Personal training clients and gym class participants always ask me, "How do I lose my love handles?" Many think it's just with more crunches. It's not.
After having a baby with a cesarean section, I created two of my DVDs called "Slimnastics" and "Hard Core Abs" that you can do on alternate days to lose the handles you hate and that middle-belly flab. They target what you really need for a sleek midsection: a full-body-toning, heart-pumping cardio workout, with yoga poses, weighted crunches and twisting planks that target obliques.
Remember that losing the hated handles also requires a diet with small portion sizes spread over 5-6 meals a day, made up of mostly fruits, vegetables, high-fiber (whole-wheat) bread and pasta, and lean protein like eggs, fish and organic chicken.
Drink lots of water and green tea, avoid alcohol, sugar and fried foods, get enough calcium and a lot of sleep. (Get the "Slimnastics" book for more on diet, working up to a hard workout, the full routine and a bonus "10 Plank Variation" workout.)
Here is part one of my two-part article, "8 moves to lose the love handles you hate":
1. Plank knee cross
Hold a regular plank, and then balance on your left foot and bring your right knee under you toward your left elbow. Keep your hips low to the ground. Return to a full plank and repeat on the other side. Make it harder by taping the opposite hand to the foot or by "can-canning" the leg -- after you bring the knee toward the opposite elbow, straighten the knee and kick the leg out toward the left. Bend it again and return to start.
2. Outer thigh side plank
Plank on your right hand or forearm and lift your left straight leg off the right leg and toward the sky. Lower your leg and repeat 10 times. Move into a plank on the other side and repeat. Make it harder by bending your lower leg and holding a weight in your top hand. Straighten the arm to the sky as you lift the top leg. As you lower the leg, lower the hand and weight behind your neck, keeping the elbow pointing to the sky the whole time to work the triceps in a half French press.
3. Hip taps
Get into a side plank on your left forearm. Lift your hips off the floor, lower them to tap the left hip to the floor and lift again. This works your obliques in an extreme way if you do 20 or more. Repeat on the other side.
4. Thread the needle
Get into a side forearm or full side plank on your right arm. Lift your left arm to the sky and stagger the feet so the top (left) leg is in front. Sweep your left (top) arm toward the mat and "thread" it under your right armpit, reaching for the back of the mat while rotating your hips to face the ground and balancing on your toes. Rotate your body back to a side plank and repeat 15 times, then do the same on the other side.
5. Plank cross crunch
Hit the obliques again by getting into a full plank on your left hand and stagger your feet with the bottom (left) foot in front this time. Bend your right elbow and put your hand behind your head. By balancing on your right (top) foot, bring your left knee across to your right elbow to "crunch," then return to start. Repeat 15 times and then switch sides.
6. Spiderman plank
Get into a full plank on your forearms or hands. Balance on your right toes as you bend your left knee out to the left and toward your left elbow. Return to start and repeat 20 times, then do the other side.
7. Cardio knee hop to mountain climber
Start by simulating a jump rope by twirling your hands and using the biceps to move your "rope" while bringing the knees up to the height of your belly button. Repeat for 20. Next hit the deck.
Cardio mountain climbers: To work the abs and continue the cardio burn, jump lightly onto the floor on your hands and feet into plank position. Keeping your gaze above your fingers and your hands directly under your shoulders, start "running" your knees in toward the chest one at a time, "climbing" the floor. It's almost the same as the standing knee hop, but you are holding yourself up with your arms and abs.
8. Cardio sidekick plie
Stance: For a left side-kick, put your weight on your right leg with the knee and toe pointing out to the side at 45 degrees.
Chamber: Think of the kick in four counts. Count one is hinging at the hip and dropping your right shoulder to the right, kicking the core into action while bending your left leg and bringing the left knee toward your navel.
Impact: This is count two. The common mistake is for class participants to kick to the side with their toe pointing to the sky. To correct this, flex the foot and straighten the left leg and impact with your heel diagonally up and toe diagonally down.
Think of it like this: If you're inside a room, your heel should aim for the corner where the back wall and the ceiling meet. Your toe should point to where the floor and front wall meet on the other side of the room. Another way to visualize this is that your front hip bone, or "front pocket" of your kicking leg, should turn down toward the floor and your "back pocket" should be rotated up to the ceiling. Look at your foot with each kick to ensure appropriate form. As you kick, drop your opposite shoulder toward the floor and your obliques will work to get the kick up in the air.
Retract: For count three, quickly retract the knee back toward the core and place foot back to the floor for count four.
Trainer's tip: Adjust your target height. If you find it difficult to align your kick properly, instead of aiming for your opponent's head, aim for the stomach or knee. Master the foot alignment first, then work on the height. Even with a kick aimed at the (imaginary) opponent's knee, you are challenging your core and backside.
Fitness: Fit it in and fit into your jeans!
NikkiFitness, Nicole Glor, is a 35-year-old fitness expert on "Fox & Friends" and the star of eight fitness DVDs. Nikki's workouts have been featured in more than 100 national media outlets, and she is also an AFAA-certified New York City personal trainer. Get her newsletters, music playlists, video demos and DVDs at www.nikkifitness.com Search for "NikkiFitness" on Facebook and Twitter.
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