Luckily, a lot of the things I'm doing to whittle my middle should also ease my angst. "Exercise reduces stress," Dr. Smith notes. "Balanced, nutritious meals can repair the damage that stress does to the body, and a social support network also helps." So my team of Fitbit-wearing friends and fam is helping me beat belly bloat in more ways than one.
The main idea is to be as consistent as you can and to establish good habits. Set up a regimen that you can stick to – maybe it’s exercising 3x a week, or maybe it’s cutting sugar from your diet. It’s ok to start small – you don’t have to make huge changes in your lifestyle to start. If you’re struggling to lose weight and you go on a food-binge or forget to exercise once in a while don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s ok to indulge every so often and you can always jump back on the weight-loss wagon – there’s no rush!
The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? "They're everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work," McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. "But again, we don't know about the long term," she says. "And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return."
If you can't stand the thought of running, or just want to work out without a ton of pounding on your joints, do a few laps in the pool. It's a low-impact exercise that will work all of your major muscle groups. As with most workouts, it helps to go in with a plan. Try this one, from Rosante: Tread water for as long as possible by standing upright in the deep end and using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Then rest for two minutes. Now swim 10 sets of 100 meters (that's back-and-forth lap in an Olympic-sized pool), resting for one minute in between sets. By the time you climb out of the pool, your muscles will be pleasantly worn out.
So what makes cycling so special for weight loss? In short, it makes you happy, says Jimmy Weber, of Enid, Oklahoma, who at 6’2” and 260 pounds is not a small rider, but is now 150 pounds lighter than his max weight of 410 pounds eight years ago. He initially shed weight through bariatric surgery and a lot of walking. But walking his usual seven miles a day got boring and running was out of the question.