It’s time to separate “fat fact” from “fat fiction.” Here are definitive answers about how we gain and lose harmful body fat.

#1: Fact or fiction: Thigh fat is healthier than belly fat. True. Because the more belly fat you have, the greater the chance it’s between your organs.  That’s visceral fat, which is harder to lose, and raises your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. And your risk rises as your waistline gets bigger.

Next, Fact or fiction: You can spot reduce fat – or target a specific area of the body to lose weight. That’s False. Everyone loses weight in different places. For example, many people will lose weight in their face first. But you’ll gradually lose weight throughout your whole body.

The final question: You can pig out during the holidays and work it off later. That’s False. Studies show the damage done to the fat cells of your body during a bad food month can last for years. And it always takes longer to lose weight than to put it on. Plus, if you gain weight in the winter, it’ll be harder to take it off because the weather is bad, so you won’t be motivated to get out and exercise as much.

The fix? Don’t put it on in the first place. Keep a food journal and write down everything you put in your mouth – from a bite of your kid’s mac-n-cheese, to that donut in the break room at work. When you see evidence of how much food you’re actually taking in, it’ll help you eat in moderation and realize, you’re probably not as hungry as you think.