How to lose your love handles

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Good belly-slimming laugh – Laughter is not only the best medicine, it is the most effortless way to burn calories. Chuckling through a 15-minute stand-up comedy routine can burn between 10 and 40 calories. And this feel-good activity releases a feel-good hormone called serotonin that could reduce appetite.

Lose the belly dance – Whether you love the disco or can only tolerate an occasional slow dance at weddings, dancing has major weight loss potential. Jamming with friends at a party can burn between 450 and 600 calories, depending on how vigorously you get down. Even swaying at a concert for an hour can counter the effects of that small 230-calorie order of McDonald’s French fries you might be tempted to eat on the way home.

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Hot and less heavy – Sex is one of the best workouts outside the gym. For those who can make it last 30 minutes, intercourse can burn about 160 calories. The same amount of foreplay expends about 55 calories.

Shop till you drop the pounds – When rifling through racks of clothes or bins of school supplies, know that an hour of shopping can burn about 180 calories. And if you go grocery shopping for that amount of time, all the heavy lifting can help you burn closer to 260 calories. Just make sure to avoid “shopping and eating at the same time,” said Dr. Holly Lofton, director of the Weight Management Program at NYU’s Langone Medical Center.

Work it off – For overweight women and men, standing instead of sitting at the desk burns about two more calories a minute and can lead to a weight loss of 16 to 20 pounds a year, according to Mira Rasmussen, an exercise physiologist at the Obesity Action Coalition, an obesity advocacy group. You can also try pacing the office; a total of two hours a week can lead to a weight reduction of about 10 pounds a year, Rasmussen estimated.

At the top of your lungs – Don’t be shy about wailing along to your favorite tunes, at least in the privacy of your own home or car. Singing can burn about 136 calories. Bonus if you can also dance to your favorite tunes.

Cut the fat – Cooking may seem like a hassle, but 30 minutes in the kitchen can burn about 100 calories. Sure, it would be much easier to pick up dinner on the way home, but “you don’t get the benefits of chopping and moving around,” Lofton said.

Shiver me thinner – You may hate the subzero temperatures in your office, but that uncontrollable shivering is probably keeping you from gaining weight. A recent small study found that people burned 438 more calories in a room that was 60 degrees than in an 81-degree room. At that rate, you could burn about 18 calories in an hour just by being a tad chilly.

Lean sweep – The house won’t clean itself, so you might as well buckle down and burn some calories. For an average-size man, it takes about 110 calories to do a half-hour’s worth of sweeping or vacuuming. For an average-size woman, it takes about 95 calories. 

Mental burn – When you really put your mind to it, you can burn an additional 1½ calories a minute. The brain, an energy suck compared with the rest of the body’s organs, uses up 20% of the calories you go through in a day. But demanding more of those already active neurons — say, by focusing on a crossword puzzle or a Rubik’s Cube — can ramp up the amount of energy the brain burns through.

If you ask almost any fitness professional how to lose your love handles, they will tell you two things:

No amount of abdominal crunches will make a difference if you don’t first improve your diet and exercise regimen.And there is no such thing as “spot reducing” when it comes to fat loss, so you can’t target this area alone.

Love handles, the pinchable fat on both sides of your stomach that leads to a “muffin top” appearance, are especially stubborn. They do not respond as quickly to diet and exercise changes as the more dangerous visceral fat that is deep within your abdomen and leads to more of a “potbelly” appearance.

If you are a woman and your waist is larger than 35 inches around or a man with a waist size greater than 40 inches, you will lose the deep belly fat first. This is actually better for your health, as visceral fat has been linked to numerous medical issues, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes and inflammation.

To lose the subcutaneous fat that forms not-so-lovable love handles (or excess fat on your hips, thighs and buttocks), it’s going to take even more time and effort.

What is the best diet for losing your love handles? The one you can stick with long-term, as it’s not going to be quick or easy for most people. This is especially true for men, as this is often the last place on their body where they lose weight.In terms of specific exercise recommendations, three top trainers shared the advice they give their A-list clients.

Gunnar Peterson, who trains Hollywood actors and professional athletes including the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, advocates a comprehensive lifestyle approach that includes clean eating, adequate sleep, stress management, plenty of hydration, and sprint work mixed with steady-state cardio on alternate days to optimize fat burning.

Sprint work, also known as high-intensity interval training, involves alternating periods of maximum effort with periods of recovery (not be confused with rest). The duration of sprints can increase and recovery periods can decrease as your fitness levels improve. Steady-state cardio involves working out at approximately 65% to 85% of your maximum heart rate for at least 30 minutes.

ne exercise Peterson does not recommend for reducing love handles is side bends with heavy weights. This type of exercise can actually exacerbate the appearance of love handles by increasing the size of the underlying external oblique muscles. Instead, he recommends working all of the abdominal muscles, not just the obliques, in multiple planes of motion. Exercises that reach those areas include wood chops, medicine ball rotations, medicine ball slams (at a variety of angles) and banded overhead extensions side to side and back to front.

Ami Jampolis, a top San Francisco Bay Area trainer (and, full disclosure, my sister), recommends high-intensity circuit training several times a week to build or maintain calorie-burning muscle, along with several days of steady-state cardiovascular training.
class=”zn-body__paragraph”>High-intensity circuit training involves alternating strength training exercises (such as a pushup) and short bouts of cardiovascular exercises (such as jumping jacks), with minimal rest in between. This type of training is gaining popularity for its fast pace and time efficiency and can be done at home or at a gym that specializes in this type of training.

class=”zn-body__paragraph”>For homing in on the oblique muscles, Jampolis agrees with Peterson about avoiding side bends with weights. Instead, she suggests two very simple yet effective exercises that don’t seem to have the bulking effect on the oblique abdominal muscles: side planks and bicycles. Both can be done anywhere and don’t require any equipment.

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Celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak takes an even simpler approach to losing your love handles. In addition to cleaning up their diets, he gives all his clients fitness trackers to ensure that they meet his required 12,000 steps per day and seven hours of sleep per night. He finds that higher-intensity training can often increase appetite, making it harder to stick to a diet, so he prefers simply walking, along with regular strength training that includes working each major body part at least once per week.

Although their approaches may vary, professionals agree with the popular saying “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” If you really want to lose your love handles, start by finding a diet plan that works for you and that you can stick with long-term, and then build in an exercise program that works with your current fitness level, exercise preference, budget and schedule.

How to do a side plank: Lying on your side, lift your body onto your forearm, keeping hips, feet and shoulders stacked over one another. Aim to hold this position for as long as possible, increasing the time as you get stronger. Make sure not to collapse into your upper back. If your balance is a little off, you can place one foot in front of the other for more stability. Switch sides and repeat three times. As you advance, you can drop your hips to the floor and then bring them back up to the side plank position 15 to 20 times and repeat three sets per side.

How to do bicycles: Lie on your back with both knees bent at a 90-degree angle and place your hands behind your head. Fully extend one leg out about 6 inches above the ground, bringing your opposite elbow to the opposite knee. With control, bring the extended leg in and extend the other leg out, simultaneously bringing the other elbow to the opposite knee. Make sure to twist from your stomach and not your neck. Control is key on this exercise; speed is not your friend. Aim for switching every two seconds. Aim for three sets of 60 (30 per leg).

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