Most of us have experienced the uncomfortable, embarrassing and unwanted sensation of having a layer of fat bulge above the top of our jeans. And we all know that despite the cutesy name, love handles are anything but lust promoters and love inducers.
Which is why we’ve devised an easy guide to help you to knock out your love handles fast. Stick with us as we walk you through some easy, simple and (relatively) pain-free ways of KO’ing your love handles.
Step 1. Know thy enemy
As any tactical hero knows, the way to outsmart your enemy is to get to know them intimately. So before you start enthusiastically attacking your love handles, you need to know what they are and how they develop.
Love handles are the label used for the fat that accumulates around your waist. Other less cute names for this fatty area include ‘spare tires’ and ‘muffin tops’. It’s important to acknowledge that the fat probably doesn’t just sit at the sides of your waist either; it’s highly that the fat spreads all around your stomach. So you’re not really attacking love handles, you’re attacking the overall chub.
The fat in this area accumulates when the amount of food and calories you consume increases and your activity levels fail to increase as well to match, or in fact they drop significantly. This can be because of an injury or condition, a busy lifestyle or just pure laziness.
The bad news is that you can’t spot reduce this area to remove your love handles. The good news is that you can make adjustments to your lifestyle to develop a hot, toned body all over!
Step 2. Reduce your stress
It’s well documented that an over abundance of stress leads to the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is produced when you’re physically, mentally or emotionally stressed. So if you are frantically trying to reach a deadline, are in the middle of a fight with your partner or are pushing to run the last mile of your daily jog, the chances are high that your body is producing cortisol.
While this in itself is not a bad thing (we need the stress response in our lives), an over abundance of this hormone has been connected with an increase of body fat storage.
To combat this effect, (and if you want to lose your love handles) you’ll need to decrease your daily stress. Don’t snort just yet, because it’s actually easier than you think.
While there are a lot of stressful situations, which are outside of our control, we do have control over how we react to situations. If you feel yourself beginning to feel stressed, take a time out, go for a walk and clear your head. Some deep belly breathing will regulate your stress hormones and help you to feel calmer as well. Read our 7 steps to follow when you feel overwhelmed post.
Daily meditation has been shown to calm the freak out response of the amygdala (the area of the brain responsible for our emotions), so why not make it a habit to spend 10 minutes each day meditating? And remember, you’re in control of your responses.
Step 3. Prioritize your health and fitness
Next, you’ll need to make an honest, genuine and enthusiastic commitment to your ongoing health and fitness. If you want a body like a Victoria’s Secret model, you’ll have to work for it. That means choosing a healthy lunch over lasagna. Saying no to treats. And making your health and fitness a priority in your life.
As with most positive changes, you need to strengthen your mind before you can work on your goal. Ensuring that you’re focused, committed and dedicated to your goal will help you stay on track during the tough times and when your day is laced with temptations.
And while you may complain that you have no willpower, it’s not actually willpower you need. It’s a daily habit. Habit wins over willpower every time. If you’ve made a habit to reach for a cookie whenever you’re feeling down, you’ll lead yourself down the track of an unhealthy, unhappy lifestyle. However if you change your habits, you can change your life. What do you choose?
Step 4. Clean up your nutrition
In order to lose weight (which is what you’ll need to do in order to eliminate your love handles), one simple thing needs to happen: you need to consume fewer calories than you use. Simple, right? Most nutritionists recommend an absolute minimum of 1,200 calories for women.
An easy way to consume fewer calories is to scratch out any refined, sugary and processed foods that are in your diet. Stick to raw and nutritious food. Relate your diet back to cavemen: if they didn’t eat it, then you probably shouldn’t either.
That means no cupcakes, croissants and McDonalds. Try lean meats, plenty of fish, lots of vegetables and at least two serves of fruit a day. Give yourself two weeks to adjust to the diet (that’s how long it takes for your taste buds to renew) and you’ll be surprised how much you actually enjoy your new diet!
Step 5. Cardio is queen
To help balance the calorie vs. expenditure scales in your favor, you should aim for about 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise four times a week. Your cardio can be anything from chasing your dog around the park, skipping, rollerblading, hula hooping, cycling, jogging, running, swimming or anything else that you enjoy.
The great thing about cardio exercise is that it boosts your metabolism, which in turn promotes fat loss. More fat loss equals diminishing love handles – hurrah!
Step 6. Quit resisting resistance training
While it’s true that you can’t spot reduce, there are certain activities you can do to promote muscle development. By developing your muscles, you will appear leaner and slimmer. Resistance training is an easy way for you to reap these benefits and plenty of other awesome health benefits too.
Some quick exercises you can try on alternating days to your cardio (leaving one day for rest) are:
- Ballet plies
- Side planks
You can also do the tried and tested method of pumping iron. Just pick up a pair of dumbbells from your local sports store and practice longer repetitions on lighter weights. Bump up your weights whenever you feel like a challenge, but only to a level you feel comfortable with. If you squat and do lunges with weights, you’ll also boost the effectiveness of your work out.
And contrary to popular belief, lifting weights won’t give you the physique of a bodybuilder. Well, okay, it may if you lift weights for four hours a day, seven days a week. But most of us have day jobs, so that’s never going to happen. Which means unless you really, REALLY try to look like a body builder, lifting some three-pound weights won’t make your muscles bulge like She-Hulk.
Step 7. Keep sipping
Get this, the American Council on Exercise believes that once you’re dehydrated you retain up to ten pounds of fluid. Eeeep! You know when your girlfriends always say, “Oh, I’m just retaining water right now.” when they can’t fit into a cute dress? … well, they actually could be right. When you’re dehydrated, your body is sent into panic mode and it retains water to ensure your crucial organs stay hydrated – but it’s at the expense of your weight. And that cute dress.
To prevent dehydration, you should drink eight to ten glasses of water daily. Some tips to boost your water consumption are to have a glass of water by your bed and on your desk, to drink a glass before and after every meal and to always carry around a bottle of water with you when you travel.
If you feel like water is a little dull, just add a splash of lemon or lime. Lemon alkalizes the body and gives you fresh, glowing skin as well as boosts your metabolism so it’s an all around win-win.
Step 8. Regulate your insulin levels
There is a huge connection between the fat that appears on your stomach and your corresponding insulin levels. If you have some pudge around the belly region, you’ll probably be at least moderately insulin resistant. All that means is that your cells aren’t as affected by insulin (which is the hormone produced by the pancreas to remove sugar from the bloodstream) as they could be. This in turn means you likely have high blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance isn’t just linked to extra fat around the stomach; it’s also a risk factor for diabetes. And if you’re looking to remove your love handles and feel healthier, then your insulin levels are something you’re going to need to manage.
The best way to start balancing out your insulin and blood sugar levels is to eat low GI foods. These are the foods that give you a longer lasting energy boost, rather than the quick burst of energy that usually comes from junk food. You can also eat more regularly and choose to eat more fiber and fat. Another great tip is to drink some water flavored with lemon each day, as this is said to keep your blood sugar levels even.
Step 9. Fake it ‘til you make it
Last but not least, there’s no reason why you should have to deal with your lumpy love handles while you’re still on the road to weight loss. To feel good now, why not invest in some quality Shapewear? It tucks where you need tucking, and lifts where you need lifting. Love handles languish and belly bumps are banished. Best of all, there are different types of Shapewear built specifically for different clothing!
Sure, some of the Shapewear may look like a little like your granny’s panties – but they make your butt look like a teenagers. What would you prefer?
And always remember that even if you loathe your love handles, your body’s fate is in your hands – you can make a change. So what are you waiting for?