You guys should know by now that I’ve recently become all about weird beauty/aesthetic treatments. I went to a sweat lodge, I have a coupon for cryotherapy I have yet to cash in, I’m in the midst of a Brazilian laser hair removal regimen. (OK so maybe that last one was less weird but more straight-up painful. It still stands, IMO.) So when I was given the opportunity to try Vanquish ME, a body contouring procedure that is supposed to kill fat cells in a non-invasive way, my exact response may or may not have been “sign me the fuck up.”
If you haven’t heard of Vanquish ME, it’s because it’s a fairly new treatment—it came out two years ago. Vanquish uses radio frequency energy to heat up and kill fat cells, and it does it without even touching your skin. Basically, this machine burns your fat cells and then, over the course of a few days, your lymphatic system gets rid of the cells—in other words, you pee them all out.
Ever since I learned the non-culinary definition for “muffin top” I’ve been preoccupied with my love handles. As far as I can remember, they have always been there, and they have been prominent. I haven’t bought real pants since probably about 2009, since it becomes a Sophie’s Choice between pants that fit my legs but make my muffin top protrude and make me suffocate, or pants that accommodate the muffin top but are MC Hammer pants in the legs portion. I live in leggings and jeggings, but more often skirts because they just don’t test the limits of conventional sizing and my self-esteem in the same way. It’s important to know yourself, you know?
And before you even ask, nothing so far in the past 26 years has made my love handles go away. I’ve lost and gained weight, reaching and losing a Weight Watchers lifetime membership a few times over in the process. I’ve spent hours in the gym lifting weights. Nothing so far has seemed to work. So when I found out that Vanquish targets whatever problem area of your body you choose without requiring you to go under the knife, or experience any pain or serious discomfort, I was fucking in, and you already know which body part I was targeting.
While FDA approved, Vanquish ME is not a super common treatment, and there are only a few places in New York that do it. NKD NYC in Columbus Circle is one of them. It’s a brand-new facility that offers all types of luxury wellness treatments, like cryotherapy, infrared light therapy, vitamin IV drips, and more.
I stepped into NKD NYC and I was pretty nervous, because I hadn’t researched the Vanquish treatment too much—if I had, I would have gone into an anxiety spiral and talked myself out of trying it. Better to go into these things blind. Luckily the staff were incredibly nice, and there was a NP on site, and also a technician who had performed the procedure numerous times before. The facility itself was immaculate, very clean and calming.
The most important things to know before getting the Vanquish ME treatment are that you need to be well hydrated, and you can’t have any body jewelry on. It’s also not recommended that you be on your period because it can cause it to become heavier (which nobody wants, least of all me). Other that that, it’s pretty straightforward. Vanquish ME has been referred to as a “lunchtime” procedure, because you can pretty much just waltz in, get the procedure, and go straight back to work. There’s no down time or recovery required.
The best way I can describe the actual process of getting Vanquish ME is that you literally just lie on a reclining chair. The technician maneuvers this machine around you that kind of looks like an open claw (but less scary). They adjust the machine to fit just over the area you want to treat, making sure it’s not actually touching you, but rather, hovering right above you. Then they turn it on and you chill there for 45 minutes. You can watch TV, meditate, talk to the aesthetician—you just can’t have your phone and you can’t move.
At most I would describe the process as mildly warm—about a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale. It sort of felt like putting a heating pad on my lower abdomen—but honestly not even that hot. It was pretty much the easiest thing I’ve ever done, even easier than sleeping, since I low-key have insomnia. But whatever. I’m sorry this account isn’t more interesting; but that’s how simple the Vanquish treatment is.
Most people receive between 4 to 5 Vanquish ME treatments spaced 7 to 10 days apart for maximum results, but I received two. NKD NYC also usually combines the Vanquish ME with an IV Vitamin Drip to make the treatment even more effective, but I didn’t do the drip. I went no more than two weeks in between appointments and didn’t change my diet or exercise routine between that time—I subscribe to the health regimen of “doing the bare minimum to still look okay naked”. I did not lose any weight from Vanquish ME. That being said, when I came back for my first treatment I was measured, and I lost a half an inch around my love handle area. That’s not bad at all for something that required literally zero effort. Overall I would say that I can feel the results more than I can see them. Like, every time when I’m sitting down and I go to pinch my love handles just to see how bad the situation is (a compulsive habit I’ve developed over the years—thanks body image), there’s less to pinch. My sides and back feel smoother and there’s less spilling over the top where my waistband meets skin.
Unfortunately I spaced out and forgot to take before and after photos at NKD. Fortunately for you all, though, I went to a music festival days before I received my first treatment, and I took a picture that will haunt me forever because of how my love handles look. It’s time like these that I’m so grateful to be a woman—I’d like to meet ONE guy who spends approximately 56% of his time thinking about his love handles. ANYWAY. I decided to recreate that same photo with the same outfit to give you an idea of how my muffin top situation has improved since Vanquish.
My pictures are not a perfect science, and the results are not like, life-changing (like I said, I didn’t receive nearly the recommended amount of treatments), but it’s enough to make me feel better.
The only catch? The price, as you probably guessed. Vanquish isn’t cheap—a session costs $750—and like I previously mentioned, it takes 4 to 5 sessions to achieve the best results. But if you have a rich sugar daddy who’s bankrolling your lifestyle, or you’re considering getting lipo anyway, you might want to try Vanquish since there’s no recovery required. NKD NYC is also currently offering summertime packages and discounts for Vanquish ME.
If you’re not made of money, NKD NYC has a less permanent body sculpting option: localized cryotherapy. For $55 per session, a technician will perform localized cryotherapy on an area of your choosing. It’s the opposite of Vanquish ME—it works by freezing your cells to give the appearance of firmer, smoother skin. Your results will only last for about a day, but if you’re going to a pool party or something and want your skin to look a little firmer, you’re probably going to get better results from cryotherapy the day before than you would from binge-eating spinach and doing extra crunches.
Images: Siora Photography / Unsplash
We’re all about loving ourselves over here, but sometimes there’s just a little stubborn stomach fat right above our jeans that’s not so easy to love. Like, we can admit that we’re a work in progress, even though it’s obviously the really expensive work that has a VIP exhibition line down the block. Everyone has love handles, and making them go away isn’t as easy as drinking a green juice and taking a spin class one time. Trust us, we’ve tried. This workout combines cardio moves with oblique-targeting exercises, and it’s only six moves total, so you can do each one for 45 seconds and then repeat the circuit as many times as you want. Here’s how to lose the love handles.
1. Mountain Climbers With Twist
This move is also sometimes called the cross-body mountain climber, but we prefer twist because you need visualize your entire torso twisting as you jog your legs in toward your chest. Starting in a plank position, keep your shoulders over your wrists to engage your core and not put too much pressure on your shoulders. Then, jog your legs into your torso one at a time, twisting the leg to the opposite side of your body. So, if you’re bringing your right knee up, try to reach it towards your left elbow. Then, do the same on the other side. Do a few reps slowly and then pick up the pace once you get the hang of it. Remember to squeeze your core at the top every time.
2. Side Plank With Pulse
If you feel like your side planks aren’t doing anything for you, your form is probably wrong, and you need to be engaging your obliques, which are the sides of your abs that should burn throughout this exercise. Start on one side by placing your right elbow on the ground and stacking your feet, making sure your body is in a straight line with your hips about 5 inches of the floor. Lower your hips slightly and then lift your pelvis up, squeezing your right oblique. Try to pulse for a few seconds at the bottom of every dip to really burn out the muscle. You should aim for about 20 pulses in the full 45-second interval. Then, do the same on the left side.
3. Russian Twists
A Russian Twist sounds like a funky cocktail you’d get at a speakeasy, but it’s SO much better than that. Okay, kidding. These suck. But they get the job done and they’re so effective if you’re doing them right. Start by sitting on the ground with your feet out in front of you while holding a weight or medicine ball in your hands. Lift your feet off the ground and tilt backwards, twisting the weight from one side of your body to the other, basically touching the ground on each side. Remember to twist using your core and take your time on these. If they’re too hard, drop your feet to the ground to make it easier on your core.
4. Plank Jacks
Holding a plank can get super boring, so by adding a jumping jack, you get to raise your heart rate and burn calories while working out your core muscles. It might hurt when you try to laugh tomorrow, but it’s worth it. Start in an elbow plank with your feet behind you, keeping your right and left foot close together. Then, without lifting your butt at all, jump your feet out and in, like you’re doing horizontal jumping jacks. By combining a cardio move with an ab move, you’re toning and burning cals at the same time. Like, can we get more impressive?
5. Sprinter Sit-Ups
The sit-up exercise gets a lot of flack in the fitness industry because a lot of trainers feel like people are hurting their backs and not really engaging their core. By doing sprinter sit-ups instead, we’re activating the sides of our core, and work out our hip flexors as well, which will help with your total body strength and won’t put as much pressure on your back. Basically, this move is a winner. Sitting down on the ground, lean back slightly as you lift your right leg up and bring the left elbow to the right knee, engaging your obliques as you twist toward the right side. Alternate between right and left for the full 45-second interval, and make sure you’re using your core to twist, not your elbow.
6. Squat Thrusts
Squat thrusts sound like they’d be a lower body exercise, but they’re low-key amazing for your abs, and they target other parts of your body too, which is just a win-win. Squat thrusts are basically burpees, but with a focus on the plank, so there’s no push-up at the bottom. You’re welcome. Standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, lower into a squat position and place your hands on the floor. Then, kick your legs back into a high plank position, and then jump them forward, back to your squat. Stand up and add a jump at the top, and then keep going. The point of the squat thrust is to burn calories using your abs, legs, and arms, so your whole body is involved. This move is basically the icing on the cake. But like, a very healthy, low-cal cake.
We’ve already established that getting rock hard abs comes down to diet and discipline, but some toning exercises will def help when it comes to getting rid of your love handles and defining your tummy area. Most people think the only ways to tone your abs are by doing a million crunches and holding a plank for as long as possible, but those exercises don’t hit your obliques—the side edges of your abs that give you that amazing slimming shape when you’re wearing a crop top. Don’t lie. You know you want those side lines. Here are 8 exercises that will help you get them:
1. Russian Twists
Sorry, the Russian Twist isn’t the name of some cocktail with four shots of Smirnoff and a gross amount of syrup. It’s actually a killer ab exercise, and if you do it right, your obliques should be sore as fuck tomorrow. You’ll need some sort of weight, kettlebell, or ball for this, but don’t go crazy on the weight. Start by lying down on the floor and placing your feet out in front of you, raised a few inches above the ground. Your knees should be slightly bent and your torso should be elevated off the group, making a V-shape with your thighs. Holding the weight with both hands, move it from one side of you to the other, tapping the ground on your right and left sides each time. Do at least 10 reps on each side.
2. Side Planks
Side planks are a static move, so it might look easy because you’re staying still, but try to hold for 30 seconds to a minute on each side and you’ll shut up about how easy it looks. Turn onto your right side with your legs extended and your feet and hips resting on the ground and stacked on top of each other. You’ll want your right elbow directly under your shoulder to hold up your torso and to protect your shoulder joint. Hold for as long as you can, then switch to the left side. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.
3. Bicycle Crunches
People usually miss the point with bicycle crunches because they’re doing them so fast that they’re not actually activating the ab muscles at all. This isn’t a spin class, so take your fucking time with these. Lying flat on the floor with your lower back against the ground, put your hands behind your head and lift your left shoulder off the ground while bringing your right knee to touch that left elbow. Then, do the same on the other side. Repeat for at least 45 seconds, and make sure you’re not pulling on your neck. You really should be thinking of reaching your shoulder to your knee and less about the elbow to the knee.
4. Wood Choppers
Just when you thought shit was getting easier, we’re making you chop wood. Okay, not really, but this exercise makes you look like a wood chopper so let’s go with it. You’re gonna need a kettlebell or weighted ball again here, so choose something around 10-20 pounds. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hold the ball at one hip and explosively carry it over your opposite shoulder, completely twisting your core as you move. Do ten reps on the right side, then the same on the left. The key here is to keep your hips square but twist your torso. Also, try not to throw the ball behind you and hit some guy in the head. It’s not cute.
5. Alternating Toe Touches
This move will burn pretty fast, but it’s amazing for getting rid of love handles, so let’s get it over with. The idea is similar to the bicycle crunch, but it’s even slower and more controlled, so you’re really activating each oblique. Lie on the floor with your legs out in front of you and your arms straight behind your head. Then, lift your right leg straight up in the air at the same time as your left arm, touching your left hand to your right foot (or knee if you can’t make it that far.) Alternate sides for 20-30 reps.
6. Dumbbell Side Bends
This is the one move where you’re gonna have to go pretty heavy in your weight choice if you want to see real results. Drop the 7.5lb dumbbell and grab something substantial (think 17-25 pounds). This is a sculpting move, so you’re gonna hold the dumbbell in one hand and bend over sideways, getting the dumbbell to the height of your knees, then stand straight again. Go up and down on each side for about 20 reps to feel the burn.
7. Sit Up With Side Twist
Sit ups are SO three years ago, but sit ups with a twist will literally carve lines in your abs, so we’re all about them. Lying down with your back flat on the ground and your hands behind your head, bend your knees and keep your feet planted on the ground. If you have a friend around to hold down your feet, that shit is super helpful, but if not, that’s fine too. In one controlled motion, bring your torso up off the floor so that your elbow is touching your knee as you twist with your waist toward one side. Then, slowly lower back down and keep going, alternating sides each time. Do 10-15 reps on each side.
8. Windshield Wipers
We’re guessing you’ve never actually wiped off a windshield in your life so you might not even understand the mental image, but that’s why we’re explaining it to you. The idea here is to move your legs from one side of your body to the other while lying down, only using the twisting of your torso to do so. Bend your knees slightly and start in a fetal position with your legs to the right side of your body. Keeping your hands on the floor next to you, use your abs to twist your legs over to the other side of you, landing them on the floor next to you. Keep repeating for 45 seconds to a minute.
Read: How To Get Amazing Abs In Time For Summer