Astonishing new tummy blitz melts fat and tones abs without gym or diet09/15/2021
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I've been living in Lycra and denial for a year, but the non-fastening zip on my pre-lockdown jeans has forced me to face the truth. I'm having a midriff crisis.
My stomach has always been the first place to pack on the pounds, and I can't pretend my current overspill isn't thoroughly deserved. Since switching to home working, I'm no longer racking up a 10,000-step daily commute, and with long hours and fewer real-life meet-ups I'm struggling to find either the time or motivation to stay in shape.
When I finally turn off the computer, I'm far more likely to switch on Netflix than Joe Wicks.
What I need, basically, is a lazy girl's way to flatten the flab: no diet, no exercise and no willpower required. And luckily, 2021 is just the year for that. Not one but two treatments for troublesome tums have just hit the market, and together they promise the ultimate, gym-free solution for a slimmer, more sculpted waistline.
But are they too good to be true – and is the price too hard to stomach? My podgy belly needs to find out…
The fat melter – CoolSculpting Elite
Why sweat off the flab when you can freeze it off? That's the idea behind CoolSculpting, a technology that's been around a few years but has just had a big upgrade for 2021.
"We're still freezing tissue to minus 13 degrees, which destroys the fat cells without harming what's around them," explains body contouring guru Dr Selena Langdon, who's performing my treatment at her Berkshire Aesthetics clinic.
"However, the new CoolSculpting Elite machine gives even better and quicker results. The cooling applicators that draw in and freeze the tissue are now bigger and more efficient, and patients are seeing fat reduction from as little as four weeks, rather than 12."
Once my tummy is marked up, it's prepped with a gel-covered fabric which "prevents frostbite injuries", Dr Langdon cheerfully tells me. It's hard to imagine how my fat can be turned to ice without the skin withering like a Polar explorer's toes, but she assures me it's perfectly safe.
That doesn't stop a sharp inhalation when the machine switches on, and the chunk of stomach chub that's been slurped up into the applicator is flash frozen in seconds. For a moment, there's an intensely icy, tingly feeling, like wearing flimsy gloves in a snowball fight, and then everything just goes numb.
Thirty minutes later, my first treatment zone is released like a giant ice-cube plopping from a tray, and I shudder as I prod my stomach. Ew! It's as if there's a tub of frozen butter stuck under my skin. It's revolting and fascinating all at once, particularly when Dr Langdon pulverises it with a mechanical massage gun to hasten the fat breakdown.
The whole process is repeated on three other tummy areas, and then I'm free to leave. There's no downtime, as such, but my skin feels numb yet tender for a week, and I can't wear anything but my baggiest cargo trousers, zip undone. Thank goodness nobody can see that on Zoom.
The muscle maker: EmsculptNeo
It's been a month since my CoolSculpting treatment, and I'm thrilled to already detect an impressive flattening of my belly bulge. This means two things: my flab is literally melting away and it's time for phase two of Operation Lazy Guts.
I'm signed up to be one of the first testers of EmSculpt Neo, a new body-shaping machine designed to help sculpt a six pack without a single sit-up.
"It's a fantastic combination with CoolSculpting because once you've frozen away the fat you can really see the muscles being defined underneath," explains top medical aesthetician Magda Szczukiewicz, who's strapping me onto this "Slendertone on steroids" muscle cruncher at The Cosmetic Skin Clinic in London.
Having EmSculpt is like being possessed by a demon doing a HIIT workout. Electromagnetic pulses grab onto my abs, clenching them with an eye-popping ferocity, then slapping and spanking them into submission.
It's brutal, but only in the manner of a brilliantly invigorating sports massage. Not only does it force your muscles to perform the equivalent of 24,000 sit-ups in a single session, this new version of EmSculpt also emits radio-frequency energy, which promises to reduce fat too.
It takes half an hour to do, and my inner masochist rather enjoys having the recommended course of four treatments over a month.
It's 12 weeks on from my CoolSculpting treatment and I'm back at Berkshire Aesthetics for Dr Langdon to assess my results. At my first visit, I'd undergone a 3D digital body scan to document my figure from every unflattering angle, so there's no chance of cheating.
I already know my stomach is slimmer, but I'm genuinely astonished as Dr Langdon rotates my before and after 3D images side by side. My stomach is now flatter than it was before I had two kids.
The digital measurements show I've lost more than one and a half inches from my widest point, and while I can't claim to have developed a six pack, there's definitely more definition to my abs.
I can't take any credit for it – I've basically outsourced my tummy to technology for three months – but now the onus is all on me. "The fat reduction is permanent," says Dr Langdon. "But… only if you don't gain weight."
It would be easy to undo all my not-so hard work, but I think this has been exactly the incentive I need to overhaul my lifestyle. Since finishing the treatments, I've improved my diet and even managed to go on holiday without having my usual hotel buffet pig-out, spurred on by how much more confident I feel in a bikini.
I've also renewed my gym membership because I know my newly machine-honed abs will vanish if left unattended.
So would I recommend these treatments? Well, they both work, no question, but neither of them are cheap, with CoolSculpting Elite costing around £2,000, and EmSculpt Neo at £750 a session. Ouch.
If I could only choose one, it would have to be CoolSculpting because I think it's done the bigger share of my tummy de-bulking. However EmSculpt's refinement has been the icing on the cake, and if I had limitless funds I'd be strapping myself on every week to work on that six pack.
Until I win the lottery though? I'm just happy I no longer hate my guts.
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