Ester Marsh: You cannot spot reduce areas of fat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 14, 2023

With the new year, new YMCA members and returning members are starting to work out regularly, and this is fabulous!

I love when they come in and go through certain body parts, talking about how they want to increase or decrease certain areas. Then I have to break their bubble with the following — you cannot spot reduce with exercise. If I had found the magic exercise or potion to spot reduce fat in areas, I would absolutely share!

Many people think by working out a certain body part, the fat will go away at that location. I wish it was that simple. Working those areas will tone the muscles in those areas; however the fat might be burned in a whole other part of the body. Of course, losing body fat is a combination of working out and eating sensibly. Most people can diet and lose weight, but typically it goes away from the areas they don’t want to lose from or they lose it everywhere else except for the spots they want to lose it from.

Usually I ask people how it took them to gain the weight. Most of the time is has been years. So give your body some time to get rid of the fats that have made your body its home. With time, exercise and diet your body will make positive changes. And no, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. It likewise will not happen with 400-500 calories a day. Your body can’t survive on those kinds of calories. Typically an average female needs a minimum of about 1,500 calories a day and an average male about 2,000 calories. Of course it all depends on age, weight and activity level, but I can tell you this — you need to eat to lose fat. Losing weight is doable, and being on a diet is workable but picking the area the fat is reduced is impossible. Refocus and look at your total workout and diet, put health as No. 1 and be honest with yourself. If you have big buttocks, your family heritage may show that you can’t lose big behinds! Of course now it’s a fad to have a big booty so you are in luck. Just make sure it is tight and tone! Same if you have carried weight around the middle your whole life it will be very hard to get rid of it. Check with your doctor if you have health issues that have increased or arisen with your increased belly fat.

Everyone’s body is beautiful no matter what shape, size or ethnicity. Your No. 1 reason to exercise should be your health, strength, mobility and with it comes independence, pride, energy and self-worth.

Stop focusing on which spots need to go, be proud and love your body, strive for health and the rest will follow.

Ester Hoeben Marsh is health and fitness director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.