Love Handles Aren’t For Love

“What’s the best way to get rid of love handles?”

“How do I shrink my fat belly?”

“I’ve been going to the gym 6x a week, but my stomach is still big and fat! Help!”

These are some of the questions and messages that bombard my inbox almost every day. If you’ve ever had to struggle with a paunch, or still do, you’ll find some consolation in knowing that you are not alone. Getting rid of belly fat is one of the most common aspirations for people looking to lose weight. It may also be one of the most challenging to do if you’re not completely committed to the solution and goal.

Tummy Feels Funny

I remember when I was at my heaviest after giving birth, I could feel my tummy jiggle whenever I went brisk walking or running. This was such an awkward and annoying sensation for me that instead of motivating me to keep working out, it actually put me off of exercising for a time. I hated feeling it jiggle because it just made me feel worse–as though my attempt to exercise only acknowledged further the presence of my belly fat (and thigh fat, lol).

There are two kinds of belly fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat that sits under our skin and can be felt when the skin is pinched. In short, it’s all over your body just sitting underneath the skin. It’s what you feel jiggling about when you bust a move on the dance floor after one too many Vodka Tonics. Visceral fat is stored around your internal organs, including your pancreas, liver, and intestines. It’s situated beneath your abdominal wall and cannot be pinched. Visceral fat is dangerous to your health.

belly fat anatomy.jpg

You may say, “Okay I think I’m fine. I just have more subcutaneous fat I think.” Maybe. But it’s better to get a checkup so you know where you’re at health-wise. Having too much visceral fat can totally mess up your liver’s efficiency and function. It can also interrupt hormonal communications between your vital organs. A range of health issues from insulin resistance (the start of diabetes), high blood pressure, high risk of heart disease, and high cholesterol levels are real concerns when it comes to visceral fat. Even breast cancer, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and stroke have been linked to high visceral fat storage. (According to Livestrong and Muscle For Life)

Size Matters

There’s no way that ToughGirl is espousing Ken and Barbie doll vital statistics, and for obvious reasons, but there is a real danger when it comes to visceral fat and larger waistlines. Putting together high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (or the good cholesterol) and rising blood sugar all make for the road to destruction.

How Do I Know How Much Fat I Have?

To find out whether you have a high visceral fat storage, you can measure your waist. Grab a measuring tape and put it around your waist, at the bellybutton level. Don’t suck in your stomach or pull the tape tightly around your waist. Just let it sit comfortably on your skin. For women, a waistline of 35 inches or higher is considered a sign of excess visceral fat. For men, it’s 40 inches or higher.

How Did I End Up With All This Visceral Fat?

There are several factors to look at in trying to determine the cause for high visceral fat storage.

  • High-fat diets, and we’re talking the bad kind of fat, and this includes deep fried, oily, greasy food (usually, the fatter someone is, the more visceral fat they will have).
  • Sedentary living (meaning, a non-active lifestyle) makes you more prone to being overweight and having higher levels of visceral fat.
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol predisposes you to higher amounts of visceral fat for both men and women (especially sugary cocktails).

Visceral fat has huge amounts of trans fatty acids and may explain why consumption of trans fats has been linked to abdominal fatness. So unless it’s in your genes or you can blame hormones, the best way to avoid high visceral fat storage is to make sure you exercise, eat properly (proper nutrition), avoid junk food (especially those with trans fats–read the labels before buying and consuming!), and moderate your alcohol intake.

What Do I Do?

Moderation is key. You can celebrate, you can indulge, you can enjoy your cheat meal. Just be sure to that you are generally good to your body on all the other days of the week and you give yourself plenty of exercise, rest, and proper nutrition. For some people, visceral fat is difficult to get rid of. But if you keep at it and stay consistent and vigilant about your nutrition and lifestyle, you’re on your way to a healthier you.

Shrinking your belly (and arms and thighs) have less to do with vanity or insecurity issues, but has everything to do with your health. Looking great is just a fantastic bonus to taking care of yourself. The real prize is living a long and healthy life so you can be around the people you love, doing things you love to do. No wants to spend their days coming in and out of hospital for health issues. So take stock of your health today and start looking forward to better tomorrows.


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Want some tips on how to eat and live healthier? Get a chance to receive a free 8-week transformation workout program by following @hilaryisaac and @nutritiondepotph on Instagram and stay tuned for details! You can also share your fitness journey with us by emailing us at




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