HARKIN'S HEALTH KICK: Getting rid of 'stubborn' body fat

Local fitness instructor, Kevin Harkin explains how to get rid of 'stubborn' body fat.
Local fitness instructor, Kevin Harkin explains how to get rid of 'stubborn' body fat.

This week I’m covering another topic that I commonly get asked about on the gym floor.

Throughout my time as a trainer, I’ve come across so many people who have self diagnosed themselves as having “stubborn bodyfat”.

“Stubborn Bodyfat” being excess bodyfat that they believe just doesn’t move no matter how hard they try. They’ll usually have “tried everything” but just can’t shift that last bit. It usually goes something along these lines:

▪️ The person diets for a set period of time leading up to a big event, usually something like a holiday, a wedding etc.

▪️ They start the process with an image in their head of how they will look after this time period, usually based on comparisons with others they see online.

▪️ The time frame comes to an end, and when they look in the mirror, they don’t exactly resemble what they thought they would have after the work they’ve put in

▪️ The remaining bodyfat is now labelled as “stubborn” and from then on, the person describes these areas as “stubborn”

And of course more often than not, once the event (holiday, wedding etc) has passed, the person resumes eating how they did before, gains back a few pounds, and this cycle repeats the following year before the holiday season.

The reality of this is very simple. In most cases - your bodyfat isn’t stubborn. It doesn’t actually have any kind of personality for that matter - it’s simply bodyfat.

Depending how much bodyfat there is, the time frame needed to get into the shape we’d like to will vary massively.

Needing to drop three stone to get in shape will require much more time than needing to drop 10 pounds. Trying to get a full six pack of abs will require much more work and time than just aiming to get a little bit more toned. Making sense so far?

The usual approach people take in this scenario, is to diet for the least amount of time possible. Usually six weeks to a maximum of 12 weeks. When such a short time frame is given to get into the shape desired, two things can happen: One, there’s simply not enough time to get in shape and only so much can be achieved in the time frame laid out. Or two - the person takes a drastic approach given the time frame and fat loss plateaus quickly with not enough time to fix this. Think dropping carbs, extreme fad diets – short term we usually see a big drop, but this quickly falls on its face.

One big theme throughout all this . . . . Not. . . Enough.. . . Time.

We need to be realistic with our goals, and recognise that the body we’re aiming for may need to be a long term project, rather than a crash course before a trip to Ibiza.

Some people may well just need 12 weeks, and that’s great for them. However, plenty of others need 16 or 20 – maybe even 6 months! While for some lucky individuals, knuckling down for eight weeks gets them to where they want to be.

Like anything, it’s all totally individual. If you do find yourself at the end of your program with “stubborn” bodyfat, just take note of where you’re at right now, and remember that it’s NOT stubborn and this isn’t the end of the road.

If you’re still not happy, take a brief break from dieting and try to maintain what you’ve dropped up to now, then get stuck back in and push on with your fat loss until that bodyfat is gone. Give yourself a week to eat however you like and try to maintain the weight loss you’ve achieved in this time, clear your head, eat some of the foods you enjoy, then set yourself another smaller time period and go again until the body fat is gone.

If you’re new to the fat loss world and are just embarking on that journey, I’d love to help.

Please feel free to drop me a message on facebook, or email me on kevin@kevinharkin.com and we can get the right plan in place for you, and make sure to drop that “stubborn” bodyfat for good.