stress relief

Q & A: How do I lose belly fat?

First clue: skip the bagels! I know. So hard!!

First clue: skip the bagels! I know. So hard!!

A very common question I get as a health coach is “how do I lose belly fat?”.

[Note: I’m not going to evaluate the validity of the question- if it matters to you, it matters to me! I’m here to support you the best I can!]

Well unfortunately, there is not a simple answer. There is a lot of information out there, a lot of it is nonsense. Please skip the “teatoxes” or anything that guarantees fast results. Furthermore, no amount of crunches will eliminate that extra cushion in the front! You may have heard that abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym– and that is absolutely true!

I believe the best approach is one with slow, sustainable progress. That’s not what most people want to hear, but that will leave you with lasting results. It’s important to remember that it is very common that belly fat is the last to go! You need to be consistent, and put in the time to even approach losing excess from your midsection!

The Shed program is designed to help you tackle this issue! You eliminate and scale back on some of the most problematic foods for your middle!

Foods that can hinder belly fat loss:

  • white or refined carbohydrates (see above bagel)

  • sugar

  • dairy

  • alcohol (beer especially can be problematic!)

You don’t need to eliminate these from your diet forever. But skipping them for a concentrated period of time will help push your body out of it’s current de facto state and will allow you to start losing.

But if you are skipping the foods above- what do you eat? Prioritize eating lots of vegetables, protein at each meal, and healthy fats! (If you are looking for guidance on this- the Shed program has meal plans included!)

You may eventually hit a plateau. There are a variety of ways to tackle a plateau– it really depends on your body and circumstances. Oftentimes you just need to change up your exercise routine. Doing more or LESS may be the solution. If you are putting too much stress on your body, it releases cortisol- which is the enemy to weight loss! If you have been doing light exercise like walking, it may be time to add an extra boost. Plateaus are really where coaching is the most helpful– everyone’s life is unique and what may be causing your plateau may be completely unique to you. (Shoot me an email if you are interested in one-on-one coaching!)

Back to cortisol– if you perpetually feel stressed– this could be your biggest issue with losing weight around your tummy. Try to find ways to manage your stress. I highly recommend meditation and yoga to bring some calm to the chaos! Other people manage their stress with running or other cardio. Just try to find something that can consistently bring you some zen!

In summary, the steps to losing that pesky tummy:

  1. Eliminate problematic foods (white/refined carbs, sugar, dairy, alcohol) from your diet for a period of time

  2. Eat a healthy diet filled with lots of vegetables, protein and healthy fats!

  3. Push past plateaus

  4. Manage your stress

  5. Have patience and enjoy the journey of changing your lifestyle for the better!

Superfood Profile: Bee Pollen

benefits of bee pollen superfoods natural allergy prevention

In honor of allergy season being in full swing,  I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight on Bee Pollen and why it is so extraordinary. 

I had my first experience with bee pollen a few years ago. I was working at a local juice and smoothie shop- and we offered bee pollen as an added superfood boost. I would put it in my smoothie every day, and I swear I never had a spring so unaffected by allergies. Knowing this information and how it affected my own system inspired me to learn more, especially as future years sans bee pollen were quite miserable. 


what is Bee pollen? 

Bee pollen comes into existence when honey bees harvest pollen from a variety of plant sources. The bees add their own goodness (nectar) into it, and store it in honeycomb. Through this process it becomes a bonafide complete superfood. It has amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and more! It's pretty incredible. It is not considered vegan because bees create it- however, no bees are harmed in the harvesting of the pollen. 


You've probably heard of pollen as an allergen itself, so why would eating it be good for you?

Essentially the thought is that it helps your body build its immune response to pollens. If your immune system is prepared, you will experience less symptoms once allergies are in full swing. This is also why buying local bee pollen is the best if you would like it to help with your seasonal allergies. When you use local bee pollen, the bees are harvesting pollen from plants that likely will be your triggers later. 


If I want to prevent allergies, when should i start taking it?

It's best to start a few months in advance to build up an immune response. So probably too late to save you this spring. You can start next month to prepare for autumn allergens, though! That being said, I've noticed a difference with one dose (probably placebo effect but hey, I'll take it!) - so I will still be taking it this spring, even though it's late in the game! 


I don't have seasonal allergies, why would I want to add this to my routine?

Key word: SUPERFOOD. This stuff is amazing. I mentioned its a complete food, so it essentially is a natural vitamin supplement. Here are some of the many reported benefits: 

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Protects against liver toxicity
  • Improved energy levels 
  • Improved gut health 
  • Acts as an anti-oxidant
  • Natural stress reliever
  • And many more! (Want to learn more? Check out "Further Reading" at the bottom of the page)

What to look for when buying 

As mentioned before- first and foremost- try to get it locally. I live in Chicago- but farms in other areas of the state or in southern Wisconsin, Michigan, and northern Indiana all would probably be fine because we all share similar Midwest weeds and plants. Check with your local farmers market or try Whole Foods, they often will try to use local vendors. 

Next, it's great to find kernels with a variety of color. They range from yellow to black - depending on what plants the bees took the pollen from. It you have a diversified mix it will help cover you to a variety of plant allergens. 

It comes in a variety of forms (capsules, liquids, etc.) but get the whole kernels. Less processing is always best! 

Side note: there are a lot of similar benefits to eating raw organic honey, however, it is really hard to find unpasteurized honey. The pasteurization process kills off a lot of the beneficial nutrients. Bee pollen on the other hand, not being a liquid, does not get pasteurized, so it retains it's nutritional integrity better. 


How to best eat it? 

My preferred method of ingesting :) 

My preferred method of ingesting :) 

I prefer using kernels on top of my smoothie bowls or mixed in to a smoothie (post blend). Always eat it with other food. If added to fruit it is supposed to activate quickly in the gut!

If you have any serious allergies (I'm talking anaphylaxis) ESPECIALLY to pollen, talk to your doctor about ingesting bee pollen. If you are worried you may have an allergic reaction, you can test by putting one granule on your tongue until it dissolves. If there is no reaction, add another. Repeat until you feel confident you will not have a reaction. 


Further Reading

Want to learn more? Check out these resources!

How Bee Pollen Could Cure Your Allergies - Mind Body Green

Top 8 Bee Pollen Benefits - Dr. Axe

Top 10 benefits of bee pollen - Be Healthy

What do you think? Will you give bee pollen a try? I am definitely going to add it back into my routine! Happy June! - AHS