Many women know how frustrating it is when their bodies won’t shed weight where they want it to.
But understanding how you’re put together can translate to a healthy acceptance of your particular body type and lead to a happier—and ultimately healthier—life, says Dr. Cathy Roy, an expert on the cellular basis of obesity who has researched metabolism in both men and women.
Your shape matters.
Because men and women are built differently—women tend to be pear-shaped, carrying fat on hips, thighs and buttocks, while men tend to be apple-shaped, carrying fat in the midsection—they lose weight differently.
Fat cells in women’s hip, thigh and buttocks areas can be stubbornly resistant to exercise and healthy eating, said Roy, associate professor of exercise science at Longwood University.
It’s good to be a pear.
There are serious advantages to having a pear-shaped body. A little extra weight in the hips, thighs or buttocks will NOT increase the risk for several life-threatening diseases like diabetes and coronary artery disease.
“The good news for women who distribute their fat in a pear-shape pattern is that their risk for the so-called lifestyle diseases is minimal to nonexistent, and, in some studies, has actually been shown to be beneficial,” said Roy.
The apples have to worry.
Men generally pattern excess fat in an apple shape —the waist/abdomen area—which puts them at higher risk of developing these same diseases. “The bad news for men is that abdominal fat is linked irrefutably to those diseases, so it’s dangerous if they keep putting on that ‘spare tire,’” said Roy.
Exercise is better than fad diets.
Unfortunately, said Roy, many women who unsuccessfully try to change their body shape through exercise end up thinking exercise is ineffective. “This can often lead to trying a popular fad diet, which, even if it works, is generally temporary. The focus needs to shift from the vanity aspect of losing weight to the benefits of a fit lifestyle.”
In the end, be happy with who you are.
Women can shift the focus from how much weight is coming off those hips, thighs and buttocks to the numerous advantages of regular exercise. A healthy, happy lifestyle is easier to attain.
“These benefits usually far outweigh decreasing fat deposits on a woman’s hips,” said Roy. “My advice to women frustrated by not losing more weight, or not losing weight in the desired area, is try not to get on the scale and try not to get wrapped up in social media. Far too much importance is placed on body-fat levels when the focus really should be on incorporating fitness and proper nutrition.”