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How do I get rid of that spare tire or lower belly pooch around my abs?

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Updated June 09, 2014

Female runner running in urban environment.
Betsie Van Der Meer/Taxi/Getty Images
Question: How do I get rid of that spare tire or lower belly pooch around my abs?
Answer: I've talked about this in previous articles, but it bears repeating: Ab exercises won't necessarily reduce fat over the abs. We can't spot reduce fat from different areas of the body with specific exercises, although that doesn't mean you can't lose fat from the abdominal area. That can happen if you reduce your overall body fat, although your genes will determine where the fat comes off. The following steps will help you get started:
  • Regular cardio exercise in your Target Heart Rate Zone. Beginners might start with 2-3 days of cardio (such as walking) for as long as you can or up to about 30 minutes, increasing your time gradually each week. For intermediate or advanced exercisers, you should shoot for some type of activity most days of the week for 30-90 minutes in your target heart rate zone.
  • Strength training for your entire body 1-3 non-consecutive days a week. If you're a beginner, try Strength Training for Beginners. For advanced exercisers, visit my Workout Center for ideas.
  • A healthy low-calorie diet. This is by far the most crucial part of your program. To make it work you need to:
    • Keep a food log in which you write down everything you eat or drink.
    • Use a food calculator to determine about how many calories you eat each day.
    • Begin changing bad habits by replacing them, one by one, with healthier choices (fruits and veggies will fill you up and give you nutrients and fiber).
    • Keep an eye on your portion sizes.
    • Make small changes every day instead of changing everything at once.

Important note: Even if you lose fat, there's no guarantee you'll lose it from your abs. Your body decides when, where and how much fat you'll lose. Some of us will never get rid of all the fat over the abs without taking the body fat to unhealthy levels. It's always best to focus on what you can control--what you eat, how much exercise you get and how healthy your lifestyle is.

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