Art and Corset Waist Training

Sometimes I am struck by what initially seems like the most inapt and unusual of connections of an unrelated concept or idea, with corset waist training. Over the past months I have been learning how to use watercolors and pastels but sometimes I have been getting discouraged, so upon the recommendation of a fellow art student, I started reading the small book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, and I came upon this paragraph:

“The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you’re feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides — valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgmental guides–to matters you need to reconsider or develop further. It is precisely this interaction between the idea and the real that locks your art into the real world, and gives meaning to both.” (page 31)

What this reminded me of, is that corset waist training is a process, not a goal. Even though you start by setting (hopefully) reasonable goals in waistline measurement reduction (and/or weight loss), and even though you should keep those goals in your mind and visualize how you will look and feel after dedicated waist training, you should at the same time ignore and forget them.

How can you do both contradictory things at the same time? In the fashion of zen, by letting go of obsessing, by positive expectations, by hope, by putting your intentions out there gently into the world, and then just going about your business implementing your daily waist-training plan–and stick to it!

You will be imperfect in waist training, as in most endeavors in life. You will fall back, gain some weight, feel or look bloated, feel a bit low some days, and want to quit. You may get depressed that you are not progressing as much as you expected, or someone else did better, or another person told you  something good will happen but it does not.  All perfectly natural feelings of any human being living in the real world.

The point is: persist. Don’t quit.

The seed for your next increment of improving health and reshaping your figure lies in your waist training experiences today. It’s beneficial to reflect on them and find meaning in them for the future, so that you can improve your efforts and results, and move closer to your envisioned goals and to better overall feelings about life.

This is the tragedy of those who drop out of a three-month dedicated effort at corset waist training (or quit going to the gym or abandon a physical coach or running buddy): they lose the potential for seeing results, they miss the satisfaction of the pursuit and the dedication that it takes plus their commitment to themselves first and foremost, to go all the way through a reasonable program that they adopt to begin with. They miss the opportunity for insights that will surely come along the way of waist training that will work better the next time they try it, or try to reach related or even other types of goals.

The seed for reaching almost any goal may lie in how you pursue waist training. If you really mean it when you say you are ready to give improving your health and figure shape the old college try, then your behavior must reflect your words come what may (barring serious illnesses and certain kinds of health matters such as high blood pressure and other).

Perhaps reading this wonderful, encouraging small volume on being an artist may help you get on with it. After all, you are an artist in life, whether or not you draw with graphite on paper, or manipulate flesh in the outlines of your figure, whether or not you create a work that you can hang on the wall, or create good feelings for yourself and learn how to encourage others to make their journey a bit easier.

We are all artists!

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The Process of Making Art, and Waist Training

No, I’m not talking about the size or shape of the body today. I’m writing about the appreciation of corset waist training from the analogy of the experience of making art. There are distinct parallels between making art and the struggles to make art — and corset waist training. When you are corset waist-training, your canvass is your body! The process of sculpting your body has some clear similarities with art.

I was so  inspired by that realization while reading my new book Art and Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, that I got up from my breakfast table to jot down these notes about waist training.

Here is what the authors say about art:

“Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward.

Making the work you want to make means setting aside these doubts so that you may see clearly what you have done, and thereby see where to go next. Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself. This is not the Age of Faith, Truth and Certainty”.

For sure, waist training means training in the face of uncertainty.

Uncertainty about how you will actually feel along the way. Uncertainty about how easily you will be able to lace tighter, or endure longer hours corseted as you progress. Uncertainty about whether or not you will ever be able to close the corset in back, or reach your precise goals. Uncertainty about what will come along the way that might distract you or cause you to stop waist training in your tracks.

Life is uncertain to the max, right? And so is waist training.

I shall never forget the client who wanted to enroll in my three month waist-training program. During the seasoning process with a new corset that we delivered early, that is, one month before she began formal coaching/training, this person had closed her corset and worked up to 6 hrs. of continual wear. She was already quite comfortable. I was impressed and told her that she would make an awesomely successful student. However, she became discouraged — at her success in waist training! She was  convinced we had “mismeasured” and given her the wrong corset and that she had no where to go during training, so she dropped out “in a fever” (as Johnny Cash would say about his marriage).

No one can give you with 100 percent certainty, a prediction about how your body will respond to lacing down and long hours of corset wear along the way. No one can tell you how soon or how late you will see progress on the scale and in your figure. No one can assure you without one whit of doubt, how many pounds you will lose, or whether you will need two or five more corsets in order to reach an aggressive goal you set, or even reach a reasonable one! We had given her none of these assurances and informed her of some vagaries in the training process, based on our prior long experience, but she had conveniently forgotten or refused to acknowledge all that.

Perhaps it was from a sense of desperation and overeach that this student approached in the first place? I will never know, because she abruptly quit communicating with me.  It was quite sad. She simply refused to believe information I provided her, that we could continue by starting the program with a longer no. of hours each day that she would wear her corset, even up to 23.5 hrs. a day in order to reach her goals. She seemed to dismiss that I offered her a tighter “loaner” corset should the process be too easy mid way through, plus we offered her a discount on a brand new corset simply because she had made truly  unusual lacing-down progress during seasoning, progress that I had never seen in 28 years of coaching and selling corsets! She failed to recognize that she could exercise longer and harder, concentrating on her waistline muscles, to help reach her goals. After all, corset-wearing is just one element of a sucessful program — not the only one!

If you are the type of person who requires certainty in waist training, and who has a very low tolerance for unknowingness, perhaps waist training is not for you. Or perhaps you can find a corset maker or coach with more experience than another one, someone who can give you that kind of complete 100% assurance, and that person would seem to be best to guide you. (But I wonder if you don’t reach the guaranteed goals, how far would you crash, and how likely would it be that you would persist over time after that type of “failure”?)

But if you can live with some doubt and contradiction, I’m certain you can learn something from almost every fact-based corset waist-training program and well-experienced coach, whether you find it easy or hard to lace down — if you have patience in the process and trust well-founded advice!

Can you waist train without an appreciative audience?

You better be able to do so!

It is far better to choose and then pursue this process in order to please yourself and no one else. No one may be there to slog thru the trenches and bear up with the going gets rough with your corset on day in and day out (save one day offer per week as we recommend). Your ‘rah rah’ section  may be missing, and you may well have to rely on yourself to stick to the contract you made with yourself, a partner, or your coach, as to how tightly to lace and how long to stay in your corset, what to eat, and how much to exercise each day.

Like a budding artist, you may have to set aside doubts — but the rewards will most likely be prodigious!

You may “see clearly what you have done” if you but look in the mirror, or judge how you are feeling along the way.

You may then see “where to go next” and realize what challenges you can bear up under, and thus, your confidence and commitment to the process will grow as you encounter success in your own common-sense persistence.

You may find nourishment within the challenge of waist training itself: not from the confirmation of a coach nor the admiration of a partner.

For sure as the book authors say, this is not the “Age of Faith, Truth and Certainty.”

It is the age (sadly) of fast and faster, dis-attention and distraction, plus “want it now” without paying one’s dues.

As ever, it is your choice how to pursue your life and by what values you guide your behavior, even when it comes to corset waist training.

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Migrating Motor What??? — About the process of eating when corseted, and in general

For those in corset waist-training, I have always advised about the efficacy of grazing, with smaller plates used and snacking throughout the day, rather than eating three larger meals. Combined with sitting down to eat, take small bites (unlike the chapt pictured here! How many times have you seen someone actually fold over food to shovel more of it into his (or her) mouth when eating? I have seen it a lot!), chewing well and slowing down the whole process, this helps process food thru the intestines and out, especially when you are squeezing your midriff with a corset. It also contributes to a more pleasant eating experience when corseted.

I recently learned about another process that goes on when we eat, one that caused me to modify my general advice. It deals with the “migrating motor” complex.

“The migrating motor complex is a distinct pattern of electromechanical activity observed in gastrointestinal smooth muscle during the periods between meals. It is thought to serve a “housekeeping” role and sweep residual undigested material through the digestive tube. As studied in dogs and man, the cycle recurs every 1.5 to 2 hours.”

If we continue to eat between meals and break the 1.5 to 2 hrs  cycle, we reduce or stop the migrating motor reflex, and food remains in our stomachs. Ouch! That works contrary to what we want when corseting snugly and/or for long hours of dedicated waist training. I remember well when a piece of pizza I had bolted down while corseted, remained in my stomach and when some hours later I took my corset off, ouch! The pizza apparently rushed out and down and I got a horrible cramp for some minutes or longer!

My Kaiser gastro physician recently educated me about what I now surmise was going on with or was related at the least to the pizza incident, and about this process of the migrating motor complex. She advised that I not snack until three — or more! — hours after eating a major meal. In addition she advised me not to eat dinner after 6 pm (we eat at 7 pm) until breakfast, to allow the stomach to empty totally and food to start moving down.

Since I’m an inveterate “grazer” of small portions thoughout the day, especially when I am wearing corsets regularly, I’m finding this change back to a more traditional way of organizing my food intake, is a bit tough. To deal with hunger pangs I am eating a bit more at each meal, including eating dessert right after dinner rather than waiting a few hours (dessert means dried or fresh fruit with nuts, or yogurt typically — no white sugar treats!). I also am eating more protein and veggies, and reducing simple carbs like breads (sigh….I am not depriving myself totally, but I miss it already!) and pastas.

I’m still confident that eating breakfast is a “must” for anyone waist training or not, and it must mainly be high protein. Every morning I eat one piece of bacon, then scramble an egg with a bit of cheese and lots of fresh spinach to make an omelette.   When I soon thereafter go swimming three times a week, I never have moderate to severe sugar crashes during the swim or right after in the dressing room, as I used to, when I would eat steel cut oatmeal or non-sugary high fiber cereals for breakfast.

So what would I now advise my three-month dedicated waist-training students?

For the first 2 to 4 weeks of formal training, try grazing, meaning, divide your daily food portion/eating or snacking into 8 times a day and chew each bit of your food  30 times before swallowing for the first two weeks. Sit down for every meal or snack. This will normally result in reducing the total daily food portion you feel inclined to eat. If at any time you encounter acid reflux, bloating, or constipation, then consider reducing your snacking or eating times down to 4 times a day.

In any case, do not eat for at least 3 hrs. after the last time you ate a meal or a snack, and try not to eat anything (drinking liquids is fine) much after 6 to 8 pm.

The good news is, if you once disrupt and cut short the migrating motor process (any food introduced into your tummy will do that) then you will likely get it back if you change your ways according to the above advice that I received from my Kaiser specialist.

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On Self-Regulation, Limbic Brains, and Corset Waist Training

I’m one who is a life-long learner, even if a particular concept is familiar, but especially when it is not.

Recently I’ve begun studying “Limbic Resonance” (commonly associated with the right brain; see A General Theory of Love) and “Self-Regulation” (commonly associated with the left brain).

Both seem relevant to corset waist-training. How can that be, you ask?

It’s because (if you choose a coach or training buddy/teacher), you must choose the “right” one, one who is attuned to you and who can enter your world, understand your personal self-concept, goals, past struggles and approaches to figure shape and weight loss. This is best done face-to-face, but perhaps (jury is out) Skype can help, and email even less. Social media is worse because that is often a case of the blind leading the halt, neither experienced or educated sufficiently to purposely and compassionately guide you to become your better self when it comes to health and shape. I had to develop my Three-month waist training coaching program as an online program since people inquired from all over the world and US; my very first coaching student was PH, a chap from England.

Self regulation says Wikipedia, involves self observation, judgement, and self response.   Self observation (also known as introspection) is a process involving assessing one’s own thoughts and feelings in order to inform and motivate the individual to work towards goal setting and become influenced by behavioral changes. Judgement involves an individual comparing his or her performance to their personal or created standards. Lastly, self-response is applied, in which an individual may reward or punish his or herself for success or failure in meeting standard(s). An example of self-response would be rewarding oneself with an extra slice of pie for doing well on an exam.

It involves  impulse control and “the separation of our immediate impulses and long-term desires. We can plan, evaluate our actions, and refrain from doing things we will regret. Research shows that self-regulation is a strength necessary for emotional well-being. Violation of one’s deepest values results in feelings of guilt, which will undermine well-being. The illusion of control involves people overestimating their own ability to control events. Such as, when an event occurs an individual may feel greater a sense of control over the outcome that they demonstrably do not influence. This emphasizes the importance of perception of control over life events. 

Self regulation is relevant here because corset waist training typically revolves around adopting individualized strategies that increase the possibility of healthy, lifestyle change. Wikipedia says that “Self-regulation can be applied to many aspects of every day life, including social situations, personal health management, impulse control, and more. ” Sure, self regulation has its opponents, because control is really an illusory concept, right? We always tend to think we have more than we actually have; life intervenes and shit happens! But some self control is possible if we try.

Four components of self-regulation are described by Baumeister et al. (2007) and they are:

  • Standards: Of desirable behavior.
  • Motivation: To meet standards.
  • Monitoring: Of situations and thoughts that precede breaking standards.
  • Willpower: Internal strength to control urges

Waist training focuses on loss of inches and/or pounds. Self regulation provides one strategy for achieving control over food portions, food choices, how and when we eat, and our attitude toward food and it’s meaning in our lives. I suspect that achieving success in corset waist training has the potential of spill-over positive effects in your work and personal relationships. From recent brain research (see BrainHQ’s website especially if you would like to try out some brain games to improve various brain functions; I am immensely enjoying my foray into this new area for me!) I learned that for adults to change our brains and learn, we need motivation to change, actual results to help us continue in our motivation and efforts, and focus on what we want.

As I often say, three months of corset waist training can show results, even significant ones, but they won’t last if some habit change is not forthcoming during that adventure and time period; we will just revert back to all our former habits that brought us to the place where we question our own health or despair about our size and shape, and ability or lack thereof, to change either.

While limbic resonance starts in the right brain and is not an intellectual process, self-regulation is cognitive and requires focused effort. With the “right” coach for you, one who is empathetic, compassionate, responsive, and there for you during challenged days of waist training and all the way to the end of y our designated program, and with your own efforts at self-regulation, you will be certain to increase the chances that you will succeed in your reasonable waist-training goals!

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The “flexitarian” approach to eating

What we should eat is a common theme in books and news articles. It’s also part of my three-prong waist-training program with corsets. Just wearing a corset a certain number of hours a day at a certain tightness level, is not by itself, likely to create significant change in one’s waistline measurement or weight, especially after the dedicated period of training ends.

“More than almost any other diet, the Mediterranean diet is proven to yield positive health outcomes.” See: http://dailyburn.com/life/health/flexitarian-diet-less-meat-better-health/

Still, I like and prefer the idea of the ‘flexitarian’ approach to food–and no, I don’t like the term “diet” since it has such negative connotations in our society. Cutting down on meat, especially red meat, is pretty much decided to be beneficial to our long-term health. I don’t have any evidence that veganism or meat-eating contributes to our waist-training efforts, while portion control does relate to enhance our chance of success.

Likely the point raised in my book on waist training, still obtains:  it is more how we eat that contributes to our waist-training success, opposed to just concentrating on what we eat.

Eating breakfast, chewing food a loooong time, and eating up to 8 times a day but not much past 8 or 9 pm, is central to what seems to work for my students and for me to make corset waist training most comfortable and effective in a three-month dedicated program.

I ask students to chew each bite of every food 30 times before swallowing, for the first two weeks of training, in order to slow them down and allow food to process thru a squeezed midriff, but also to build up satiation before we stuff more food in, imagining that we are still hungry when we are not, if we just wait another 10 or so minutes.

When it comes to what to eat, that decision is highly individual. Coffee, alcohol and even vinegar-based salad dressings can be painful to some, but for example, when tight laced, I prefer eating salads lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil and have no trouble whatsoever. Others can eat meat at every meal and have no trouble.

The single food I have concluded should be minimized if not cut out entirely during training as well as during our non-training lives, is  added refined sugar. There is entirely too much scientific data to ignore, even studies that only draw associations to, if not causes of, alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other health risks.

I encourage my students to cut way back on added sugars and opt instead for alternatives like eating more fresh or dried fruit and using honey or dates when cooking instead of white sugar. Sugar is sugar, yes! But a little bit of the natural kinds of sugar to me, makes a lot of sense!

 

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Redux: Habits

I found some helpful pages in a somewhat outdated 1990 book on posture,  Understanding Balance by T.D.M. Roberts. The outdating regards his theories of posture, but his information on habit seemed accurate today, and clarified a few things for me.

He defines “habit” as patterns of learned behavior that after many repetitions, come to be performed without detailed attention. once it is formed it may prove difficult to change, because in part, we may be unaware of it. We become aware when the “sensory consequences of that action come to our attention.”

Many years ago I used to unconsciously bite the inside of my lip. I knew it was dangerous and not attractive and wanted to change it. However I could not, until I used a technique that might work to change other habits you don’t like. A psychiatrist that I consulted by phone, suggested that I keep a journal. This journal forced me to become aware of the “sensory consequences” of what I was doing. Every time I found myself biting my lip, I had to write down the time of day, where I was, what I was doing, and on a scale of 1 to 10, how stressed out I felt. I had to “feel” what I was doing in the moment.

In three days I cured myself and never bit the inside of my lip again (unless the occasional chewing too fast!). True story; I cured myself with info provided in one short phone call to set up an in-person appointment!

Roberts also says to change a habit requires at least two things: (1) an adequate desire to change, and (2) an awareness of the “feel” of a changing condition which will lead to a new habit.

Eating too rapidly easily leads to eating too much, a habit that is anathema to comfort when one is seriously waist training for some months, and lacing down slowly for many more hours as the weeks go by. Continue with this generally bad habit during waist training, and you will soon enough have “adequate desire to change!” (Also, you should lace down then eat, not the reverse!)

To develop an awareness of the “feel” of a changing condition leading to a sound new habit, I recommend for the first two weeks in order to become aware of this old bad habit, and to kick-start a new habit, you chew each bite of food 30 times before you swallow. Yes, even ice cream. I’m quite serious about this and require this of my three-month waist-training coaching students. It is also quite humorous, depending on what the food is that you are putting into your mouth.

While eating is a behavior that doesn’t require supervision, it does require skilled control in order to be comfortable while waist training — or even if you are not but wish to lose some inches or weight by reducing portion size (try a simple change by eating on small plates at all times!) and easing your digestion (prepping the food before you swallow), and stopping when you feel full because you now take the time to recognize the signals, rather than overeating by bolting down food.

It’s all pretty much common sense, right? Start small when you want to re-set your bad habit, don’t start big and “bite” off more than you can chew (could not resist that one). Concentrate only on chewing 30 times before you swallow and soon enough you will be ready to start on other beneficial eating and nutrition habits!

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Not so difficult to understand after all: habit and motivation re-visited

Toni before and after corsetingI’ve long been fascinated with the power of habit and motivation especially when it comes to corset waist training. That includes my fascination with who makes it work to reach their figure-shaping goals, and who does not.

Today’s morning news show on ABC-TV featured a visit by author James Clear and discussion of his new New York Time‘s Best Seller Atomic Habit. Clear boiled down his theories and confirmed a few to which I have always subscribed. It all seems so simple, even if what moves us to implement those theories remains so mysterious. Here they are:

1. Get clear about your goals, don’t worry about “motivation.”

I have students set numerical goals before they start, in inch reductions and weight reduction desired (they are two separate things and you don’t have to do both!), and how tightly they want to wear their corset for how many hours to improve their record by the end of training.

2. Start small, maybe very small.

There are only three elements to effective waist training:  a regular schedule or corset wear six days a week, waist-targeted exercise (not aerobic or weight training or Crunch or any specific general program and not even at a gym), and corset-friendly eating and nutrition habits (note that I do not use the word “diet” since that is not a relevant concept today no matter if you are waist training or not in an attempt to lose inches or weight).

3. Never miss twice; re-start fast, like the next day.

I advise setting only a 95% personal goal of completion of the program elements; it is impossible to hold ourselves accountable for 100% completion. That is doomed to failure from the start. Give yourself a bit of leeway to be human, to encounter daily crises that take all your time and attention, not to mention energy. However, the next day add a few more minutes to the 20 mins of waist-targeted exercises the first month (then 30 min. the second and 40 min. the third), or wear the corset two hours more than on your plan the next two days, and that sort of thing. Push yourself a wee bit to make time up, but don’t punish yourself and just quit because you have fallen off the waist-training wagon!

4. Lock in a “commitment device” such as a buddy who will show up at 6 am for that morning run and you’ll be embarrassed if you let her down (social accountability).

I’m keen on the idea of a Waist Training Buddy, not necessarily someone who trains with you, but that can work, too. Choose someone who can provide a delicious and effective form of competition that can work well to motivate you. I adore Pandora, a well-known ex-pat American living in Britain, who has about the same figure measurements and weight as I do. She was corsetier Michael Garrod’s favorite model (he passed in 2003) and I got to know her at various corset events and appearances at ROMANTASY boutique from 1990 to 1998 when it closed. We loved to tight lace and go hours testing our resolve at various corset events, but I’ll never forget her sense of humor at the end when occasionally she would say, “Ok Ann, now we’re ready. Let’s remove our corsets and go get a pizza!”

Clear also answered a typical question of “how long will it take to lock in a new habit?” His answer? “Forever.”

His point is one I make when students ask me, “Will corset waist training results last?” I tend to answer, “No, if you go out the next day and start pigging out on Krispy Kreme donuts!” You know what I mean.

The only thing with which I disagree, is the author’s advice to forget goals and concentrate on getting into place a system that works. I agree with that, but I think a system should be proceeded with a goal, one that is (1) reasonable, (2) do-able, (3) consistent with your lifestyle so that you are likely to pursue it, and (4) slightly under what is probable to accomplish and one that you probably will pursue to the end of your period of training.

I tell my students that I would rather them set a goal slightly under what they think they want and can accomplish, so that they will more than likely reach it, and be inspired.

Sideview 2009 Waist-training Student, Cat, after 9 weeks of training

Inspired to do what? Keep going for one thing. No one says you have to corset waist train for three months, or three weeks. You can set multiple increments of waist training, one right after the other, or one every year for a re-set and weight/measurement check, or one periodically over many years on occasions when you find yourself slipping back into bad eating habits such as portion overloading or stress and mindless eating.

Inspired to do what? Celebrate! Women tend to resonate to that point more than men. Men seem to go directly for their goal then move on without taking a moment to savor victory, or during the training process to seek out others to appreciate progress and let the trainee show off. More’s the pity.

Having a “rah rah” section as Marie, an awesome tight-lacer once told me, is a necessary component of successful waist training, at least for her. Having someone appreciate and celebrate your effort as well as your successes along the way, can inspire you to continue to take better care of yourself after training ends.

It’s all pretty simple. Now what will start you moving forward in your New Year’s Resolutions that about 80% of us break by the end of January every year?

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