Flatten Your Belly

For years I lamented not having a flat belly. On one level, vanity fueled my desire, but on a deeper level, I knew that my belly was synonymous with the center of my body and the center of my being. I knew that the journey to a flat belly would simultaneously lead me to be in alignment with my core self.

My suspicion that a weight loss odyssey would take me through deep waters ended up being proving correct. Every lesson that helped me sculpt away the excess around my waist, unveiling the flat belly that had been waiting for me underneath all along, had a distinct parallel in terms of fashioning a life for myself, which was true and authentic to who I am.

I came to discover that weight loss was not limited to wise choices in the area of food and exercise, and that relationships, sex, self-expression, career and pleasure, were all fair game in my flat belly adventure. Who would have thought? Not me! At the outset, I was stuck in the old school paradigm of “decrease calories in and increase calories out,” though when I really got into it, that concept turned out to be unhelpful at best.

Fortunately, however, the trail of breadcrumbs that did eventually lead me to a flat belly had nothing to do with dieting or “burning it off” in the gym, was not arduous, and was surprisingly easy and enjoyable once I found the keys that unlocked the metabolic mystery.

In this article I am going to share with you four surprising, pleasurable and unexpected ways to flatten your belly, which no one is talking about.

1. Consume Your Body’s Surprising Favorite Ingredient for a Flat Belly

You may have heard it said before, that your body can survive several weeks without food, several days without water, but only a few minutes without oxygen. Given that oxygen is therefore the most essential nutrient for our body, have you ever stopped to think about the role it might play in weight loss and melting belly fat?

It turns out, oxygen, yes plain, good old 02, which is free and available for anyone who is willing to simply flex their lung power, is your body’s favorite ingredient for a flat belly.

Wondering how this works? It’s like this. Just as wood in a fire requires oxygen to burn, so our bodies literally need oxygen to “burn” the food we put in our stomachs. The simple combination of oxygen plus food is what makes up 95% of the energy your body generates!

Food, without the oxygen it needs to burn, gives us nothing but extra weight to carry around. Although we obviously don’t stop breathing completely, in our modern, urban life, it is common to subsist with an unconscious pattern of shallow, rapid breaths. I know that until I was trained in deep breathing, my breath patterns were definitely so.

When you feel stressed out, be it by the day-to-day activities of life, or by restricting food as part of a diet, it only makes matters worse, as shallow breathing naturally accompanies stress. In this mode, your body’s internal digestive and fat burning “fire” literally dims due to lack of oxygen, and your desired flat belly becomes more and more of a pipe dream.

The good news is that even if we are stressed out, we can trick the body into thinking otherwise simply by breathing deeply. Just as blowing on a fire makes it burn brighter, so deep breathing stokes your own digestive fire, and with your inner oven roaring, a flat belly now becomes a realistic goal.

When you mix your food with high doses of oxygen, you create the optimal condition for boosting your metabolism, and along with it, raise your fat burning capability.

Here’s how to do it: Before you eat, STOP, and breathe. Without picking up the fork, breathe for as long as it takes you to reach a slow, deep breathing rhythm. If you are already relaxed, three breaths may be enough. If you are feeling highly strung, it may take a few more. Give yourself those breaths no matter what. Rest assured, you deserve it. As you breathe you’ll start to smell the food, which is also good for your digestive power, giving your digestive juices a moment to prepare.

Then, as you begin to eat, continue to breath mindfully. Breathe through your nose as your mouth will be busy chewing your food! It’s as simple as that. A very easy technique, which is free and anyone can do, and generates amazing results.

One of my clients, Belinda, was astounded at how her morning routine transformed with the addition of this simple technique. A successful attorney, she began her days multi-tasking at breakfast, reading the paper as she ate. She would eat both cereal and eggs and would still leave the table dissatisfied, wanting seconds yet resisting the urge. In addition to following my instruction to breathe mindfully, she decided to forgo the paper until later. Too her great surprise, she found that she was aware of much more flavor, and experienced an exponentially greater degree of pleasure from the same food she’d been eating for years. Furthermore, she noticed she was full after eating half as much as she usually ate. Over time, she consistently felt lighter and more energized, and soon her pants felt looser.

Try it for yourself. You’ll digest better, you’ll taste more of your food, you’ll be satisfied more quickly, and you’ll ramp up your fat burning capability. Few of us know that when you breathe more, you burn more. Now that you know the secret, don’t squander it, breathe!

Start to trust your pleasure. If there’s something you love, embrace your love for it, and become a stranger to guilt. Guilt, being a stressful emotion, raises cortisol levels, the hormonal enemy of a flat belly.

2. How Your Biggest Desires Can Turn On Your Fat Melting Powers

Eat what you want and get a flat belly? It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But if you know your desires deeply enough, it actually works. The trick to eating what you want and losing weight at the same time, is that you have to be willing to get to know your desires really well. And in order to that, you need to be in a relaxed state.

Here’s an analogy. Imagine yourself in your most stressed out state. Whatever is on your mind – work, the kids, or your allegedly disappointing body – is making you chomp at the bit of life and froth at the mouth. Out of the blue someone asks you, “I’d like to give you a gift. What would you like?”

Chances are, that unless you have a pre-meditated answer, you would either draw a blank or come up with a superficial desire, such as “a can of soda.” On the other hand, if you were truly relaxed and had time to feel into the question, you’d hear beyond your surface wishes, to your true, deeper longings and respond with a great answer.

The same goes for food. If you come home all frazzled and ask yourself, “what do I want to eat?” you will get an answer that is about two inches deep. It may likely be a high carb or high fat, low nutrient treat of some sort.

On the other hand, if you sit down, have a glass of water, relaaaax, and then ask yourself, “what do I want to eat?” you are going to get a totally different answer because this answer will have true depth.

“A lush, colorful salad with fresh greens, some tasty protein and a wholesome carb,” your body might say at this point. Try it for yourself and see.

Again and again, as I teach my clients to listen more deeply to the true desires of their body, and to their great surprise, the longings they report are for healthy, fresh foods, the exact types that melt away fat and unveil a flat belly.

The simple truth is, your body wants to lose weight just as much as you do. Your body’s true desire is to feel energized and alive, and if you are eating, nutrient-void, sugary or fatty junk food it is not what your body wants.

For Deborah, a seasoned communications professional, the bane of her year was ghostwriting a bi-annual report on her boss’s voice. In preparation, she had a ritual of binging in a host of sugary, fatty treats, which numbed out her anxieties about the project and gave her an excuse to procrastinate.

We had been working on her attending to her desires for some time when the dreaded report came around again. Just as she was on the brink of diving into her old pattern again, she remembered our talks and decided to stop and tune in to what she really wanted. “A glass of water, some fresh fruit and a walk around the block,” piped up a voice from within. She heeded the impulse and when she finally sat down to write, she found this the least painful major report she’s ever written.

Weeks later she was shopping for clothes on the Internet and bought her usual size out of habit. To her delight, when the clothes arrived she had to send them back as they were a full size too big. What was truly delightful about it was that she hadn’t controlled her appetite, nor had she restricted herself. The physical change she was seeing had come from listening more deeply to her longings and being true to the desires she uncovered, a pleasurable and sustainable strategy.

Relax into the moment, however, listen to the desires of your body, and your instinct will pave the way to the flat belly and slender body that awaits you.

3. Why Stress Will Ruin Your Belly and its Pleasurable Antidote

Stress, stress, stress. We all know it ever more intimately as time goes by. It may seem obvious that if you are stressed out and you react by taking solace in junk food or overeating, this will swerve your predictable path away from a flat belly future. But the plot may be thicker than you think.

Did you know that if even if you eat something as innocuous as a carrot stick, and you’re stressed out, that it can still cause you to pack on the pounds?

Why is this so? It has nothing to do with the calories in the food. It’s about the metabolic environment within your own body, which dictates what your body does with the nutrients that enter it.

It goes like this. The stress response triggers the stress hormone cortisol, among many others. Cortisol in turn boosts another hormone, insulin, and insulin signals the body to do three important things that are the enemy of a flat belly: (i) to stop burning fat (ii) to stop building muscle and (iii) to store more fat!

The logic goes that even if you are eating something relatively healthy, by stressing out for one reason or another – be it about your job, your guy, your weight or anything else – for 85% of the population, the body will gain weight, not lose it. But before you get mad at your body, and generate even more stress, trust me, there is wisdom in your body’s inner workings, it just takes looking at the big picture to see it.

When you are under stress your body literally thinks your life is in danger. When it feel stress, it doesn’t distinguish between a real danger or one you have invented in your head. Your body thinks the equivalent of a hungry saber-tooth tiger may be rapidly approaching and it will do everything it can to save your life. To do this, it pumps blood to your arms and legs for fast fighting or fleeing, and to your brain for fast thinking. That means that blood rushes away from the fat burning and muscle toning functions, the body’s way of prioritizing “surviving” over “sculpting.”

There’s no use in blaming the body for its survival instincts, they’ve been operating for millions of years and they aren’t going anywhere. However you can use your understanding of the situation to enlist the antidote.

I call it R & P: Relaxation and Pleasure. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes the stress response melt away like relaxation and pleasure.

4. How Pleasure Can Be Your Secret, Insider Weight Loss Weapon

Pleasure, beloved pleasure. We all love it yet sadly few of us realize how healthy pleasure actually is. Pleasure, when embraced without fear, is your secret, insider weapon for an effortless flat belly.

Why? Because of the very important role it plays in the workings of your metabolism. Whereas stress extinguishes digestive and fat burning powers like a bucket of cold water, pleasure amps up the heat. Pleasure tells your body that its survival is not at threat, that no fighting or fleeing are required, and that it is a good time to digest well, get the most nutrition possible out of the food, and burn of the excess.

The way to experience the most pleasure is to bring all of your senses to the table. Not only your taste buds, but the senses that take in the look, smell and texture of the food too. When you do so, your built-in body wisdom rears up in full force. In this mode, where pleasure is a priority, your body will quickly let you know if the food is nutritionally inadequate by showing a lack of satisfaction with and interest in empty calories that have little to offer.

On the other hand, eat healthy, nutritious, naturally flavorsome fare in this state, and your body will give you a clear sign that it likes what you are doing. How? By giving you the positive feedback of even more pleasure, in this case, lasting pleasure. Healthy food gives the gift of sustained high energy, whereas nutrient-void, processed foods give only a short-term rush followed by an unpleasant crash.

There are multiple other metabolic reasons to adopt pleasure as a weight loss strategy, but I will leave you with one final takeaway.

Start to trust your pleasure. If there’s something you love, embrace your love for it, and become a stranger to guilt. Guilt, being a stressful emotion, raises cortisol levels, the hormonal enemy of a flat belly.

Even if you think there’s no way your favorite chocolate cake could be helping your weight loss mission, bring all your senses to the table and savor it. Let your body relax into the experience and eat only the amount that is wonderfully pleasurable for you. When it stops tasting exquisitely pleasurable and exactly what your desire is calling for, stop eating. Until that point enjoy. Breathing as you eat will help you do this.

Eliza, a self-employed entrepreneur and mom, had been telling her friends that she was working with a weight loss coach and had been losing a few pounds. She scoffed at her friends on a weekend away when out came a cake and they told her, “you can’t have any, you’re on a weight loss program, right?”

“You really don’t get it,” she said. “Jena would approve 100% of me having this cake, as long as I truly enjoy it. She refused to react to their provocations, side-stepped the “guilt booby trap” they appeared to be laying for her, and ate just as much cake as gave her pleasure, without causing bloating or doing any harm to her waistline.

Keep applying these principles to all the meals and foods you eat. Consume your body’s favorite ingredient, oxygen, in liberal amounts. Get to know your deepest desires so that you don’t eat what you don’t really want. Understand the weight loss villain, stress. And use pleasure daily as your secret weapon for weight loss. Follow these easy guidelines and you may be surprised how soon a flat belly is yours.

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