August 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm EDT | by Kevin M. Norris
Those elusive trouble areas

Targeting a single area for weight loss is often an exercise in futility and frustration.

There are plenty of myths and misinformation in regard to health and fitness. One myth that stands out and is a frequently asked question is “how can I get rid of this?”

“This” is referring to a particular fatty part of the body where someone wants to reduce – often known as spot reduction. Most people, both men and women, have specific parts of their body where they wish to reduce fat or eliminate flab. For women it is generally the hips, thighs, triceps and buttocks; for men, it is often the abdominal area.

The bottom line is that most people have a “problem area” they don’t like and want banished, but are at a loss, or find themselves spinning their wheels, in trying to chip away at this fat-laden area.  Can it be done and how?

The easy answer is yes, you can eliminate fatty areas, but the less than popular and accurate truth is that you will not be able to eliminate fat in a specific area solely by exercising that one area – spot reduction simply cannot be done and the notion that it can is an ill-fated belief.

Furthermore, Mother Nature played a cruel joke on the human body and she holds on to those problem areas with gusto and lets go of the fat in these areas at the last possible stage of weight loss. In other words, the area where you put fat on first is eliminated last and vice versa. For instance, the face is generally the last area where excess fat begins to show and the first place we take it off. Inversely, if we put fat on the hips or stomach first, that is the area that is the last to go. And fighting Mother Nature is a losing battle.

We all have patterns of weight loss that are genetic and predetermined. It’s important to acknowledge because our weight loss and gain sequence tends to repeat; i.e. you typically gain and lose weight in the same pattern over and over and don’t have control over this. We simply cannot control which fat deposits will decrease first.

So just how in the world does one get rid of those flabby triceps or decrease the fat in the stomach? The pat answer is eating well, cardiovascular activities and weight training, but the reality is more in the exactness in how you approach each of these components.

I wanted to lose 15 pounds of fat, predominately around my middle and creeping into my face. Lack of continuous exercise and sugar indulgences seem to have been the culprit. And while I know I am supposed to be perfect as a personal trainer, even trainers have their struggles.

First I will put a plug in for – a weight loss or gain program arguably not unlike others such as Weight Watchers. LoseIt is a smart phone app and can be loaded on your PC or laptop as well.

Aside from the obvious benefit of the tracking component of the eating program, what I was awarded most from using this program is in heightening my awareness and in helping me make more educated eating decisions. You simply have to exhaust more calories than you consume and also consume healthy calories. The amount and what you eat makes a significant difference.

But proper nutrition is one third of the three essential components. It’s imperative that in addition to eating well, you must perform both cardiovascular activities and engage in a systematic weight training program. And because these fat areas are stubborn, there’s no other way, other than liposuction (another column) than to be aggressive and diligent in your weight loss program.

What it takes to accomplish these goals is dependant upon the individual. For me, it’s taken the following: four to five days of cardiovascular activity for 45 minutes, three to five days of weight training and a 1,600-calorie limit unless I exercise, which can give me another 500-700 calories. It hasn’t been easy — it’s amounted to a gradual yet complete lifestyle change. But it’s worked. I’ve lost 10 pounds in five weeks. The last five will be harder, which is often the case.

While I don’t have a cheat day and stay true to my program consistently, there is a fluctuation in my focus as there will be with yours. Seeing the fat decrease from my “muffin top” has been a great motivator for me. And I try to stay in the present — doing what I can in any given moment as opposed to always focusing on the overall main goal. It’s often easier to focus on two pounds per week instead of getting overwhelmed by the entire 25.

I’m pleased with my progress, especially in the mirror. You can achieve success too with a specific action plan.


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