Muffin top, aka love handles, is that spare tire of flabby fat that pushes out of the top of your pants, giving your middle the appearance of the poufy top of a muffin. It's often directed toward women, although many men, teens and even children have muffin tops.
For men and women alike, their hormones begin to fluctuate in their mid- to late-30s. Hormonal imbalances, too much stress, too little sleep, the wrong exercise program, excessive aerobic/cardio exercise and eating too many of the wrong calories all contribute to a "muffin top."
What can you do to get rid of muffin top? The answer: Consistent weight training and quality nutrition.
"Muffin top" and strength training isn't breaking news. Is strength training two times a week for 30 minutes enough to fight muffin top? We all know it takes a little bit more dedication than one hour of exercise per week to see physique transformation and fat loss.
Genetics are only 10 to 20 percent of the equation. The remaining 80 to 90 percent is lifestyle, physiological stress, personal choices and responsibility. People who don't experience the muffin top phenomena will most likely always be in terrific shape because of their decision to make structured, appropriate exercise and quality nutrition part of their lifestyle. In addition, this individual honors their body and has a healthy relationship with self and food.
Doing the same thing, whether it is your exercise program, diet and nutrition plan or otherwise, and expecting a different result is labeled insanity. Excuses, denial and lack of responsibility ... it's the easy way. And, the media doesn't help. Morning television news segments, women's magazines and the majority of gyms/trainers promote workouts focused on incredibly light weights, high rep schemes and excessive aerobic/cardio exercise.
In reality, it takes a commitment of a metabolic exercise program, quality, a healthy diet, balanced hormones, plenty of rest, stress management and adequate hydration to see the kind of results that you want.
• Address underlying emotions, psychological stressors and anxiety.
• Boost your intensity and drop the duration on your cardio sessions, instead perform interval style workouts for no more than 30 minutes at a time.
• Consume the appropriate amount of organic protein, especially at breakfast.
• Eliminate all sugar, soda, processed and fast foods, refined carbs, hydrogenated fats and HFCS. Focus on reading the ingredient list on all products.
• Focus in on fat loss, not weight loss; how your clothes fit; how you look and feel. Do not focus on a number on the scale.
• Follow the 80 to 90 percent rule. Eat clean, healthy nutritious meals 80 to 90 percent of the time by fueling your body a variety of organic protein sources, vegetables, salads, berries, healthy fats (nuts, avocado, etc), green drinks, green tea and plenty of water every couple hours to elevate your metabolism.
• Heal your gut and address digestive dysfunction.
• Include de-stressing exercises such as yoga, qi gong and tai chi. You'll experience more energy, less fat around your midsection and a more conscious approach to life if you practice this type of exercise once a week or more.
• Test hormones and food allergies.
• Your workout priority should be metabolically demanding (full body strength training lifting challenging weights two to four days a week).
What works about this plan? It will boost your metabolism, transform your body, make you feel confident about yourself, and you can eat and will be able to maintain a new, leaner, healthier you.
Walk into any gym, where are the majority of the females? On the treadmill or the elliptical. Or, this is one I love, on the exercise bike reading a magazine and chewing gum.
Contact a qualified practitioner to design your personalized diet/nutrition, supplement and exercise program. It is the best investment in yourself you can make. You will greatly improve your ability to accomplish your goals faster, safer and with maximum benefits. The details of your training sessions, lifestyle tips, as well as the nutrition and supplement protocol are empowering sources of information that can be used for a lifetime.
According to a study presented at the 56th American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in Seattle, Robert J. Petrella, M.D., Ph.D., FACSM stated, "To really make an impact, patients need a personalized exercise plan or a recommendation to a qualified professional who can guide them along the way. We are also advocating that these health care providers recommend their patients to certified health and fitness professionals for proper exercise counseling. This education for health care providers needs to start prior to practice-in residency curriculum or even earlier."
Excess weight and the desire to lose it is often an opportunity to evolve. Something inside of you needs to transform. Lastly, you have got to pay attention to your diet and start moving appropriately if you want to change your body and transform your life. Without attention to your nutrition, you'll never lose your muffin top or attain the body you long for.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens is a nutritionist, fitness expert and weight loss coach with more than 20 years of experience. Reach her at www.PaulaOwens.com.