My husband and I are in our early 40s. He has a bit of a stomach and 'love handles', and I have a flabby tummy and cellulite. We are due to go on holiday with friends in four months' time. Is there any advice you can give us to shed the pounds?
SUZANNE, your problems are so familiar. The areas you talk about are typical and are the most difficult to shed.
The majority of stored fat on the human body is present under the skin, otherwise know as subcutaneous body fat. This fat tissue is made up of fat cells.
A human can have between 50 and 200 billion fat cells distributed around the body.
Most females have a high percentage of the subcutaneous adipose (fat) tissue around the thighs and bottom.
Most males, even those that are relatively lean, still have trouble getting that last bit of fat off their lower stomachs and love handles.
You mention you want to shed pounds but don't mention how much you weigh, so I will keep the answer more general.
Whatever you do, don't crash diet, as all this does is stretch the connective tissues in your skin and makes your cellulite and fat worse.
Don't think merely by losing weight that your cellulite will go - there are lots of thin people with cellulite and fat. The areas you need to look at are, diet, smoking, stress, medication and exercise.
DIET: Alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods contribute, as they produce toxins that get trapped in the fatty tissue.
You should keep this type of food to a minimum and consume only once a week. Substitute coffee and tea with Green Tea. SMOKING: If you smoke this could contribute as it weakens the skin by constricting the capillaries.
It also damages the connective tissue and this then causes the dimpling on the thighs we call cellulite.
If you see a smoker's face you will immediately tell, because their upper lip becomes lined and their skin looks very dry.
If that is the damage caused on the outside, imagine the damage caused on the inside, on your lungs and connective tissue.
STRESS: Stress can also cause blocks in the tissue, preventing waste and toxins to be dispersed from the body.
Exercise will help you de-stress by giving you more energy and in
turn will aid sleep.
MEDICATION: Some contraceptive pills will increase oestrogen and cause the fat cells to enlarge, which leads to water retention.
If you are retaining water you cannot flush the toxins from your system and it will lead to the formulation of cellulite.
Drinking more water won't help in this instance. Some diet and sleeping pills have a similar effect.
EXERCISE: By exercising you will improve your muscle tone and circulation. You will feel better and help blocked tissue and purify the body.
If you implement the above you will both feel so much better about your-selves, and the fact that you both want to make changes will make sure you will encourage each other.
I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a fantastic holiday.
I AM trying to eat healthily but get very confused when I shop because the labels on the food seem to be telling me about calories, and although I know this is important I know that I should also look for the fat content in food.
I have an active job and have started going to your gym and need food that will give me energy. Can you explain a foolproof method of making sure I get the right portions of food and keep the fat content down, as well as ensuring I have enough energy?
I AM pleased to hear you have been using the gym, Scott, and you are welcome to ask me for advice.
However, I will try and explain the way I do my shopping and hope it helps.
I make a point of buying fresh foods rather than processed, but if I do buy something just to heat up, I will look at the grams of fat per 100 grams.
I use a rule: if it is less that 10g of fat per 100g I will buy it, so if you buy something that weighs 300g you don't want more that 30g of fat.
This should not be the norm for your diet, and you should try to buy fresh vegetables, fruit and meat and cook from scratch using lemons or limes, olive oil and herbs to flavour the food.
Fat has more than twice the calories of protein and carbohydrates, so you can eat twice as much if you keep the fat under control.
* Email your questions on training or nutrition to Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org