Love handles sound cute, but most adults who have them want to get rid of them. They’re the stubborn excess fat that gathers on the sides of your waist and hips. If you try to cover them up, they can spill over the top of your pants and give you a muffin top.

That extra weight is an issue for both men and women.

When you try to slim down, you’re likely to find that your love handles will be the last place to budge. On the one hand, it’s a victory to see your cheekbones and shed the deeper abdominal fat that’s been linked to heart conditions and diabetes. On the other hand, you still want a trimmer waist.

With enough patience and effort, you can say goodbye to your love handles. Try these ideas for changing the way you eat and work out.

Dieting to Lose Your Love Handles

If you’re storing extra body fat, what you do in the kitchen is even more important than what you do in the gym. Put together an eating plan you can stick with for the long run.

1. Cut calories. You’re unlikely to lose weight through exercise alone. Use an online calculator to figure out the minimum number of calories you need each day. Try small swaps like baby carrots instead of chips for your afternoon snack.

2. Consume more fiber. Eating foods rich in fiber will help you to feel full. Good choices include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

3. Slow down. Eating mindfully is another way to feel satisfied with less. Sit down to eat and savor each bite.

4. Drink water. It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger. When you feel the urge to snack, have a glass of water or tea instead.

5. Spread out your protein. Your body has to burn more calories to digest protein compared to fat and carbohydrates. Include a little protein in each meal and snack.

6. Avoid empty calories. You still need to give your body its full share of essential nutrients. That may not leave much room for junk food or alcohol.

7. Appreciate moderation. At the same time, a diet that’s too restrictive can make your body hoard fat and make you vulnerable to binging on forbidden foods. Give yourself an occasional treat and watch your portion sizes when enjoying your favorite dishes.

Exercising to Lose Your Love Handles

While spot reduction is a myth, working out is part of the solution for love handles. Physical activity will help you burn calories and blast away fat.

1. Train in intervals. Alternating between high and low intensity exercises helps you to burn more calories in less time. Work with a trainer or design your own program, including plenty of cardio.

2. Think big. Exercises that use large muscle groups or your whole body are more demanding than smaller movements. Spend more time doing squats rather than bicep curls.

3. Tone your midsection. For a powerful midsection, you need to work your entire core. Target your back and your upper and lower abdomen, as well as your obliques.

4. Build muscle. Replacing fat with muscle will help you burn more calories even at rest. Lift weights or do body-weight exercises like push ups and dips.

5. Move more. Staying active throughout the day counts too. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Vacuum the stairs and rake the yard.

6. Schedule rest days. Overtraining can cause hormone imbalances and slow down weight loss. Take time to recover between workouts. Chronic stress has similar effects, so be sure to develop relaxation practices and sleep well.

Shrink your waist by focusing on long-term lifestyle changes you can sustain. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can transform your love handles into a strong and beautiful core.