We all come in many different body shapes and sizes, but one commonly asked question by people unhappy with their natural body shape is; can I change my body shape? First of all, it's worth asking yourself why you want to change your body shape and what you're specifically unhappy with. Many people resort to cosmetic surgery procedures to add bits on or take fat off, but what about changing your body shape naturally, is it even possible?
Photo credit: Hayet Rida
Can you change your natural body shape?
The short answer to this is no, after all, you can’t change your bone structure. By adulthood, the bones in your skeleton have set completely and therefore it is virtually impossible for us to do anything to change their shape. But you can make some changes your appearance through exercise and proper nutrition. Insyze will look at how you can tone and change your body shape as well as increasing your muscle and bone strength.
Firstly let's talk about proper nutrition:
We all know about the massive health benefits that come from eating a nutritionally balanced diet made up of the four main food groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins and minerals.
Water being the fifth food group.
Most women need to consume between 1,500 - 2000 kcal per day to keep their bodies functioning normally.
To maintain a steady body weight you need to balance energy intake and output. You lose weight when you use more energy than you take in and put on weight when you eat more calories than you use.
Your body converts these extra calories and stores them as fat tissue. Different body shapes will store the fat tissue in a various places. Apples store fat in their mid-sections whilst pears often store fat around their bum and thighs.
You can reduce your overall body size by maintaining a calorie deficit, which will have an effect on the shape of your body. But dieting doesn't let you 'spot reduce' weight loss, as fat tends to come off evenly from all over you when you lose weight (you will just notice your smaller areas looking smaller faster than where you're bigger!)
The hormone Oestrogen, often known as the female sex organ, plays a vital role in lots of women’s bodily functions like in the menstrual cycle, bone formation (working with vitamin D)and impacting the way in which we distribute body fat.
If your oestrogen levels are a lot less than your levels of testosterone you are likely to store excess fat in your upper body
Women who have been pregnant will know the struggle of shifting that baby weight after giving birth but did you know that this can because you lose some oestrogen during and after pregnancy?
Oestrogen levels decrease as we get older (the menopause) which is why its often a lot harder to loose weight with age.
Depending on your body shape, we store fat in different places around the body so the types of exercises for changing body shape needs to be different for apples, pears, hourglasses etc.
The proportions of your hourglass figure are already well balanced so we would recommend that your exercise program is equally balanced between your upper and lower body including core and strength training.
The banana/rectangular body shape is typically characterised as being ‘straight up and down’ and therefore to change this body shape you would just ‘simply add curves.’
We know what works by the style of clothes that you wear but can you do this on a more permanent basis?
Go for a balanced strength training program to work both your upper and lower body to minimise the size of the waist and create a more hourglass silhouette.
As with the edible fruit, your core is key so in a battle against the belly bulge, you should work on core muscles.
If you want to work on changing your body shape try building up both your upper and lower body equally to gain the coveted hourglass silhouette.
When the pear shaped gal gains weight she will normally end up carrying the extra fat in her lower body rather than around the waist or upper body.
The bad news is that the fat stored in the thighs or bum is less metabolically active that upper body fat, so is harder to burn off.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this body shape type is the hardest to try and change.
To try and change your body shape from a pear to the coveted hourglass try to equal out your proportions by toning up your upper body through chest presses or resistance training.
Yoga and pilates are a great way of combatting your ‘thunder thighs’ with ‘the plank’ being a great way of working out those abdominal muscles.
The strawberry, inverted triangle body shape is quite literally opposite to the pear so whilst they focus on equalling out their silhouette through working on their upper bodies, the strawberry should balance out her proportions by working on her lower body through squats etc.
So what’s the verdict?
We asked if its possible to change your body shape and found that the answer is not as straightforward as a simple yes or no.
Your body shape is largely determined by your bone structure and is therefore pretty much set however you can make subtle (or not so subtle) changes through lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet.
If you're a pear shape who wishes she could have smaller thighs or an apple shape who wishes she could have a slimmer waist, then you're not alone. Accept your body shape for all the beautiful benefits it has. Learn to see what you love, rather than always looking at what you hate about yourself.
And remember, that dressing to flatter your natural body shape is the best thing you can do!