If you’re trying to attain or maintain a healthier figure, you’ll want to find ways to reduce body fat. Many people try unsuccessfully to target one area of their body to reduce fat. This is like trying to eat the left-side of your soup bowl before the right…it’s going to level itself out no matter what. Body fat works the same way. Our bodies naturally store energy in the form of body fat. And while some areas (abdomen, hips, thighs, etc..) will store more body fat than others, fat is stored all over our body.
The best approach to reduce body fat is one that focuses on long-term eating and exercise habits. These habits will reduce body fat all over helping you get slimmer along with all the benefits that come with a healthier lifestyle. And while many people will continue to try to target weight loss in certain areas by doing hundreds of crunches or leg lifts…it’s not near as effective as just focusing on reducing body fat through good eating habits and increased activity level.
Before you get started, take a few minutes to assess your overall health & fitness level. If you want to reduce body fat, you’ll need to know where you are and what a healthy goal should be. Don’t worry…these measurements can be done pretty quickly and without any fancy equipment. First, take your height and weight measurements and enter them into the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. This is a good screening tool that will help you see if your weight is in a healthy range for your height. If it lists you at a BMI greater than 25, you may be carrying some unwanted body fat. Try changing the weight number to see what weight brings you down to a BMI that is less than 25 for your height. This is a good method to help refine your goal weight.
Next, take out a sewing measuring tape or any flexible cloth measuring tape. For the ladies, you’ll want to measure your neck circumference, hip circumference, and abdomen circumference. For the men, just measure your neck and abdomen circumference. Use these measurements and the body fat % tables to look up your current body fat percentage (based on your height). This is a fairly accurate means to gauge body fat percentage and it’s commonly used by many government organizations. It’s also a good measurement to take as you start your diet and exercise program. It feels great when these measurements go down and it won’t fluctuate as much as the bathroom scale readings. If you want to reduce body fat, this method is a simple and yet very effective way to measure your progress.
Hopefully the BMI calculator and Body Fat Percentage tables have helped you refine your goal. Now that you have an idea of where you are and where you want to be, it’s time to make a plan to get there. Body fat is nothing more than stored energy. If we eat more energy (calories) than we need, our body stores it away for later. If we want to reduce body fat, we need to look at the calories that we take in and compare them to the calories that we burn.
Counting calories is where most people get hung up (including myself), as it can be tedious trying to keep up with a food log. Don’t get overwhelmed by it all…just try to do it for a month at first. The effort to reduce body fat starts in the kitchen. By counting calories, you’ll see which foods are contributing the most to your intake, and you’ll also see what times of the day are the most challenging. I’ve found that my snacking before dinner accounts for 25% of my entire daily calorie intake. So by staying out of the kitchen before dinner, I’m able to cut back on a bunch of calories. Or if I just grab a handful of cereal instead of a stack of cookies, I’m able to reduce the “damage” by a few hundred calories. Experiment with counting calories and keeping a food log. You’ll learn a lot about your habits and the foods that you eat the most.
When you’re counting calories, exercise can be a real boost to your weight loss numbers. A simple 30-minute walk or jog can burn as much as 300-400 calories depending on your weight and pace. If the exercise is something that you do 3-5 times per week, these calories burned can really add up! And as you exercise, your body will use the body fat for energy. If you want to reduce body fat, exercise needs to become a part of your routine. For every 3,500 calories that you burn (BMR + exercise – food log), you’ll lose one pound of body fat.
Calories burned through exercise really add up over time…but the key is to keep the habit going! Many people will go the gym and get frustrated when they don’t see immediate and dramatic results after a week or two. Be patient and enjoy the transformation. Exercise is hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun. The benefits of exercise will go far beyond reducing body fat. You’ll gain a confidence and inner-strength that you never knew existed and it’ll likely improve many other aspects of your life.