As a Personal Trainer, the question I get asked most is what exercise do I need to do to get rid of a certain area of fat.
Unfortunately it is a myth that we can target body fat by exercising that area. If it was possible then body builders would have a much easier job! Does that mean you are stuck with ‘bingo wings’ or ‘beer gut’ for life? No! Lets start off with the basics, what is body fat and why do we have it? There are two main types of body fat, essential, and stored. Essential, as the name suggests is very important and is stored in the bones, muscles, and nerves; it helps our bodies work efficiently.
What is fat?
Stored fat can be broken down into two further types. Subcutaneous (fancy name for under the skin), it keeps the heat in, stores energy, and provides padding. It is however expendable, and should be used! Visceral (another fancy term for the area that contains your organs, chest and gut) is what we can’t see. When we have too much, it is dangerous and linked to health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.
Our body stores fat for several reasons, a few of the biggies…Irregular food intake – a meal here and there, missing breakfast, certain diet plans, etc. Poor nutrition – food is fuel! If the fuel is poor, or the wrong type is put in, like a car, it will break down!
Food sensitivities or intolerances – a minor reaction to certain foods such as dairy or wheat. Hormones – these are the message carriers of the body. If they tell the body to store fat, it is normally because of the reasons listed above, it is rare that there are underlying disorders, check with your GP. Wait, my own body might be doing this to me?! In a way yes, but only because of what you are telling it via what you put in your mouth.
What we want to happen in an ideal situation is for us to eat something, which the body then uses to function. The rest is used to make our muscles work so we that can move resulting in no left over calories. Just to make things complicated, certain foods can cause a bigger reaction than others and also provide more or less energy to the body over varying times (See glycemic index). Things can never be simple right?!
Control Sugar intake
Sound familiar…You feel peckish or ‘it was looking at you the wrong way’, so you grab a biscuit, coke or cake. It was nice going down and initially you feel better and perkier! Half hour later you’re down in the dumps again feeling hungry, maybe a little guilt too!
This is because sugary snacks are easy to digest and get to the blood quick, thus causing the hormone insulin to release. As snacks have a lot of sugar (7 teaspoons in a can of coke!) there is a big insulin rush that makes blood sugar drop too low (Basically too much sugar is eaten up by the insulin), which the body doesn’t like! When blood sugar is low another hormone called Cortizol is released, this makes us hungry; it also increases stress levels, and tells the body to store fat! Then usually you grab another easy to reach snack like a biscuit that has lots of sugar (to start the process again!), the fat contained in it goes straight into to storage for a rainy day!
Distraction technique…fool the enemy!
In the time it takes to do a burpee…Are you really hungry, or just bored, or thirsty? Solution – a glass of water aids to ward off hunger and keeps your body functioning at optimum levels (55% and 70% of our body mass should be Water) A 5 min leg stretch will not only wake you up and help reset posture, but also take your mind off eating if excess calories are an issue! If you’re bored at the end of an evening, make a fruit tea (caffeine free of course) and take yourself to bed with a book or favourite TV show….move away from the fridge!
Pro-active not reactive
Plan your meals in advance and have a healthy snack ready just incase! Be realistic…you can’t eat like Jamie Oliver all the time, simple is sometimes best! Figure out which parts of your life cause you stress and change it! Rule out food intolerances, cut out dairy/gluten/wheat for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference. Visit Allergyuk.org for information and guidelines on how to do this safely. In summary, you can do 200 sit ups a day, sometimes even a great full body workout yet you will still have that annoying fat that just won’t go away if you don’t restrict your mouth with your mind!
We think controlling and educating your own mind and ignoring impulse is the best exercise, however a close second and one that goes hand in hand….is to keep active! Team up with a friend or by yourself and find an exercise class to give your health and wellness a boost, obviously Group Fitness Classes by Ozonefit would fit that bill nicely!
Chris Walker – Instructor and personal trainer at Ozonefit Military Fitness