cut to the “core” of it

Losing the belly fat comes from diet, not multiple high intensity workouts per week.

You could have heard a pin drop. Our highly respected and very popular instructor Julio Barnett spoke at the end of his semi private session last Tuesday morning. He said “I’m going to share some wisdom with you now.” Everyone just stood, turned to him and listened. Yes, even those not training in Julio’s semi private session.


If you knew Julio (who also has his own thriving training business with his amazingly talented wife and yoga instructor extraordinaire Olivia Sheldon), you know he is soft spoken, a gentleman and not someone who “preaches.” Nope. Others talk a lot. Others may try to get clients to change their lifestyles wholesale. Nope, not Julio. He accepts clients for who they are, what they want and typically gives it to them.

This was a different Julio with a passion for the core and how to achieve a strong sculpted one. Same professional. With a message that was tough love and raw. Oh yes, and he’s a lawyer. He’s so passionate about health that he put law aside for this vocation.

He continued: “You can workout all you want in your different classes all over town, you can train 5-7 days a week, and still not lose anything in your core. The only way to affect your core is to change your diet. Period.”

We have definitely heard a real uptick in the number of classes and types of training clients are doing, in addition to their sessions with us. We welcome change. “Shaking up” your training program is sometimes nice for the mind for sure. But more now than ever, we are hearing clients tell us about their weekly program field with different training modes (Barre, Pilates, Spin, Body Pump, Hot Yoga, you name it) and very little time to just simply recover. Add in the lack of diligence with regard to diet and you have a frustrated client desperate for answers.


We are a society filled with “fixing,” with “moving,” and not really facing up the real issue. This real issue is more than aesthetically unpleasing – it is downright unhealthy.

A little background on your “core” or your belly. There are two types of fat that you have in your abdominal area. The first type that covers up your abs from being visible is called subcutaneous fat and lies directly beneath the skin and on top of the abdominal muscles.

The second type is called visceral fat. This lies deeper in the abdomen beneath your muscle and surrounding your organs. Visceral fat also plays a role in giving certain men that “beer belly” appearance where their abdomen protrudes excessively but at the same time, also feels sort of hard if you push on it.


Both subcutaneous fat and visceral fat in the abdominal area are serious health risk factors. Both types of fat greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, various forms of cancer, and other degenerative diseases.

Excess stomach fat has also been associated in studies with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation within the body that can lead to heart disease and other health issues.

There is no quick fix. The only solution to keep it off for good is to combine a sound nutritious diet full of unprocessed natural foods with a strategic training program that stimulates the necessary hormonal and metabolic response within your body. Both your food intake, as well as your training program, are important if you are to get this right.

Last week we talked about the need to “Go Deep” or to really make the most of each of your movements when you exercise. Now, we go to the heart (no pun) of the issue.


Research continues to prove high intensity forms of exercise and full-body resistance training work. Low intensity cardio exercise simply isn’t as effective for removing visceral fat in particular. High intensity exercise such as interval training, sprints (bike sprints or running sprints), AND full-body weight training are very effective at helping to improve your body’s ability to manage glucose and increases insulin sensitivity, a crucial step in removing visceral fat.


High intensity exercise routines can increase your fat-burning hormones and create a hormonal environment that will burn off abdominal fat, including visceral fat.

Getting blood sugar under control to help restore insulin sensitivity through the right nutrition is essential. This means reducing sugars to minimal amounts as well as refined starches. Getting more healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut and olive oil, free-range eggs, fatty fish, etc) as well as increasing protein and fiber intake. The standard government diet recommendations, with volumes of grain will not control your blood sugar and reduce fat. It will increase them.

Fruits and veggies are carbohydrates too. They should be your only source of carbohydrates.

Fitness On Run Pyramid

So, yes, Julio raised a touchy issue. People listened. He wasn’t “sugar” (no pun) coating anything. He was speaking from sheer knowledge and research.

Take the plunge. Make a change.

  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!

Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314




  1. my goodness, were y’all reading my mind this morning or what!? i knew my workout needed to be shaken up so i ditched my high cardio, light weights for kayla itsines program which focuses on HIIT 3x per week and then low intensity, steady state cardio for 3-5 sessions per week. while my diet is 90% clean/organic/, some occasional wine sneaks its way in. i just didn’t see a ton of a difference with the low-intensity work. plus, working two jobs prohibits me from having the opportunity to work out after work.

    back to basics, i guess! and cutting out some fruit along the way. thanks for the great info and reminder about the two kinds of fat.


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