Cinnamon-scented apple crisp; roast turkey and tasty accompaniments; sumptuous sips of valley vino…It's harvest time and a table bursting with plenty beckons hearts filled with gratitude, but a bountiful belly is nothing to celebrate.
Belly fat is bad—no two ways about it. In fact, experts suggest carrying extra girth puts us at increased risk for multiple diseases.
We at Okanagan Woman love our food but we value our health so we talked to a couple of medical experts for some tips on how to beat the bulge.
Diet, Exercise—and CoolSculpting—for a Beautiful Belly
Mandy Wong is a General Practitioner who has spent the last fifteen years focusing on varicose veins, which led to working with lasers, including cutaneous lasers, or ones that deal with skin.
With a Masters Degree in skin cancer, Dr. Wong is right at home in the Okanagan, where our hot summers and outdoor lifestyle go hand in suntanned hand with skin cancer.
“Cosmetics was never my initial intention,” Dr. Wong admits, “but if you care about your skin and veins, you care about how you look.”
Founder of Restore Vein and Skin Centre in Kelowna, Dr. Wong also sees a lot of patients looking to lose belly fat—and chin fat and bra fat, and how about knee fat?
As we know, the most dangerous area to carry extra fat is the stomach. The bottom (or middle) line is this: your waist should not be larger than your hips. Experts suggest women’s waists should measure under 35 inches; men’s less than 40.
A 2014 Mayo Clinic study showed men and women with a large waist circumference are more likely to die of heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer than those who are slimmer around the middle—even if those apple-shaped folks had a normal body-mass index, proving it’s not just what you weigh, but where you carry that weight.
You know that fat you can grab and hold (they're called love handles for a reason), that's subcutaneous fat better known as visceral fat in the belly. It accumulates in the spaces around your viscera: internal organs like your stomach and intestines. This kind of fat releases the stress hormone cortisol, as well as chemicals called cytokines—particularly bad because they increase the chance of heart disease and decrease sensitivity to insulin, making you more prone to diabetes. These bad boys also cause inflammation—deleterious for some kinds of cancer.
“Diet is 70 percent of the equation,” Dr. Wong admits.
We should aim to get 30 percent of calories from protein, 30 percent from fat, and 40 percent from carbohydrates—think the Zone. Protein should come from lean animal sources or organic whey; carbs should be low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. Processed carbs like bread and crackers are no-no’s for the yes, yes! flat belly we covet.
The other kicker? You've got to kick up a sweat. Cardiovascular exercise really socks it to the gut. So does yoga, not only because it tones the core, all that deep breathing is also good for lowering cortisol levels.
But I run, hit the weights, and watch my diet, you say, and I still can't get rid of my muffin top!
Dr. Wong feels—and wants to eliminate—your pain. “I had this competitive volleyball player, fit as can be, but she couldn’t get rid of that fat in her lower belly and she hated it!”
Touring the circuit and playing with other super-fit competitors made Dr. Wong’s patient insecure—until she got treated with CoolSculpting.
A non-surgical way to eliminate stubborn fat and reshape the silhouette, CoolSculpting melts fat away without harming surrounding tissues.
“We are the only clinic in the valley with two applicators and we are so busy!” Dr. Wong says. “There’s no down time and we typically see a 25% reduction in fat.”
“Fat is more sensitive to cold than skin, muscle, nerves or anything else. Cold damages the fat cells through cryolipolysis and slowly, steadily, the body eliminates the damaged cells. After a month you see results and at three months, it’s complete.”
To enhance results, Restore offers acoustic shock wave therapy for five to ten minutes, and then monthly, after CoolSculpting sessions.
Dr. Craig Crippen of DermMedica Laser Skin and Vein Solutions in Kelowna is a Fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery and a diplomat of the American Board of Phlebology. “CoolSculpting is exactly as the name implies,” he says. “It’s sculpting hard to hit areas. You’re doing your best but you just can’t hit those spots.”
The first clinic in Kelowna to offer CoolSculpting in 2011, Dr. Crippen’s staff treat loads of patients. Toting the procedure as an excellent alternative to the more invasive liposuction, Dr. Crippen says the results are scientifically proven and permanent. Treatments typically take one to two hours, depending upon the area but patients can comfortably watch TV while the technology melts away a “mummy-tummy.”
“It works best for people who are really close to where they want to be weight-wise,” Dr. Crippen suggests.
Dr. Wong concurs. “Once those fat cells are gone, they’re gone for good, but it’s not a license to overeat. All I can treat is the subcutaneous fat above the abdomen.”
Melting the bothersome bits doesn’t come cheap. Costs average about $750 per application, but for many, that’s a small investment with a big payoff.