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Below-the-Belt Belly Bulge?

Some folks—even Beyoncé—call theirs a FUPA. Here’s how to deal with it so you can look and feel your best.

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The FUPA is having a moment. And it’s more than 15 minutes of fame. Since Beyoncé spoke about her own FUPA in the September 2018 issue of Vogue, it seems like everyone is talking about the fatty upper pubic area and what to do about it.

What is the FUPA?

FUPA, or fatty upper pubic area, is the slang term for that fat around your lower belly that you may find yourself bemoaning in the mirror and trying to tame with control top underwear.

The scientific word for FUPA is panniculus, and in its early stages it’s mostly annoying belt bulge that you can pinch and that may puff out the front panel of your jeans. Belly fat can either be classified as subcutaneous or visceral, depending on where the body stores it. You can pinch subcutaneous fat because it sits right under the skin. Visceral fat, however, is in the abdominal cavity between the organs and can increase your risk for heart disease.

A large FUPA might extend past the leg opening of your swimsuit. A very large panniculus can have a severe impact on your mobility and the activities of your daily life. Developing a larger FUPA may also be a sign of overall weight gain, which could include visceral fat. Plus, visceral fat may also cause the lower belly area to protrude, making a FUPA larger.

What causes FUPA?

Having some fat in the upper pubic area is normal, but several things – such as childbirth, rapid weight loss and genetics — can cause this area to grow larger. This area can also get larger as we get older.

“For a lot of women, it has to do with hormonal changes,” Tiffany Moore, a certified health and fitness coach who works mostly with women ages 45 to 64, explains. “As you get older, especially over 40, your body starts to change, and you start to lose muscle mass.”
But Moore says that stress, lack of sleep, your diet and other lifestyle choices also make a huge impact.

5 Ways to Fix Your FUPA

From surgery to self-acceptance, there are several ways to make sure a FUPA doesn’t keep you from living your best life.

Turn to your doctor for help.
If you have a large panniculus that’s severely impacting your mobility and causing skin infections and rashes due to constant irritation and sweating, your doctor may recommend a panniculectomy. This operative procedure changes the shape and form of the abdomen by removing significant excess skin and tissue.

Adopt healthier habits.
Any fitness pro will tell you that you can’t spot reduce fat. You can’t lose fat only in one area of the body.
“So you want to just start by eliminating the overall body fat, which comes through healthy eating habits, exercising, eliminating stress, sleeping,” Moore says.

Here are three healthy habits that can help that belly bulge budge:

Opt for well-rounded workouts. Just doing sit-ups and crunches won’t cut it. You’ll need cardio and strength training. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle strengthening activity each week.

Cut your carbs. “They say abs are made in the kitchen,” Moore says. “So eating healthier is one of the biggest keys, if not the most important key.”

Moore is not the personal trainer who’s going to tell you to never eat a cookie. But if you are a carb lover who wants to reduce belly fat, you’ll need to limit processed foods and simple carbohydrates like white flour, sweets and sugary drinks. Instead, opt for complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, whole grains, vegetables and legumes.

Beverly Johnson, a certified health coach and fitness instructor based in Huntsville, Alabama, also recommends cutting back your salt intake as sodium can cause bloating. Johnson adds that it’s important to reduce your caloric intake but to make sure you still have well-rounded meals that include lean protein and veggies.

You snooze, you lose – belly fat. “People who usually get less than five hours sleep, especially over 40, tend to gain weight more in their stomach,” Moore says.

According to the Sleep Foundation, too little sleep increases cortisol and it also causes an increase in ghrelin and a decrease in leptin — two hormones that regulate hunger and can stimulate appetite. So, try to get in at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Let’s remember that when Beyoncé spoke about her FUPA in Vogue she did so with acceptance, stating: '[M]y little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.' In fact, when Queen Bey celebrated her 42nd birthday on stage at So-Fi Stadium in California with 70,000-plus fans there for her 'Renaissance' tour, she even gave thanks for FUPA in her birthday speech.

Add these moves to your workout regimen.

Crunches alone won’t reduce belly fat, but certain exercises can help tighten your abdominal muscles. Here are some to try.

Johnson recommends adding these moves to your exercise program:

The plank

Johnson explains:

· Start on the floor on your hands and knees.
· Place your hands directly under your shoulders.
· Step your feet back, one at a time. (For more stability, bring your feet wider than hip-distance apart, and bring them closer for more of a challenge.)
· Maintain a straight line from the top of your head through your heels, gaze down just above your fingertips.
· Now, tighten your abs, quads, glutes and hold. [Most experts recommend holding for 10 to 30 seconds.] Think about digging through your heels, squeezing your quads, and keeping everything nice and tight.

Scissor kicks

Johnson’s tips:

· Find an exercise mat that feels comfortable. You’ll want a mat that has some thickness but is also firm.
· Lie on your back on the mat with your legs extended out in front of you. Place your arms by your sides, palms down. You can also place your hands under your glutes below the small of your back, palms pressing into the floor.
· Engage your core by pressing your lower back into the mat and tucking your pelvis. Maintain this position during the entire movement.
· Lift both legs off the ground about 6 to 12 inches from the starting position (in this case, the floor) or about a 45-degree angle.
· With your core tight and neck relaxed, lower one leg toward the floor as you lift the other leg up. This is the start of the “scissoring” motion.
· Continue the scissoring motion by slowly switching your legs up and down for the recommended number of repetitions.
· Perform 2 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions. Each leg scissoring counts as 1 rep.

Bicycle crunches

Here’s what Johnson recommends:

· Contract your core muscles, drawing in your abdomen to stabilize your spine.
· Hold your head gently with your hands. Pull your shoulder blades back and slowly raise your knees to about a 90-degree angle, lifting your feet from the floor.
· Exhale and slowly, at first, go through a bicycle pedal motion, bringing one knee up towards your armpit while straightening the other leg, keeping both elevated higher than your hips.
· Rotate your torso so you can touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up.
· Twist to the other side, while drawing that knee towards your armpit and the other leg extended until your elbow touches the alternate knee.
· Aim for 12 to 20 repetitions and 3 sets.

If you don’t want to perform exercises on the floor, Moore, who offers free workouts via her YouTube channel Moore2Health, recommends these moves:

Standing oblique crunches

· While standing with your core tight, place your hands behind your head.
· Lift your right knee, bringing your left elbow toward it.
· Repeat on the opposite side (bringing your right elbow to your left knee).
· Aim for 10 to 20 reps and 1 to 3 sets.

Standing crunches

· While standing with your core tight, place your hands behind your head.
· Bend forward while lifting one knee at a time, alternating left and right.
· Aim for 10 to 20 reps and 1 to 3 sets.

Lower belly chair workout 1

· Sit in a chair (on the edge, holding both sides of the chair) and place a water bottle in front of your feet.
· Turn in the chair so that both feet are on one side of the water bottle.
· Lift the foot closest to the water bottle over the bottle and tap the floor (making an arch).
· Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
· Aim for 1 to 3 sets.

Lower belly chair workout 2

· Sit at the edge of your chair and lean back.
· Use your lower abs to lift your knees, alternating left and right.
· Repeat 10 times. Aim for 1 to 3 sets.

Get clever with your couture.

If your FUPA isn’t really affecting your overall wellness but is putting a damper on your wardrobe, just get creative in your closet.

Try some of these fashion FUPA hacks:

· Dress in one color for a sleek, slim look. A black jumpsuit is a good go-to.
· Draw attention away from your midsection with eye-catching sleeves, necklines or accessories. Or just opt for a fit that will show off your lovely legs.
· Swap the belted and bodycon dresses for long flowy frocks.
· Top off your look with an open jacket to trim your torso or try a double-breasted jacket.

Learn to love your FUPA.

Here’s the thing, you could exercise regularly, drastically cut carbs and get eight hours of sleep each night and still have a bit of FUPA.

And that’s OK.

“Your body has changed and there's nothing wrong with that,” Johnson says. “It saddens me when I hear a client say, ‘I want to be high-school skinny.’”

You’re a different person now and your life looks different, so it’s natural for your body to look different too.

And let’s remember that when Beyoncé spoke about her FUPA in Vogue she did so with acceptance, stating: “[M]y little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.”

In fact, when Queen Bey celebrated her 42nd birthday on stage at So-Fi Stadium in California with 70,000-plus fans there for her “Renaissance” tour, she even gave thanks for FUPA in her birthday speech.

So why not show your little FUPA a little love too.

“The goal should never be to go back to being high-school skinny,” Johnson says, “but let's be the best version of yourself that you are in this season.”

Follow Article Topics: Health