Three Unconventional Steps to “Fix” Belly Fat After 50

About five years ago, I was in Nordstrom here in San Francisco with a personal shopper. My age: late 50’s. My quest: getting a knock ‘em dead outfit for my second date with the latest Match.com candidate.

But things didn’t go well. Looking at my almost-naked body in front of triple full-length mirrors was torture. I posed several ways in the dressing room, hoping to make the skin puckering on my torso less prominent.

The longer I was left alone with those mirrors and the cruel fluorescent lighting, the steeper the nose dive my confidence took, gaining exponential speed on its downward plunge

Finally, I, the advisor on loving your body now, sat down, head in hands, and sighed. “My stomach looks like jelly and I feel like a freak,” I thought.

Sound familiar? The changes to our bellies after ages 50 and beyond is the number-one challenge for women to accept, according to a recent study on body satisfaction at midlife. In fact, research says that we dislike our fat tummies more than our sagging faces and snake-skin hands.

So what can we do about our middle-aged muffin tops? It’s not a tummy tuck or liposuction. Miracle salves or supplements won’t do it, either. Exercise and new food selections are healthy but can’t change Mother Nature.

The only action that hits the bull’s eye: Control what’s between your ears. It’s not our abdomens that need adjusting. It’s our brains. Your brain believes everything you tell it! Watch what you say about yourself. Do not put yourself down.

My friend Claire, who owns Angelique Boutique in Sonoma, Calif., tells me that 95 percent of women who come into her warm, wonderful shop immediately begin to apologize for their bodies. No matter whether they’re large, small, tall, short, mature, or teenagers!

So, the three steps to combat belly fat after age 50:

  1. Make a statement of acceptance about your midsection.

  2. Admire a part of your body that you love.

  3. Follow through on a positive adornment plan.

Here’s how I did it: I stood up, shook myself off, and said out loud, “My belly has hung in there with me and supported me through diets — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not going to mock you. You are what you are! Kat, accept it right now!”

Yep, I really said that, lame as that sounds! Then, I focused on a part of my semi-naked body that I adored. “Look at that fabulous pedicure!” I said. I smiled at my twinkly toes, put on a fabulous new top over that stomach of mine, and waited for a sales associate to ring me up.

These steps are from my Exhale Midlife Body Blues book, which has more information about managing puffy tummies and other body image challenges. If you find the advice helpful, click this link for a tip sheet, “Overcoming Fitting Room Fatigue.”

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