EPISODE 35
How to Reduce Belly Fat?

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Rose asks:

Can you do a back flip from the Yoga Trapeze?

For those of you who don’t know, we manufacture and distribute and sell Yoga Trapezes, which are inversion swings, inversion slings. It hangs from your doorway or from a swing set or from a balcony, and you can do all kinds of different backbends, inversions. You can get immediate traction on your spine. I’ve got one hanging in my daughter’s room, and she actually uses it more than me. It’s really, really fantastic. You can do pull-ups and chin-ups and all kinds of different things on it.

Can you do a back flip? In theory, yes, you can do a back flip. It’s not really what it’s designed for, Rose. I don’t know if I’d recommend that for that, but I do recommend passive back bends. You just lay in the Yoga Trapeze, doing like a passive, Urva Dhanurasana, grabbing your ankles. It’s a really, really powerful stretch.

Sara asks:

I have a valgus deformity in my right knee (For those of you who don’t know, that’s an outward turning of the joint) and a varus deformity (which is an inward turning) in my left knee with effusion, tenderness and end-stage osteoarthritis in both knees. (I’m sure you’ve seen this. Sometimes people will refer to it as knock knees. This is where your joints are not properly aligned. It’s usually from birth, sometimes from footwear, but almost always it’s from birth.) My doctor recommends surgery on both knees. Will YOGABODY or exercises help me?

Sara, the answer is I don’t know. YOGABODY Stretch, our supplement, might help with some of the inflammation. A lot of tests have been done with methyl sulfonyl methane, which is one of our key ingredients, for arthritis, and it’s proven very effective as an anti-inflammatory and for helping to heal.

Can it heal this condition? No way, I mean, this is a structural thing. In terms of surgery, I have no idea if that’s the best option for you. I would definitely, with knees, always see a couple of specialists, but every day they’re getting better and better with knee surgeries, so I certainly wouldn’t rule out the option if it seems like it’s going to be something that will help save those joints.

So what happens is, when you have joints that are misaligned, over time they wear out. So, sometimes that can affect itself right at the joint itself. Sometimes it can radiate up and create a hip problem or something like that. It sounds like a big challenge. Hope things go well, Sara. Keep us informed about what happens.

Emily asks:

When I do Rag Doll Pose (for those of you who don’t know, Rag Doll is a standing, passive gravity pose forward bend), my calves start to tighten up and I even get knots in them. No matter how much I relax my body, they keep tightening up. My hamstrings have also been unusually tight. I seem to be able to go deeper in a seated forward fold, such as paschimottanasana than I can in Rag Doll. Can I replace Rag Doll with the seated forward fold?

Emily, whenever you find a yoga pose that’s really hard, it’s usually a good sign that that’s the one you need to do. I’ll give you a little tip. This is a good way to do Rag Doll, is put your bum against the wall. What I mean by this is you’re standing in a forward bend, always bend your knees a little bit to keep your lower back safe, and then just back right up against a wall and lean your butt up against the wall. Sometimes that in itself allows you to relax and stay there longer. Give that tip a try, let me know how it goes.

Shan asks:

Do you have any tips how to reduce belly fat?

This is an interesting question. A lot of people talk about spot reduction, and spot reduction in terms of weight loss would be I have weight just on my thighs, my hips, my butt, my belly. How can I reduce that?

Spot reduction doesn’t really work. What I mean by that is our body tends to lose fat uniformly. So you’ll lose fat underneath your chin, in the same time you lose it under your breasts or in your thighs or your butt or your hips or wherever it is.

The one thing I will say about belly fat, is that there are certain foods that tend to create belly fat, due to the place where the sugar is metabolized, and those foods are highly lipogenic sugars, specifically things like alcohol. So for example, alcohol sugars are metabolized in the liver, high fructose corn syrup, fructose in general is metabolized in the liver, and so that can leave to an exaggerated state of belly fat.

If you look at people who have what’s called a beer belly, you can find people who have very normal fat distribution throughout their whole body and they have this abnormally large lower abdomen, and that can be due to alcohol. And it has to do with where the sugar is metabolized and where that fat is stored. For a number of specific reasons, when the sugars are metabolized in your liver, that fat is usually stored around your vital organs, right in your belly, so reducing sugars and reducing alcohol can be really helpful, Shan.

You might also look at inflammation. Inflammatory conditions can make it seem as though you have more belly fat than you do. Common inflammatory foods are wheat. Almost everybody knows the feeling of eating too much bread and feeling bloating. A lot of people are bloated every single day. They’ve been bloated every day for so long, they’ve forgotten they’re bloated and they just think they have a protruding belly. So wheat, dairy is also a very common inflammatory food for a lot of people, and there’s other allergens as well, but those are really the two big ones to take a look at.

So reducing sugar, taking a look at wheat and dairy, maybe trying an elimination diet for 10 days to see how they react and go from there. In terms of spot reduction, in terms of doing some kind of ab exercise that’s going to get that belly fat specifically, fat burning doesn’t really work like that. But, like I said, there are some strategies you can use to make sure that you’re not abnormally collecting abdominal fat.

Michael asks:

I gave up meat in May 2012. My legs itchy, I have a burning sensation on my legs. After reading this blog, I cut the bread at lunch and it seems to be less irritated. I spent 3 hours at the allergists, but they can’t test for sulfites. Is there anything going on here?

Okay, Michael, I sent you a private email as well. Anytime you make a big dietary change, like giving up meat or giving up dairy or giving up wheat, it’s not uncommon for people to develop allergies. I’ve seen people develop allergies to foods they’ve eaten their whole life, like strawberries, like bell peppers, all kinds of different things.

And I’ve seen many, many food allergies come and go. It’s very, very common for food allergies to come and go. Children, for example, can develop allergies to chicken eggs, and then that allergy will pass in a year or two years, very, very common.

So, allergies are a bit of a mystery. There’s all kinds of different things that can trigger it, but at the end of the day your body is saying don’t give me this food, for whatever reason. So wheat, yes, wheat is a huge, huge allergen. Everyone is allergic to wheat, everyone. The question is, how allergic are you. Is it something you can see and feel? Is it just happening internally? Are you suffering from mild inflammation? Are you getting gas and bloating, indigestion? Are you actually damaging your GI tract and your lining? Those are questions you need to ask yourself.

With an itching rash beneath your skin, that sounds like something else, not wheat. It could be wheat, I doubt it. In terms of sulfites, sulfites are a natural preservative that’s used in a lot of packaged foods, also a lot of things like wines. Wines without sulfites are very hard to preserve, they go off really easily. And you’ll also find sulfur-containing supplements, like YOGABODY Stretch, which has methyl sulfonyl methane, it’s a natural form of sulfur, and it can affect people with sulfite allergies. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen to some people.

The key thing to play with here is an elimination diet. Pick out some of the key allergens and take them out of your diet. Take 10 days, that’s usually a good period of time, and see what’s going on. In terms of giving up meat, could that be the cause, it’s unlikely but it could be that you’ve started to eat something else more, like the wheat or supplements or whatever it is, that’s triggering that weird allergy.

Jack asks:

I started regular Yoga twice a week 2 years ago. I am 69 years old and I’m quite fit. I have been vegetarian for 30 years. I eat lots of raw vegetables, but there is no way I am going to give up low-fat cheese and non-fat yogurt. Am I wasting my time and money trying to do the Wheel?

The Wheel is a backbend pose. Jack, no, I would say no problem at all. In terms of low-fat dairy, the best thing about dairy is the fat, so eating non-fat dairy and non-fat cheese is a really bad idea. The best thing that dairy has going, and it hasn’t got a lot of good things going, but the best thing about it is it’s a fantastic source of saturated fat, especially if you’re getting organic, good-quality dairy.

If you’re buying commercial dairy, that fat is probably ladened with antibiotics and all kinds of other pesticides and crap they feed the cows. But if you’re eating nice, organic dairy, the best thing you want is the fat. In fact, if you insist on eating dairy, go for the fattiest dairy you can, because that fat is the best thing. All the other stuff, especially the sugars in dairy, that lactose, is inflammatory for most people, and most dairy causes some kind of allergic reaction in adults. 69 years old, there’s a good chance that stuff is giving you problems. In any case, it sounds like you really love cheese and yogurt, which I understand. Go for the full fat version. I bet you’ll find less reaction.

In terms of affecting your ability to do the Wheel pose, no way. You can still do it. I’m not a fan of dairy, dairy is mucus-forming, but again, you’ve got to pick your battles. If you love yogurt, if you love dairy and it works for you, don’t worry about it. You can still develop a really great yoga practice. It’s not a black and white thing.

Carolyn asks:

I have a student who is a lactating mother. Can she take YOGABODY Stretch?

YOGABODY Stretch is kind of our signature nutritional supplement. Carolyn, I would say no. There’s absolutely no reason why she can’t, but I don’t recommend people do anything different when they are lactating or when they are pregnant. I know for new moms it feels like forever, but it’s really a brief period of time. Better to follow your doctor’s advice and keep things simple. Adding in things you’ve never done before is probably not the best idea.

A lot of overzealous moms start doing all kinds of new things, like going to new types of exercise, new types of yoga, taking all kinds of new supplements. If your doctor recommends it, go for it, otherwise I think staying stable with your current lifestyle, if it’s working, if it’s healthy, is probably the best advice. But again, always refer to your doctor on that one. Quit Coffee