What's "BUTT" Got to Do With It? - Part I
Part I - Overview and Physiology of YOUR Ideal Female Figure
With all of the nerdy things that I like looking up and learning about, I’m always pulled aside to answer the same question by females around me…”How can I make my booty look better?!” So I’ve decided to do a series for all of you women out there that want to know the ins and outs of how to put that "junk in the trunk"!
First, we need to address what makes for a nicely defined backside. From an evolutionary standpoint, most seem to think perfection has to do with a proper waist to hip ratio, and more recently Dr. David Lewis (a psychologist at Bilkent University in Turkey), found that a 45 degree spinal curvature could have something to do with it. With that in mind, remember that what YOU want to change about your shape is what you are here for; so I won't dwell on meeting any stereotypes here, don't worry.
Now let's address some of the ways you might want to sculpt your shape! Logically, we could help your hip look with the following steps:
decrease fat and inflammation around the waist and/or hips to create contrast in the midsection,
improve core stability for better posture, and/or
add girth/muscle to the buttocks
(This article will focus on step 1 and continue with steps 2 & 3 in later installments to follow.)
Step 1: Optimizing the Hip Ratio by "Tapering" the Waist and/or Hips
Since the hip structure in itself is defined mostly by bone structure, there is less that we can do in this area than the others; but modifications can still be made nonetheless! There are both nutritional and exercise pieces that we can incorporate to change this area. First, normalizing your diet and activity for your size through recommendations made in The 3 Crucial Habits of Getting Back in Shape! and Setting Up MyFitnessPal for Success will establish your health foundation that the following recommendations will be built on. Proper foundational health allows your body to begin burning the fat stored around your midsection, which then giving you more of that "hourglass" shape you may want.
When your primary focus is decreasing the amount of fat that exists in the hips, we have to direct our attention more toward your nutrition and hormonal status. Estrogenous (relating to the hormone estrogen) fat toxicity is a major point here. The physiology of "hip fat" goes like this:
Genetic predisposition sometimes creates excess demand for estrogen production (when all of the women in your family have large hips and typically experience heavy cycles) or leaves you lacking in estrogen response (when women in your family have narrow hips and more often have irregular/missing cycles),
Your diet is getting in the way (i.e. soy, plastics or other phyto- or xeno-estrogenic compounds mimic estrogen in the body), increasing swelling, which makes
Fat cells in your hips absorb more toxins (along with available energy and other things), making them inflammatory and swollen (cellulite, etc).
In order to counteract these factors, we must consider how your body is working. We will assume that you are like most women that come to me and say that you have larger hips than you would like and are not aware of what you eat that could contribute.
Consideration 1 - Ask yourself these questions:
“Do I have cellulite (hail damage) or chunks of fat (saddlebags) on my hips? And do I have extreme mood shifts prior to and/or excessive bleeding during my menstrual cycle?” If the answer to one or both of these questions is YES, then we are likely looking at a relatively high estrone (less protective estrogen) level relative to your more supportive hormones. To fix this, we need to ADD more metabolically supportive and detoxifying foods to your regimen like:
Proteins high in zinc - seafood such as oysters and crab, lean meats such as beef and poultry, and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt (to promote progesterone production and balance natural ratios of your sex hormones)
Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cabbage, bok choi and other similar dark leafy greens (to convert inflammatory hormones to more productive forms) and
Fruits containing Calcium-d-Glucarate - apples, grapefruit and oranges (to neutralize and remove excess hormones/toxins through the urine and stools)
Consideration 2 - Ask yourself “Am I eating soybean/flax products, products made from them, or consuming plastic residues from my dishes or other sources?”
If so, be aware that though there are some well-known protective qualities of these phytoestrogenic (containing plant-derived estrogen-like compounds) food groups, you may not be responding well to them. If you answered "yes" to the questions in Consideration 1, these foods will likely contribute to the hormone imbalances causing your fat storage in the hips and thighs.
Don’t think you are consuming these foods? Take a closer look at the packaging of the foods you eat. Oftentimes, these phytoestrogens, their derivatives and xenoestrogens (“foreign or synthetic” estrogen-like compounds) are used as fillers in most processed foods. Also, simply drinking water out of plastic bottles (even BPA free labeled ones) or heating up food in plastic containers will leach plastic residues into your drinks and food. Opt for "whole foods" that don't contain such fillers and use glass/ceramic/stainless steel containers to eat and drink from.
Takeaway - simply identifying the foods and environmental exposures to these food groups will decrease how many of these toxins are getting into your body and allow you to better eliminate those already causing inflammation!
Once the previous two considerations have been successfully recognized and addressed, you should have significantly decreased the amount of stress put on the cells from exposure to toxins, so less toxin storage/inflammation should be taking away from a better shaped you!
Next, an increase in overall activity should be burning the stored fat and eliminating the toxins from the area. However, if a more aggressive approach is needed because your body is still not responding, you will want to move onto the next consideration.
Consideration 3 - Measuring how your hormone activity could be affecting your shape may be necessary. Hormone dysfunctions do not "directly cause" issues , but they can point us more directly to which systems are not working properly, etc.
Completing a Needs Assessment, so we can tell you which hormones are worth looking at, is a great starting point in this case. From there, potential dysfunctions in relevant hormones (like insulin, cholesterol, progesterone, cortisol, DHEA, testosterone and estrogens) could pop up in your symptoms. We will either tell you the type of lab testing is most relevant to you or recommend also working with a naturopathic doctor willing to run similar relevant panels.
So let's recap...what is the ideal female shape? THERE ISN'T ONE except what YOU may want to change about your figure! In this article, you've learned that Step 1 of tightening up those curves is considering 1) how you are shaped and what to change in your diet and lifestyle to make changes, 2) what foods or other sources can be making you more inflamed than you should be and 3) what hormonal factors may need to be checked if your body isn't responding as quickly as you would like. Just remember that these recommendations are for those of you looking to change the shape of your midsection, but there is no "perfect shape" except how YOU would like to SEE YOURSELF CHANGE.
Look out for Part II, where we will address the physiology of the CORE in how your hips are shaped, as well as the Do's and Don'ts of core training to meet your goals. After that, we'll give you Part III with exercises and programs geared towards increasing muscle for a more shapely backside. The world won't be ready for that jelly if you follow these steps to get the curves you want with SYXGEN!