Heyyyy guys!  Welcome back to part 2 of your hooping for weight loss questions answered.  If you missed part 1, you can check out the blog here.  In part one we looked at whether hooping is an effective weight loss tool, why you can hoop consistently and still not lose weight, what’s going on with sugar cravings and whether on body or off body hooping is more effective for weight loss.  In Part 2, we’re going to take a look at:

  • How long should each hooping session be?
  • What’s going on with the upper and lower parts of belly fat and the flabby part of your arm
  • “I have a gorgeous Hoop from y’all…however, I cannot work it! When I was much younger (and thinner), was able to keep a hoop going forEVER. Sooo, really just one question: How do I get the darned thing to stay on/going?!”
  • How to stay motivated to keep hooping (and well, the motivation to do just about anything – one super simple 5 second hack)

I have a gorgeous Hoop from y’all...however, I cannot work it! When I was much younger (and thinner), was able to keep a hoop going forEVER. Sooo, really just one question: How do I get the darned thing to stay on/going?!

Without a video to see what’s going on, it’s a bit like troubleshooting blind, but here’s where I would start.

  1.  Do you have the right size hoop?  If you’re having a hard time keeping your hoop up, make sure your hoop isn’t too SMALL.  We usually aren’t going to see an issue with a hoop that’s too LARGE, so it’s more likely that it’s too light or too small.  If you would like to email me for personal help send me a note over to leighdavislittle@gmail.com!
  2. Take a look at a video I put together showing the 5 most common waist hooping mistakes and how to correct them
  3. You can also check this excerpt from our Hoop Fitness DVD on 3 ways to stop your hoop from dropping:  3 Ways to Stop Your Hoop From Falling

How Long Should I Hoop For In Each Session?

In our previous post, we talked about how you simply can’t “out train” or “out exercise” poor food choices.  Typically when I hear the question “how long should I workout for” it really means how long do I have to workout to lose body fat or improve body composition.  If we realize that improving body composition and health is far more than just calories expended, then we have to view workouts from a different perspective.  What are we really trying to achieve?  I would argue that each of your workout sessions should be very specific and very targeted to produce a favorable hormonal response in the body (remember weight loss is about both calories expended and hormonal balance).  If your workouts don’t have a clearly defined strategy, it’s almost like going to work for eight hours without an agenda.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say a waste of time, but certainly not efficient and can definitely lead to a loss of motivation when you’re not seeing results (see question 3 below)

So how long then?

  • Unless you’re the Michael Phelps of hooping, I don’t recommend longer than 45 minutes.  Hooping is fun though and you can definitely lose yourself in good flow session – I’ve been known to lose hours at a time, but it’s not with a calorie burn goal – it’s just fun.  If that’s you, hoop it up!   If that’s NOT you and you have higher levels of belly fat and you just want to get it done – let’s try something different.  If you have higher levels of belly fat, you likely have higher levels of cortisol and inflammation in the body.  Engaging in excessively long cardio sessions isn’t beneficial and can keep cortisol too high.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of really targeted work to keep cortisol from climbing too high.
  • Want to geek out on the research?  You can read more about the relationship between high cortisol levels and decreased testosterone in this study conducted by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
  • Don’t forget to add in strength training!  You + your hoop = effective bodyweight strength training!  Strength training will help increase your lean muscle mass, increase your metabolism and how many calories you burn at rest and throughout your day.  Focusing solely on cardio can help with weight loss efforts, but doesn’t do much to change your body shape.  If you’re a pear shape, you end up a smaller pear.  If you’re apple shaped, you wind up a smaller apple.  Weight training can help you enhance your natural shape.
  • And please don’t worry about bulking.  It really does take a LOT (did I mention a lot) to increase muscle mass.
  • Aim for one to two sessions a week of strength training to compliment your hooping.
  • Did you know?  Exercise can affect gut health, insulin resistance and improve body composition and obesity.   Engaging in regular exercise increases your gut microbiome diversity and increases the production of butyrate – a short chain fatty acid that helps break down fat and improve insulin resistance  In as little as one week, insulin response can be improved through exercise!

All of this to say I hope you can see how the exercise you engage in affects FAR MORE than just calories burned.  But the best workout you can do is one that you will actually DO CONSISTENTLY.  If you’re not seeing results from your hooping, chances are its more your nutrition and what’s happening hormonally rather than whether your workout was too short or even too long.

How Do I Get the Motivation To Keep Going

“You only feel motivated to do the things that are easy”. – Mel Robbins

There’s usually two reasons that motivation wanes for anything.  One, it’s something we DON’T want to do (think taxes or paying bills) or two, the reward just isn’t there.  In the case of hooping, most of us really enjoy hooping – it’s fun, relaxing, can be done anywhere and releases feel good neurochemicals.  So it may be a case of waning motivation due to lack of results that were hoped for by starting a hoop fitness program in the first place.

If you’re having a hard time getting started, try the five minute hack.  Just tell your brain you’re going to hoop for JUST five minutes. Once your brain is in the flow of something, you will be more motivated to keep going.  If you’re still struggling, check out the five second rule by Mel Robbins:

What's Going On With The Upper and Lower Parts of My Abdomen and the Flabby Parts of My Arms?

Types of Belly Fat:

Let’s first look at the types of fat in your body, because not all fat is the same.  For most people, a good majority of their body fat is called subcutaneous fat.  This is the type of fat right under the skin.  You can pinch this fat, and it’s softer.   For most women, this subcutaneous fat is located around the belly, hips, thighs and butt.  Generally speaking, although we would like to get rid of it, it doesn’t create the same problems as the next type of fat we are going to talk about because it isn’t wreaking havoc on your system the way that visceral fat does.

Visceral fat is the fat surrounding your liver, intestines and other organs.   It can also be stored in what’s called the omentum.  The omentum is a fatty layer of tissue that is located deep inside the belly and hangs like a sheet under your stomach muscles.  As the omentum fills with fat, it gets harder and thicker.  Unlike other fat cells that multiply in the body, omentum cells don’t multiply, they get bigger.  What that does is push the fat wall outward which creates a round tummy and it also increases inflammation in the body.

What are the common causes of belly fat?  At any one time your body is either in a fat burning or fat storage state.  Your hormonal profile will influence whether you are burning or storing belly fat.  Some common issues that increase belly fat storage include:

  • Decreased levels of testosterone and human growth hormone along with an elevated estrogen to progesterone ratio
  • Too many calories with increased cortisol and insulin
  • Too much caffeine
  • Not enough sleep or disrupted sleep
  • Stress (including both the typical daily stress of work, family, financial, etc AND internal inflammation in the body that is another source of stress)

Best way to get rid of?

  • Subcutaneous lower belly fat has a decreased blood supply and is harder to burn.  It will respond best with dietary changes.
  • Visceral fat has a better blood supply, will usually budge BEFORE subcutaneous fat, and responds well to both exercise AND dietary changes.
  • Walk.  Walk every day!  Walking decreases cortisol levels.  Aim for leisure walks, not power walks!
  • Decrease your insulin response – this means reducing starchy  processed carbohydrates (think crackers chips, bread, muffins, cakes, etc).  Increase vegetable and fiber intake.
  • Engage in weight training to help restore muscle insulin sensitivity
  • Hoop!

Back of the Arm Fat

Grrrr, this one is troublesome for sure!  This quite honestly is one of the hardest areas to deal with.  Part of the problem is that there’s no clear cut reason (partly due to lack of research in this particular area) as to why some women develop pockets of fat in the upper arm.  Some possible causes and solutions to check into:

  1.  Women that have higher amounts of belly fat in the middle but leaner tricpes typically have higher testosterone levels.  Women with greater amounts of arm fat typically have lower testosterone levels and possible hypothyroid issues.  Check into any potential hypothryroid issues
  2. Engage in weight training.  Target the triceps!  Tricep kickbacks with dumbbells, pushups (try standing pushups against a wall if the floor versions are difficult), chest press, even overhead tricep extensions with your hoop.
  3. This type of fat is subcutaneous fat, which is really stubborn.  Pay particular attention to processed junky carbs.

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