The diet ads all speak of giving you “one weird trick” to defeat “stubborn belly fat.” Have you ever noticed that belly fat is always — always — described as “stubborn”? That’s because it is, in fact, stubborn. It’s like the mule of your body, digging in its heels and unwilling to respond to your heartfelt pleas that it quickly exit the premises and leave you looking slim and slender, just like you did in college.
Sun Tzu, the author of The Art Of War, counseled military commanders to know their enemy and understand his motivation. That same advice applies to those fat cells that have been jiggling around your midsection since 1985. Why do those pigheaded bits of flab want so desperately to remain part of your body? (Although it’s kind of flattering when you think of it in that way, isn’t it?)
In reality, the motivation of belly fat cells isn’t hard to understand. They were created long ago, when you had an extra-large slice of cake at your college roommate’s wedding or drank 16 beers and ate an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken while watching New Year’s Day bowl games, blissfully unaware that your slowing metabolism meant that those bad decisions would saddle you with apparently permanent waistline companions that would require you to buy roomier pairs of pants. Those new cells really liked the spacious midsection area, were joined by friendly neighbors, sank down deep roots, and started a family. Now their children and grandchildren are there, too, all living together as part of one big, happy, ever-growing, increasingly ponderous belly fat cell community. No wonder they want to stay, forever!
Sure, there are Johnny-come-lately fat cells that also have moved into the neighborhood over the last few years. During the first week of your weight-loss effort, when you are still sticking carefully to your diet and are highly motivated to hit the treadmill, those latecomers may decide to immediately hit the road — but those new kids on the block don’t have the same sense of long-term commitment as the original belly fat cells. The pioneers are made of sturdier stuff. They live in the most upscale areas, like Love Handles Lane and Breadbasket Boulevard, and they are going to stay in their comfortable lodgings until the the sheriff comes to change the locks. They will fight the eviction efforts of The Man with every fiber — or, more accurately, lipid — of their beings.
So you may as well face it: those belly fat cells won’t leave without a fight. Don’t blame them. If you were in their position, living in familiar, safe surroundings, you would do exactly the same thing. You’re just going to have to force them out. Sun Tzu would say that if you’re trying to lose weight, you just need to prepare for a long, hard campaign.