All Woman

Taming your tummy

DENNISE WILLIAMS, Observer staff reporter

Monday, March 17, 2003    

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Fighting the battle of the bulge is difficult, but tackling "belly bulge" is even more of a challenge. What can you do? How can you get rid of the unsightly protrusion that ruins the shape of your clothes and prevents you from wearing trendy hipsters and stepping out in confidence? Well, from the least expensive and most challenging to the least challenging and most expensive, your basic options are: Diet, exercise, liposuction and tummy tuck.

First, let us look at diet and exercise. Aerobics instructor, Tisha Simpson of In Motion Dance Studio, advises that the best way to reduce the appearance of a large stomach is a combination of diet and exercise. She recommends the following for abdomen reduction: Crunches done in a flat position; sit ups practiced on an incline board; reverse crunches, that is, where the knees are pulled up to the chest while you are flat on your back; double crunches, which combine reverse and regular crunches; and hanging leg raises which are done using a cable machine in an aerobics dance studio.

Additionally, according to fitness experts, the key to working off fat from any part of the body is exercise which will not only help in a good blood circulation, but will also burn extra calories. Exercises like swimming, walking, jogging and cycling are useful for reducing the extra fat around the waist and belly. These are effective as they involve movements like rotating, pulling, and swinging.

Nutritionists on the other hand, suggest the following regimen: A balanced diet including lots of fresh vegetables and fruits rich in fibre; and avoiding all types of fat. They caution however, that doing exercises on one hand and taking food rich in fat, on the other, will not flatten your belly.

If diet and exercise do not only help to tame your tummy, surgery is another option.

"Losing the fat on the abdomen will not only make you look better, it will benefit your heart. Statistics show that people with a lot of weight in their mid- section are prone to heart attacks. From a cosmetic point of view, it is not attractive.

"And this unattractive feature usually shows up in the 30s when fat starts accumulating around the tummy. But women in their 20s, who have had children, may find the abdomen getting bigger as the muscles lose strength and tone. Older women, who are bogged down with raising kids, housework, career and spousal responsibilities, tend to neglect themselves and gain weight which is concentrated in the mid-section," says a medical doctor who works out of Apex Medical Centre in Portmore Pines.

"However, exercise and diet have their limits," the doctor states. "Diet and exercise will only go so far in reducing the tummy, especially if you want washboard abs. Once belly fat is there, it will not get pancake flat. Either liposuction for mild fat or tummy tuck for a gross or pendulous abdomen, will work," he advises.

But he says, "overall weight loss is still paramount. Liposuction is a lifestyle change. If you eat badly the fat will come back. Even with the tummy tuck that cuts away fat, the bulge will come back with a poor diet. I know people who have had tummy tucks and may have to do it again."

Liposuction, which is a popular option available here in Jamaica, is the removal of fat from any area of the body to contour the body and give it a better shape. But it is not weight reduction. The procedure takes a few hours because it is done in stages. It is n because you are under a local anaesthetic.

"Liposuction will make you will look better but it does not have the same effect on everyone who does it. If you are very fat, liposuction will not have same effect as someone who carries less weight. Basically, a weighty person will not get a flat stomach with the first attempt of liposuction and may be required to do several operations,"says a Kingston-based medical practitioner.

A more advanced procedure is the tummy tuck, which is the cutting away of extra flab. You are however, left with a scar on the bikini line. If you have excess fat, liposuction is recommended prior to a tummy tuck to rid the tummy of excess fat before the surgery. The good news is that both can be done as an outpatient procedure.

The average is $6,500 for the liposuction and $12,000 for the tummy tuck.

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