Shed pesky love handles in 4 weeks and you’ll be ready to rock even the smallest of bikinis for Summer.
In case your hold-it-all-in high waist leggings made you forget, here’s a friendly reminder: Bikini season is here. Who wants to worry about love handles getting in the way of that teeny bikini bottom or poking through a trendy cutout one-piece bathing suit? Get a move on that beach body! This simple cheat sheet will help you burn fat, lose weight and get fit on the quick. It’s time to make love handles a thing of the past.
Love handles (otherwise known as muffin tops) are excess body fat deposited around the abdominal area. And, according to some research, exactly where on the body you store fat may increase health risks such as developing diabetes or heart disease. Spot training to lose weight in specific areas of fat isn’t possible; however, strengthening the muscles in the underlying areas is definitely do-able and important for both overall health and an improved physical appearance.
Eat Lean & Clean
Burning fat and strengthening these areas begins with the food on your plate. Steer clear of belly-bloating ingredients like sugar, salt and unhealthy fats found in fried foods. Simple carbs should also be avoided since your body metabolizes them in a process similar to sugar. Include as much whole, unprocessed food as possible in your regular routine. Opt for produce like fresh fruits and vegetables. Munch on “good” fats like those found in avocado and nuts and be sure to incorporate other sources of healthy, unsaturated fats and plenty of lean protein.
Drink Up…Water, That Is
Staying properly hydrated is essential in overall health. Plus, drinking enough water helps the body flush out the system, lessening water retention and reducing bloat. Staying properly hydrated also prevents your body from initiating false hunger cues — if your belly is full of water, it’s not going to be complaining as often.
You may also want to ditch the daily end of day vino and stick to sipping only on weekends and/or social occasions to cut down on both sugar and calories. Or, replace your happy hour drink with Kombucha, a fermented tea-based beverage with a myriad of health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion and detoxification. After being fermented, it becomes carbonated and is rich in antioxidants, b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and trace amounts of alcohol.
Whittle Your Waistline Workout
Don’t worry, you can sculpt a slim silhouette sans a fancy gym or high-tech equipment. Your own body weight offers strengthening, toning resistance and you can use props that you likely already have at home. Think a beach towel or rolled-up blanket. Do the following stomach-slimming moves as a circuit, either after cardio or strength training. Repeat the entire circuit 2 to 3 times.
Sit with knees bent, feet flat, hold the towel overhead. Engage abs in tight, hinge body back while scooping towel down the right side, trace a circle from back to front.
Come back upright as towel circles overhead, then immediately repeat hinge and scoop down the left. Do 20 alternating circles.
Lie face-up with knees bent, feet flat, placing a folded towel under lower back so the bottom edge is just above hip bones. Clasp hands behind head, inhaling; while exhaling, slowly raise head and shoulders off the floor at a count of 3, looking straight toward legs. Hold for 1, then slowly lower at a count of 3 to the beginning position. Repeat 10 times.
Lie face-up with arms extended, elbows slightly bent into a wide ‘V’ overhead. Extend legs out at a 45-degree angle. Lift head and shoulders off the floor. Keeping abs engaged, connect the right elbow to the left knee. Return to center and do the opposite, connecting the left elbow to the right knee. Repeat 20 times.
Start on all fours with a folded towel folded placed under feet. Draw belly button into spine to engage abs and hover knees off the ground without allowing the hips to lift up. Press out through heels, sliding legs out into a full plank position. Be mindful to avoid lifting hips, the body should make a line from heels to head. Engage abs while sliding legs back to their starting position. Do 15 or as many as you can without compromising form.
Sit with knees bent, engage abs and lean back slightly to lift feet off floor into a supine tabletop position (for more of a challenge, extend legs straight into a V shape). Slowly lower back to floor and extend legs out at a 45-degree angle as the head and shoulders stay lifted. Hold for 1 count, and then use abs to sit back up to starting position. Do at least 10 reps or more if you can with proper form.
Practice these moves along with your regular routine and you’re bound to see toned results in just a few weeks. While the moves listed above will do wonders for the muscles under your love handles, they will do little to actually diminish those pesky pockets of fat. That’s where cardio and strength training come in. High-intensity cardio such as HIIT is known for its effectiveness against abdominal fat so try to work in a few sessions per week. Lastly, incorporating strength training into your routine will have your body working overtime, which means your metabolism will be cranked and fat will be burning. Adding lean muscle to your body will not only have you looking sleeker, it also requires extra energy to repair and build itself — those love handles will be gone before you know it.
There you have it, we’ve laid it out step-by-step to help you annihilate those lave handles fast and feel confident in whatever you feel inclined to wear this summer — no matter how small. Just remember to make healthy decisions every time you eat or snack, drink plenty of water and keep that body moving. Keep this cheat sheet handy throughout the winter too so that when summer rolls around next year, you’ll be ready!