Article Thumbnail

A Not-So-Romantic Explanation of What Causes Love Handles

Interestingly, your midsection is only the half of it

When attempting to track down the earliest pop-culture reference to “love handles,” I discovered a 1964 column called “The Unsinkable Debbie” written by New York Film Critics founder Wanda Hale for the New York Daily News. In it, actress Debbie Reynolds (aka Princess Leia’s mom) was quoted as saying that her father, “in the idiom of the Southwest,” referred to a woman’s curves as “love handles.”

“Isn’t that sweet: love handles?” queried Reynolds. 

We can all debate how “sweet” it was that Reynolds’ “daddy” referred to a woman’s curves as “love handles” to her face at a later date. (I think there’s a much better term for it — sexist.) The point is, that seems to be the origin of the term as far as how it first entered into common parlance on a national level. By the time Celestine Sibley wrote a 1967 article for The Atlanta Constitution about a national movement encouraging physical fitness amongst young women, the term “love handles” had fully morphed within its Southern female ecosystem to refer to “wads of fat around the midriff.”

Today, of course, the term is pretty ubiquitous. But while most people have a fairly firm handle (my apologies) on what “love handles” are, they have a looser grip (I promise, I’ll stop) on what specifically causes them.

Well, Out with It Already — What Causes Love Handles?

It’s kind of an optics thing. You likely have undeveloped muscles that are being overshadowed by adipose tissue (aka body fat), even though your body mass index score is probably within, or just outside, the ostensibly healthy range. Fortunately, there are three different remedies you can implement if you want to rein in your waistline. The kicker, though: The optimal solution involves all three. 

Develop the muscles of your midsection. To buttress all of the areas of your midsection where love handles linger, you must develop your abdominal muscles, along with the oblique muscles on your sides, and the lumbar region of your back. While you’re at it, try to train all of your muscles throughout your entire body. The secondary muscle-crafting benefits you would experience by bracing with the muscles of your midsection as you move a challenging quantity of weight through space, in practically any direction, would help to qualitatively fill out your body as you simultaneously strive to eliminate body fat. Speaking of which… 

Engage in some active fat-burning activities. It’s the epitome of addition by subtraction. Better yet, you have endless options for burning that fat off! You can walk, jog, sprint, swim, row, ski or do absolutely any consistent activity requiring you to do more moving and less eating and drinking (so probably no golfing or bowling). In terms of what you’re eating and drinking…

Get your diet under wraps. Seriously. Nothing will sabotage your best-laid plans for physical improvement faster than a calorie and a few thousand of its buddies. The sooner you can eliminate the indulgences from your diet that you know are an impediment to your dream of looking like “Ravishing” Rick Rude in his prime (I can’t be the only one), the sooner those love handles will be permanently relegated to the rearview mirror.

Sexy Rick Rude GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Then, just like the creepy comments of Debbie Reynolds’ father, someone will have to go digging around in the archives of history in order to discover that they ever existed in the first place.