"Feeling stressed can wreak havoc on our bodies. It can cause our body to produce the steroid hormone cortisol, which can make you crave sugary foods that provide instant energy and pleasure. Short-term bursts of cortisol are necessary to help us cope with immediate danger, but our body will also release this hormone if we’re feeling stressed or anxious. When our cortisol levels are high for a long amount of time, it can increase the amount of fat you hold in your belly."

About: Rachel, Valeri and Dori are three lifelong, childhood friends who share a very strong common bond: They all were fat, and they’re all now fit. But they’re also very unique — each has her own approach to weight loss and fitness, approaches that come together for one heck of a diverse blog. No matter what your level of fitness is or how much weight you need to lose, you’ll find a style from one of these ladies that resonates. Inspirational, logical and practical, Rachel, Valeri and Dori truly put together a masterpiece.

About: Kristen is a country girl living in Oklahoma who recently started blogging about figuring out the whole “healthy living” thing with her husband and two dogs. Kristen loves life and is full of positivity, which is exactly why she started blogging about making healthier choices — so that she can continue to live life to the fullest. Her blog features posts of encouragement and practical tips, as well as her own personal ups and downs with making choices that create the total wellness package.
But just because belly fat comes off a bit more easily doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. “Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Dr. Cheskin. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it’s more active in terms of circulating in the bloodstream. That means it’s likely to raise the amount of fat in your blood (known as blood lipid levels) and increase your blood sugar levels, which as a result raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“My motivation to lose weight stemmed from my worsening physical and mental health. Besides being down about my external appearance, my body was starting to rebel, and illnesses related to obesity were beginning to accrue. I shied away from social activities because I struggled with my self-confidence. I began the Take Shape For Life Program and was so happy to have found a program with structure and built-in support from the community—I never felt alone. My health coach motivated, guided and encouraged me, and made me believe that I could be successful. I am happier, more vibrant, more engaged in all aspects in life. I am more active with my family and am open to new experiences—ones that I felt were closed off to me prior. I am exercising at a more intense rate and feel like a rock star at Zumba! I am jogging. I am getting up off the sofa and running up and down stairs with no thought. I am playing sports with my kids. I am making healthier meals.”
About: Alycia’s been following blogs for years, but to her, the biggest problem is that many of them don’t start until after the author loses weight and finds success. Alycia’s got a different way of doing things — she is blogging to show her real-time approach for shedding her unwanted pounds, exercising and eating right. She’s putting it all out there and hoping that she can succeed, plus inspire a few people along the way.

What the diet advocate says: ‘FODMAPS are either absorbed slowly from the small intestine or not absorbed at all,’ says Dr Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and the brains behind the low-FODMAP diet. ‘When the FODMAPs move into the bowel, where they are fermented by bacteria, this produces gas and can also cause water to move into the bowel. This stretches the bowel wall, which stimulates the gut.’
Americans are getting less sleep than ever these days and it’s taking a toll on our health—most visibly on our waistlines. Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can make you gain weight, according to a study done by the Endocrine Society. Worse, that weight is more likely to go straight to your tummy. Instead, the researchers found, the best sleep cycle is one that follows your natural circadian rhythms, which means sleeping and waking around the same time as the sun. Here are the 7 ways to banish belly bloat in your sleep.

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Justine McCabe’s weight loss transformation story began in early 2015 after her husband unexpectedly and tragically committed suicide. Weighing 313 pounds at the time, his death shook her awake and made her realize she had to make a lot of changes. By taking control of her health, she chose to live. Justine documented her weight loss transformation in 365 days of selfies and continues to share her journey on her blog where she has lost 126 pounds, and counting!
Katie’s weight has been a challenge her entire life. But after having two boys, she reached an all-time high: 253 pounds. That was when she decided to make a change, but it didn’t happen right away. For the next three years, she dieted and bounced between losing and gaining 50 pounds. Her real weight loss journey began in 2009, when she used calorie counting and running to take off 125 pounds. Today, she writes about maintaining that loss, running, being a mother, and managing a bipolar diagnosis. Visit the blog.
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