They say all good things take time, and weight loss is one of them. It probably took you months or years to put on the fat around your thighs and butt, so you can't expect it to disappear overnight.
But it's not all bad news. You have a lot of control over your weight, even if it doesn't feel like it. Making changes -- possibly significant changes -- to the way you eat and exercise can have dramatic effects. If you commit to making those changes today, you'll quickly start to see results.
Set Your Goals
It helps to know a little bit about how weight loss happens. First of all, genetics plays a huge role in weight gain, as it does in weight loss. You gained weight in your thighs and butt because your body has a genetic tendency to store fat in those areas.
Keep in mind that as you lose lose fat, you lose it from all over your body. Your face or arms might begin to look thinner before you notice changes in your "problem" areas.
Don't use the scale to set your weight loss goals. Instead, set goals centered around exercise frequency and eating habits. For example, doing a certain number of hours of cardio each week, or cutting out sugary snacks and sodas.
These kinds of goals will lead to long-term results in the appearance in your lower body more than reaching a certain number on the scale.
Give Your Diet a Makeover
Burning fat is a numbers game. You've got to burn more calories each day than you consume. The quickest way to create this deficit is to reduce your calorie intake.
How many calories you need is very specific to you. Lots of factors contribute, including genetics, your current weight, your age, gender and activity level. Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you get a more exact figure.
In the meantime, you can make changes to start seeing quick results:
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies;
- Eat whole grains and products made with whole grains, like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat bread, instead of refined grains like white rice and white bread;
- Choose lean proteins, such as fish, light-meat chicken, beans and tofu;
- Choose low- or non-fat dairy products;
- Cut out sugary beverages, desserts and processed foods
That last item is key. You probably don't realize how many calories you're consuming from non-healthful sources, such as sodas, candy, cookies, chips and other snack foods. If you want to see fast fat-loss results, you've got to give up these foods fast.
Up Your Cardio Game
Increased aerobic activity will create a deeper calorie deficit for faster fat loss. Run, bike swim, take an aerobics class, or hike with your dog. Get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes every day.
If you're already doing cardio daily, you can up the intensity to burn even more calories. The more vigorously you do any activity, the more calories you'll burn.
A great way to increase your intensity is with interval training. This type of training involves alternating periods of intense physical activity, such as sprinting, with equal periods of walking, such as jogging or brisk walking.
According to a review of research published in Journal of Obesity in 2011, interval training has more of an impact on body fat than steady-state cardio, and it's been shown to result in greater skeletal muscle fat oxidation.
In summary: If you're not doing enough cardio, do more. If you're doing regular cardio, increase the intensity.
Build Muscle to Burn Fat
You can significantly speed up fat loss by building more muscle. Muscle increases your body's ability to quickly metabolize fat and calories. The more muscle you have, the more fat you'll burn.
Muscle takes up less space than fat, pound for pound. It will not make you look bulky. It will make your legs look sleek and toned and your butt look firm and lifted.
Two or three times a week, do exercises that target all the muscles in your body -- your legs and butt, as well as your stomach, back, shoulders and chest.
Train your largest muscles using compound exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time; these are your best bet for building muscle and burning fat. These types of exercises burn more calories while you're doing them for an extra fat-burning boost.
Examples include: Squats, deadlifts, step-ups and lunges for the lower body, and push-ups, pull-ups, rows, chest presses and lat pulldowns for the upper body. Add in ab and lower back exercises like planks and supermans.
Don't have a gym membership? No problem. You can get an effective workout just using your body weight. Squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, step-ups and plenty of core exercises don't require weights. Just do more sets or higher repetitions.
As with your cardio workout, the higher the intensity of your strength-training workout the better. Your muscles should feel very fatigued at the end of each set. Doing the exercises back-to-back without rest will make you sweat and burn a lot of calories.