I’m just going to be very honest. A couple of months ago, I noticed my waist was getting wider. If you’ve ever wondered what causes this, I’m about to share a list of reasons, and then I’ll wrap up with what we can do to fix it. And this is not some here’s my secret supplement I’m trying to sell you or abs of steal garbage these are just facts I learned because I’m going through it and thought, hey, I bet my awesome Fit sisters in Christ might want to know this too. I've lost 2 inches off of my waist so far! 🎉
I mean, don’t you want to know if there’s anything you can do to prevent back injuries and shrink your waist? Yep - I thought so!
But before I say another word, let’s pray!
Dear God, It’s tough living in the world where we hear things like snatched waist, love handles, and muffin tops, and see endless body part photos that can make us go down a rabbit hole of comparison and insecurity, but Father like your Word says, "To turn our eyes from worthless things and revive us in your way." Help us gain wisdom about the things we can do and leave the results up to you. Our worth and identity are in you, not our bodies. Refresh our hearts to take care of our temples and make our fitness goals more about serving you and less about what we look like.
In Jesus’ name, amen
In case you wondering about the scripture I prayed, here it is. It’s one I have written across my heart and find myself saying when I’m tempted to compare myself to my old self or feel less than as I age and my body changes,
“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.” Psalm 119:37 New King James Version
Now I’m not saying our goals are worthless. What I am saying is that it’s worthless to see ourselves as just a body part because our worth doesn’t come from body parts it comes from Jesus. The reason we should care about our abs isn’t just aesthetics and injury prevention. It’s that a higher waist circumference is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
Okay, so I did a deep dive on what causes our waists to widen as we age, and even when we’re fit, what causes a boxy waist, a wide waist, a turtle shell waist! Here are my findings…
Of course, it goes without saying that eating unhealthy man-made sodium-infested processed foods is the major cause. I remember this quote from my fitness days, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” which basically means your abs come from what you’re eating. We all have abs, but if we aren’t seeing them, it's because there’s a layer of body fat hiding them.
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass, so our abdominal muscles aren't as tight as they once were, and the loss of elastin and collagen in our skin causes sagging.
A protruding belly might be caused by an anterior pelvic tilt, where the pelvis pushes forward. When you have a weak posture, this can cause an anterior pelvic tilt, where your pelvis tilts forward – and when this happens, your lower back arch becomes pronounced, your bum sticks out, and your stomach protrudes, which creates the illusion of a larger stomach.
This usually happens when our glutes, hamstrings, or abdominal muscles are weak. We rely on these muscle groups to naturally push our hips backward, which gives us an upright posture and a flatter stomach. The illusion of a larger belly is not only a vanity issue – when your pelvis tilts forward you may also experience pain and tightness throughout your body.
Let’s commit to good posture. Let me challenge you to stand up straight, roll your shoulders back and down, pull your stomach in, and put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet. Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Keep your head level and smile, knowing you are the daughter of the King!
Go through your body, starting at your feet, and work your way up, thinking about the amazing way God made your body. Let’s work on this one. It's simple, but slouching really contributes to a wide waist, and back pain, and then it can cause hip and knee issues. This is something we can control!
Sitting is directly associated with a larger waist circumference. Raising my hand here, writing is brutal on posture. Sisters, I will catch myself, hunched forward, abs relaxed, shoulders rounded, pec muscle shortened, rhomboids overstretched, lower belly sticking out, not good!
According to a new study, taking short breaks from sitting, even for only one minute, might shrink your waistline and improve your heart health. A smaller waistline means less abdominal fat and better heart health.
Here’s a quick overview of the anatomy of your abs:
Okay, this point is maddening to me, but we’re going to be positive and learn, right? Think about this, we train our muscles to grow, so why would we think that doing abs would shrink our muscles? Now I’m not saying all ab work is causing a thicker or protruding waist, but some moves absolutely do. There is so much misinformation out there about this, so be wise, sister!
Think about it, you do a million crunches and even weighted side bends, thinking you’re going to shrink your waist, but that’s not how muscles work. Lots of abdominal exercises actually encourage muscle fibers to grow thicker and stronger, expanding your obliques and making them take on a square appearance.
We need to remember we cannot spot-train away body fat. We lose body fat all over.
People want to get rid of what they call the muffin top/love handles, so they try to spot-train their obliques. Since the oblique muscles run down the sides of your midsection, building these muscles could actually widen your waistline, especially if you do oblique exercises using resistance. Heavy, frequent ab and oblique training can create a blocky waist or "turtle shell" abs. Think weighted side bends or Russian twists. These moves are a no if you want to avoid building a square waist.
We were taught that basic abs move like crunches, leg lifts, and sit-ups are the secret to a six-pack, but if you do them incorrectly, you’re actually making your waist protrude and get thicker abs and or belly pouch! Especially if you have body fat to lose. It would be much better for you to work your abs with compound exercises like planks, squats, and deadlifts and train the transverse abdominal muscles with planks and the stomach vacuum exercise. The Plank is the go-to ab move for lengthening, strengthening, and working all of the ab muscles. It is arguably the best ab exercise. They work your abdominal muscles in a way like no other to shrink the circumference of your waist. Planks should be the centerpiece of your abdominal workout. They burn more calories because so many muscles are activated, and they are convenient because you can do them anywhere.
The stomach vacuum gets a lot of buzz. It is how old-school bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger's chest was 41¼, his waist was 27½ inches, and Frank Zane had a 52-inch chest and a 29-inch waist. This is nothing new. It is the best way to activate the ab muscles that God gave us, which is our natural corset.
Did you know that we have a God-given girdle? The Transverse Abdominis, TVA, is underutilized and underworked. When the TVA is weak, it allows your stomach to pouch out. The TVA's job is to stabilize your core and flatten your midsection.
In case you don’t know how to perform this move, here’s how:
Full exhale out of your mouth, hold your breath
Pull in your stomach. Don't just suck it in.
Picture your belly button pulling down and up into your spine.
Hold your breath (you can practice breathing at the same time).
Hold 5 to 30 seconds, and repeat three times to start. You can do this daily.
Don’t tuck your pelvis. Stay tall whether you’re lying or standing. Build up to doing it with a twist.
While standing, repeat the steps, and build up to putting your hands behind your head, arms out, and twisting. Feel your linea alba, the thin band of connective tissue that runs down the middle of your stomach comes together, This is what gets pulled apart when we have babies or gain a lot of weight, and our goal is to bring it back together.
The stress hormone Cortisol encourages the storage of fat around the belly. Cortisol also eats away at muscle mass, which we learned last week makes us less metabolically active, which means fat gain.
We have Jesus yall! We should be living stress-free. Let’s make casting our cares a part of our fitness journey because stress is undoing all of our hard work in the gym and the God-made foods we eat.
Purposely exhale your stress and inhale God’s peace, and we can add one on today... our posture! Whether we’re sitting or standing, let's work on our posture. Did you know smiling reduces cortisol and adrenaline, which means less stress and less anxiety? Let’s give God our stress and smile more, amen?!
And just to give you some extra lifestyle tips…here are some behaviors that can cause a distended belly:
Wow - we covered a lot! Let’s do a short recap! Eat God-made food, in proper portions, Get moving, and choose a form of daily movement, walking, hiking, or find your favorite cardio. The only way to speed up your metabolism is to get stronger. Getting stronger means, you are building muscle. Lifting weights is how you burn more calories even at rest. Be very smart about how you train your abs, and skip things that build squareness. Watch form and breath. While we exercise, sit, and perform activities of daily life, we should practice engaging our Transverse abdominis; drawing in our abs toward our spine. This protects our backs while shrinking our waists - double win! Practice proper posture while standing and sitting. Activating your TVA, corrects diastasis recti from pregnancy, or if you’ve been overweight and your abs got overstretched. Remember, crunches build poochy muscles if done incorrectly, and weighted oblique training can make your abs square and thicker. Reducing our stress drives cortisol and adrenaline down, exhale stress, and inhale God’s peace.
As a friend, and sister in Christ, I want to say I know how tempting it is to be in stages of your life that feel hopeless and want to let it go, but I want to challenge you even just for today to eat God-made whole foods give God your stress, breathe in His presence and exhale your stress, think about and correct your posture and try the exercises.
Since I prayed for you earlier, here is some faith fuel:
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26)
"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)
God made our bodies, and He made them to heal themselves we can do so much to fix what we want to change let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and own our part in this fitness journey.
Tighten up your God-made corset and praise Him, sister!
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