It happens all the time at fitness consultations.
“I really want to get rid of THIS (grabs small area around midsection, thighs, or under arm). That’s all I want to focus on.”
The search for the highly esteemed and ever-so-popular spot reduction workout and diet plan is similar to the search for the Holy Grail. Of course, who doesn’t have something about their physique they would love to point a wand at and “abracadabra” to perfection?
Here’s the trick – take a good look, squint your eyes a bit, zoom out, blink twice, and voila! Look at your entire body from toes to the tips of your hair follicles. Can you fix your spot? Probably, you just have to take a bit more into perspective than the two pack abs you want tripled.
If becoming more tone is your objective, look first at your diet. It’s very easy to overlook a few minor blunders; the cookie after dinner with the kids, the beers with the Sunday football game. Be honest with yourself about your diet (diet: you’re eating regiment, not calorie restriction/plan to lose weight). If you consume 100 calories more than you need every day, within a year you will gain 10 pounds.
The opposite is also true. The leaner your diet, the leaner your body will be. Focus on fresh produce, lean meats and dairy, fish, whole grains, beans and nuts. The less processed food you eat, the more nutrients you will have in your food.
Watch your consumptions of alcohol which has seven calories per gram (the average shot of rum contains 80 calories, without the coke). Drink plenty of water. Enjoy your treats but remember they are treats not a food group. If it helps, paste a picture of your goal (that movie star who has the abdomen you desire?) on your fridge, pantry, or Starbuck’s gift card as a gentle reminder of the true cost of that indulgence.
Next on your “Spot Be Gone Stat” checklist is your actual workout plan. Did you sweat during your last workout, or become winded to the point where you couldn’t talk with the person next to you for at least a few seconds? No? Well congratulations – you are about to enter a new era of fitness.
In order to become stronger, faster, or more defined, you have to present your body with challenges it has not yet seen and force it to create more muscle tissue, burn more calories and transform.
The theory, “if you change nothing, nothing will change” is very true. If your cardio fails to make your heart beat a new tune (recommendation is 70-90% of your max heart rate which is calculated by subtracting your age from 220) then push it harder. If you are finishing your weights routine without struggling to finish the last few repetitions, then you need to adjust your plan. It never hurts to consult with a professional who knows how to safely and effectively revamp your routine.
Your workout may need simple adjustments including increasing your cardio to 45 minutes 3 times a week when you were currently doing it for 30 minutes, adding an additional day of strength day, or taking the yoga class you’ve been curious about for two years.
Don’t be afraid to move!
While we are on the topic of yoga – how stressed are you? Stress is bad for your body from the inside out. If you are under undue amounts of stress, your body releases hormones to try and combat the fight or flight syndrome that is internally being waged.
These hormones (cortisol being the primary) have many effects including slowing your metabolism, causing cravings and emotional eating, shifting your sleep patterns, and increasing your body’s want to store body fat. This may be time for an honest talk to yourself about what in your life is causing the stress and how you can effectively bring it under control.
Remember that sometimes the smallest changes (For example, insisting you leave work by 5pm so that you aren’t stuck in rush hour traffic, aren’t missing your preferred exercise time, or even aren’t at work anymore than you necessarily need to be) can make the biggest impact. The emotionally and physical rewards will surely be worth any negative effects involved in the trade.
Can you spot train? No, not really. However, by looking at the more attractive picture of your entire self you can discover the changes that you need to make within yourself and your habits to not only erase that spot but also to improve your entire overall health.
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Beth Henke is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor who believes that all things in life should be savored in moderation. That being said, when it comes to fitness, find something you can be passionate about and you will never just be working out - but enjoying another page in your life. Take care of yourself as you would others, never say never, and push-ups really are good medicine.