When you’re young, the word “pooch” probably brings to mind visions of adorable puppies. As you get older, however, the word often takes on a more insidious meaning and begins to refer to unwanted lower belly fat, which is anything but adorable. Many women struggle with this issue and are often quite self-conscious about it despite how common it is. Here’s what you need to know if you’re currently fighting the battle of the bulge.
What is the Dreaded Lower Belly Pooch?
Abdominal fat is quite common in both men and women, but the term pooch generally refers specifically to lower belly fat that accumulates below the belly button. This most often occurs in women and has a few potential causes.
What Causes Lower Belly Pooch?
One cause of lower belly fat is simply being overweight. Fat deposits can and do make themselves at home in various parts of the body, but the belly is a very common area for fat accumulation. There is no rule that says fat deposits in your stomach need to stay above or around your belly button. Although many do, some people hold excess fat low in their abdomen, creating the dreaded pooch.
Developing a pooch is also a common side effect of perimenopause and menopause. At this stage in life, your body will experience hormone fluctuations, particularly in estrogen. You may also notice a decrease in your overall muscle mass and an increase in sleep deprivation as well as insulin resistance. These changes often lead to the development of a pooch in the lower belly in spite of your diet and exercise regimens.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is pregnancy. Pregnancy stretches the skin, and sometimes it’s not elastic enough to go back to its original position, leaving it hanging around your lower belly. Pregnancy can also create a condition known as diastasis recti. This is a vertical split in the abdominal wall muscles that is often unable to repair itself after pregnancy, causing the abdomen to sag forward.
Can Lower Belly Pooch Be Flattened?
You can win the fight against lower belly pooch and flatten your stomach once again, and there are several ways you can go about it (see here to find out how you can get rid of it fast). The one that works best for you will likely be determined by the specific cause of your belly.
Diet and Exercise
Unfortunately, when you lose weight, you don’t get to decide where on your body the weight goes from. This is why women often complain that when they started losing weight all that happened was their breasts got smaller. But losing weight will make you healthier overall and can reduce the size of your belly.
Exercise can help as well. While diet doesn’t allow you to target specific body parts, exercise does. V-sits, reverse crunches, scissor kicks, bird dogs, and other exercises can help strengthen your lower abdominal muscles and may be able to help pull your pooch back in.
Diet and exercise are great tools, but sometimes you want to hide your bulges in a hurry. In this case, shapewear can be a big help, holding your tummy in for you and smoothing you out. Shapewear can work wonders but use it responsibly. Wear the right size for you and avoid garments so tight that they leave marks on your skin.
Although we certainly encourage you to eat a healthy diet and live an active lifestyle, we also want you to be aware that a pooch caused by menopausal hormone changes isn’t one you will whisk away with diet and exercise. Surgery is often the only fix for this issue. You may benefit from lipo 360, a tummy tuck, a mini tummy tuck, or a mommy makeover if you’re looking to eliminate unwanted lower belly fat. These surgeries are quite helpful and can give you the flat stomach you want.
Note that these surgeries aren’t a panacea, however. Although their results are often considered permanent or very long-term depending on the procedure, you should be close to your ideal body weight before having them. Large spikes in your weight after a tummy tuck or other procedure can alter or undo your result. Plastic surgery is a great way to get an extra boost when you need a little help fine-tuning your curves. It won’t cure an ongoing unhealthy lifestyle, however.