Monthly Archives: September 2013

Why is it we might gain muscle but lose waistline inches and fat when we corset waist train, and do muscles weigh more than fat?

I have to own up to a recent bit of mushy thinking resulting in an incorrect statement, suitably called to my attention recently by a blog reader. So I went to a valued medical consultant to clarify my thinking. The issue is worth thinking about for those of us who contemplate the above question and topic of this blog.

Sometimes you read that “muscle weighs more than fat.” Of course it doesn’t! In other words, a pound of fat is equal to a pound of muscle is equal to a pound of oysters — and that is fairly obvious, so my blog reader was correct.

What is relevant to understand is that any weight of muscle occupies less space or volume than the same weight of fat.  So if we add more muscle and lose fat, we will take on a smaller shape or take up a smaller space.

However, think about a pound of steel versus a pound of balsa wood; steel is a far more dense substance than balsa. In fact, a cubic foot (a cube measuring 12 inches on each edge) of steel would weigh about 490 pounds whereas a cubic foot of balsa wood would weigh about 7 to 9 pounds.

Likewise, muscle is more dense than fat, but the difference between them isn’t nearly as great, so muscle takes up less space than fat per unit of weight, such as a pound. In short, a pound of muscle occupies less space than a pound of fat.

When those in waist training begin to lose fat their overall size will likely shrink. As my consultant says:

    “So, if we imagine that a person were to lose four pounds of fat and gain four pounds of muscle, she would be smaller somewhere in her body but her total weight would not change. A larger volume of fat per pound would have been replaced by a smaller volume of muscle per pound.

    “Corsets compress so they can also redistribute tissue fluids, and discourage fat from being deposited beneath them. In time corsets can move flesh around. Witness dents in the subcutaneous fat under the skin over the shoulders of some full-figure individuals, most likely caused by the pressure of bra straps.”

Lesson learned!


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One Proud Corset Mama! And one corset option to improve fit: the “high-backed” corset

Yes, that’s what I feel like: a proud “corset mama” — although the latest success story about waist training concerns Annette, a client about my same age from the “aging gracefully” group (as I like to say).  I was amazed by her progress in figure shaping.

Annette initially visited me on Nov. 4, 2012 to discuss waist training and order a corset. She has seen my brief Kosik frontappearance on the Oct. 12 “20/20” show with reporter Deborah Roberts, and she wanted to get started right away with the process in order to avoid stomach bypass surgery — if this process would work for her. We ordered the typical “first” corset, the underbust Victorian style but with an extra strenghtening and tummy-controlling option of the wide stainless steel stiff busk (vs. the narrower more flexible traditional spring steel busk pictured in the corset to the right).

On January 10 of this year we delivered a smart peaches-and-cream cotton-backed satin underbust Victorian style corset by ROMANTASY corsetiere Sheri.  This color satin is perfect for a foundation corset worn  under clothing since it virtually disappears on caucasian skin tones. Women of color might instead choose our lovely chocolate cotton-backed cotton.

Sheri can produce a corset in about six weeks without a rush fee:   Clients report time and again that Sheri produces the most comfortable, lighter-weight, but strong waist-training corset, and Annette wanted comfort as one of her top corset priorities because she was determined to learn to wear the corset consistently (six days per week) for many hours each day. She achieved her goal and told me that she now felt as if her corset was just a normal and comfortable part of her dressing regime each day.

Annette visited yesterday thinking initially to have me shrink her first corset because now it completely closed in the back. But we had ordered a 9″ close in back for her first custom corset. (For corset newbies, that means that from her original snug but natural waist measurement, when the corset closed in back entirely, her waist would then measure under the corset, nine inches less.) So, how could that be? She was now lacing down nine inches in only eight months?

I checked her original measurements taken on Nov. 4, 2012, and at that time her waist was 43.5″. Yesterday her waist measured 38.75″ — so yesterday she was only lacing down about 3 inches which is not that unusual after some practice. But Annette had achieved an amazing actual and “permanent” 5.25″-waist reduction in eight months since she had  started the program outlined in detail in my book, Corset Magic (she purchased a copy and read it thoroughly).

Then I checked her rib cage, pelvis, and derriere measurements. In eight months she had also dropped one inch in her rib cage, was the same in her pelvis, but dropped one inch in her derriere.

However, yesterday I measured over the pelvis liberally, because I saw that the new corset required more patterning out over her hip bone to ensure comfort and a better fit for her new and emerging hourglass figure. (View the pelvis measurement position shown by horizontal arrows pictured right. Be certain you do not measure the pelvis tightly, as this can result in a corset that places too much pressure over the anterior femoral nerve running down over the pelvic bone, which pressure can lead to leg numbness mitigating against corseting or waist training.)

After some discussion, instead of investing about $100-125 now for us to move the grommeted section over in back high backto shrink the corset, we decided that the better investment for her was to order a new corset, wait the typical time, and keep extending her hours of wear of the first corset but keep it tightly closed in back.  Six to twelve months down the road, Annette can come back and at that time we will complete a major refurbishment of her initial corset, assuming that it fits her new torso shape. We will likely then replace the worn binding, shrink the corset top to bottom, remove one set of back boning to do that, and possibly install a 1/2″ wide bone along each side of the new grommet section to provide better back support and snugness. (Note too, that if your well-worn foundation corset body shows any fabric fraying, we can even add strategically-placed outer bone casings to cover and fortify/check the fraying.)

We decided to order the same style corset, the underbust Victorian but this time by team member Jill, plus tweak the initial measurements to improve overall fit and adjust the new corset to her new body shape. Copy of mivatechneedsextrabackboning_2.5

although these differences are subtle and can be argued many ways, different corsetieres create different silhouettes in their corsets when worn.  For example from our team, Jill’s corsets are a bit tougher on the body because they create the hourglass silhouette, rather than Sheri’s easy-breathing wasp or “waspie” or wasp/hourglass  silhouette, and because Jill’s utilize four (inner, outer and both bonded)  rather than three layers of fabric and two 1/2″ wide bones, one on each side of the back grommets. You can see another client pictured left, who would have benefited from wider, stiffer boning used at the center back.

We also decided to “up” the hold of the new corset at the side back in order to better address a bit of underarm “toothpaste” problem from Anette’s less muscular upper torso. Thus, we ordered an extra pair of 1/2″wide boning on each side back, plus we increased the vertical height by 1.5″ at both the side back and the  center back of the new corset. You may see a lovely green silk high backed corset above, by Sue Nice.

You may review the options ROMANTASY now offers to strengthen any corset here:

A so-called “high backed” corset pictured to the right on a mannikin, will or may add a bit to your basic cost, but for mivatechhighbacksome the high back provides several beneficial results. Below left you can see two versions of a high backed corset worn by me (pink corset) and by corsetiere Sue Nice’s sister (green corset).  From my perspective, a high back (about 9″ from my waist up to the center back top edge) provides supreme muscle relief if you tend to have a sore lower or upper back. Lower back soreness can be relieved by a high-backed corset?

High backed corsets 9 inches or taller waist up web

Yes, because I find that when my low (below the waistline) back becomes sore from overwork or overuse, then I tend to guard it from excess pain by clutching my upper back muscles as support.

Once I had a client who managed a high-end male haberdashery in downtown San Francisco, who suffered mightily from both low and upper back pain. We ordered a high backed corset for him to provide back relief from hours on end spent on his feet. I believe his underbust corset  had a back that measured 10- plus inches from the waist up to the top edge! And of course, we can also add detachable wide straps crossing in the back with an “X” to encourage the shoulders to stay back and you to stand up straight.

The benefit of the higher back corset is evident for full-figure and more mature ladies who don’t have the tighter muscle mivatechribcagestructure that younger cohorts do, and who thus, require greater torso control and support. I always thought this picture to the right  of Jill’s  Standard Edwardian corset illustrative of a perfect fit for a male client who had a highly-developed and muscled upper back.  He came to us complaining about former corsets (not ours) that caused toothpaste to squish out the top edge. Note how nicely his upper back sits inside the corset with no pinched or spilling out noted.Scoop under bosom up to high back web

We’ll conclude with a picture of Lea, a long-time corset enthusiast and friend, wearing her 1901 style by Sharon McCoy Morgan:

This is the best rib-controlling and flattening silhouette, but Lea’s corset also shows a higher back measurement at the underarm leading to a high back.

Be sure and ask about the higher-backed corset option when you order any custom corset, and consider the benefits of this option as it applies to your individual age, muscle tone, waist-training and figure-shaping goals, and fit and overall health.


Filed under General Waist Training Information