With only weeks until school is out, summer is just around the corner. Want a six-pack? The American Council on Exercise has given us the facts.

If only it were as easy as those infomercials and magazine ads promise.

The truth is, in order to sport a six-pack, you need to be genetically blessed, eat healthy and exercise – a lot.

Don’t give up, though. Having that attitude will only make your six-pack goals farther away, add more pounds to your frame, zap your energy and likely deteriorate your health condition and physical well-being.

Studies have shown that physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet are risk factors for chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

The good news is that working on a healthier, more physically active lifestyle doesn’t have to be painful. As I have been saying in this magazine, for years now, it just takes consistency and a stick-to-it attitude with a plan that’s right for you.

While not everyone will be able to build the perfect abs, it’s about trimming overall body fat.

I have said it a zillion times before, but there is still a common misconception that, by working the ab muscles alone, the fat layers will magically disappear. However, spot reduction never works.

When we gain weight, we gain weight over the entire body. Everybody has areas on their bodies where we store more or less fat. Hence, when we lose weight, we lose it in similar proportions.

The idea that you can target specific areas for weight loss, such as the torso or buttocks, simply doesn’t work. When you weight train, you train the muscles under the fat so that when the fat burns off you have a better body shape.

All-over muscle building increases your metabolic rate; cardio training burns the calories off and diet helps increase your energy and your metabolism and helps balance calories in with calories out.

Genetics plays a role in your body type.

Apple-shaped body types store more fat around the waistline; pear-shaped body types (that’s me!) tend to store around the hips and thighs. If you have had a body composition test done, you would have noticed that we give you a waist-to-hip-ratio calculation.

Too much fat in the midsection increases the risk for serious chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Reducing fat layers all over your body, but especially in the midsection, can prevent such life-threatening diseases from developing in the first place.

You would also be given your body-fat percentage. In order to start to see your abs, you need to be in the more-athletic range of body fat: 14 to 20 per cent of body fat for women; six to 13 per cent of body fat for men. It takes a balance of cardio, strength and proper nutrition in order to reach this low level of body fat.

Start now with proper nutrition and training and you will be ready for summer before schools out.

This column is provided by Peak Fitness. Mrs. Lee Randell is an ACE-certified personal trainer. Contact information and past articles are available at www.pkfitness.yk.ca/Clients. Anyone who wants to begin an exercise program should consult their physician first.

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at www.mrsleerandell.com.