We all want abs of steel, but for anyone who has tried to do a million crunches and wondered why they don’t have a six pack, it’s simple. Spot reduction doesn’t work.

Fat is stored energy and it gets recruited equally from all areas of the body, although where you gain weight first is usually the last place you lose it, which can be different for everyone. Your genes, hormones, gender, body type and body composition all play a part in which area of the body will start shrinking first.

What that means is, when you are sweating through an intense workout, every part of your body is fired up and burning fuel, which is great news! So even if all those squats and crunches may not be burning fat from that one specific area, the physical activity still helps us lose weight.

You are more likely to shed your love handles by taking up a Dance Fitness Class than doing sit-ups every day, simply because cardiovascular exercise is a much more efficient calorie-burner. HIIT and boot camp style classes and weight training can also be effective in achieving optimal results. It’s important to maintain muscle mass because you won’t achieve a toned look if you lose lean tissue along with fat.

Total body movement and high intensity drills are key to fat loss. Using large muscle groups requires more energy and builds more muscle. And more muscle means a higher resting metabolic rate, the thing that burns calories.

The bad news is that fat cells never decrease, no matter how often you work out or how many pounds you can bench press. They are determined by your genetics and set in childhood and adolescence, and they balloon or shrink depending on your habits. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can minimize the appearance of these cells.

So, whether you consider your problem area to be your tummy or your thighs, the best remedy do get rid of that stubborn fat is routine exercise and a balanced diet. After all, you will not lose weight if you burn 500 calories through exercise but consume 500 additional calories at dinner.

The only way to know how much your body can change is if you do the things you need to do to lose weight. Cardio, strength training, a healthy diet, stress management, good sleep and a healthy lifestyle all factor in. It is recommended that adults get two-and-a-half hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week with at least two days dedicated to strength training.

Practice those behaviors and don’t get discouraged if it takes you longer than you think. Stick with it and once you get some consistency, your body will respond in kind.