One of the questions I get a lot is from people who want to know how to lose weight.

“What exercises can I do to get rid of this?” people will say, pointing to their belly, or some other part of their body.

OK, major teaching moment coming up …

Losing weight is one of the most common reasons for starting an exercise program. Most of the time, what people really want to do is lose bodyfat. They just don’t know it. A person can actually dramatically change the shape of their body without losing a lot of weight.

I remember working out with a guy named Mark a long time ago who was a beast. He was a pretty big dude who lifted weights four days a week in the gym and ran long distances one day a week. One day, someone said to him, “Hey, man, you losing weight?”

He said, “Nah, I’m about the same.”

Mark looked noticeably smaller overall, but his weight hadn’t changed much. What happened was, he had muscled up a little and reduced his bodyfat quite a bit.

So why didn’t his overall weight change as dramatically as his appearance?

Well, because muscle is a lot more dense than fat. In other words, fat takes up more room in the body than muscle, if that makes sense.

One description I saw somewhere is that a pound of fat is about the size of a small grapefruit, while a pound of muscle is about the size of a tangerine, smaller than an orange.

Pretty big difference.

So it’s bodyfat that people really want to lose, rather than “weight.”

And in response to the question, “What exercises can I do to get rid of this gut?” the answer is, all of them.

There is no specific exercise. You can’t do something to burn fat in one part of your body — spot reduction. It just ain’t gonna happen.

To lose your gut, for instance, you have to reduce your overall bodyfat. It’s that simple.

So how to do that?

Like I said, Mark worked out like a beast, but he also paid attention to his diet.

Uh-oh, there’s that nasty four-letter word again. Like my friend, Bubba says, the first three letters in that nasty word are D-I-E.

Let’s use the word nutrition, instead.

Equally as important as exercise is nutrition. Maybe even more important.

It’s hard, if not impossible, to out-exercise a lousy diet. Even if you’re getting exercise every day, if you’re throwing down more calories than you’re burning in a day, don’t expect a miracle to happen.

Simply put, to change your body, you have to move more (exercise) and eat less (consume fewer calories).

There are all kinds of ways to improve your eating habits, but I like to keep it simple. I mentioned my friend, Bubba, who is pictured at the end of this post. He’s 60-something years old in that photo, completely ripped, and his philosophy on nutrition is simple. “I eat anything I want, but when I start to get full, I stop eating.”

It’s true. I’ve sat across the table from him as he dug into a chicken-fried steak with extra gravy on the side, mashed potatoes, fried okra, corn.

So that’s one way to do it. When you start getting full, do a push-up away from the table.

I also heard someone say one time, “If you eat food with no labels on it, you don’t have to count calories.”

She was talking about eating whole foods — fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits. No processed, packaged stuff. No fast food.

Here are some other tips:

Get more protein. I want to lose another 15-20 pounds this year and I’m working right now on increasing my protein. One way I’m doing it is by drinking more protein. Protein shakes and smoothies.

Cut down on sugar. This is something else I’ve adopted just recently. I’m a sugar-aholic, and things can get out of hand really quick. If you love sweets like I do, try and cut it back to once a week. Treat yourself on the weekend, maybe.

Strength training. Increasing the amount of muscle you have will increase your metabolism and help burn more fat. One thing I have a lot of my clients do to maximize their workouts is circuit training. Basically, this is doing a full-body workout — upper body and lower body exercises — in a continuous rotation with little to no rest between exercises. Circuit training is said to be more effective than cardio (walking on a treadmill, for example), and you can pack a heckuva good workout into 30 minutes or so.

Sodas. If you drink coke (here in Texas, any sugary drink is “a coke”), stop it. That stuff has so much sugar in it, you wouldn’t believe. Drink water instead. Green tea is also a great substitute.

Intermittent fasting. This is a great way to get your eating habits under control. I’m doing it right now after getting a little sloppy with my eating over the past few months. Look it up. Basically, the intermittent fasting I do involves skipping breakfast and not eating anything until 10 or 11 in the morning. After that, I eat small meals and snacks, protein shakes, for the next 8 hours, and then nothing else after 6 p.m. Start the same way the next day.

Move more; eat less.

Find something that works for you and stick to it.

Takes a little self-discipline, and consistency is the key.

Lean and mean in his 60s