Stoves, Pigs and Other Pot Bellies

I was chatting with Joe about his healthy heart exercise program when he suddenly became very serious and quietly said, “I’ve got Dunlap disease.” Since I hadn’t heard of this malady before I was contemplating how to respond when he went on to say, “My belly done lapped over my belt”. Joe has a lot of company. It is estimated that 70 million Americans are fighting the battle of the bulge.

As we “mature” two truths become self evident—the ease of acquiring excess poundage and the difficulty of losing it. One of the most frequent questions we get from new exercisers as they affectionately caress their paunch is “How do I get rid of this?

If you are one of legions that live in hope that there is a secret formula or some abdominal exercise that will quickly melt away your potbelly I have some bad news for you. Spot reducing just doesn’t work. A low carb eating strategy and strengthening the right muscles can help a man (or a woman) turn a pot into more of a skillet but it won’t happen overnight.

Many people measure their weight loss success by what the bathroom scale reads. The problem is that the scale can’t tell you what you need to know.

Dr. Wayne Wescott, consultant for the YMCA, says that the average American loses an average of 5 pounds of muscle each decade while gaining 15 pounds of body fat. “On a bathroom scale, that would indicate a 10 pound weight gain problem (15 fat pounds minus 5 muscle pounds),” says Wescott. “But the reality is that it’s actually a 20 pound problem—15 pounds more fat plus 5 pounds less muscle.”

Since each pound of muscle burns up to 50 calories every day—even while you are sleeping—a 5-pound muscle loss adds up to a whopping 6,000 or 7000 calories per month that your metabolic fires no longer burn.

This slowdown in metabolism sends you on a “bullet train to Blobville“. How do you get this muscle back? Sorry, but walking won’t do it. You need to invest about 15 minutes two or three times per week to strengthen those neglected muscles.

Ladies who are new to strength training sometimes are concerned that they will develop bulging muscles. Not to worry. A pound of fat is about the size of a pound of butter but a pound of muscle takes up only 1/3 the space. Toning your muscles will actually make you look smaller. Working with volunteers in their 60s and 70s, Samuel Klein at Washington University in St. Louis found that older people who seldom exercise are poor fat burners. Instead, most of the energy they burn consists of carbohydrates.

The fat stores of this study group were broken down but weren’t burned up by the muscles as energy; instead the fat got recycled through the liver and was redeposited in fat depots throughout the body. Dr. Klein found that regular exercise, which included strength training, restored their youthful fat-burning power.

“The good news is that if older people train, they can normalize their ability to oxidize fat,” he says. Switching to a low carb eating program will accelerate this fat burning process since the body will burn more fat for energy if carbohydrates are not readily available.

If you think that carrying some extra fat around is a minor problem think again. For every inch your waistline exceeds the size of your chest, you can deduct two years from your life.

Surplus abdominal fat increases risk for a heart attack, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. An estimated 80% of all lower back pain can be traced to lack of abdominal strength.

If an inactive body, an over active fork and gravity have taken their toll on your mid section you may want to heed the sage advice of Ziggy who says, “A waist is a terrible thing to mind.”

Gene Millen, a heart bypass survivor reviews new research on heart attack risks that are far more dangerous than high cholesterol…and how these natural supplements and heart vitamins can send them packing! Check out The Heart Health website at

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