pasta, potatoes and other root vegetables like yams, turnips and carrots. Watch fruit. Berries are best and more easily used...bananas, apples, melons, grapes have super high sugar and may add weight.

I'm assuming the 40/30/30 is carbs/protein/fat......forget it and forget counting calories. Make sure you drink water...and eat well.  Don't diet.

I recommend people only track NET carbs. To calculate you look at the grams of carbohydrate in each serving....then you look at the fiber in each serving....then you subtract the fiber from the carbs and get NET grams of carbohydrates.    My clients usually find they need to hold those numbers to 40-70 NET grams a day if they want to lose weight.  I recommend you first see what you are eating. Calculate a days worth of carbs and see where you are.  I know you don't want to lose weight but you may be holding on to fat and eating this way will help your body let it go. You may need more net carbs...and perhaps not. If you are eating say 300 a day cut it to 150.  

Eat protein and fat at every meal.  Chicken, cheese, beef, pork, bacon, sausage, olive oil or coconut oil only, Pepperoni is a popular snack or summer sausage.  No low fat foods. No fat free foods. They are loaded with sugar and therefore deadly!

Read the book Why we get fat by Gary Taubes. It will change your life. It's the tip of the iceberg.....we have been lied to for years. Carbs and sugar make us fat and are the cause of heart disease.  Since we have been told by the government and the AMA to eat low fat, low sat fat and eat high fiber...whole grains did you know heart disease, diabetes and obesity have skyrocketed! Not rocket science.

Check out my web site at http://zwlcoaching.com and on Facebook  ZWL Coaching Method

Let me know how you are...

Weightlifting & Exercise

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Karen Fili Sullivan


Get on the inside track with Karen and her daily advice. http://karenfilisullivan.com. Or on FacebookLIKE us at ZWL - Zen of Whole Living I have more than 30 years experience and can help with lifting technique, muscle recovery, weight loss, body building and powerlifting. I've been certified by AFPA as a Personal Trainer and 12 years ago acquired a second certification from the same agency as a Post Rehabilitative Exercise Specialist. Any recommendations or advice rendered are based on fitness information as specified by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Fitness Professionals and Associates. Follow my Blog on http://karenfilisullivan.com


Almost 25 years coaching and training. Wow! I feel old. Before that I was a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter (ask my Chiropractor -- he can tell you). I have trained kids ages 12 to 89. From sports specific training to stroke rehabilitation. I love helping people move more gracefully, powerfully and safely.

A few.

Published in Spring of 2013 The Zen of Weight Loss: A Mindful, Livable Approach to Fitness Get your copy at Square Market. https://squareup.com/market/body-restoration-by-karen/zen-of-weight-loss-in-mo

English with a Journalism concentration was my college education. My training has been with my mentor, Jack Michaels, ACSM and professor at the College of William and Mary. My certifications are with the American Fitness Professionals and Associates. AFPA. I hold a certification as a Personal Trainer and a Post Rehabilitation Exercise Expert (Isn't that a mouthful?l). My continuing education requirements have been fulfilled at a number of organizations and are monitored by AFPA. I keep my Red Cross CPR and First Aid current.

Awards and Honors

Past/Present Clients
Clients include athletes training for marathons, mountain climbing and general weight loss. In addition I have clients troubled with COPD, Fibromyalgia, and Parkinsons as well as stroke rehab. She was the Strength and Conditioning coach for Williamsburg Aquatic Club, a USA Swim Team, in Williamsburg, Virginia for 3 years.   Karen is presently working at Main Street Gym in Historic St. Charles, Missouri where she teaches Pilates and continues her work with clients. Her training reaches across the country with her long distance Body Restoration eTraining. Her dedication to fitness reaches into the nutritional supplementation with Shaklee products. She only works with clients who add nutritional supplementation to their training. Read more of her story on www.shaklee.net/BodyRestoration

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.