Have you ever woken up to a completely flat stomach only to find yourself looking like you swallowed a basketball a few hours later?
No matter how much we try to hide it, sometimes bloating happens, maybe more during certain times of the month (eh em, shark week, am I right ladies?).
What I’m here to tell you is this: it’s perfectly OKAY.
And as it turns out, more people are struggling with this issue than you realize. So what can we do to beat the bloat blues? Keep reading to learn more.
First, we need to recognize how bloating affects us mentally.
I understand not wanting to talk about this concept because, well, let’s be honest:
Bloating is just a sugar-coated word for gas, and nobody likes talking about gas.
So why bring it up?
Bloating is an extremely common phenomenon. Even with this issue being so prevalent among men and women, we choose not to discuss it because it can be an unflattering subject.
But the reality is that bloating can be caused by numerous factors, some of which are easier than others to control. Bloating can be brought on by things like using a straw in your coffee, drinking soda, having bacteria prone foods in your system, eating too much starch, the list goes on. It could also be a result of having a more serious chronic condition like *Chrohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome .
For an issue that is rooted in various causes, you’d think we’d discuss both the physical AND mental challenges associated with bloating.
Bloating isn’t just a physical discomfort…it is a mental discomfort, too.
Going from THIS to THIS on a daily basis can wage war on your confidence.
You try to suck it in, flex your abs or just flush it out with water, but nothing helps you return back to your flat stomach and you are completely unconvinced that a set of abs even exist behind all that bloat.
You’ve counted your macros, you went to the gym, and you skipped that chocolate cake, but for what? Your belly is ballooned and your guts are wreaking havoc. Despite all your efforts, you are left with nothing to show for it.
To top it all off, feeling sexy in a set of lingerie when you look like the Michelin Man is a really hard thing to do.
After experiencing this discomfort on a daily basis, it is just too easy to succumb to the feelings of embarrassment, frustration and isolation. Believe me, I’ve been there, and I know many of you have too.
Even now, it is still a daily battle to want to love my body for what it is each and every day.
But ladies (and gents), if you take anything away from this post today, let it be this:
Bloating is temporary.
There are days you might have a six pack and other days you might not. It doesn’t make you any less of an athlete. Don’t be afraid to remind yourself of this concept the next time you are standing in front of the mirror looking like you are in your third trimester. It only changes your appearance; don’t let it change your willpower.
Here is a prime example of what not to do:
(I’m not proud of this, but it’s real and it happens)
There are days when I find myself with a little extra bloat. So what do I do? I give myself the green light to devour a giant bowl of java chip ice cream, thereby making the bloat even worse due to my lifelong kerfuffle with lactose. Because I’m bloated, I don’t feel the need to keep eating healthy for the day because my efforts just feel wasted. If I don’t have a flat stomach, why bother trying?
Conversely, when I end my day with a flatter stomach, I feel more inclined to eat with a much higher awareness. I substitute my dessert for something of a lesser caloric density, or dare I say it, skip dessert entirely. I feel confident that day, and I don’t want to wreck my chances of maintaining my flat stomach for the remainder of the evening.
The takeaway? Bloating can enable you to make really great or really poor decisions. But it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) need to be that way.
Think of it as your grand opportunity to test your willpower.
Each day is a fresh start to make a great choice, regardless of how your body looks and feels. I want you to know that there might be days when you feel less than your “optimal” self, but love yourself anyway and do the things you know will make you look and feel better in the long run.
Sometimes your body is just going to have a mind of its own, but you need to remind yourself that you are strong and beautiful, inside and out. Throughout every change your body undergoes, you are always still you. Embrace the curves, the fluid retention, and the squishiness. It’s just your body’s way of signaling a change in your homeostasis.
Top 5 Tips for
Beating the Bloat
1. APPRECIATE THE SMALL THINGS
Any chance you get to boost your confidence, do it with 100% effort. Don’t be completely narcissistic, but focus on positive things that you like about your body.It can be anything! Pick out your best features and compliment yourself.
Then, write down your affirmations in a place you check frequently. Are you glued to your phone? Change your screen saver to your list of affirmations. Do you keep a daily planner? Hide a sticky note on today’s date. Hold yourself accountable for showing some self love.
You might find these affirmations helpful on a day you are struggling, belly bloat or otherwise.
2. DON’T WEAR TIGHT CLOTHING
Stay comfortable! Wear a hoodie or an oversized t-shirt. Nothing feels worse than putting on a tight shirt and constantly feeling like you need to suck it in. Better yet, put on a maxi dress! This is a great way to feel beautifully feminine when you feel concerned about your bloated belly, plus it helps with preventing that constricted feeling you get while wearing jeans.
The aim here is NOT to hide your bloat in a shameful manner. There is no need to feel ashamed for a naturally occurring body response.
Rather, view it as way to temporarily forget about the thing that is causing your self-consciousness. It never hurts to have another excuse to wear stretchy yoga pants.
3. DON’T RELY ON THE MIRROR
Have you ever heard the saying “objects in mirror are hotter than they appear”?
Well it’s true! There is something SOOO self defeating about seeing your bloated belly at the end of the day after you took all the precautions to not become bloated in the first place.
Sometimes you can do everything right and your body has different plans. A side view in the mirror is only going to magnify that feeling of defeat. Don’t beat yourself up. Self shaming is not allowed here! Sometimes you are a beautiful, bloated babe and you just need to own it without a mirror telling you that you’re puffier than normal.
4. TALK ABOUT IT WITH FRIENDS
Bloating can happen at the most inopportune time. Whether you are on a date, sharing appetizers with your friends, or sweating at the gym, “holding it in” is NEVER a pleasurable experience.
Neither is making it to a restroom and staying completely silent because the person in the stall next to you might hear your outburst of bodily relief. Ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about. From my understanding, men don’t encounter this problem as often, but even if they do, it’s hilarious that we don’t just accept the fact that foods make us gassy, men and women alike.
Do your part in normalizing this issue. Break through the “bloat barrier” and talk to friends about it. Swap stories! Make this a normal thing that we aren’t afraid to talk about. See what remedies work for them. You might learn something new.
5. KEEP AN ACHIEVEMENT LOG
On those days that you are feeling really down in the dumps, reflect on all that you’ve done thus far to create the body you are proud of. If you are bloated, you might not feel like you’ve progressed at all, and you’ve completely forgotten each step you took towards a healthier lifestyle.
Keep a journal of every accomplishment you’ve achieved throughout your fitness journey, big or small. Whenever you are bloated and that feeling of disappointment creeps up on you, make it a habit to read through your achievement log.
Remember the time you said “no” to mimosas and chose to drink water instead? Remember the day you graduated from power walking to jogging a full mile? These are the little celebrations that keep us grounded and move us towards a higher self esteem, even when the bloat is pulling us in the opposite direction.
Bloating is a common occurrence that can pose a real struggle to our body positivity, but it’s normal, it’s common, and I am always here to cheer you on.
Let me know how these tips work for you!
As always, Leah
* Remember, there are multiple causes that could be leading to your bloating issues, but the content provided herein is not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool or treatment plan. If you are still concerned about the severity of your bloating symptoms or the impact that it is having on your physical or mental well being, it’s best to talk to your primary care physician.