TeenHealthFX wants to start by saying that we think it is a wonderful thing when teens want to be physically healthy and in good shape. The number of teens in America who are overweight and obese are on the rise – and this can contribute to emotional problems, such as stress and depression, as well as increase risk for medical concerns such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, we also want to point out that it is important for teens to have realistic expectations for their bodies – how their bodies perform and what they look like. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by images from the media of what is beautiful, many young men and women consider themselves “fat” when in fact they are at a perfectly healthy weight. That said, before trying to shed any pounds, it’s a good idea to check in with your primary care physician or adolescent medicine specialist to come up with some reasonable and healthy fitness goals, as well as to ensure you are using safe means of meeting those goals.
If your doctor agrees that it is reasonable and healthy for you to try and tackle your midsection, discuss the following considerations with him/her to come up with a plan that is best for you:
Some teens think that crunches alone can take care of belly fat. However, to lose fat anywhere in the body, including the belly, regular cardio activity is a must. Find an activity that you enjoy or that you can do with friends – whatever keeps you motivated to keep it up. You could walk, run, play sports with a school or town team, swim, bike, or whatever else gets your heart pumping.
Strengthen your middle
Exercises that strengthen your core will definitely help firm up your middle. You could look into doing yoga or pilates, or other effective exercises that target the midsection. You could check with your coach, your doctor, or a personal trainer at a local gym for ideas on specific exercises. You could also ask them about some of the exercises demonstrated in Exercises to improve your core strength and Core-strength exercises with a fitness ball.
Consider what you eat
Eating a healthy diet is a critical component to losing the “stubborn belly fat.” Smaller portions and healthier choices are the key. Try and stay clear of foods high in sugar. Eat foods that have fewer calories and that are high in fiber, like fruits and vegetables. Choose lean proteins such as fish, beans and lentils. Go for whole wheat pasta, whole grain breads, and brown rice rather than regular pasta, white bread and white rice. And stay away from highly processed foods.
Don’t think “quick fix”
Fad diets, such as ones that use diet pills or that severely restrict caloric intake, might seem tempting to teens who want results quickly. But remember that when you resort to fad diets, the results aren’t going to be long-term and they can carry certain health risks. What you want to focus on are lifestyle changes in terms of physical activity and how you eat – that is what will bring long-lasting and healthy results.