Question: I’ve been trying for months to get rid of the extra fat around my waist. I have a fairly good diet, do cardio almost every day, and always include abdominal exercises in my routine, but still am not seeing noticeable changes.
Answer: When it comes to reducing the size of the waistline, its all about calories in and calories out. Abdominal exercises should be performed for the purpose of keeping the muscles strong, which aids in supporting spinal column stability and posture. However, they burn few calories overall, and so are not nearly enough to make a big difference in body fat reduction.
To track calories in, I would strongly suggest keeping a food journal. You should not only record what and when you ate each meal or snack, but you will need to measure and read labels so that you can determine how many servings, and how many calories, you are actually eating.
Now for calories out. Here, an exercise log can be a great help. Jot down type of activity, number of minutes and very importantly, rate your intensity level. The more intensely you are working out, the greater your calorie burn and fat loss will be each and every second you are in motion.
Because going for too long at an extremely high intensity can diminish the duration of a workout, I would recommend doing intervals. Interval training consists of cycling through varying levels of intensity within the same workout.
For example, try walking at a slower pace for a couple of minutes, then jogging or brisk walking for the next few minutes, followed by a short burst of high intensity running. You would then go back and repeat, until the end of the workout.
Although cardiovascular exercise is great for heart health, it is only part of the solution when it comes to optimal calorie burning. To give your metabolism a boost 24/7, it is necessary to perform strength (resistance) training exercises at least two to three times weekly along with your abdominal exercises.
Using resistance to work all of the major muscle groups is the key to building or maintaining muscle and bone strength, which in turn, gobbles up calories that would otherwise be deposited in the fat cells. Examples of strength training exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, bicep curls, lunges and squats.
Be patient! Those extra pounds and inches did not appear overnight — they were gained slowly over time — so give yourself a reasonable timeline when trying to lose weight. Taking a waistline measurement once every couple of weeks will help keep you in check by telling how well you are doing with diet and exercise.
Getting your weight from time to time can also help, but keep in mind that bodyweight can fluctuate quite a bit throughout the day, based on things such as the amount of food eaten and fluids consumed, as well as possible fluid retention. If you do use the scale, take an average of several readings instead of focusing on a single one to determine loss or gain.
Marjie Gilliam is a personal trainer and fitness consultant.