When losing body fat, the ideal would be to lose the same percentage evenly all over our bodies. Obviously, this is not always the case. For some there are certain areas where the fat is stubborn and just doesn’t seem to shed—even if they are losing weight on other parts of their body. The most common body part for this complaint is the stomach. But before you blame your difficulty of shredding your tummy on bad genetics, you might want to double check a few things in your diet and exercise routine.

spinning-class1. Workout Regimen

A lot of people do the same workout every day for weeks on end. You might know of friends who take spinning classes or run a certain number of miles on the treadmill regularly.

While the above two options are great for your heart and a positive source of cardio they do not do much for your waist. It is important to incorporate variety into your workouts so you work all muscle groups. More importantly, try to do workouts that incorporate weight training, as this will increase muscle mass, setting your body up to burn more fat. When you have more muscle you will burn more fat throughout the day as muscle burns more calories than fat. This extra fat burning might be what you need to target the stubborn fat cells in your stomach.

2. Processed Foods

If you tend to eat foods that are refined such as white bread, chips, sweetened drinks or desserts this will cause inflammation in your body. Inflammation and belly fat go hand in hand, so if you are eating too many processed foods it will become more difficult to lose belly fat. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the number of calories matter more than the quality of the food you are eating. If you are eating the correct number of calories, but are consuming highly processed foods, this could be contributing to the fat around your waistline.

3. Challenge yourself

challenge-yourselfOnce we get into a routine of doing the same workout every week we run into the possibility of plateauing. If this happens we begin to see less results. In order to continue losing weight and gaining more muscle you must increase the intensity of your workouts. A good way of doing this is by working different muscle groups on different days. Working out at your highest intensity in one area, will allow you to burn more calories.

4. Stress

Managing your stress is crucial when trying to lose stubborn belly fat. Whatever the source of stress you may have, target it, and find ways to reduce it. Cortisol—also known as the stress hormone—enlarges your fat cells and increases the amount of fat your body attaches to. It is best to reduce the levels of cortisol in your body, apart from making you much happier, it can also help you drop those unwanted pounds in your stomach.

5. Sleep

Sometimes we feel like we just don’t have enough hours in a day. Time management is very important as it helps us stay organized, but more importantly it reduces our stress levels, and allows enough time for us to sleep at night. Getting around seven hours of sleep consistently throughout the week will limit the likelihood of you gaining weight for a number of reasons. Read 5 reasons why more sleep will help you lose weight.

There are other factors that can affect weight loss, particularly in the waist area. Hormones can heavily influence stomach fat, as can certain medications. It is most important to consult your doctor if you feel you have areas that you would like to target for weight loss. Doctors may be able to offer you some ideas that you haven’t tried, that are specific to your body.