So…I’m working on a couple fitness posts, where I plan to share some of the exercises I do in addition to my minimalist running routine. 🙂
Because remember, I don’t do a lot, but what I do, I do consistently…
But then, before I could finish my first post about arm exercises, a fact hit me:
A lot of people out there still believe in a little myth called Spot Reduction. Or, even if they say they don’t believe in it, they workout as if they did.
And I just felt like I ought to address the whole concept before I go on. (and of course not everyone does this–but I think enough people to make it worth addressing.)
If you aren’t familiar with the term Spot Reduction, it is the idea that you can workout a certain area of the body and you will burn fat specifically in the area that you are working.
What? Did you think that worked?
Not at all.
Body fat is one of those frustrating things that simply goes where it wants to on each of our bodies. It is unique to each of us. We do not get to decide if we’ll hold on to our last extra ten pounds on our thighs, around our waist, or in our boobs. It just is what it is.
That is why, if you are working to burn extra body fat, you might be disappointed to find that you first lose fat from your face…then your chest…then your ankles…haha…Seriously though–it can be really frustrating to find that your “trouble spot” is like the very very very very last place to give it up and get on the thin train.
Yes, I know this can be really sad news. Please don’t cry.
As a personal trainer, I found this a really challenging concept to get people to grasp. Everyone seemed to want to “just fix this area,” and feel frustrated when I suggested it wasn’t quite that simple.
This is also why when I have a thin friend, who tells me “I just need to lose the last of my fat right here,” as she pinches the one final inch of fat on the back of her arm, I give an empathetic sigh, and say, “Hope you don’t care too much about food then.” Because really, for most of us to get to that very last bit of fat…the part that holds on for dear life…usually (not always, but yes pretty much always,) we will have to decide what is more important: Getting rid of the fat, or your general happiness.
I’ve chosen general happiness.
Even though this may not be new information, it is pretty clear that a whole lot of people are still living with the false hope that spot reduction works. And if you don’t believe me, go to your nearest gym and check out what the women are doing: You know those leg machines where you sit and move your knees in and out and in and out? The ones with lines of women waiting to use them? Do you think all of those women are really wanting to STRENGTHEN their abductor and adductor muscles? Ha! No. These women are hoping that by moving their knees in and out and in and out they will be burning fat off of their inner and outer thighs.
But we still see women making their way to the gym, especially for machines like these. They are thinking, hoping–(even if subconsciously,) that it might just work for them this time. And I have friends who go to hour long abdominal classes every single week. (I can hardly take five minutes of abs!) I ask them WHY? They say because the last of their fat is on their abs.
But it doesn’t work that way. Sure, they’ll have some seriously strong abs (which has plenty of benefits, which we’ll get to in a few weeks,) but it won’t remove the fat off their middle.
I have heard it said that if spot reduction worked, then compulsive overeaters would have the thinnest faces around.
Kinda funny, but indeed–true.
So…what is the solution to all of this? And is there even good reason to do resistance work?
First, there is only ONE WAY to lose body fat. My husband simply refers to it as 1st law of Thermodynamics: And it all boils down to “energy in, energy out.” in other words, to lose body fat we must burn more energy than we take in.
The best way to do this is to burn calories through cardiovascular exercise, and eat less food.
One of my favorite analogies is to compare losing body fat to emptying water out of a pool…One bucket at a time. Keep working and eventually you’ll hit that trouble spot.
Second, yes–there is reason to do resistance work! Resistance work strengthens muscles, which is important both practically (we need them for the rest of our life!) and because muscles are like little fat burning machines. More muscle means a higher metabolism, (and here’s the key–) this happens around the clock! So, even though you burn a lot of calories when you do a cardiovascular workout, that will peak at the time of your workout, and then levels off a couple hours later. But muscles actually burn fat around the clock, even as you sleep…and the stronger the muscles, the more they will burn. (GOOD NEWS!)
The other reason we should do resistance work is because as you lose body fat you will begin to SEE the muscles that are underneath the fat. So…if you happen to carry your body fat around your middle, and you spend time strengthening your abs, you will eventually see some nicely defined muscles. A six pack? Sure! Or, if you lose your leg fat, and you’ve been doing that in out in out in and out machine at the gym, you will eventually see toned abductor and adductor muscles.
Now that I got that off my chest, I can get back to writing about my favorite exercises that you can do at home, in under ten minutes.
I hope you’ll come back to check them out soon.
Meanwhile: Just to review: (Say it with me:) Spot reduction is a myth.
But just for the sake of fun conversation–if you could target one “trouble spot,” which area would it be? Wondering how much variety we represent here!
Now go have a great weekend!
And if this topic is of interest to you, I am pretty sure you’ll enjoy my book: The Secret of Your Naturally Skinny Friends. (Read all about it– and order it if you like–HERE!)