Conversation About Abs


If you want to learn how to lose belly fat (specifically after age 40), you’re in the right place. 

Sure, flat abs may be appealing, but if long-term health is your goal, then it’s important to understand how to prevent fat build-up around the midsection. 

Keep in mind that not all fat is created equal. 

Visceral fat doesn’t just give you a big belly…it can surround your stomach, intestines, and liver, as well as lead to chronic illnesses, some of them potentially deadly.

Last week, I recorded a 15-minute Facebook live in our private Fit Over 40 With Kathy Smith group. The focus was your midsection. 

It was great!

Here’s what I discussed… 

  • Methods to tone the entire midsection… front, side, and back… your entire core! 
  • Techniques to reduce belly fat... including hard-to-target visceral fat
  • Understanding the two types of fat and how to eliminate both of them 
  • Exercise you can do throughout the day to make you look 10 lbs thinner 

If you missed it, then you’re fashionably late to the party!

You’re in for a treat, because we saved the video and it’s now available for replay for free!

Did you know that if you’re super stressed, it can lead to belly fat? 

When you’re stressed to the max, your cortisol levels go through the roof, and it triggers the release of insulin. This is where things go a little haywire. 

Initially, your flight, fight, or freeze response impacts your digestive system. Once the perceived threat has passed, your body tries to replenish by eating an excess of calories. 

Thanks, cortisol! 

Here’s an exercise you can do, right here, right now, to help you battle stress and curb your cortisol levels…. It’s called a BLT.

BLT stands for Breathing Listening Technique, and it’s just as simple as it sounds. You can try it, right now, wherever you are:

• Get comfortable in your chair. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed, down and back, and that your chest is nice and open.
• Take a nice, steady inhale on a count of 6.
• When you reach the top, try and hold it there for a count of 6. • While you’re holding your breath, listen. Try and identify any sounds around you, however distant or faint they may be: An air conditioner rumbling…A dog barking down the street…A car driving down the street…Or maybe just the soft song of a bird nearby. Whatever it is, be specific and mentally pinpoint the source of each sound.
• Slowly, exhale on another count of 6.
• Repeat this cycle 4-5 times.


This is so much fun, you guys. Of course, not having all that tech wizardry, it takes a while to get set up; but, anyway, it’s so exciting to be here. Let me just see. I’ve got a lot of pop-ups coming up here.

So, happy 2022. Happy New Year’s. We’re halfway through January already – which is crazy. Everybody’s started their New Year’s resolutions. I hope everybody set some good intentions for the year. But here’s some exciting news: my daughter Kate Grace on January 1st got engaged. So, we have a wedding planned for this year.

Plus, I was able to finally launch Reshape. Reshape is something I’ve been working on for, oh my gosh, a couple of years now. It’s Fit Body, Fit Mind, and Fit Food. The whole premise of the app was to have it all in one place where you can have your wonderful meals – which, I worked with a chef on the east coast, and it was really fabulous to work with somebody to create more plant-based foods.

My focus for 2022 is not only helping people take care of themselves but to take care of the planet. We know that eating more plants is great for your body, but it’s also environmentally kind of the right thing to do. So, it’s hard sometimes to make the transition, but what I did in Reshape is [2:00] for every meal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – I provided a traditional protein and then a plant-based protein. So, you always have choices: one or the other depending on your mood that day, depending on what your family wants. So, that’s kind of exciting. I’ll talk more about this later.

In general, today, what I wanted to get this whole year started with us talking on a more regular basis, where I jump into Facebook. I jump into the group – which, I love you guys. I love this group.

I wanted to start this discussion off with the most frequently asked question, which is about the midsection.

So, let’s get into the midsection and kind of discuss what’s going on. I’ve had so many questions that have come through that just talk about the muffin top, that talk about menopause, that talk about what do you do when you turn 50, when you turn 60. How do you do movements where your neck’s hurting you so you can’t do sit-ups? So, let’s jump in. Let me give you a quick overview of your abs.

So, when you think about your abs, think about you have the fat and then you have the muscles. So, when it comes to the fat, there are two types of fat. You have something called subcutaneous. That’s the kind where you pinch an inch, where you grab and you can pinch a little bit. That is underneath the skin. That’s, actually, a little bit easier fat to get rid of. The harder fat is called the visceral fat. Visceral is woven between your organs. It’s sort of deeper inside your abdominal wall. Now, the thing about visceral fat is that it is a little tougher to get to.

So, that’s why one of the things that I talk about in the newsletters and we talk about in the Facebook [4:00] group here: HIIT training. For you to push your body. So, HIIT training is high-intensity interval training. So, when you’re out for walks, or when you’re out for your run, or you’re on the elliptical, or you’re on a bicycle, just think about a couple of times a week being able to push yourself to that point where you’re saying, “I have to back off.” So, 60 seconds you might push, and then you back off for 60 seconds. You push again for 60 seconds.

But I’m saying at the end of that 60 seconds, on a scale of one to 10, you should be almost at an eight or nine, which means you’re winded, you’re out of breath, and you have to pull back. Those types of intervals that you create and put into your routine throughout the week are the best ways to target fat.

So, I would just suggest that as much as possible for anybody out there that’s talking about, “It feels mushy. It feels like I have this layer of fat.” Think about that cardio. Not just cardio because it’s not necessarily… I mean, all cardio is good, but it’s not necessarily that long and slow cardio. It’s where you really pick up the intensity. Again, not all the time, but at least a couple of times a week.

So, then you have the fat, but then want to address the muscles underneath the fat. So, when we think about the muscles, you have your… Let me see if I can stand up. You have your rectus, which goes from your rib cage to your hips. Those are your crunching muscles. Sometimes they’re called your sixpack muscles. But those are the muscles that we get when we do our sit-ups.

Speaking of sit-ups, a lot of people have said, “But, Kathy, my neck hurts!”

So, sometimes I use a towel. I just put the towel behind my head. I rest my head back and really relax it. You’re not jamming your neck or anything. You have it, you’re looking up at the ceiling, and now you just use your arms to support the [6:00] weight of your head because, you know, you have this head up here. A head, you know, you hear different numbers, but it can weigh from eight to 10 pounds. That’s being supported by your neck, and therefore these muscles can become very strained. Taking, you know, we can use your hands, but sometimes a lack of shoulder flexibility or mobility prevents that. So, the towel method really helps me with that.

Another technique I have for that is using an assist with your hands. So, again, you put your hands underneath. Imagine your knees are bent, and you put your hands by your legs, and you help assist you up. That assisting takes the pressure off during what I call that point. It’s that point that we all have, and it’s that point where you get to that part of the sit-up, and you can’t get up any further without straining. But instead of straining, assist. Use your hands to assist on your legs, and that will help you get up the rest of the way.

Okay, so those are your sixpack muscles. The next muscles are your obliques. Those are the ones that twist you from side to side. That creates the waistline. That creates the hourglass. That creates the strength and stability in your core. So, these are anything from your bicycles, your twistings like this, but what I’m doing right now are these kettlebell walks. You just take a weight in one hand, so you’re imbalanced. The idea is you’re not balanced. It’s only in one hand. A weight that feels fairly heavy to you. Then, you just walk 15 steps in one direction and then come back in the other direction. That’s stabilizing because as you’re walking and your legs are moving, and they’re alternating side to side, and you have to have that weight on one side, you have to use your obliques [8:00] right here to stabilize your core. So, that’s a very simple one that you can do even around the house. You have to have a few weights around the house. Don’t be afraid to lift a heavier weight with that because as you build up, the heavier it gets, not only is it going to tone the arm that’s holding it and your grip strength, but it’s also going to really target those obliques.

Okay. My favorite muscle to talk about: the transverse abdominis. Now, that’s the muscle that goes across your body. If you’re not holding your transverse… Let’s just see. If I’m not holding my transverse in, it’s like this. So, let me do it. This is transverse in. This is transverse out. Let me put this down a little bit. I want to demonstrate. Transverse in. Transverse out. When my transverse is not engaged…

So, how do I engage it? Imagine putting on something – it might be your tightest pair of blue jeans, and you have to zip it up. What do you have to do? You have to suck in those muscles a bit. Those are your transverse muscles. When you engage those throughout the day, but you engage them in exercise, you train them to use them throughout the day.

So, my big exercise I’m doing right now – which will be on Instagram tomorrow – is called the hollow hold. The hollow hold is where you get yourself… Basically, you’re on your back, shoulders off the floor, and your legs are off the floor. You’re holding this position, and you’ve hollowed out your stomach, and now you hold it there. You give me a little rock back and forth. It’s hard to show you, obviously, because you can only see my face right now.

So, hopefully, as we get better on this, I’m going to have a place. I’ve kind of looked at a studio where I can have, you know, the camera setup and we can actually do a workout together. So, that’s my hope in the next two or three or four weeks.

Right now, if you look at Instagram, look at the hollow holds because that [10:00] really works those transverse muscles, and trains them to turn on throughout the day.

So, right now, I’m working my transverse. As I’m sitting here, they’re engaged because they naturally are. I’ve trained them through the years, so I’m not slouching like this. I haven’t let go of my midsection. I’m not just in this, like, all my organs being scrunched and my spine not being supported. By putting on those transverse – now, look at my height right now. I actually grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, and I get slimmer in my waistline because I’ve turned those on. They’re supporting my back. They’re supporting me throughout the day. My energy level – my energy stays higher. My digestion and my elimination are better by that one simple move of learning how to turn those transverse on.

So, do me a favor and check out Instagram. I shot it today, and I think you’ll get a kick out of seeing it. It really kind of looks like a simple move, but it can be deceptive because when you try it and try to maintain that shape as you’re rocking slightly (just an inch back and forth), you’ll be surprised.

Then, the last thing, and this is not about your abdominals but about your core. We always talk about the core and having our back abs. So, what are the back abs? Those are the ones that literally are part of your core and they kind of get… You know, they’re a little bit where that muffin top is but also along the back. Doing anything that reverses your spine – that gets your spine to extend or hyperextend. So, if you’re flat down on the floor, you put your hands to your forehead, and then you bring your shoulders off the floor. Those motions like that start to work those back muscles – which, again, support the back, strengthen the back, and [12:00] just make you so much more symmetrical. Front, side, back. This is all your core. You cannot ignore any part of it.

But, then, just getting back to… Let me see what we’ve got going on here. Let me look over here.

I just know people are asking about the diet part of it, too. Like, what is the fastest way to lose weight in your belly or all over? They ask about one of the things that I’ve been talking about, which is intermittent fasting. I wouldn’t say it’s the fastest because I’m never into what is the fastest way. I’m into what is the healthiest way, and what is the best way to lose weight where you can lose it but also keep it off? Because, again, through the years – and I’m sure everybody out there knows this story. Losing the weight is part of the challenge, but then it’s keeping it off. That’s why I love the Reshape program that I’ve developed because it’s all about getting consistent with your choices every day, and adding a few of these tricks in that I talk about in the newsletters. One of them is time-restricted eating. So, time-restricted eating – which, if you don’t know what that is and you haven’t heard Felice Gersh…

By the way, everything we’re talking about right now, I’ll make sure there are some notes about it so you’ll have a reference point to go back to these links. But, Dr. Felice Gersh. Had her on the show a couple of times. By the way, she’s going to be on the podcast tomorrow! For all of you that love the podcast, finally! Your prayers! I’ve been asked, and everyone’s going, “When’s the new one coming out?” Well, tomorrow, Felice Gersh is going to be talking about menopause, pre- and post-menopause, and the 50… You know, she just wrote a book: 50 Things You Should Know About It. We came to the group, by the way. All of you guys had great questions, and they fell into categories that had [14:00] to do with, you know, skin, hair, body weight, change of body shape, sex. That was a fun one to talk to her about. You know, lack of libido, headaches. We get into all of this on the podcast tomorrow. So, look out for that one. Felice is going to be sharing so many of the really science-backed ways that you can address these issues.

We also talk about intermittent fasting on that podcast, but then there’s another one that I really want you guys, if you haven’t listened to it, Felice Gersh. Intermittent fasting is also a form of time-restricted eating – or vice versa: time-restricted eating is a form of intermittent fasting.

Time-restricted eating just means you’re going to stop eating at night at a certain time, and then 13 hours later you’ll eat again. You’ll break your fast. So, there is a certain timeframe for everybody that’s a good timeframe for people, but 13 hours is a good one to shoot for. It’s not really that crazy. If you stop eating at six o’clock at night, then you’re going to eat at seven o’clock the next morning. If you stop eating at seven o’clock at night, then you’re going to go to eight o’clock.

The main thing is – and she really focuses on this in the podcast – is that we’re sort of designed to burn more calories, to have our blood sugars more balanced in the morning and afternoon. So, when we eat too many of our calories late at night, it can really disrupt our hormonal patterns. It can disrupt not only our sleep, but it can also force and cause more weight gain.

So, it’s really interesting. [16:00] The way that I’ve found for my body, I’ve found a 14-hour window works best for me for my last meal at night to my first meal in the morning. But here’s the other trick, and it’s funny how it’s changed through the years. We used to talk about snacking and snacking and snacking, eating every two to three hours. Now, we see that every time you put something in your mouth, you’re forcing your body to release these digestive juices, and it never has time to rest, to heal, to clean anything out that needs to be cleaned out. Also, you’re constantly in a carbohydrate phase.

The more you can stretch those periods between your breakfast and your next meal, you get to trigger more of a fat-burning metabolism. The trick is to maintain weight loss is to be able to go from carbohydrate metabolism to fat metabolism. The best way that I’ve found that is with time-restricted eating. You can hear more about that on tomorrow’s podcast.

Let me just think. What else do I have to tell you?

Here are some other things that are coming in. The post-menopausal belly, day jobs, sitting in a chair, fatigued by the end of the day, overweight, and out of shape. Okay, that says it all. Right?

First of all, sitting in a chair. Find ways to get up every 20 minutes. Just to stand up. Studies show that just by changing your body position will help take, first of all, the weight off your back. Gets your energy levels up. But it will also remind you to get in the pattern of moving more.

So, every 20 minutes that you’re sitting down, stand up. At least once an hour do two minutes [18:00] of something very simple. If I’m sitting down – here’s a little chair – I just do these little pop-ups. Like, one. Just up and down. You just do it. You get the breath in there, through the nose, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. You get this pattern going of energy’s up, I work my booty a little bit, I’ve got full-body circulation, and then about once every four hours – if that’s how long you have to sit – you need to get up and do a four-minute… Really pushing, kind of like an interval, pushing to where at the end of four minutes you’re really out of breath. That can be really simple.

I mean, this was Zach Busch, which he just gets you to do your jumping jacks, and then you sit down. Then, you do your punches. Then, you do your chair pop-ups. Then, you come over, and you repeat it, and you repeat that pattern for four minutes. Those kinds of breaks in the day will help keep your energy up. They give your metabolism a little bit of a boost. They are brilliant for, you know, decompressing the spine, and they’re just a reminder that our bodies are meant to move. There are ways that throughout the day if you’re forced to sit, that you can get this movement. Even if you’re moving in the morning or later in the day, try to find breaks throughout the day because it’s also a reminder of where is your core.

So, in wrapping up here, just ask yourself – maybe this week become a little more mindful – “Where is my core when I’m standing up, when I’m sitting down, when I’m lying down, when I’m exercising?”

So, the first thing when I start any exercise is there is a bracing technique – that, again, on Instagram, I’m going to show you this hollow hold [20:00] bracing technique. I don’t care if you’re doing a bicep curl. The first thing you should think about is hollow hold or brace. That bracing is where you engage that area, and now I do my bicep curl. Now, I do my tricep extension. Now, I do my overhead press. But it all starts at the core.

Once you start to reimagine and recreate your routines so that that becomes the leader of the charge… So, I’m not just kind of like sitting here going like this with the bicep. Core, and then the movement.

Okay, on that note, what else can I say? It’s been fun. I hope we get to do this. I’m trying to figure out ways. Give me lots of feedback. Trying to figure out fun ways that I can help you, send you lots of love – because my message for the year is just spreading more love in the world. Along with that comes self-love. Just learning to love yourself. Wherever you are right now, wherever you are is perfect. Where do we go from there? If you can come from that area, if you can come from that space that you’re perfect – you’re perfect as you are. Now, we want to develop new techniques, new talents, new ways to move so that we really can be the best in our 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, and we can participate in all of life’s adventures.

So, love is my big word of the month, of the year. With that, I love you all. Okay. ‘Til next time!

Now I have to figure out how to get out of here. I think I’m going to close this, and that. Maybe I’ll just walk away and it will close down. [22:00] Oh, how about “end.” That makes sense.

[Blows kiss] End! Love it!