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Belly fat, love handles, and saddle bags, oh my!

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So I've been working out pretty much 6 days a week since January 1, taking Sunday as my rest day.  I am on my elliptical machine for 32 minutes followed by various toning exercises with two 5 lb weights and 100 crunches.  Why am I not seeing a difference yet in these 3 things??  Is it too early to tell?  I have lost 5 pounds since I started working out and eating better but how can I be at a plateau after only 4 weeks? 

 Don't get it!  Can anyone advise?  Thanks Smile

16 Replies (last)
Hi Trixie!  I have a super muscular build....with the exception of my belly fat love handles and saddle bags!  The first 30 lbs. I lost took about 6 months to come off and I thought I would NEVER see a difference in those areas.  But eventually I did! I doubt you're already at a plateau, the progress you've made so far is great!

Be patient... You have probably been overweight for much longer than you have been exercising. I know that when we decide to "turn for the better" we would love to see our shape reflect the change we operated in our mind. Unfortunately, matter is not as responsive as spirit...

Our "matter" is constituted of the accumulation of decisions we have taken for all the years we have been alive. Our mind can change in the fraction of a second. That's is why we have to be in control of ALL the decisions we take concerning what we put into our bodies, and how we use them. Once those decisions will be translated in love handles and saddle bags, it will take much more than a fraction of a second to get rid of them. 

What we eat is our choice, really. I remind myself of this every time I am sweating on my stationary bike. That's not hard. The real challenge is to remind myself every time I am deciding what I am going to eat, how much exercise I am going to add to my day, when I am going to go to bed... You can add whatever else you do to your body: smoking, drinking, drugging, binging... All within the realm of our decision. All carrying their own set of consequences.

There is unfortunately no quick fixes to years of non optimal decisions. So I would advise you to examine what it is you have been doing that is not optimal and start by changing that. Then work hard to correct it. THEN look for the results...

You are on the right path, that's the important part... Congratulations! 



lbh, thank you so much for your vote of confidence!  I need it!  I will just keep on keepin' on :).  Congrats on your weight loss-that is terrific!!
Thanks Schaufel!  I know you were just generalizing, but I probably should have stated that I am just trying to lose the last 25 pounds from my 2nd pregnancy-he'll be 3 next month!  I don't smoke or do drugs; I have an occassional glass of wine and  I go to bed at a decent time (before midnight).  I don't consider myself overweight, but my bmi does.  I'm 5'5 1/2 and 168 pounds, but I look good in clothes.  So thanks for your advice and I'll keep doing what I'm doing!

Thanks for posting this!  I'm in the same boat.  I enlisted the help of a weight trainer and she told me to do the infamous 8min. abs video every day and I'll see a difference.

 So, that's what I'm going to try... only I don't think I'll do it at the gym.  I'll save that for at home.  (I looked a Hot Mess struggling to do one chrunchie while trying to make sure no buffed guys walked through the door Yell)

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You need to start a proper weight training program. This means heavier weights, used in specific amounts of sets, with specific amounts of repetions.

Doing cardio and 'various toning exercises' really isn't going to get you results at a good rate. I almost never do cardio, and never do 'toning' exercises, yet I get results that I notice on a weekly basis.

Good job on all the work-outs and weight loss! I noticed someone mentioned increases your weights.  don't do it.  women should keep to lower weights and increase the amount of reps to trim down.  good luck!

Some suggestions...

Depending on how out of shape you are...

I remember reading somewhere that it takes a good 45 minute cardio to see results on the scale (5 minute warmup, 35 minute workout, 5 minute cool down).

Or you may try mixing it up, 45 minutes one day, 25 minutes the next, heavy weights one day (yes, heavy weights are good for women too! We're not talking 100 lbs or anything!), light weights another time. I think we need to trick our bodies...they get used to the same routine pretty quickly.

Also, you may want to throw in another rest day (on a Wednesday say) to recover. Congrats on all the hard work, but your body may need a bit more recovery time, especially if you've been sedentary for a while. I've found that the more sleep I get, the more weight I lose, for some reason. I think it has to do with allowing your body to recover/heal from a workout.

I highly recommend Pilates (rather than crunches) for your core. I noticed a difference the very next day, after the first time I tried it!

Good luck!

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watson23 is incorrect. Low weights with high reps is almost utterly useless. High weights with low reps places a muscle under maximum stress, which causes maximal growth. Maximal growth means more muscle, which means more fat loss. Each additional pound of muscle you gain will burn 50 calories per day at rest.

Messing around with low weights is a complete waste of time. The truth is women should train exactly like men with weights. The fact they do not have high levels of testosterone will prevent bulking up, thus you do not need to worry about looking like a massive, muscular female. Professional female bodybuilders use steroids and hormones to develop their physiques.

P.S. There is no such thing as 'toning' a muscle. Making a muscle more defined involves making it bigger and removing fat that covers it up. Building muscle through heavy weight training will achieve this result. Light lifting will not.

Thanks everyone for all your replies and suggestions! So I worked out today on the elliptical for 35 minutes, doing the Hill program, followed by 100 crunches and some cellulite (ugh) targeting excercises. I asked my hubby, and he said it was a good idea to do more repetitions with lower weights in order not to bulk up.

Good luck to everyone and let's keep each other motivated!! :)
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Here's the thing:

Women that lift heavy weights will NOT bulk up! Period! Massive female bodybuilders take huge amounts of growth hormones and steriods to make themselves so masculin.

Heavy lifting will build muscle, speed your metabolism, tighten your skin, and help fat loss. It is physically impossible for a female to 'bulk up' without steroids.

Crunches and 'targeting' exercises will NOT speed up fat loss in the targeted area. I NEVER do crunches and yet I have a six pack due to low bodyfat. Cellulite will NOT go away through exercise...fat loss through caloric restriction is 80%+ of your results.

Unless you start weight training correctly you will continue to use your gym time ineffectively.

If you don't believe what I've been saying then check out this link: tm

The article was written by a female, by the way.

imccarthy, thanks for your input.  I guess all the magazines that I've been reading like Prevention and Shape don't know what they're talking about when they show specific exercises to "target" certain areas.  How old are you anyway?  You probably have a huge metabolism (since you hardly do any cardio)  and haven't had 2 kids, so cut me some slack will ya.

most magazines are just nice wrapping paper for advertisement.

believe it.

spot reduction is a myth, and imccarthy does have definition due to low bady fat - just like every other person out there with muscles you can see.

Every One. not just a handful. if you can see muscles, they have low body fat. period. now, all that targeted weightlifting does increase the size of certain muscles... this is why i am working on my back right now. to "target" an area does not decrease the fat. you can have rock hard amazing abs covered in a layer of fatty tissue. all the crunches in the world will not melt the fat off.

~~ so ~~

flip your routine. warm up first with stretches for 5-10 minutes

do weight training first. squats, lunges, deadlifts, dips, lower back extentions, what have you ~ but make sure you hit your largest muscles in your arms, legs, and back if you can do 13 reps easily, increase the weight. if you can't quite do 7 then lower the weight... skip abs for the moment, but be aware of them from the moment you walk into the gym. keep them slighly contracted, as in pilates i suppose.

hit the cardio machine (or machines plural) for 30-45 minutes. it takes 20 minutes to begin to burn fat as fuel.

now cool down with stretches... and do some ab work! recall that you have kept your abs semi-taught through your more than 1 hour routine now... 50 crunches would kill ya :) do some leg lifts, swiss ball crunches. learn how to do reverse crunches - they beat typical crunches for certain.

kids or no kids, i see fit people following a routine like this with no kids or four kids. the people i see with spare tires and such do little to work at it. the first poster is totally right too! the place you want to lose most is generally the last place fat melts from - so stay optimistic. allie had some excellent ideas in her post too! mix it up, never let your body get used to one move every day~

since i have been lifting weights and eating clean i have lost over 40 pounds. this is compared to years of dabbling in cardio, biking, hiking and swimmiing as a fat lady.


the article mccathy posted is excellent. if the images bother you, right click one and choose 'block images from...' and then read. read articles like this every day and learn how to burn it.

and hay, no kids here, but i aint perfect either. 165 pounds. my stretch marks can kick your stretch marks bum i bet :) no saddlebags because a whack of my weight is muscle. i look like a typical 145 pound chick apparently.

Original Post by watson23:

Good job on all the work-outs and weight loss! I noticed someone mentioned increases your weights. don't do it. women should keep to lower weights and increase the amount of reps to trim down. good luck!

(well deserved kudos aside) um. no. sorry, but that thinking is counter-intuitive for men and women alike. 

the buffmother link was great imccarthy thanks!

Trixie, keep up the exercise routine, workout as hard as you can. Once you lose about 25 or 30 lbs you'll see a big difference, when you're not wearing your clothes :) I think cardio is great for burning fat!

One of my dearest friends is a female body builder...she has incredible muscles and she does not take growth hormones or steroids. 

It is possible for a female to bulk up, doesn't happen easily and takes a tremendous amount of effort and determination to do so.

She and I talk about everything, and we spend a lot of time together, forget the fact that she is struggling to pay her car payment every month, she wouldn't be able to afford those kind of supplements, even if she wanted to.  There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that all of her muscle is from pure hard work.

That sounds like the people who don't believe that I lost a massive amount of weight with diet and exercise, the first thing out of a lot of their mouths is asking if I had gastric bypass.


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