You may have started last season, packed on a few kilos over winter, and now you’re trying to get back in shape for spring. But what shape exactly?
Over the course of a weight-loss journey, our bodies change shape. As we lose excess fat, we should be building added muscle mass through exercise – isn’t it really exciting when we can finally fit into our skinny jeans again?!
And what about your summer body?
We often talk about “being in shape” or getting into shape. But what exactly does your body shape tell you about your health, and what shape should you be aiming for?
Here are five things to think about:
1. If you’re already ‘skinny’…
If you have the typical build of a marathon runner, runway model or ballerina then you probably think you’re in great shape, and therefore in great health. (And the rest of us are really jealous!)
This MAY be true, but you may also have a few not-so-obvious problems.
Many people with this body shape actually have more body fat than they imagine, and also far less muscle-mass. A good test of this is to figure out how strong you are in relation to your bodyweight.
Can you do push-ups, pullups, squats and sit-ups with ease? If not, then you’re probably going to struggle as you age. You NEED to start building muscle mass and strength so that you don’t end up with brittle bones and muscle weakness in your later years.
If you are really skinny and you eat a LOT but are always hungry and tired, you might also need to get your thyroid checked for hyperthyroidism.
2. If you’re ‘big-boned’…
If you have always been seen as ‘big-boned’ (even when not ‘fat’) then you need to watch out because your body-type gains weight easily – you probably already know this.
You are likely to store high-carbohydrate foods as fat rather than burn them as energy if you are too sedentary. This is true for almost everyone on some level, but your body type is even more prone to storing high-carb foods as fat.
The way to tackle this is to control your carb and sugar intake carefully and also to do hard physical activity every day to keep your energy-burning machinery going at full tilt.
3. If you’re pear-shaped
The pear-shaped body is skinnier at the top, and carries fat in the hip and thigh regions.
The good news is that this body shape is linked to good overall health.
Fat in the hips and thighs (as opposed to on the belly) may actually be linked to lower incidence of certain diseases including high blood pressure and heart disease.
The worst part of this shape is finding a pair of jeans that fits well. But thanks to the leggings trend and the Kim Kardashians of this world – we all have a new perspective on the pear-shaped body.
Belly fat (the apple-shape or ‘beer belly’) is far more dangerous. People with this shape are at risk for a whole range of diseases… (take a look at #5 for more info on this shape)
4. How does your BMI coincide with your shape?
BMI (Body Mass Index) CAN be a helpful tool in diagnosing whether you are in or out of your ideal weight range. But it has one large pitfall – it doesn’t cater to strength or physique.
You see, by the BMI scale all bodybuilders are MORBIDLY obese. But if you’re a regular person with regular fitness goals, then using the BMI range should give you a fairly accurate reflection of where you are in your weight-loss journey.
When you get into the ‘normal’ range, evaluate how you look and feel about yourself. What shape is your body?
Once you’ve lost excess weight, it is easier to picture yourself looking stronger and fitter too. And exercise won’t seem like such a daunting task either. You can start sculpting your body shape as part of your new healthy diet and lifestyle!
5. Your waist-size and your health
This one is simple.
If you are a woman with a waist larger than 38 inches then you’re in danger of all sorts of diseases as you grow older.
People who are ‘apple-shaped’ carry more weight around their vital organs. Many people who are apple-shaped actually have metabolic syndrome. (Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.)
So no matter how you think you look, if you are in that size-range then you MUST aim to get smaller and lighter.
Try to get your waist down to 35 or 36 inches before you even think you’re going to give yourself a break.