Not to toot my horn or anything but I have a natural six-pack. Whether I exercise or not, it’s right there — showin’ out and off. Here’s the challenge, though — as I’ve gotten older, it’s been easier and easier for a layer or two of fat to cover it, so I’ve had to get real with myself about the fact that drinking IZZEs all day and eating ice cream late at night are not the way to go if I still want my natural six-pack to make an appearance.
Besides, the harsh reality is, belly fat isn’t exactly the best for our health. While it’s kind of a long story, there are basically two kinds of fat — there’s visceral which covers up our abdominal organs and there’s subcutaneous which sits right underneath our skin and creates a bit of a protective layer as well as helps to regulate our body temperature. Problem is, when either of these become too much, they can lead to things like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer.
That’s why, even if it’s not for aesthetic reasons, it’s important to monitor how much alcohol you drink, to balance your stress, to get consistent rest, to not smoke, to understand your family’s health-related history, and to watch your diet — so that you can do your part to keep your liver, stomach, uterus and other organs in your abdominal region is good condition.
As far as the diet part goes, there are several foods that you can eat that can help you to lose some of your belly fat (if losing some is currently one of your personal goals). So, are you ready to learn about which 10 foods can help to make that happen?
As far as nutrition goes, oatmeal is really good for you. It’s got an off-the-charts amount of manganese in it (191 percent of the Recommended Dietary Intake) along with fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, and Vitamin B. As far as other health benefits go, oatmeal contains antioxidants known as avenanthramides; these are beneficial because they help to lower your blood pressure. Oatmeal is also good for you because it helps to lower your blood sugar levels, can relieve constipation, and can offer you up a boost of energy too.
And why does oatmeal top the “belly fat burn” list? Well, thanks to the fiber in it, oatmeal can help to remove toxins that may be stored up, even in your gut area. Also, oatmeal has a soluble fiber called beta-glucans in it that can help you to feel fuller longer so that you’re able to resist the urge to eat junk food or snack on sugary stuff all hours of the day. So, if you’re ready to shed a few inches around your belly area, a bowl of oatmeal (with some fresh fruit like berries) can help to make that happen.
If you’re looking for a good dose of protein or Vitamin B, eggs have both. Some other things worth noting about them is they are full of “good cholesterol,” the choline in them helps to build your cell membranes and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin make eggs really beneficial when it comes to maintaining your vision.
And since eggs are such a protein-loaded kind of food (six grams per serving) and protein is what’s needed to build muscle, if while you’re trying to lose abdominal fat, you also want to gain muscle tone, a hard-boiled egg is always a good look.
Even though I have a fungal sensitivity (and mushrooms are indeed a fungus), I still have moments when I absolutely cannot resist them. I actually like them so much that sometimes I will pan-sear them with rosemary, butter, salt, and white pepper and…whew, chile! Mushrooms are healthy because they’ve got vitamins B and D, antioxidants, copper, and potassium in them. They are also good for you because they help to keep the cancer cells that cause prostate and breast cancer at bay, fight free radicals, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen bones and hair, and can even fight anemia.
Since vitamin D deficiency is directly linked to belly fat accumulation and mushrooms are a good source of this nutrient, if you’re a mushroom lover as well, you can see how it can effectively assist with getting your tummy down to where you want it to be.
4. Grass-Fed Meats
Because cows were meant to graze on grass, that’s why grass-fed meats are a lot healthier for you. That said, not only is grass-fed meat lower in calories, it’s high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and even electrolytes. And since it’s also antibiotic and hormone-free, you don’t have to worry about this kind of meat throwing off your hormones and packing on even more pounds.
Specifically, when it comes to your belly, grass-fed meats have an amino acid called leucine in them. It works alongside omega-3s to reduce bodily inflammation and produce lean muscle mass.
5. Raspberries and Blueberries
If nothing makes you happier than snacking on a bowl of fresh raspberries and blueberries (raspberries are at their best from June thru October and blueberries are at their peak from June thru August), you are already well on your way to doing your body a world of good. That’s because both fruits are high in vitamins C and K, antioxidants, fiber, and manganese. If you’re looking for foods that can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, fight off free radicals, protect your skin from damaging UV rays, help to prevent UTIs (urinary tract infections), and help to fight heart disease, raspberries and blueberries are tough to beat.
Belly-wise, they’re dope because they both are low-calorie fruits that can boost your metabolism and curb your appetite in the process. So yep, eat up and on!
6. White Tea
If you happen to be a tea lover, make sure that you’ve got some white tea in your stash. It has lots of antioxidants in it. It helps to reduce bodily inflammation. It’s got fluoride, catechins, and tannins in it that can help to keep your teeth and gums in really good shape. It contains compounds that help to prevent and fight cancer. White tea even has compounds that can help to slow down the signs of aging in your skin.
What makes it truly amazing in the fighting belly fat department is some of the properties in it will literally block the formation of fat cells in your system while helping to increase the breakdown of fat at the same time. So again, if you don’t have any white tea in a pantry somewhere…what are you waiting on, sis?
7. Bell Peppers
There aren’t too many foods that I’m not a fan of; however, for those of you who are totally down for bell peppers any chance that you get, please drop a note in the comments and let me know why. I mean, purely from a taste standpoint because, when it comes to health benefits, I totally get it. Bell peppers are made up of 92 percent water yet they still are a pretty good source of fiber and protein, not to mention vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Bell peppers are also full of plant compounds that are good for maintaining eye health and preventing chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Also, bell peppers are beneficial because the iron levels in them can reduce your chances of becoming anemic.
As far as belly fat goes, bell peppers are helpful, thanks to the fact that the compound capsaicin in them is not only able to increase the rate that your body is able to burn fat, it’s able to significantly suppress your appetite too.
8. Tart Cherries
The “technical” name for tart cherries is Montmorency cherries and, believe it or not, they are loaded with protein. Along with that, some other of its nutrients include fiber, vitamins A and C, manganese, potassium, and copper. Athletes like to snack on tart cherries because they’re able to reduce muscle soreness. Some studies say that tart cherries can help to reduce the pain that’s directly associated with arthritis and gout. They also contain melatonin which can make it easier to fall asleep at night. And the antioxidants in tart cherries are able to boost your brainpower.
If, like me, you like to eat cherries (their peak season is July and August), eat up because one study revealed that they are really good at reducing abdominal fat and decreasing fat mass overall.
I’m pretty sure that most of you know that pickles are simply cucumbers that have sat in vinegar for a good amount of time. This process puts pickles into the “fermented foods” category. This is great because fermented foods help to promote a healthy gut (check out “80% Of Your Immunity Is In Your Gut. Take Care Of It Like This.”). They also help your body to better digest vitamins B and K and improve your overall mood. Some other benefits of pickles include the fact that they’re full of antioxidants, they support your immune system remaining in top shape and they’re a solid source of potassium; this is great because potassium works to keep your heartbeat regulated while making sure that your muscles and nerves work as they should.
When it comes to belly fat, pickles are its enemy due to the fact that the vinegar in pickles is a consistent fat burner. Plus, since cucumbers are made up of 96 percent water, it’s a low-calorie snack that you can enjoy without any worry or guilt.
10. Dark Chocolate
The more I read and research the foods that are good for our overall health and well-being, the more I’m amazed by how often dark chocolate ends up on so many different lists. Did you know that whenever you eat the kind that contains no less than 65 percent cocoa, you’re taking in lots of iron, magnesium, copper, fiber, manganese, zinc, and antioxidants? All of these things work together to lower your cholesterol levels, increase blood circulation, reduce heart disease, protect your skin from damaging UV rays, improve brain function and keep your libido on track.
And how awesome is it that dark chocolate is good at reducing belly fat too? Thanks to the anti-inflammatory flavonoids that it has in it, it is able to reduce your overall body fat which is ultimately good for your stomach area in the long run.
Know what else I ain’t got no problem patting myself on the back about? I can make the entire hell out of some homemade eggplant parmesan! That’s why I can definitely vouch for the fact that it’s a great meat substitute/alternative (check out “10 Foods That Make Eating Less Meat...Easier”). Eggplant is also high in fiber, a pretty good source of protein and manganese and it has some potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins C and K in it too. Not only that but eggplant helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower your blood sugar levels and the phytonutrients can help to boost brainpower.
Eggplant is great at reducing belly fat because the fiber in it can help to remove excess waste and the protein in it can help to build muscles. So, if you’re looking for food that will be a perfect complement to your cardio and crunches, eating eggplant can never steer you wrong.
Quinoa is a grain that’s considered to be a superfood. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s got a ton of protein in it (eight grams per serving), along with lots of fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, iron, copper, and zinc. Quinoa is also good for you because it contains plant compounds that fight inflammation, amino acids that support your immune system and give you extra energy, properties that help to control your blood sugar levels, antioxidants that slow down signs of aging and, it’s a gluten-free food if you happen to be someone who has a gluten intolerance.
What makes it such a powerful belly fat fighter is the fact that quinoa contains a super high level of the neutral chemical compound betaine. That’s great because betaine increases metabolism and helps to inhibit the production of fat at the same time. Not to mention the fact that zinc and magnesium are two nutrients that fight against fat that likes to develop in the gut area too.
BONUS: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
At the end of the day, extra virgin olive oil is olive oil that has been processed the least so that you can get the most out of it. And what you’re getting are vitamins E and K, antioxidants that fight inflammation and properties that boost skin health, lower your blood pressure, improve digestion, help to prevent gallstones, slow down the aging process and so much more.
Since extra virgin olive oil helps to increase your metabolism, contains monounsaturated fats (these fats are actually semi-difficult to gain weight from) and it also has the polyphenol oleocanthal in it (it fights against inflammation in the gut area), cooking with this particular oil can work in your favor as you’re trying to get your tummy tight and right for the spring and summer seasons.
There you have it. 13 foods that are delicious to eat and great for dissolving belly fat…so that this summer, you can show that tummy off on a whole ‘nother level! (Be sure to send us some pics, chile!)
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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