The most frequent question I get from teens (and from everyone, really) is how to lose fat over specific areas. We all store excess fat in certain places and it always seems to be in less than desirable places, like the:
- Upper back
So, is it possible to lose fat from these areas and, if so, which exercises work the best? The truth is that spot reduction won’t work. That means that doing hundreds of crunches to get flat abs or leg lifts and squats to get thin thighs won’t work. So, if that doesn’t work then what does?
To lose fat, you have to burn more calories than you eat and then allow your body, and your genetics, to decide where the fat comes off. The most effective way to do this is with diet and exercise.
One way to control your calories is to move around more by adding both structured exercise exercise and general activity throughout the day. The guidelines put out by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend at least an hour of physical activity a day and up to several hours a day for most kids and teens. Activities can include things like:
- Riding a bike
- Skateboarding or inline skating
- Walking or running
- Shooting hoops
You'll burn more calories anytime you can get away from the TV or computer and move your body, which will help with weight loss. The key is to:
- Choose things you like. If you’re not into team sports or outdoor activities, try workout videos or fitness video games, like Dance Dance Revolution.
- Make it a regular habit. Try setting aside time each day for exercise so it becomes a natural part of your routine.
- Look for ways to move more. Make extra laps around the mall, walk to your friend's house, or turn on the radio and dance around your bedroom. Finding ways to move more will add up to burning calories and being healthy.
- Get some help. If you want to exercise but don't know where to start, talk to your parents to figure out if you can join a gym, work with a trainer, or exercise with them on a daily basis.
Learn more about Teenagers and Exercise for specifics on exercise and strength training.
Watch Your Calories
Aside from being more active, watching what you eat is another important component of losing weight. You may find it useful to enlist the help of your family and friends. If your parents are in charge of buying the food, you may need to talk to them about making healthier choices or get involved with selecting groceries and making food yourself. Other ways to cut unnecessary calories include:
- Watching your drinks Too many sodas, juices and sports drinks can really add up. Replace them with water and you'll save plenty of calories.
- Filling up on fruits and veggies Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and nutrients while low in calories. That means you'll fill up faster and eat less. Try having fruit as snacks or before meals to cut calories without feeling hungry.
- Avoiding fast food There's nothing wrong with having an occasional burger and fries, but avoid having those types of foods every day. Make them a treat that you only have every now and then.
- Avoiding mindless snacking If you get hungry in the afternoon, keep your snacks healthy by avoiding candy, cookies, and other tempting sweets. Also, pay attention to other reasons you may eat, like being bored, tired, or feeling blue. Emotional eating only makes things worse and doesn't make your problems go away.
Next page: How NOT to Lose Weight