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Friday, May 4, 2012

Spot reduction - can I get flatter abs by doing crunches alone?

We talked about chipping away at your fitness goals, one step at a time. Last week, I suggested you start by actually sitting down, writing out your goals, and start taking action. This week, we'll talk about spot reduction.

When you were younger, you had a pretty perfect body, right? Then as you grew into adulthood, your body started betraying you a little bit at a time. You look in the mirror and all you see is that one thing on your body that doesn't look the way you want it to. Perhaps, it's your tummy. Maybe it's your thighs. For some, it can be that extra wave you picked up under your arm. You know, when you wave to someone, stop, but the under arm still keeps moving....

We do all we can to focus on that one body part to make it change. But it doesn't change. You could do a thousand sit ups a day, but your tummy doesn't really look any better. Sure, there's some improvement, but if we were being really honest with ourselves, not much is truly changing.

Spot reduction is when you pick a spot on your body, and try and target that spot, to make change. Guess what? It doesn't work that way. You have fat cells all over your body. Those cells have to minimize in size in order for you to make change. Doing a thousand crunches to get a six pack isn't going to work, because your body will not favor fat cells in your tummy, over fat cells on your backside. They will either all reduce in size, stay the same, or increase in size, depending on your caloric intake and output.

In your plan, you should include the following:

* What do I need to address in my food intake, to reduce the number of calories I consume in a day, to help me reach my goal? You have to create a caloric deficit in order to make true change. Period. There's no way around it.

* Once you figure out how many calories you need to consume, divide it by 4 or 5 (depending on the number of meals you realistically can consume daily). Create your "Calorie Budget" for the day and don't "over spend".

* Lifting weights (resistance training) has many benefits for your body. One of the benefits, is that you will actually burn more calories at rest, increasing your metabolic rate, over time. An analogy I use is this: if you compare a 300 lbs overweight man to a 300 lb body builder, the body builder will burn more calories in a day, simply because he has all that lean body mass to fuel. I'm not suggesting YOU become a body builder, I'm simply pointing out that lifting weights will help you reach your goal faster, than not lifting weights.

* Do your cardio! Cardio gives you more energy, increases the strength of your heart, and burns body fat. Find something that works for you, and if you need suggestions, ask. I will help you find something you will enjoy.

* Take your vitamins. You will be in a caloric deficit, but your body will require nutrients you will not be able to give it through food consumption alone. So you'll have to supplement.

* You have to drink water. Yes, you'll have to cut back on your Diet Coke addiction, and replace it with water. Your body needs to be hydrated in order to get everything it needs, so it'll let go of the extra stuff it has been storing. 

You have to chip away at all of these things in order for even one spot on your body to reduce in size. That's not my rule, so don't blame me. It's like trying to lift a dumbbell with one finger. It's nearly impossible, but if you use all of your fingers, you can be successful at picking up the dumbbell. Use all your "fingers" (food intake, weight lifting, cardio, supplements, water) because you'll be more effective at reducing that one annoying spot you want to reduce in size. With consistency, you'll reach your goal before you know it.


  1. I am really glad I read this post! All I ever stare at in pictures are my ugly arms and I keep doing all sorts of work outs that target my arms but I never really realized that although I am targeting it, that it won't help me. Thanks again, Gal!

    1. You're more than welcome. If you want bigger arms, than keep at it. But my recommendation is to do all of what I recommended and you will see them reduce in size. Promise! The jogging you're doing is going to help big time!!