Body Acceptance, obesity, overweight, fitness, and risk to health

Body acceptance, including of any and all when it comes to race, culture, age, size and shape, has been much in the news and social media commentary during the past few years. Health and fitness have replaced the word “diet”. Today  I saw that Helen Mirren is featured on the  Sept. magazine cover of  Allure — which magazine has apparently eschewed forevermore the word “anti-aging.”

I’ve always supported the notion that curvy women look better in corsets and “take to” them easier than do slender folks. ROMANTASY features a full-figure gallery to encourage women of all sizes and shape to try a corset for any of a number of purposes. One of our clients pictured on that page had a bosom measurement of 54″ and a waistline measurement of up to 60″ is not all that abnormal over our 27 years in this corset business.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of the vast majority of my typical corset clients over the years. Marcia Venema (holding flowers), is one of our most loving supporters of all things corset and of my modest small business venture, with an amazing 16″ natural hip spring (waist vs hips). (Black and white, and magenta corset by Sue Nice, former team member; blue and brown corsets by Sheri; ).

In general, I agree with the body acceptance trend, but honestly, I have always had a vaguely discomfiting feeling that I have not been able to name, when it comes to that term, in conjunction wtih how to think about large waist sizes and weight.

Most of us know about Dr. Oz and many others in the medical fields who advise that a woman’s waist should not exceed 35″ and a man’s 40″, in order to minimize many health risks as we age. Now I’ve read that for us women, it might be 31″ for the waistline goal! (see below)

To me, the bottom line is that we each have to judge our own body size and shape as to whether we feel good and safe in them, healthy, and out of pain. But I continue to wonder if obesity is ever a good thing to support in the name of body acceptance?

As for Mirren as Allure’s Sept. Cover Woman (let’s dump forever the term “girl” as Mirren is surely not that!), one can only muse, “why now, and why not eons ago?” Betty Friedan mused along with me in 2006, but not eons ago, when she published a book I recommend to all, The Fountain of Age. Aging is not a trip to the garbage heap according to Friedan. But there’s a lot more research to be done with attention to men and women over 70, to fill in a huge gap in knowledge as Friedan points out.

And of course, there is a lot more research to be done on weight, waist size, hunger, eating habits, nutrition, and related health matters.

Lately The European Heart Journal reported on a new study from London designed to find a correlation between people who were fat but fit, and heart disease. 521.000 Europeans from 10 countries participated and were monitored for 15 years. It’s worth a read if like me, you are struggling with the concept of body image and how that relates to overall health and health risks.

The researchers noted individuals as being “unhealthy” if they were found to have at least three harmful metabolic markers such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and a larger waist size (37″ for men and 31″ for women). Meanwhile, those with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 were considered “obese,” while participants with a BMI of 25-30 were viewed as overweight. Anyone with a BMI of 18.5-25 was listed as normal.

While participants who made the “unhealthy” list were more than twice as likely to suffer from coronary heart disease regardless of weight, people considered “healthy” under the formula who were overweight still had a 26 percent greater risk of battling the condition. Obese “healthy” participants were found to have a 28 percent increase risk.

More than 10,000 people served as a control group for the study and factors such as exercise level, smoking history, and socio-economic status were taken into account for the research.

The authors believe that “the excess weight itself may not be increasing the risk of heart disease directly, but rather indirectly through mechanisms such as increased blood pressure and high glucose.” They agree that stronger awareness and prevention measures, along with treatment of obesity, be offered by doctors so that those who “fat, but fit” don’t lose sight of losing weight.

“I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese,” says Dr. Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial’s School of Public Health. If anything, our study shows that people with excess weight who might be classed as ‘healthy’ haven’t yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile. That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack.”

I’ll let that be the last word for now, but always welcome your thoughts on the matter!

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Don’t Let One Uninformed or Prejudiced Corset Comment go Unrefuted

I’ve always been one to speak up about policies and procedures that make no sense, or about something that I feel will improve my family, community or personal life. That also includes corsets.

Some who first considering wearing a corset, equate them with being from the fringe or the fetish world. Some see only the sexual aspect of corseting, not realizing that corsets are worn for a countless number of distinct, beneficial reasons (See corset enthusiast/corset maker Lucy William’s book, Solaced, available on amazon.com). Some fear that being identified with corsets by letter writing, or by wearing the corset as an outer fashion garment, or even by stealthing and being outed in some way, will bring opprobrium down on their head. They don’t see sufficient benefit of posting public comments or writing letters to editors or to authors of articles to correct wrong statements about corsets, to provide personal examples of positive benefits, or to make comments on style, design, and construction. I wonder how truly harmful those comments would be, really, or even if they would hear any at all? Most folks are into their own things and go about their business with little regard for others who might be tangential.

Perhaps we succumb to imagined trauma when there is none these days? Corsets are worn visibly and are ubiquitous outside of a fetish content. With nearly 400 international corset makers showing their wares on the web and rushing out gorgeous custom creations to hundreds if not thousands of clients all over the world?

A  rather new BFF of mine is subject to the connection of wearing corsets with both delight, and with shame. Recently she picked up a stunning, comfy and well fitting new overbust corset by Sheri (pictured here with lavendar paisley corset fitting properly; note there is no “toothpaste” protruding underneathe her arms; nor in the back which is not pictured) who is now our preferred ROMANTASY CORSETIERE (send us email for a direct referral to work with Sheri on your design and style needs).

My friend doesn’t feel comfortable enough to let her 40-year old daughter know that she is wearing a corset as a foundation garment, yet her daughter commented on her good posture and lovely bosom supported properly by an overbust style.  In addition, she has gotten many favorable comments even tho viewers don’t know she is wearing a corset, many along the lines of “Wow–you look great; that inspires me to start losing some weight too!”

Her daughter questioned the height of her mom’s bosom in the corset. Of course the corset needs some seasoning to fit better over time, and it needs to be pulled a bit down on my friend’s body (with the lean-pull technique).

As another example, the client, not my new friend, pictured here is wearing a red Chinese polysilk underbust style corset too high on her torso, allowing her lower stomach to protrude outward. She pulled the corset down about one inch and lo! it fit perfectly!

My BFF needs to remember that a corset tends to rise when sitting for a while, and over a day of wearing. Wearing a corset takes some attention and some tinkering with height and lacing down; the best fit requires some adjustment during the day until the corset settles on the body. Of course, we’re so used to seeing ourselves slump under loose clothing styles, that just seeing better posture looking back in the mirror can be stunning, even shocking, and take some getting used to. Most of all, my newly-corseting friend needs to heed my advice to delay any negative — or positive ultimate conclusion if corsets are for her or not.

Aside from potential negative or ill-informed comments that need to be corrected when they occur in the media, often corsets in the news are simply left out in any discussion about health or body size or shape, or about fat, obesity, and diet challenges.

That’s true of one New York Times Magazine’s article from this past Sunday (see below). It’s as if corsets and corset waist training just don’t exist, much like society has treated women as not existing in  conversations conducted and dominated by men in the boardroom and conference hall. Women have to push their way in and speak up to be heard; it takes courage. Courage is more important than courtesy, as Senator Kamala Harris believes (she’s publishing a button with that saying, and I’m waiting for mine to wear proudly).

I urge you to consider pushing your way into any misguided corset conversation, or where your informed comment may be relevant, so that these wonderful garments and their many benefits become more broadly available in the consciousness of anyone who wants to improve their posture and/or lose weight or waistline inches. It’s one more option of self-improvement that has nothing to do with dieting and everything to do with feeling good, fashionable, feminine, comfy, and au courant!! We need every voice to speak up to address “The Corset Question” and diminish it’s ludicrousness and invented foundational belief that corsets cause pain.

On another point, one person reminded me to confront statements like I used to make, that modern day corsetry well fit and custom, is a lot more comfy than Victorian corsets were. But that’s simply not true — or women would have been complaining and not wearing them a long time ago!  Any custom corset properly fit, then slowly seasoned and worn properly on the torso and with respect to the body’s messages about comfort and health, can be beneficial, and almost never detrimental to health and well being if common sense is applied in the wearing.

If you want to know how to safely and sanely waist train, check out what a doctor, nutritionist, and corsetmaker say about my new “how to waist train” primer book (just $14.95 online). It can help ease your way into comfy waist training, and avoid most pesky problems that might occur for some.

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Letter to the Editor, New York Times 8/8/17

Dear Editor:

I feel for Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s angst about weight  (“Losing It”, NYT Magazine 8/6/17). However, the public obsession pro or con fat (or whatever PC term we are supposed to use now), is about sexism at base. Women at the other end of the weight spectrum get trashed, too. Society thinks it’s just fine to lob cruel public comments at thin and fat women. What’s sad is that Taffy has not found anything to help but the old saws of superfoods, bariatric surgery, and the like. She could think entirely out of the box, and try corset waist training. It’s a fashionable and fun approach that’s completely unrelated to dieting. Simply don a beautifully crafted custom corset to immediately improve posture plus comfortably nip inches off any persons’s waistline. Soon looking better translates into feeling better, as do the positive public comments you’ll receive. Meanwhile the corset mandates portion control: overeat and the resulting discomfort reminds you to resist the next time you eat. I’ve coached students in the initial three-month process for 25 years. Wearing a corset gives them time for stomachs to become less elastic, and encourages the development of new, beneficial nutrition, food, and exercise choices. It shrinks the waistline in an amazingly short time, and you can lose weight if you want to. Better yet, like wearing panties or a bra, wearing a comfy corset occasionally becomes second nature to a woman so that we continue to reap the lifelong rewards of the initial success that every single student I’ve coached has experienced. ###

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Sleep, sleep and more sleep!

Today I read yet another study that confirms that sleep is good for us:

LONDON – Getting one extra hour of sleep each night might shave a third of an inch off your waist and a couple of pounds off the number on the bathroom scale, a recent study suggests.

Not only BMI (body mass index) but also waist circumference, can change with eight plus hours of sleep:

The longest sleepers also had waist circumferences averaging 1.6 inches smaller than the shortest sleepers. Each extra hour of sleep was tied to a third of an inch difference in waist size and 0.46 of a BMI point, the study team reports.

That’s why I have a section in my “how to” waist train book, that recommends 8 hrs or sleep! Yes, corset wear, nutrition changes (a few) and specific exercises are also highly recommended, but so is sleep. Please consider this information and new study carefully if you are set on a disciplined corset waist-training program!

 

 

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Be clear about “the why” if you decide to waist train

One of my mentors in helping me clean up my eating act (and pretty much get rid of added white sugar) is Barry Friedman. Occasionally I get an email from him, and the one received today, is worth repeating verbatim in major part (see below).

Barry’s book on sugar addiction is highly recommended: I Love Me More Than Sugar. The title caught my attention two or so years ago, so I bought it and read it avidly. That book alone was motivation for me to cut out sugar for the 30 day experiment he recommends—and then I never looked back.

Do I eat added sugar today, as did the lady below who “slipped up” after enjoying her initial successful no-sugar program? Yes, I do. I’m not a martinet when it comes to any “diet”, nutrition program, or exercise regime, even tho for my 30-day challenge I pretty much toed Barry’s strict line. If I say “none of this” to myself, my inner adolescent gets out of hand and starts acting up and that’s not a good thing!

What I can do today after successfully de-sugarfying myself, is limit myself one any given occasion once or twice a week, to 1/3 of a cookie, two or three candy corns (not packages mind you, individual corns), 1/4 a slice of homemade tiramisou, and the like. I slipped up once after coming off the program and ate half a piece of iced carrot cake and boy! did I suffer pangs of nausea and headache commencing about 1/4 hr after. It was amazing, and a very good lesson.

We have to give ourselves time to get sugar out of our system, just like we need to detoxify ourselves of most anything such as alcohol or coffee/tea and caffeine, if we want to omit those substances. Barry’s 30 day challenge is nothing to accomplish, really. Nor is our three-month waist-training coaching program, but as Barry says, one must be very clear about why you are wanting to waist train. Use his technique of drilling down on  “so what?” or “why?” questions to get to the bottom of why you want to figure shape now, and did not do so a year ago and don’t plan to do so a year from now.Why now?

Once you are clear, be sure you know safe and sane steps of “how to” do waist train (and consider my primer book telling you exactly that; order online).

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This morning I spoke with a woman who did 30 Days Sugar Free in December. She told me about the weight loss, new relationship to sleep, focus, and calm. She said it was the best she had felt in decades.

Right after the new year she then jumped ship and went right back into the sweets.

She’ll be doing the program again starting Tuesday, August 1st.

She posted in our group last week and I read the sadness in the post.

She had tasted victory and let it slip away.

I called her this morning and coached her through a simple exercise – and I’ll do it with you right now, too.

Grab a pen and paper… I’ll wait.

I asked Amy WHY she wanted to be sugar free.

She said, “To be healthier!”

“Healthier so that…?”, I probed.

“So that I can feel better”, she said after a pause.

“Feel better so that…?”, I pushed.

“So that I can walk with my friends and niece!”, her voice lit up.

“So that…?”, yep, she wasn’t done.

“So that I can be laugh and move and have fun!”, she was really excited now.

“So that…?”

“So that I can BE ALIVE again, Barry”, and then she started to cry a bit.

You Have to Know Why

In a world filled with distractions there is, deep inside of you, a longing that is hidden away and maybe forgotten.

It’s your WHY, and it holds the key to you achieving anything meaningful.

Any change, addition, subtraction, or transformation you wish to make in your life MUST have a WHY that is so powerful it brings you to your knees.

Without it, you haven’t got a chance.

So How Do You Touch the Why?

You do the exercise that I walked Amy through.

  1. I want to heal my relationship with sugar so that…
  2. So that… (deeper truth)
  3. So that… (even deeper truth)
  4. So that… (almost touching the WHY that matters)
  5. So that… (BAM! Say the one that scares you, the one that no one knows about.)

With that one out in the light you will find it difficult to ‘go back to sleep’.

Instead, I suggest you grab the momentum, circle that last one, and go deep into the feelings of having that in your life.

Visual that BIG WHY as your reality. Take a few deep breaths into that.

I Can Get You Off Sugar – Guaranteed

Tuesday, August 1st another group of people from around the world will begin the 30 Days Sugar Free Coaching Program. This program has supported thousands of people to evaluate and redefine their relationship with sugar.

Here’s the link to join us.

I will do everything in my power to get you through this month (including calling you on a Sunday morning) – and refund your tuition at any point in your life if you decide that I let you down.

So I ask you this… why do you want a new relationship with sugar?

So that…?

Barry Friedman
Head Coach – 30 Days Sugar Free
530-478-9900

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Exercise for Waist Trainees

It’s been said that exercise increases your appetite, and that’s a general principle to which I ascribe.When we are waist training, how does that work when we need to exercise, plus keep an eye on calories and try to reduce them a bit, if not just hold the (waist) line?

I read in my SF Examiner on July 20 (in a paid advert), that a November 2015 report of a study in the American College of Sports Medicine, demonstrated that if we exercise four times a week at 65 to 75 percent “HRmax – we will get “improved appetite regulation” in previously inactive normal weight individuals. Another study found that exercising five times per week at 75 percent HRmax had the same effect.

The meaning of the study, without going on to research HRmax? People simply eat less after high-intensity exercises, compared to those of us who exercise more moderately and continuously. Subjects in the study ate less after exercise, as well as during the rest of the day–good news to be sure!

What effect gender, starting weight and height, genetics, age, and other factors have–not reported in this study–is unknown. I suspect and hope they were ruled out as factors influencing the result.

I’ve certainly had to adjust downward the intensity of my “workouts” and exercise sessions as I entered my senior years. That is just common sense and respecting one’s body and years of wear and tear on it and the unique weaknesses that develop for most all of us. I need to work to increase balance, flexibility, power, strength, and endurance — all five and not just waist maintenance or weight loss or a high-powered workout.

In any event, for  all those who waist train, my perspective is that weight is much less important that circumference of the waistline. Note this report:

You may never fit back into the jeans you graduated high school in. That’s OK. What’s more important (and science confirms this) is to focus on your waist size instead. Multiple studies have shown central obesity (fat around your middle) is associated with an increased risk of cancer and early death.

That was a somewhat novel concept for overweight individuals when I first published my “how to” waist train book in 2003. Until about 2015, body size and weight became obsessions, obsessions toward thinness, but waistline measurement was not so much in the news. Nowadays, and with some relief on many fronts, there is much more acceptance of any size or shape, and we know that body size alone does not equate with ill health, just like squishing the body’s organs with corseting does not equate with harm. There is a growing public awareness of that plus visible examples of curvy women and men in the media, in modeling, in sports and other.

Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that by now, a number of studies have demonstrated that women should aim for a waistline of 35″ and men 40″ in order to keep on the safe side when it comes to heart problems, diabetes, and even alzheimers. That’s where waist training comes in.

Permanently (if you don’t then pig out on Krispy Kremes) shaving from two to five or more inches off your waistline which takes a moderately dedicated effort for only three dedicated months of corset waist training, can work — if you work the program. This includes adding in waist-targeted exercises five nights per week in 20 to 45 minute sessions. Start at 20 min. and work up to 45 min per session in about two months, and pace yourself.

Pacing is a new concept for me, learned after a year-long struggle and rehabilitation after a “simple” lower back spasm and added whip lash (from a Chinese chiropracter). Pacing is bound up with delaying my response–to anything. I’ve learned that from my Alexander Technique classes, altho the patron saint, Mr. Alexander, called it “inhibition.” He felt it was the process of achieving our end result that gets most into physical and spiritual trouble.

I’ve noted that if I don’t have dinner ready for my partner by 30 min. after he arrives home from work at about 6 pm, and we then eat about 7 pm, sometimes he says he is not hungry at all and eats about half his normal portion of food (which we control in any case no matter what time we eat). This is a perfect example of the benefits of moderate delay. (Of course, don’t eat too late at night as you don’t have time to burnoff the calories).  A glass of water is about all that he, and I, need to fill up the stomach for an extra hour until dinner.

Too, if he delays accepting my occasional offer of a second helping, ten minutes later he is not hungry and never goes for one, thus avoiding unneeded calories.

Delay is a mysterious and wonderful thing. I’m wonder if you have experienced any figure or other benefits from that, too?

 

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Corsets—and Cinnamon?

When corsets are worn as a method of waist-training and figure shaping (plus weight reduction if you want it), obviously pursuit of reasonably good nutrition and exercise is in order as well.

Here’s an interesting University of Dehli (India) study of cinnamon with some significance to corset waist-trainees. It was published in the international journal, ‘Lipids in Health and Disease’.

The trial involved 116 men and women having conditions such as abdominal obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, high triglycerides and hypertension. After consuming 3gm of cinnamon powder per day for 16 weeks, the average weight reduction was from 89kg to 85kg in the cinnamon group, while it was from 82kg to 81kg in the control group that was not given cinnamon. Along with dietary intervention, people in the trial were also prescribed brisk walking for 45 minutes every day. Researchers said consuming cinnamon along with dietary changes and physical exercise decreased fasting blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin, waist circumference, and body mass index. It also improved waist-hip ratio, blood pressure, serum total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, serum triglycerides, and beneficial high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Three grams is 1/6th of a teaspoon, so it isn’t really that much to add to your food each day for 16 weeks. Whenever I eat grapenuts with rainsin and yohurt for breakfast, I nearly always sprinkle on cinnamon, as well as in hot oatmeal. You can sprinkle it on buttered sour dough toast (I like because there is no sugar in sour dough) and it gives a pleasant sweet sensation. Add it to soups, chili, meat rubs for pork or chicken, a dash in honey lemon salad dressing, on top of popcorn you first sprinkle with fresh lemon juice—there are myriad ways to eat more cinnamon.

But…just say “no” to cinnamon sugar buns, cinnamon ice cream and cinnamon candies! Sugar does one no good that I’ve been able to determine, especially when waist training.

I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like cinnamon (I’m sure there are some), point being, it can be quite a treat for most of us to remember to up cinnamon intake during dedicated corset waist training!

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Let Go — Let Corset — Un Do!

I just returned a few hours ago from my third Alexander Technique lesson with Elyse. Once more, as after the first session, I did not need to put my neck collar on  to provide relief from a whiplash injury last November (it’s a lovely microwavable soft supportive collar) until about now. (The link provided is to one f the best videos I’ve found that shows what the AT is all about, featuring the first graduating student of Mr. Alexander’s class in Englad, Marj Barstow. I recommend that if you have any interest, take the time to watch the entire video).

I’m still thinking about all the points Elyse made during this session, mainly about “Un Do.” If I try too hard to “release my neck, let the top of my head float upward,” it might happen — but if I thereafter double check with myself to see if my neck responded, then somehow this works against progress! Better for me to practice expanding my awareness outward from my body (feel my “personal space” as Elyse describes it), and only give gentle suggestions to my neck, then focus attention elsewhere and see what happens.

Likewise, one really can’t force relaxation; it happens if one lets go. The miracle so far for me in the AT table work part of the class (about half is standing up, discussion and practice, while the other half is lying prone on a massage table), is that after Elyse applies her gentle hands to my scapula, back, hips and legs, for the first time in my life I feel my body lying totally “flat” on the table. It’s an odd thing to say. Of course I’m flat! But the feeling of “flat” differs from shivasenen in yoga at the end of the class,or the alpha state in TM or any kind of quiet meditation, in part because in AT you keep your eyes open in (sometimes sleepy) awareness and can talk and think while you body lets go. However, the overall feeling varies a great deal.

Go figure that one!

Still the principle reminds me of what I say about corset wearing.

One needs to learn to let go and let the corset hold and mold you, not suck in your breath and try to get as small in the waistline as you possibly can. If you “try” to be smaller to permit lacing down, it most likely won’t work. Progress in lacing down is made not only slowly, but by having a “right mind”, that is, one of “letting go”. That requires some un-doing, much as the Alexander Technique apparently urges (nothing is ‘required’)  in order to improve posture and release body tensions, as I’m learning. It is when you can relax and let go into the corset that you can lace tighter!

Seems like a number of things in life require letting go and un-doing. “Let go and let God” is a slogan of AA.  Many disciplines seem to have related principles, but the application of them has slightly different results. Of course I’d love to hear from those of you who have practiced the AT successfully, and how it worked for you.

 

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