Do you look through fashion magazines wishing you had the body of your favorite model or Hollywood star? If you pine more for the long legs and winsome waistlines than for the latest clothes splashed across the pages, you’re not alone. Many women long to be tall and rail thin, but the bottom line is, few among us have that natural shape.
“You can lose weight, and you can gain weight, but your body is your body,” says Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. “You can’t change the basic body you’re born with.”
But that’s no reason to despair. You can still take steps to make your body shape the best it can be — and it may boost your weight-loss efforts and overall body image. When women dieters address their body-image issues as part of a weight-loss program, their efforts are more successful, researchers from the Technical University of Lisbon found. Get ready to meet your body type and learn to love it.
Apple Shapes: Tone Your Tummy
If you carry most of your excess weight around the waist and tend to have narrower hips and bigger breasts, you’re an apple. Some researchers believe that apples have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and early death while others think that waist circumference may be no better an indicator of your likelihood of having a heart attack than any other measurement of body fat. Still, being overweight, no matter where you carry your fat, puts more strain on your heart and increases your risk for heart disease.
What you can do: You can’t spot reduce to get rid of fat, but you can start a cardio routine to help burn fat all over, and tone your abdominal muscles to make them look more streamlined, says triathlete Mark Allen, co-author of Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You. Research has found jogging to be the single most effective exercise to tone tummies, so if you have your doctor’s approval, consider starting a running program to slim down. Next, add in ab-toning moves, such as planks and crunches.
Pear Shapes: Tighten Your Thighs
If you’re a pear, you carry fat around your hips, thighs, and buttocks and are more likely to have a small upper body (including breasts) and a heavier lower body. If you want to shift the emphasis away from your hips, there are fitness improvements you can make for a better body image.
What you can do: Bicycling is an excellent aerobic exercise to help tone your lower body, Allen says. Although you can’t spot reduce, you can tone your legs with squats, leg presses, leg curls, and calf raises.