By Pamela Greene, FMWRFebruary 2, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- I have often wondered why we use the term, "love handles," to describe our waistline so affectionately. After all, we strive to reduce and eliminate love handles, not build them up to admire.
There are two types of body fat that creates this excess. The first is called subcutaneous fat. This type of fat is the one that is most visible when looking at your body. It is the one that can make us feel self-conscious because of the way it looks on our abdominal and back areas.
With proper changes in your physical lifestyle, you can make noticeable improvements in this type of body fat. Please note that subcutaneous fat can build up over the entire body, but we are focusing on the love handle area of the body only. When we develop love handles, we accumulate excess subcutaneous fat which spills over and creates noticeable rolls on our abdominal, waistline and/ or back.
The second type of fat is called visceral. It is located deeper in our abdominal below our muscle surrounding vital organs. Visceral fat is dangerous and links to health risks. The more visceral fat we carry around the higher our chances of developing insulin resistance which can lead to a form of diabetes, heart disease and other metabolic syndromes.
In the October issue of the "Journal of Applied Physiology," a study done on exercise and visceral fat showed that a modest exercise routine of walking briskly 30 minutes daily could prevent accumulation of visceral fat. It also noted that working out more than 30 minutes daily actually reverses the amount of visceral fat that we have. This is powerful, encouraging news that should motivate us.
I do not want to minimize the seriousness of both types of fats in the area of our abdomen. Subcutaneous fat can also become a health risk.
Methods to controlling our love handles are pretty standard. As with all types of body fat and extra weight, exercise and healthy eating are the king and queen for success. Begin by eating high-quality foods that are low in sugar and sodium.
Avoid foods high in fat, refined white flour or empty calorie foods like candy. Aim for high fiber, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and the leanest of proteins. Your regular meals should be dominated with these types of foods to help get you in the best shape of your life.
Strive to eat often -- about every three hours will help keep hunger at bay and keep your metabolism revved up.
Finally, try to reduce your calorie intake by approximately 500 calories per day. This is the equivalent of losing about a pound a week.
Next, add the exercise. It is already determined that daily cardio exercise (such as walking) works well at decreasing abdominal body fat. Make an effort to work out 30 minutes to improve your cardiovascular endurance while burning calories and body fat.
Follow with about 15 minutes worth of conditioning that is specific to the abdominal and waistline. Abdominal crunches, side bends, pushups, plank holds, and pilates are excellent exercises that will show noticeable improvement in your waistline and back.
Add strengthening moves too that develop stronger muscles along your spine and lower back. Wrap up your exercise routine with a thorough stretch for the abdominal and back area. Completing your cardio and conditioning exercises with a good stretch will help keep soreness at a minimum.