Question: Can any of the ab machines sold on TV get rid of my "love handles"? I need to shed about 10 pounds--and it's all in my middle.
JEROME M. TILLIS
Answer: One of the many myths about getting rid of "love handles" is that abdominal exercises (sit-ups, crunches, use of machines) will cause fat loss in that area. The fact is, spot reducing doesn't work. Although abdominal machines (just like traditional exercises) do strengthen and tighten abdominal muscles, exercise alone will not melt fat from your middle.
The most effective way to lose fat is with cardiovascular exercise, resistance training and proper nutritional habits. These three things will speed up your metabolism, burn calories and burn fat, which won't happen with crunches alone.
By the way, it's against the law for companies to lie outright about abdominal exercises as a way to lose fat.
Check the fine print. You will almost always see that a "nutritional plan" should be used in conjunction with the products for best results. My (not always popular) opinion is: Don't bother using these products without cardiovascular exercise.
Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/ fitness consultant. Send questions by e-mail to stephoake firstname.lastname@example.org. She cannot respond to every query.