The period between the ages of 30 and 40 can be an exciting time of change, opportunity, prosperity and positive personal growth. But, at the same time, life can get complicated and busy as you start having a family and getting more involved in your career. Before you know it, the growth that becomes the most present in your life is the spare tire that wraps around your mid-section.
Most commonly known as the middle-age spread, this unwelcome feature to your physique is a compilation of the choices you make throughout your life in regard to the food you eat, your daily activity levels and the quality of sleep you log each night. All three of these critical factors to living a healthy lifestyle are tightly intertwined so when even one is lacking, it creates a snowball effect that can leave you feeling tired and out of energy, as well as in an unhealthy situation with additional weight in your mid-section.
To successfully fight the battle of the bulge, you have to arm yourself with an active lifestyle that extends past the gym, make good whole food choices, and reserve enough time in your busy schedule for a restful night’s sleep.
Stand Up for a Healthy Belly
When you’re a child all you want to be is an adult. Then when you’re finally an adult all you do is reminisce about the good old days of your childhood. To tackle your mid-section spread, it can be beneficial to pull from the past and revert back to your childhood days of running, playing and moving throughout your day.
“The fountain of youth is strength training and sprinting,” says Bruce Kelly, personal trainer and owner at Fitness Together Media. “But, as we get older, we stop sprinting for some reason because that’s not what adults do. Sprinting is a fantastic exercise that is excellent for your health and your hormones, while strength training can give you the most out of your workout.”
Kelly suggests that you perform most strength training exercises standing up whenever possible. Even if you aren’t directly working the core, you still have to stabilize the trunk and mid-section muscles when you are in an upright position.
It also is important to keep moving during your everyday life outside of your designated gym time. If all you do is go to the gym an hour per day and the rest of the time you’re sitting in the car, at work or on the couch, you’re not going to be happy with your results.
In addition to consistently working out regularly, daily non-exercise physical activity such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car in the spot furthest away from the door and taking regular recess breaks from your desk to walk or stretch, will help combat your middle-age spread and sedentary adult-life tendencies.
Eat Good Food
While fad diets that target the abs and mid-section may seem like the best choice when you’re trying to reduce your spare tire, feeding your belly without fueling your bulge actually can be a lot simpler than following a strict eating plan.
Kelly believes that the best foods nutritionally for your belly and total body are ones “that have a mother or come from the earth.” When choosing foods that are good for busting your bulge, he suggests the following guidelines:
- Ninety percent of what you eat should be "good food" – it comes naturally from the earth (fruits, vegetables, etc.) or it has a mother (meats, eggs, fish, etc.)..
- Everything that comes in a package or a container shouldn’t be a part of your diet.
- Stay away from foods without expiration dates or with a long shelf life.
- Shop around the perimeter of the store where most fresh, preservative-free foods exist.
- Everything that comes from the middle of the store should be eaten sparingly.
- Shop more frequently, buy more locally and shop seasonally, when possible.
"The first exercise is to push away from the table,” advises Kelly. “If you aren’t including good foods in the majority of what you eat, then you can do core work until the cows come home and still not see any results to your mid-section.”
Collect Your Z’s
Just like you have to make deposits into your bank account regularly to be financially vibrant, it is just as important to deposit regular hours of sleep each night into your body’s wellness account to maintain the balance of your energy, hormones and internal clock.
When you sleep poorly, you typically don’t eat well and then you don’t have enough energy to work out or move more throughout your day. Skimping on your sleep can start a negative chain reaction that leads to enlarged mid-sections, increased mental and physical stress, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
“Getting enough sleep, eating the right foods and exercising all feed the mind, body and hormone system in a positive way,” says Kelly. “But, lack of these things does the opposite.”
Whether you consciously or unconsciously make the choice to disregard eating well, sleeping well and exercising regularly, the bottom line is that all areas in your life -– your career, family, mental and physical health -– will feel the repercussions when you put these essential ingredients to living a healthy lifestyle on the back burner.
“It all comes down to the personal choices you make every day and over long periods of time that add up to this middle-age spread,” says Kelly.
If you don’t put in the time to take care of yourself properly and don’t make your health a priority, then it will ultimately be impossible to stop the middle-age spread from expanding your waistline and negatively impacting your overall health. Take a stand against the belly bulge as you close out the year by making good food choices, exercising and sleep a priority in your life.