If there's one term sure to make a woman grumpy, it's "love handles." No matter how many hours you spend at the gym, those suckers never seem to go anywhere. But before you resign yourself to a loveless, lifelong relationship with them, there is hope for saying goodbye once and for all to those not-so-loving areas of fat.
What Are Love Handles, Exactly?
Your body has two types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous. Visceral fat is the deeper layer that surrounds your internal organs and is more dangerous for you in terms of developing chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Subcutaneous fat is the outer layer you can grab on to — like love handles — and see in the mirror.
There are some areas of subcutaneous fat you probably don't think twice about — like on your feet — but when it builds up in certain areas, you (and your favorite pair of skinny jeans) definitely notice. And while your love handles don't necessarily pose as big of a risk to your health as they do to your figure, making them smaller or disappear entirely will do both your body and your confidence some good.
So what are you waiting for? Drop what you're doing and find out how to really get rid of love handles.
1. Change Your Diet
You can hit the gym all you want, but if you're not fueling your body correctly, you can't out-exercise a poor diet.
Take note that we said "fueling" your body, not "denying" your body — simply cutting calories without considering nutrition won't necessarily shrink your love handles. Regardless of your calorie count, if you're still eating foods that trigger inflammation, your belly fat isn't going anywhere.
The good news? Removing inflammatory foods from your diet is surprisingly easy. Start with delicious and simple food swaps like these:
- Swap white rice and bread for brown rice and whole grain bread
- Swap foods high in trans and saturated fats for foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as avocados and walnuts
- Swap butter for olive oil (but don't go overboard)
- Swap red meat for salmon
- Swap high-carb, low-nutrient snacks like chips for high-protein snacks like almonds
2. Control Your Stress Levels
Yes, it's true — stress can actually affect your waistline. Awesome, right? Sigh.
When we're stressed, our cortisol (aka the fight-or-flight hormone) levels rise, which in turn causes insulin levels to spike, which ultimately results in more belly fat. Here are some effective ways to lower your stress levels so that doesn't happen:
- Breathe deeply
- Practice yoga
- Get enough sleep each night
- Eat a balanced diet
- Go on a relaxing walk
- Stay away from technology and read a book instead
- Take a candlelit bath
- Use essential oils
- Play some relaxing music
Don't underestimate the power of stress and its effect on your physical health. When you take the steps to reset and relax, it doesn't only help your day-to-day mental health, but your long-term body goals, too.
3. Make Exercise a Priority, But Don't Overdo It
You don't need to run a marathon or do HIIT every day to see a change in your body. The key to physical activity is deceptively easy: Just keep things consistent. Instead of stressing yourself out by overdoing your workouts, choose something you love and do it often. It's as simple as that.
You only need about 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week to stay healthy and happy, and there's an endless amount of ways you can reach that goal. Go on a quick run after work, take a Zumba class, or go on a walk with your family. Just make sure you're getting your heart pumping and you'll be well on your way to a slimmer, less grab-able figure.