None of us want them, but unfortunately, most of us have them.Â Even when we think weâre doing the right things to sculpt our middles, it's those "love handles" that never seem to disappear completely. The good news: there is plenty you can do to shrink that lower back fat.
While you canât really spot-reduce a specific area (sorry), by following these 8 rulesâand working hardâyouâll soon be well on your way to never wearing Spanx again.
Yes, you have to get your heart rate up! Cardio is essential for boosting your fat burn all over your body, and even just 20 to 30 minutes of blood-pumping activity like jogging a few times per week can help torch away your muffin top.
Skimping on sleep is known to slow weight loss. Yet getting your Zs is still among the most the oft-overlooked move for blasting fat, especially around your middle. When you donât get enough rest, your body becomes stressed and produces hormones that make you feel hungrier, making it that much harder to lose any weight, much less belly fat.
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It sounds counterintuitive, but it's true: Coconut oil, avocados, fish, nuts, and nut butters are all great sources of healthy fats, which can help you feel full for longer (and thus eat less). Bonus: they're good for your heart, too.
Cut back on sugar
You know already that gorging on ice cream or other sweets is not going to help you whittle your waist. But finding those extra (sometimes sneaky) sources of empty sugar calories in your diet can go a long way.
For example, instead of adding that teaspoon of table sugar to your coffee in the morning, try using something calorie-free like Stevia or Monk Fruit ($8, amazon.com), or even cutting the sweetener out completely. By just paying attention and being mindful of when and how much youâre adding, you'll be surprised by how much leaner you're feeling.
On a similar note: Itâs time to dump the sodas and sugary juices and start filling up with more water. Water not only helps you digest, but it also aids in that âfullâ feeling after a meal. Next time youâre feeling snacky, try drinking a glass of water to see if it curbs your cravings. Make it fun by adding slices of cucumber, lemon, or strawberries to your ice water for a refreshing treat.
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Manage your stress
Stress is a leading cause in mindless eating. We like to use food to comfort ourselves when the going gets tough. You can't completely cut stress out of your life of course, but you can learn to cope without munching. Instead of reaching for the chips, try taking a walk, getting a massage, meeting a girlfriend for coffee, or meditating when the stress seems overwhelming. Sometimes all you need is a distraction and some pampering!
Take the stairs
When possible, take the âhardâ way around. Use stairs instead of escalators and elevators. Park in a spot thatâs furthest away from your destination. Walk down the street to the store instead of driving. Walk to your co-workers office instead of e-mailing them. The little things you do throughout the day can add up to a lot of extra activity!
And finally, try this quick sculpting routine
As you're adopting the above habits, you should also add strength and toning moves. The four I've included below are extremely efficient when it comes to shedding lower back fat and shaping your body.
Do them circuit-style: For each exercise, complete 12 reps on one side before switching to the other side. Repeat this for each exercise until youâve done the entire circuit 2-3 times. Do the whole routine 3-4 times per week for optimal results.
Oblique Press and Reach
Kneel on your left knee with your right foot flat on the floor in front of you. While holding a weight in your right hand, with your arm out to the side at a 90-degree angle, reach up, extending your arm towards the ceiling and begin bending your body to your left side. Bend until your fingertips touch the ground. Then, using your obliques, pull your torso back to the starting position.
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Side Plank Crunch
Start by laying on your side with your right elbow on the floor. Place your right foot slightly in front of your left, and then lift your body off the floor. While keeping a tight core, bring your right knee and left elbow towards each other. Slowly release back to the side plank position.
Around the World Obliques
Stand with your legs out wider than your shoulders and your toes flared slightly outwards. Holding a light weight, extend your arms above your head. Bend at the hips to one side as far as you can, and then slowly rotate toward the floor. Hold for 1 second, and then slowly rotate back to the side position before pulling yourself back to starting position.
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Lie flat on the floor with your arms out to the side and knees pulled into your chest. Place a small medicine ball in between your knees and squeeze tightly, as to not let the ball loose. Drop your knees to the right slowly, keeping your core engaged. When your knees touch the floor, use your obliques to bring them back to your starting position.
Want more like this? Check out my 7 Moves for Toned, Sexy Arms
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CWâs Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBCâs Today Show, Extra, The Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer onÂ Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.Â RELATED: How to Stick to a Workout Plan