Couch to 5K
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Losing the spare tyre?

So I've graduated now and I have seen an immense improvement in my body shape. My hips are smaller, waist is smaller (donating 3 pairs of jeans this weekend because they're too big!!!) and my wife has started calling me 'stalk legs' because my legs are slimmer too, but my spare tyre is persistent.

Will running eventually get rid of my love handles or do I need to add some weights in to the mix, or even sit-ups to help reduce the spare tyre to a slim space saver?

20 Replies

Running doesn't burn off that many calories unfortunately (although I wish it did). If you want to lose the spare tire, you're going to have to resort to calorie counting (diet makes up 80% of weight loss- the other 20% being exercise), and yes some strength training would certainly help.

However, note that no matter what exercise you do, it's not going to target fat loss in one specific area of the body: fat loss just doesn't work that way. Watch what you eat (if it helps use a website like myfitnesspal), keep jogging, by all means add in some weights and you should start to see the scales dropping.


Everything Pixel said is correct, and I would like to add a little more to it.

Having a good diet is critical. Calorie counting (create a deficit of 500-1000 calories per day max and lose 1-2 lbs per week) is really straightforward. You could also consider the quality of the calories you consume, and the proportions. (Tip: go easy on "bad fat", starches and sugar; go nuts on lean protein, veggies and round it out with "good fat".) It is true that diet makes the biggest difference in weight loss, over exercise by far.

Add some strength training (weights, yoga, boot camp, whatever you like best) not only to get stronger, but to build muscle. Building muscle makes your body need more food to maintain your weight (so you won't have to cut your calories as much to lose fat), and it also tells your body not to eat up your muscle to fuel your runs, but to go for the fat instead. Aim for full-body workouts.

If you just want the fat to go away, then any resistance training you like will help (with diet). If you want defined 6-pack type abs, you will also need to include some ab exercises. These will build your core muscles, so they will be revealed as your extra fat goes away. (However, you have to lose the fat to see them, so you still need the diet and full-body strength training in addition.)


Thanks for the advice.

I figured diet would play a part in it (it always does). My diet isn't too bad but I do have the odd biscuits at work, and maybe a kitkat in the evening. Dinners are served in small bowls to reduce portion sizes too so it's not all bad.

Running has done a lot to reduce my weight so far, I've dropped about 5kg since starting back in April and my shape has changed immensily.

I read a couple of articles in a copy of Mens Health that I had lying around and there was a feature or two about excercises to reduce 'love handles' which basically revolve around building up the core (like Alaiyo said) so I'll start those tonight and see how I get on!


According to what my fitness instructor at the health and fitness course I'm taking said, if you can't shift the fat from your stomach area (assuming you've tried spot training, diet, and other things) it could mean that you have a lot of fat surrounding your organs in that area (stomach, kidneys, liver). No amount of exercise will shift that fat, if that's the case. The only thing that will help in that case is to change your diet - get rid of high calorie, high fat snacks.


hmm, I've not tried spot-training (only been running 3 months or so). I'll try some of the core muscle exercises and if that fails, get rid of the snacks :( but that's a last resort ;)


Spot training is a myth as Pixel said you can't reduce fat in one specific area of the body. Core training is good for overall strength and lifting weights will certainly help you burn more fat quicker. The biggest thing to change is defiantly diet, I would recommend counting calories for a while using an app or website (myfitenesspal or dailyplate are good). Also get a set of kitchen scales and measuring spoons to help with portions if you don't have them already. Track absolutely everything that you eat, including the snacks and cheeky spoonfuls when cooking (I'm guilty of that one!) most people under estimate how many calories they are actually eating. I'm not saying you need to count calories forever but it can really help in the beginning to get an idea of what you're eating and how many calories are in certain foods. Just remember no amount of exercise can cancel out a bad diet. Good luck :)


Yes, my wife & I recently watched a TV series called 'Secret Eaters' which was exactly that, people who claimed to be eating healthy amounts of food but weren't losing weight. So the programme set up video cameras & 'private detectives' to follow and track every mouthful. In some cases, the person would claim they'd eat 1900 calories a day but in actual fact be closer to 3500!

I did go through a stage of monitoring my eating by tracking everything. I bought a fitbit 5 months ago ( and that tracks my daily steps etc but also (via the iphone app / website) you can input food intake too so it can balance and workout food in vs calories out etc. I must start doing that again.


Green tea is good alongside exercise and cutting out some foods, just keep the foods you enjoy as an occasional treat. Paul Mckenna think yourself thin is my mantra. Worth a look and a listen to.


It's on the bookshelf! Tried listening to the CD a few times and fell asleep within minutes every time!

... oh wait, is that the idea?


Yes gets into your subconscious mind, just eat till you feel satisfied and not full so you feel absolutely stuffed. But it's easy to say it, it's putting it into practice to start with. Go on, take it off the book shelf and have another listen :)


Men store their fat in front and women store theirs on hips, thighs, chests (and everywhere else it sometimes seems!) such is the capricious nature of Nature! If you want to lose the fat you will have to lose weight by reducing your calorie intake by about 500 calories every day. This is best done with a combination of diet and exercise so it may mean no more than watching your alcohol and snack intake. The c25k plan should have prompted you to increase your daily exercise too so why not try walking, swimming, cycling or doing something else for 30 minutes on your rest days?


I'm no drinker but snacking is a horrible habit for me.

I've started doing some muscle work on my rest days as well as trying to squeeze in a mile or brisk walk but its tough to find time (same old excuse eh?).


I thought you couldn't spot train to rid fat locally, just not possible? I don't think thats how the body works. All you do is end up with nice muscles under the fat layer :-)

I would have to slightly disagree that running won't help you loose weight, it can its a matter of volume and expectation. If you go out and do a short run once a week then it won't make a difference but once your distance increases the effect does also. Equally going for a run and "treating yourself" to something sticky and sweet afterwards negates the effect.

I do about 2600 calories a week running and thats like not eating for a whole day! However it is only part of the picture. I posted somewhere else that 100,000 calories (which is what I have run over the last year) is only a couple of glasses of wine a day :-(

So quitting wine (I know I know) calory wise is like me doubling my running distance - not sure which is harder mind you.

It seems to me that small changes everywhere is probably the best bet, you have to live as well I suppose! All work and no play and all that.


Yah, it seems 'spot training' is nothing but a myth.

At the moment, i've been a bit lax with the running, only hitting two runs a week (Sunday & Wednesday) but both have been 5k's so I'm doing 10k a week roughly. I'm upping that now though to get back in the 'running on alternate days' regime.

2600 calories a week running? Wow, what sort of distances are you achieving Greg? How often do you go running?


I'm dieting and running and my top half (mostly boobs) have shrunk but everything from the waist down has stayed the same (apart from shrinking 1 whole inch). I look like a pear now! I'm hoping eventually the whole lot of fat will drop off and a size 10 will step out of this sumo suit ;)


how long have you been running? it can sometimes take your body 3 months or so to get over the shock of changing its routine and then it'll start changing.

It'll happen though and that size 10 will be in front of your mirror before you know it!


I've been following a run every other day since April and have been counting calories on myfitnesspal for 8 weeks now and my shape has changed, but I'm still not weighing less ;.( I keep thinking it will come but I'm getting very impatient


Keep it up Nicky! As I mentioned above (and has been posted by others on this fine forum) that the weight loss will come, it just takes your body some time to realise the new routine and adapt.

But as I've spoken to friends and family before, surely you'd much rather be concerned with your shape changing than your weight dropping? Wouldn't you rather drop a jeans/dress size than lose half a stone?

I know too many people who are hung up on what the scales say and not how their clothes are feeling. They're measuring changes by the wrong metric. As long as your shape is changing, you're winning :)


Right! So diet plays a big part too. And I read that just as my colleague offered me a jam doughnut.

Will power will power will power will power!

My wife told me last night that she's booked up a professional photography session in a months time to get some family portraits done so time to up the pace again - it's kinda given me another target to achieve too!

So this morning, on my rest day, 5:30am and I was doing some muscle exercises, stretches etc to try and 'strengthen my core' and build up some muscle tone. Sit ups, crunches and a bunch of other moves that I forget the name of... oh, 'the plank' is in there!

It was hard work but will try and keep this up on a daily if not, every-other day basis along with improving my diet.


Have a look at the Baby Milk Action website - a cure for those KitKats if nothing else!


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