How to Lose Your Love Handles

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An office mate in U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, weighs himself.
Office mates in U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, have stayed committed to their holiday eating resolutions into the new year while using a little healthy competition and accountability to lose weight. (G. Anthonie Riis/U.S. Army photo)

Whatever you call it -- love handles, muffin top, Molson muscle or spare tire -- men and women everywhere are trying to lose abdominal fat. Just got this great set of questions:

I have bought your product and started using (it): it is a great workout. I am also trying to lose my "love handles." I know this will work some of those muscles, but can you suggest another exercise to target midsection? Not looking for another tool, just a suggestion of sit-ups, etc. Also I have heard that sit-ups may not actually do any good. What is your opinion? If crunches are a better option, please instruct on a basic exercise I can work into my routine. I run three times a week but I still seem to keep an extra 10 pounds just above my waist.

Great question. Here are some things to think about while you attack your mission to lose 10 pounds:

1. You can spot-tone but not spot-reduce: That is to say, the muscles you work will get stronger and more toned, depending on the intensity, frequency and amount of resistance you place on them. However, your body does not burn fat in the area you're working on; just because you do crunches doesn't mean you burn fat in your abs, for example. Your body will burn fat from wherever it decides.

So every time you exercise, know that you're getting stronger and certainly more toned -- and yes, you're burning fat -- but it is not where you might expect to burn it. (Scientists still don't have a solution to which fat gets burned first and why.)

2. I'm not a fan of traditional sit-ups: I'm a fan of conducting what I call an atomic crunch: hands on your ears, curl your upper torso 30 degrees off the floor and simultaneously lift your bent knees to your nipples. Do both at the same time, and you'll find that your lower back is supported while your upper abs will scream and your all-important lower abs will be activated and eventually tighten (helping you get into a smaller pair of pants while strengthening your core). For further intensity, conduct these atomic crunches while "bicycling" your legs; that is, alternating your left knee to right elbow, then your right knee to left elbow.

3. Output and input: Output is the number of calories you burn in a given 24-hour period, and input is the number of calories you eat over the same period.

Read more Alden Mills.

Output:

1. Make sure you're conducting some long cardio workouts -- run/jog, fast walk, bike, swim. Whatever, do at least three 60-minute sessions a week with a pace that should be where you can speak 10 words or so before taking a breath.

2. Make sure that when you conduct your body-weight exercises -- push-ups, crunches, squats, lunges, pull-ups (this is all you need) -- you should progressively make them harder to the point of muscle failure (form failure). This will help you build muscle, which, in turn, will raise your metabolism (your ability to burn more calories at rest in a 24-hour period).

Input:

1. A simple formula is to eat for your target weight. For example: let's say you're 210 pounds, but your target weight is 200 pounds. Then you should multiply your target weight by 10 for 2,000 calories per day.

2. Now if you're ramping up the muscle-building exercises, you'll need to supplement with more protein and also should consult with a nutritionist (which I am not). Eat more often but in smaller amounts. Try eating six meals a day to stave off hunger pains.

3. Drink half your body weight in fluid ounces of water/day, so if you weigh 200 pounds, shoot for drinking 100 ounces.

Most importantly, don't you dare ever give up. Stay fired up and let me know how it goes.

Charlie Mike -- Alden

Alden Mills, creator of the Perfect Pushup, is CEO of Perfect Fitness. Mills went to the Naval Academy, where he went on to become a Navy SEAL. After retiring in 2000, he earned his MBA at Carnegie Mellon. His ultimate mission is to inspire everyone to pursue their own dreams. For more from Mills, check out www.perfectonline.com.

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