You Can’t Pick and Choose

This is something we go over a great deal at our weight loss boot camp.

Contrary to popular belief and opinion, and irritating as I know it is… you can’t spot-reduce fat.

By this I mean if you, say, have fat on your tummy you want to remove there’s no point in doing sit-ups and crunches thinking that’s going to burn the fat preferentially from that same area.
It won’t. There’s nothing you can do to change what fat your body burns.

Fat metabolism is a very complex subject and it’s only fairly recently that science has really started to begin to understand it.

What we do know is all fat is not equal, and those “stubborn” areas around your bottom and thighs, and to a lesser extent around your middle really are stubborn and there’s not a lot you can do about it – you’re at the mercy of your genetics to a large extent, in particular the genetics that make you a woman or a man.

There are four kinds of fat: brown fat, muscle fat, visceral fat, and subcutaneous fat. When we talk of “losing weight” or “slimming” we’re really talking about the last two.

Visceral fat is actually inside the body cavity with the internal organs and is what gives men (and women with male-pattern fat distribution) that pot-belly. This is the dangerous one and is closely correlated with heart disease and diabetes. The good news is this is the easiest one to get rid of because for all sorts of reasons I won’t go into right now. When you diet, this always goes first.

Subcutaneous fat is under the skin and is what’s covering your muscles. This is what you have to get rid of to see that six-pack!
Unfortunately, not all subcutaneous fat is the same and it doesn’t all come off at the same rate. In general your upper-body drops fat first, then your abdomen (starting at the top working its way downwards – this is why you always see a two-pack and then a four-pack before you see a six-pack).
And finally… you get to strip off the fat around your bottom and thighs.

Now, this is what we call “stubborn fat” and can be very hard to shift. You probably don’t need to worry about that yet because your body won’t even begin to touch this fat until you’re lean everywhere else first (and if you can’t see your six pack, which is most of us, I think), then you’re not lean enough to be worrying about this stubborn fat.

Once you are that lean there are some great things you can do to make sure the stubborn fat does come off, but I’ll leave that for another day.

My point in writing this all this is to ensure you understand so long as you stick to the rules of diet and exercise, the fat will come off. It has to – it’s an inviolable law of thermodynamics.
All you need to do is concentrate on the process and let your body do the rest.

So remember, don’t fall into the trap of doing light arm-exercises thinking you’re going to lean your arms out, because that’s not how it works.
Yes, you might build some arm-muscle (which is a good thing), and that might give the appearance of being leaner because the muscle starts to poke out more, but in reality you’re better off doing big, intense exercises using big muscle groups: squats, running, cycling, Fartlek training and all the rest.

Just remember to keep your diary and fix your eyes firmly on your goal, and even though it may take a while, you will get there.

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