Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.
Call it what you want — love handles, spare tire, muffin top — but people ask me a lot about how to eliminate that extra padding on the sides of their waists. The following are my three keys to trimming down your “side fat.”
Tone Up. These three moves are excellent at toning the muscles that run along the side of the midsection — the internal and external obliques — which help us hinge sideways at the waist.
Side Bend on Back Extension Bench
Start on your left side leaning against the center inside of the back extension bench with both of your feet stacked together. Place your right hand against your right temple and let your left arm hang straight down. Slowly bend your torso down to the left as you feel your right obliques stretch, then move back to the right as you contract your right obliques. When you’ve completed the reps on that side, turn and do the same on the other side.
Lie on your right side on the floor or a mat, placing your forearm in front of you and stacking your feet one upon the other. Exhale and raise your body, supporting it on your forearm and feet. Inhale, and contract your abdominal muscles. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, depending upon your skill level. Return to starting position, and repeat, then do two planks while lying on your left side.
Standing Dumbbell Side Bends
Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, right arm hanging down your side with a light weight (dumbbell or jug of water). Bend your left arm slightly so fingers are touching your left temple. Start by tipping over like a tea pot toward your left side as you slide your right arm up your leg and your left elbow toward your left foot, then move in the opposite direction with the dumbbell sliding down your leg. Do an equal amount on each side. As a variation, you can leave both arms down at your sides as shown above.
Eat Better. You can be doing all the exercising in the world, but it won’t do any good if you’re not eating well. Eating three meals and two snacks a day with protein, fiber and healthy fat is the best way to banish fat on your belly — and everywhere else.
Meals should have one of each category:
Protein (like salmon, eggs, organic chicken, etc.)
Fiber (like spinach, broccoli or blueberries)
Healthy fat (like Hass avocado, almonds, olives, etc.)
Snacks should be a combination of protein and fiber to fill you up and help you stay full. Try:
Cut veggies (the fiber) and a bean dip like hummus (the protein)
Oberto turkey jerky (the protein) and apple slices (the fiber)
Greek yogurt (the protein) with chia seeds and raspberries (the fiber)
Burn Fat. You don’t need a gym membership or marathon training to burn fat. I tell all of my clients the best way to stay trim is to move all day. While you’re on the phone, when you’re waiting in line, when you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, just move around. Your Fitbit (activity monitor) should have no fewer than 10,000 steps at the end of the day. In fact, some of my clients are above 14,000 a day!
If you do have a gym membership but detest cardio (I’m the first to admit how boring the treadmill can be), stream some new or favorite shows on Netflix from your phone or your iPad, and you’ll have thousands of steps in no time.
Even two minutes of intense cardio bursts throughout the day can add up in a big way. Keep a jump rope by your desk and jump for a couple minutes or run up and down the steps a few times a day. By the time you break a sweat, you’re done. And keep in mind — it really does all add up!