Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can You Really "Spot Reduce"?

There have been countless times when I have had a client insist we "target" their stomach, thighs or arms in an effort to "spot-reduce." They truly believe that doing endless reps of ab exercises, the inner and outer thigh machine or tricep extensions will zap away the fat in these areas.  If this is your game plan, your efforts will be in vain.

People store more fat in different areas.  For most men and some women its their stomachs.  For most women its their hips and thighs.  Some people its their lower back and others upper back.  That is where the terms pear shaped and apple shaped come from.  Even at their ideal weight people still maintain this apple or pear shape but on a smaller, leaner scale.

Weight loss occurs when your body burns, through chemical reactions (metabolizes) more calories than it consumes.  This does not mean that you need to be on a starvation diet because it will be counter-productive in the long-run.  If you are consuming too few calories your body's protective mechanism will slow down its metabolism to counter-act the low calorie intake, calories will be stored and minimal physical changes will occur.  When you exercise muscles, depending on the Frequency (times per week), Intensity (low or high), Type (aerobic or anaerobic), and Time (duration), you will either increase muscle strength, size/mass (hypertrophy), endurance, rate of contraction (speed & explosiveness), coordination and/or flexibility.  Unfortunately, exercising a specific muscle does not decrease its fat stores.  Your body's metabolism is what will burn fat for energy throughout the day or while you are sleeping. 

So how do you lose fat stores in these wretched areas?

Maintain a balance by doing the following:

1) Start a regular exercise program that improves your cardiovascular & skeletalmuscular systems with a combination of  different types of workouts:  running, cycling, swimming, stair/rock climbing, rowing, hiking, walking, jumping rope, plyometrics, weight training, martial arts, gymnastics, dance, yoga.  Only then will you burn more calories.

2) Eat a balanced diet of natural wholesome foods that includes water, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts & lean protein (if you are a carnivore).  Eliminate or limit processed/packaged/fast foods.  Not only are most processed foods calorie dense but also many artificial ingredients hinder the absorption of the important nutrients that naturally derive from foods.

3) Rest. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night ensures that your body recovers from the stress of exercise, work and life's challenges.

Only by maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise program and adequate rest will you achieve an optimal metabolism that will shed body fat.  No ways around it!

Have patience and be consistent and watch as your body fat starts to disappear and you achieve the best "shape" you can be!

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