Splurge vs. Steal: Fat Busters

5 fat-melting moves

Fat Busters
Fat Busters
(Image credit: Greg Delves)

Trouble spot #1: Lower stomach

Splurge: $2,500-$5,500

Steal: Cardio/reverse crunches

Because you need to lose the layer of fat over your belly in addition to tightening the muscles in your lower abdomen to see results, crunches alone will not do the trick, says Sydney Foster, a personal trainer and nutritionist at The Sports Club/LA in New York City. Her favorite fat-burning exercises? Running outdoors or stepping on the "gauntlet" machine for 30 minutes, three times a week. (Foster prefers the gauntlet's rolling steps to a traditional stepper's lever-style ones because they're more challenging ‑- and cheat-proof.) Then, for the reverse crunches, lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides and feet in the air. Lift your butt off the floor; slowly lower. Repeat 25 times. Do four sets, resting for 30 seconds in between. Aim to do the crunches every time you do the cardio.

Trouble spot #2: Backs of arms

Splurge: $2,000-$5,500

Steal: Tricep dips

Start by sitting on a chair with your arms by your sides, palms on the seat, fingers facing forward, says Foster. Now, slide your butt forward off the chair, bend your elbows and lower your body until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Push back up. Repeat the move 15 times, then do two more sets, resting for 30 seconds in between. For best results, do the dips at least three times a week.

Tip: To make the move more challenging, keep your legs board-straight while lowering and lifting your body, and go as slowly as possible.

More Trouble Spots

Trouble spot #3: Inner thighs

Splurge: $2,800-$5,800

Steal: Ball squeezes

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place a six-pound medicine ball between your inner thighs. Now slowly lift your pelvis straight up toward the ceiling until a straight line is formed between your knees and shoulders. When you get to the top of the lift, really squeeze the ball, says Foster. Gradually lower your butt back down to the floor. For best results, aim to do three sets of 15 at least three times a week. To increase the intensity of the move, hold squeeze longer.

Trouble spot #4: Outer thighs

Splurge: $2,100-$5,500

Steal: Sideways steps

Tie a resistance band around both of your legs at the upper thighs, then literally walk sideways across the room, taking 25 to 30 wide steps to the right, then 25 to 30 wide steps to the left. For best results, do this move at least three times a week.

Tip: To see results sooner, up the intensity by tying the band tighter. If space is an issue, this move can be simulated on a treadmill. Simply set the machine to a low speed and take wide strides facing to the side.

Trouble spot #5: Butt

Splurge: $2,000-$5,000

Steal: Walking up stairs ‑- with weights

Grab two 8- to 10-pound dumbbells and, pumping your arms as you normally would when walking, haul yourself up four flights of stairs (there should be at least 10 stairs per flight), then slowly walk down again, says Foster. For best results, aim to do stair-walking three times a week. If your home doesn't have stairs but you have access to a gym, recreate this move on a treadmill set at a high incline.

Should You Splurge on Lipo?

The best candidates for single-spot liposuction are women at ‑- or very near ‑- their ideal body weight who just can't seem to shrink those pesky trouble spots, says Carolyn Chang, M.D., a California plastic surgeon who specializes in treating women under 40 years old. (It is not for someone seeking easy, quick weight loss, cautions Dr. Chang.) "I see liposuction as a healthy alternative to obsessive dieting or overtraining. A woman might have to lose a significant amount of weight [when she is at or close to a healthy body weight already] to finally carve into her saddlebags, whereas liposuction can spare her the unnecessary starvation by removing the excess fat only where she needs it," says Dr. Chang.

Eat Your Way Thin, on Any Budget

Exercise is only part of the equation when it comes to slimming your silhouette, says The Sports Club/LA's Foster. Eating well and counting calories are just as important ‑- though they're often harder to do. For help creating a food plan that delivers real results, nothing tops the expertise of a registered dietitian. Here, the best ways to get professional how-to-eat advice ‑- within your price range:

Splurge: Visit L.A.- based nutritionist-to the stars Carrie Wiatt (Neve Campbell, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston have all sought out her services) for a thorough evaluation of your current diet and a new, personalized eating plan. The initial consultation (plus two follow-ups) will run you $200. Additional sessions are $75/half-hour. You can also enroll in Wiatt's Diet Designs food-delivery service, which drops a week's supply of nutritious meals at your door. Cost: up to $320 per week

Steal: Log on to www.myfoodphone.com to score the services of a registered dietitian for just $99/month. The program connects you with a professional who analyzes your diet via a visual "food journal." In short, you use a cell-phone camera to photograph everything you eat each day, then send the images to the site, where the dietitian posts feedback (positive and negative) about your choices on a personalized page. Once a week, the dietitian also posts a comprehensive evaluation (via video clip) of your progress.