Most women I know struggle with body image around their lower belly pooch. Society teaches women that a flat stomach is necessary to be healthy, beautiful, sexy and desirable. It's fed to women that the lower belly pooch is something to be fixed or is a flaw. The truth is, a completely flat lower belly is an unrealistic expectation, unachievable goal and a myth!
“The craze for the past several years is that women need to have a flat stomach in order to be considered attractive. This belief is setting women up for failure because a woman’s stomach isn’t meant to be flat,” Ashley Wood, RN, BSN.
We must normalize what a normal female body looks like, learn to love and appreciate our bodies and stop with the lower belly obsession for our own mental health and well being.
Here are reasons why your pooch is totally normal and a necessary part of the female anatomy.
EATING, DRINKING AND MONTHLY CYCLES
Your lower belly will grow throughout the day which is completely normal. It's just physics. If you fill a bag up with something, it will expand. When you wake up your belly is smaller and flatter with an empty stomach, but by the end of the day it is larger and more prominent because you ate, drank and have some bloating. It also will vary in size with your menstrual cycles, also totally normal.
WOMEN HAVE PADDING TO PROTECT VITAL ORGANS
Why is the completely fat stomach a myth and unachievable? Whether you have given birth to children or not, it is part of the post adolescent female anatomy and part of most women's genetics to have a small amount of subcutaneous fat in the lower belly to protect your vital organs and reproductive organs. It is anatomically correct and totally normal for a woman (in a healthy weight range and with a healthy waist circumference) to have a lower belly pooch!
Many women, including myself, who have birthed children will have loose skin from pregnancy in the lower belly which enhances the pooch. This is normal! Why not embrace this and feel gratitude for the incredible gift our bodies gave us! We made humans!
Why do you see some women without the pooch? Some women are genetically predisposed to not have the pooch or they have chosen to have surgery to remove it. This is not the majority and is uncommon.
SOCIETY FEEDS THE MYTH
The fitness industry and media perpetuate this with ads like "flat belly diets" and "exercises to lose the lower belly pooch" and images that are altered where women's pooches are edited out. You cannot spot reduce body fat with targeted exercises. Body fat can only be reduced overall by eating in a calorie deficit. That being said, if you eat in a calorie deficit, you will lose body fat in whatever place your body wants based on genetics.
ACCEPT, LOVE, TRUST AND NORMALIZE
Accepting, loving and trusting our bodies is easier said than done. How do you do this?
If you are eating a balanced, healthy diet and getting lots of exercise and movement, focus on how you feel. Are you gaining strength? Are you more functional? How do you feel overall?
Lessen the "flat belly myth" noise. It's time to unfollow on social media the toxic images, advertisements and groups that promote this myth. Stop wasting time focusing on this false and toxic input.
Pay closer attention to your health. Is your bloodwork, like cholesterol screenings in a normal range? How is your heart rate variations and blood pressure? How is your sleep and energy throughout the day? Ask your doctor for a checkup on your general health to find out.
I love affirmations and recommend saying them to yourself daily. Say affirmations to yourself like; I am beautiful, healthy, sexy and desirable; I trust, love and accept my body; my pooch has a purpose and is part of my healthy and normal body.
As many women do, I admit to struggling with my complicated relationship with my pooch. However, I have come to realize that it is a necessary and beautiful pooch! Most days it's smaller in the morning, and larger at the end of the day after eating meals. I have a pooch because, I eat, digest food and drink water, I have internal organs, I have birthed 3 beautiful and healthy boys, my body goes through monthly menstrual cycles and I am 45 years old.
That being said, I am also grateful to my body because I have muscle that I've worked hard for and work hard to keep, I am strong, I crush my workouts, on average I sleep well, my body is fully functional, my diet is balanced and healthy, I am in a healthy weight range for my body, my blood work and vitals are normal and most of all, I feel great and I am so grateful to my body (and my pooch) for the beast that it is!
Amy has spent her career helping others reach their health and fitness goals. "I hope sharing my knowledge and experience with others can help someone to live a healthier and more joyous life."