Category Archives: Hot Topics on Health

“A Case for the Corset: 21st Century Applications” – a Guest Blog by Lisa L. Parkhill

I am pleased to present below in full, the above well-stated position paper authored by a former client and corset enthusiast friend. During my active career purveying custom corsetry from 1990 to this year, I have had one client convince his insurer (Blue Cross), based upon a doctor’s prescription for a “back brace” for a back ailment, to cover $150 cost for a new corset for each of two years. It is conceivable that a few other enlightened insurers and doctors might make this happen more often if only the corset wearer would make the case. Perhaps the below article will be sufficient to convince your doctor to take a leap of faith; after all they rather easily proscribe drugs and even ugly, thick, rigid medical back braces that are far inferior to comfortable, well fit and lighter-weight custom corsets. Congratulations to Lisa for this scholarly, well-argued case for the corset as valid compression therapy. Enjoy!

          A Case for the Corset: 21st Century Applications (c) Lisa Parkhill 2019

Autists Temple Grandin and Tom McKean are noted for pioneering the creation of deep pressure devices which enveloped their bodies in manners that promoted a feeling of security, after spending their lives seeking comfort through the use of various household items and techniques such as “embracing sofa cushions and wrapping [up]…tightly in blankets” (Almanza, 2016, p. 167). Prior to the invention of a “series of therapeutic technologies including: squeeze chairs, weighted vests, blankets, and stuffed animals that provide deep controlled pressure” (Almanza, 2016, pp.167-168), there already had been such a compression device commonly in use and available for centuries, in the form of the corset. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, the feminist movement viewed the corset as a symbol of oppression, demanded freedom from it and eventually, society acquiesced.

Throughout much of recorded time, European children were put into stiffened bodices at the age of five or six (Grogan, 2019, pp. 39-40), wearing corsets throughout their entire lifetimes. It is a distinct possibility that autism and various other mental health issues such as anxiety were not specifically noted by medical specialists,because they were likely kept in check to some degree by the practice of corseting early in one’s lifetime–most females and even some males had been swaddled by the comforting sensation of pressure on their bodies for as long as they could remember. By the 21st century,the practice of wearing corsets had been relegated to the past, yet it is strangely coincidental that there are increasingly diverse emotional health and physical support issues noted by the medical community in general which have moved many emotional health issues, as well as physical support concerns, to the forefront of modern discussions regarding practical therapeutic solutions for patient care.

In these times of open discourse about mental health issues affecting people of all ages, modern corsets should be validated and promoted by the medical community as viable compression therapy. Patients suffering from depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, PTSD and body dysmorphia can all strongly benefit from the feelings of soothing calm, safety and security a corset can provide.MyMed.com states that “compression therapy is already considered an effective means of treatment for autism” and “that the feeling of being embraced through wearing a corset can be seen as a means of comfort” (Poole, p.20), reaffirming the need for physicians’ serious consideration of custom corsets as integral parts of more medical treatments in the United States, which should be covered by insurance companies. If compression therapy has been long touted in an emotional support garment for anxious pets and humans alike as the “Thunder Shirt”, (Thunderworks Insanely Calm, 2019), it stands to reason that the medical community should recognize the custom corset as a viable prosthetic device for the treatment of patients with complex emotional disorders. Medical professionals know that the benefits of fitted prosthetics far outweigh a standard issue one, but in order to derive all the benefits of a standard issue prosthetic brace it must be worn in the manner prescribed by the physician. Naturally, an aesthetically pleasing comfortable device is far more likely to be used by a patient than a bulky and unattractive one, hence prescribing custom corsets is logical and viable.

The Benefits of Compression Therapy

In Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals, Dr. Temple Grandin discusses the “deep touch pressure device” she invented at 18 dubbed “the squeeze machine”,which helped her overcome her own hyper-sensory issues and “allays her nervousness” (Grandin, 1992, p.1). The custom corset is a portable source of deep pressure therapy and since the corset’s laces are self-manipulated, it empowers the patient as an active participant in their own therapy. Grandin’s article declares that “deep pressure touch has been found to have beneficial effects in a variety of clinical settings” (Grandin, 1992, p.1). This study is 27 years old, yet the concept of applying compression as therapeutic patient care is still in its infancy, with significant untapped potential on the horizon.

Grandin’s article reports the data collected from testing the effectiveness of her deep pressure therapy on college age individuals, referred to as “normal adults”who had no diagnosis of autism, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome or any disorder whatsoever. “[The] college students were found to be relaxed after the use of the squeeze machine”,and it was also observed that “relaxation was physically evident in some subjects” (Grandin, 1992, p.3-4). As well as noting the calming influence of compression, the article also reports that medications have, in fact, been reduced in certain patients who have had their treatment plans augmented with deep pressure therapy (Grandin, 1992, p.7), so it is not unreasonable to think it possible to arrive at treatment solutions that aren’t centered in pharmacology for patients whose lives are compromised by debilitating emotional distress,with the aid of compression therapy.

Biased Opinions

Unfortunately, the history of corseting is fraught with stigma, biased perspectives and stereotypical opinions.Retired corsetiere Brooke Nelson, proprietress of Dragontown Corsets,asserts that “it may be likely that the holdover of Victorian ideas about corsetry are alive and well concerning [the corset’s] potential health risks” (Nelson, 2019), which seems to have had a large bearing on societal stigma associated with the garment. In the 1800s, fashions were dictated by the shapes the wearers were molded into by corseting from an early age and not anatomically or physiologically conscious of the wearers’ bodies. The trepidation of corsets would dissipate if it were more widely known that an aspiring theatrical designer once paid rapt attention to the fact that the Victorian standard of corset no longer applies.

Patterned for the Modern Body

The antique patterns were redesignedfor modern body proportions in the 1950s by Roland Loomis,also known as The Ol’ Corsetiere or Fakir Musafar (Grogan, 2019, p. 49). As he attempted to reproduce an 1880s ball gown in costuming college, he discovered that a corset was prerequisite for the proper look of the costume but there were none to be found. In his research, he found that the proportions of women’s bodies had changed much over the years in comparison to the Victorian patterns he found, so using data from some 200 women that had been in theatre shows, he made forms on which to plan his updated patterns based on the “figure dimensions for some 200 women” whose measurements“fell into one of five basic [figure] groups”. Finally, Loomis “had made the first new patterns for modern bodies in 75 years, and they worked!” (Vale, Juno, 1989, p.31). Hi sdesign theory coupled with his attention to physiological and anatomical detail,is considered by many to be the advent of modern corset design. He later spent a year mentoring Ruth Johnson[BR Creations] how to craft them from his “original patterns, which took several years to refine” (Vale, Juno, 1989, p.32).

Pharmaceutical Irony

Although there has been much relevant research done on the benefits that compression therapy can offer a person’s body and psyche, the corset has been quite over looked as assistance topromote a patient’s physical and mental health,while pharmacological solutions continue to thrive. Many incidences of drug dependency began with drugs prescribed to aid the sufferers of physical pain or emotional trauma. It is very ironic that the well-informed patient is constantly encouraged in the media to consult with their doctors regarding whether they think a certain advertised drug may be appropriate for them. With the highly publicized national issue of the opioid crisis and drug addiction in the United States, to overlook the obvious aid a customcorset can provide seems preposterous, especially when compression therapy has been clinically proven as an effective coping strategy for emotional distress.

The Need for Education

With many online influencers taking photos of themselves in “off the rack” waist cinchers and posting them on social media, many parents are concerned that competitiveness focused on having small waists will harm their children. The article “Total Waist” (Teen Vogue,

2016) focuses on“the potential hazards” of waist training claims, saying that “when you wear this uncomfortable contraption all day, it is a constant reminder that there’s something wrong with your body”. The article further elaborates that “the thought is dangerous and destructive for [those] who already have higher chances for eating disorders” (Ciencin Henriquez, 2016). If young people are that easily influenced by people wearing waist cinchers, they likely are already in a place of body dysmorphia. The waist cincher is merely a symbol of instant gratification,therefore it would be extremely favorable for them to see positive change “right now”, as many are conditioned to do in the immediacy of today’s internet culture. It is quite possible for young people and adults to work together safely toward better body ideals in the long run with educational guidance and the help of a custom corset or cincher.

A Treasure Trove of Information                                       

Ann Grogan’s Corset Magic, first published in 2003, is filled with practical advice for people who are curious about corsets, also those people who are interested in waist training.

After sustaining a serious back injury,Grogan started wearing corsets as support and that journey in part inspired her to open Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry in 1990. As a civil trial lawyer in California who practiced law for 16 years, she didn’t want to risk her reputation giving dangerous advice so she asked medical professionals to review Corset Magic, which she calls“the culmination of what I have learned during many years of personal and professional experience as a corset wearer, designer, purveyor, writer, and researcher”, stating that the book is “intended as a reference volume only, not [a] medical manual”, also that “the information [in the book is] designed to help you make informed decisions about your lifestyle [and] your sense of well-being” (Grogan, 2016, p. 4). The reviews were all positive and encouraging.

The book discusses everything about corsets from what is called “seasoning” the corset prior to wearing it (easing it into use and forming the fabric to your body), to types of exercise that strengthen the body while corseted, and how to choose the best coverage that suits one’s body type best. While the data collected through her research and published in Corset Magic may not be considered academic per se,the advice Grogan metes out is easily understood. Documented in itis the progression of men and women who have improved posture,greater self-esteem and all-around better health as they learned better nutrition and exercise habits while wearing custom corsets.

The Many Benefits of Corseting

Lucy Williams, author of Solaced: 101 Uplifting Narratives About Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope(2016),agrees with Grogan’s methodology, endorsing Corset Magic on her website as“the waist training bible”for those serious about wearing corsets and waist training. Williams’ interest in corsets began with her interest in historical cosplay, but after coping with chronic back pain and posture issues, her interest deepened. Realizing that the secure feeling of wearing a corset helped her cope with the anxiety of being far from home, Williams was inspired to ask others about how they felt about corsets, since what she felt while wearing a corset was solace, saying that “the corset’s stability has helped [many] feel more in control and less vulnerable to the stresses of daily life” (Williams, 2019).The number of responses were overwhelming, so she selected a representative cross section of them to include in her book, and an overview of the many mental, emotional and physical benefits that have been reported to her by people who wear corsets for therapy is listed on Williams’ website.

Conclusion

The positive aspects people are experiencing who wear corsets range from back pain relief, stabilized spinal curvature, and relaxed muscle tension in individuals suffering fibromyalgia, to eating disorder control, subdued anxieties, and reduced body dysphoria in trans and gender fluid individuals, and these are all areas in which the medical community expresses concern for their patients’ welfare. Reason dictates that custom corsets provide valuable therapy, and therefore medical specialists must seriously consider the augmentation of them into patients’ treatment plans for new and groundbreaking applications for the health and welfare of their patients.

Although much of the current research done with corseting has been limited to anecdotal and documented group evidence, an educated and well-informed opinion can only be achieved by assimilating all available research, and it is impractical to rely on obsolete and unenlightened information alone. The time has come for the medical community to combine the application of compression therapy and all its benefits by rediscovering the comfort and practicality of the custom corset, thereby propelling the application of the garment out of the age of Victoriana, and into the 21st century.

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References

Almanza, M. (2016, Summer). Temple Grandin’s squeezemachine as prosthesis. Journal

of modern literature, 39(4), 162-175.

Ciencin Henriquez, J. (2016, April). Total waist. Teen Vogue, 16(3), 94-95.

Grandin, T. (1992). Calming effects of deep touch pressure in patients with autistic disorder,

college students, and animals. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology,

2(1), 1-11.

Grogan, A. (2016, January). Corset magic. Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry. Retrieved November       5, 2019 from http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=

PROD&Product_Code=book 01&Category_Code=moc

Nelson, B. (2019) email interview, November 30, 2019.

Poole, J. (2019). The dangers and benefits of aesthetic waist training. My Med. Retrieved             November 4, 2019 from https://www.mymed.com/health-wellness/body-              modifications/the-practice-of-waist-training-and-corsetry/the-dangers-and-benefits-of-       aesthetic-waist-training

Thunderworks Insanely Calm (2019). The better calming solution. Thunderworks. Retrieved             November 5, 2019 from             https://www.thundershirt.com/?msclkid=e8d8d6c665ab13296d8c8b1f53752629&utm_so   urce=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=(ROI)%20BR%20-            %20ThunderShirt%20%5BExact%5D&utm_term=thunder%20shirt&utm_content=Thun    derShirt%20Exact

Vale, V. & Juno A. (1989). Modern primitives, an investigation of contemporary adornment and

ritual. London, UK: Re/Search Publications.

Williams, L. (2016). Solaced: 101 uplifting narratives about corsets, well-being and hope.

Amazon Media EU S.àr.l.edia, E.U: Middlow Publishing.

Williams, L. (2016).  Solaced: 101 uplifting narratives about corsets, well-being and hope.

Lucy’s Corsetry. Retrieved November 5, 2019 from https://lucycorsetry.com/corset- benefits-the-book/

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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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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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Taking your power back in waist training

It’s almost beyond debate that there is a link between emotions and ill health, particularly in chronic back pain, IBS, arthritis, and other. If you want proof, check out the Dec. 7, 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Professor Elissa S. Epel, UCSF Medical Center, and some colleagues, published an article affirming that the mind plays a significant role in our physical health. They demonstrated a definitive connection between perceived and chronic stress and changes in telomeres. Telomeres are specific areas of the chromosome that are known to relate to the length of cell life and aging. I attended a mini-med school class at UCSF not long ago and heard her speak on these results with respect to our national epidemic of obesity. Minimizing stress is one specific strategy that could be ameliorative.

But there are challenges in our society to overcome before that concept will be universally accepted. Sadly enough, initially men may have the most difficult time with it.

I heard today that an NFL football player recently and vehemently rejected the notion that he had shed a tear or two on the field after sustaining a serious injury. I feel sorry for him, not only for the injury, one that I would never wish on anyone, even one who accepts the substantial risk to present and future health of playing football. I feel more sorry for him because he is still victim to the  long existing and misguided social message that men must not be weak nor show weakness — and that tears are still considered as a prime sign of male, and perhaps even female, weakness.

Learning earlier this year about Dr. John Sarno and reading his seminal book, The Divided Mind, I often think about the connection between emotions and brain-caused pain. Any ache or pain I experience causes me to first ask: is there a structural cause or not? And even if there may be a structural cause, why am I continuing to experience pain? Could that pain be brain-caused?

Doctors well know that even many structural problems such as arthritis or disc ruptures, do not cause pain in many of their patients. It’s an undeniable fact if you read Dr. Sarno’s remarkable book, and that fact may change your life.

A second step I take when encountering pain or a health problem, is to take charge and get more information. Usually I do that by binging the topic, and/or by making a doctor’s appointment. What happens time and again when I do either or both of those things, is that I immediately improve!

Recently the same thing happened. I am dealing with two pesky problems the past two months, one of them being that often I wake up at 3 am in the morning. My mind starts working overtime, and I have to get up and stay up until about 10 or 12 in the morning when I collapse into bed to catch up on disrupted sleep. After struggling for about two months with this problem, I recently made an appointment to chat with my doctor about it. The next five nights, I slept all the night through! (Incidentally you can try what seems to help for me: one hour before turn-out-the-lights-time, take one melatonin and one or two droppers of passion flower extract)

It didn’t take me long to realize that I improved because I took one or more action steps to take back my power over my problem. I decided not to sit there suffer. Even though I was waiting a few days for a telephone call with my doctor, I had acted to do something, and the very act of acting, translated into improvement.

In my book on waist training I relate a personal story about a time in my mid 20s when I used to bite or chew the inside of my lip when I was under stress, which was a lot of the time. I knew it to be a dangerous practice and one I had to stop. I called a local hypnotherapist psychiatrist, chatted with him about my problem, and made an appointment in one week to see him. He gave me a homework assignment in the meantime. I was to write down every time I caught myself chewing on my lip, the date, time, circumstances, and my stress level on a scale from 1 to 10. I started the record and three days later I stopped the habit. I called the doctor and cancelled my appointment, explaining what had happened. He and I both laughed! And, never again was I plagued with this destructive habit.

The point of this blog is to suggest that if you are dissatisfied with your size, shape, or health when it comes to nutrition and well being, and if you but commit to corset waist train in some way and take one action step, you might find that automatically you start feeling better and doing the right things!

That one action step could be:

–reading my Corset Waist Training book,

–calling me to register for my coaching program (but don’t start until January since I don’t recommend you make a serious waist-training effort that encompasses food-tempting holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas),

— enrolling in a social media group that supports waist training with reliable, fact-based information and encouragement.

— reading Lucy William’s great book, Solaced, with stories about the successes of many other folks who love and wear or tried corsets for many beneficial health-related purposes, or

— binging “corset waist training” and reading online resources.

Sure, we have to evaluate possible action steps carefully, being sure before we choose one or more of them, to consult reliable, fact-based resources; we can’t abandon all sense and look for a guru or “social media influencer” to follow mindlessly when it comes to our health. We have to stay in our “adult” and take care of ourselves to the end.

But when we encounter health challenges, act we must–and accept we must that many of our health issues are emotion-based and brain-caused, not structurally-caused or other-caused. We cause many of them, especially ones that bother us and cause us pain, as well as health problems that last a long time or recur periodically without structural causation.

We need to be responsible for the many choices available to us throughout life in order to live the happiest, most satisfying life we can, while we are on this earth.

I’m down for that; are you?

 

 

 

 

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Yet another study on importance of waist circumference! from Denmark this time

“…. researchers found that higher levels of fitness were associated with a smaller waist circumference and a lower degree of inflammation independently of BMI. The researchers acknowledge that there are possible limitations that may affect the findings of the study, but overall the results suggest that increased fitness has the potential to reduce abdominal fat mass and inflammation which may improve metabolic health irrespective of BMI.

‘We found that fitness is inversely associated with both abdominal adiposity and low-grade inflammation independent of BMI,” says Wedell-Neergaard. “These results suggest that, regardless of BMI, high fitness levels lead to a reduction in abdominal fat mass and low-grade inflammation.'”

So say Danish researchers in this January publication: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-01/p-lfi011118.php

What’s interesting to me, is that this finding is independent of the BMI, recently reported by our so-called president’s doctor, after examining our 237-lb leader. Apparently this doc left his tape measure at home and ignored the waistline. Just one more bit of proof that corset waist training is addressing a truly significant health indicator of risk to health and life! And it’s a heckofa lot more fun than going on (yet another) diet!

The absence of tape measures is not unusual. Most doctors never measure our waistlines! I’ve read that before, and I personally know that to be true.

What is wrong with doctors today, and medical schools that fail to teach med students to keep a tape measure in their office desk, or better–draped around their shoulders like the stethoscope we always see?

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Trying New Things is Easy — on January 1, but afterwards????

Trying new things—usually a diet of some kind—is easy on January 1. Maybe on January 2 it’s easy to start one or go to the gym, or even do so thru the end of the month.

But sticking to it? That’s another matter. Yet it’s first things first, we say. And that is just to try.

But trying new things is “so hard to do” says New York Times article writer Sendhil Mullainathan in the Business Section of the Dec. 3 issue.

This applies to countless folks who have emailed me over the years that I’ve been advising, coaching or writing about corset waist training (some 15-plus years by now, since I first coached a student in our three-month process of shaving inches off the waistline and losing pounds, if the latter is also desired as a goal. Our latest student, Ms. K, is shown here after coaching, with amazing improvement of posture even with moderate weight and inch-loss!).

The great majority of those inquiring about or expressing interest in the process, do not follow thru to enroll in my program or buy my book (the 2016 version is only $14.95 for a full-length, detailed “how to” book), or they never contact me after I answer their initial questions and provide encouragement. Thus, I never really know if they move forward based on some other source of information or on their own. Most likely most do not move forward at all to try the process.

Mullainathan posits some five or six reasons we hesitate to try something new: habits are powerful, he says, to start with!

Then, trying something new can be painful (you might not like the process or the results), you have to forgo something to try something new, the cost is immediate while the benefits are remote at a future time that feels abstract, we are overconfident in our negative assessment of the cost and potential benefits, and we engage in automatic behavior doing the same thing we have always done and making the same comfortable choices.

There is simply an “automatic bias in favor of the status quo” Mullainanthan concludes.

January 1 provides us with the impetus to once more try to overturn our status quo. That’s true for this coming New Year of 2018, as it has been in all the other new years of our past. Why not take the chance this New Year to try something new?– if you have been curious about corset waist training but not yet dipped your toe in the pond?

Just contact us (inquiry@romantasy.com or call 415 587-3863) and I’ll happily chat with you about how others have gone about the process, what my students have found difficult or easy, and the results they experienced.

Even better, you can view amazing moving gifs such as this one of full-figure student Ashlee, or this one of of transwoman client Amy,  accurate  images as far as Raven, my web assistant, can make them. The images show “before” and “after” three-months of coaching, with substantial to dramatic posture and figure changes.

Or just visit our waist training pages, the page showing results of those who generally follow the program I recommend, as well as results for those who have formally trained in our coaching program.

I once had a person reply to my general announcement about availability of the ROMANTASY coaching program, to the effect of “why do I need your coaching program–or anyone’s help for a fee–when I can simply go on social media groups and get all the information I need?” It’s a valid question in one aspect; perhaps you don’t! There is a lot of free information out there these days about how to waist train and you might be the type who is self-motivated and determined to reach your goals.

But–are your goals reasonable? And what happens when you hit a bump in the road and there’s no  individualized, medically-sound or verifiable answer to be found?

As in the past, the amount of information out there on the web and in chat rooms does not one-to-one translate to accurate information or helpful information for you! One is tempted to mention the old saying of “the halt leading the blind.” Sometimes that can be true, and more often than you might think.

There are nuances to waist training; everyone is individual in their response to waist training, and no single piece of advice or formula works for all. A qualified coach can listen to your individual concerns, discomforts, and physical and emotional challenges, think about prior long experience in the field, and help you figure out how to best deal with them so you can reach your goal without giving up midstream. An experienced coach has other resources to consult regarding specific questions you may have (we have two doctors on call) and can offer you additional help as we do, such as assigning a former successful student to be an additional peer coach during your training program. These resources beyond what your coach can offer, can be valuable to provide other perspectives as you move forward.

“Experimentation is an act of humility, an acknowledgement that there is simply no way of knowing without trying something different” says the New York Times writer.

Why not experiment with corset waist training in the New Year? It’s fun, it’s fashionable, and it’s amazingly successful if you set reasonable goals and are dedicated to a moderate health-conscious process for a short period of months.

Then maintaining your success is another matter for another blog, and another book that I’m working on. More on that challenge for later!

 

 

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July pill hits market to cause waistline inch loss — only one inch in six months????

Interesting article on DuPont’s pill, Howaru Shape. The weight-loss product is mainly a probiotic, but DuPont also provides a combo of probiotic and fiber. Apparently the probiotic along caused one inch waistline loss in six? months in the research group. I don’t want to mislead anyone and have not read other than a brief summary of the research;  there are obviously other details in the study. Note that one research group taking the dual-time pill lost over 4% in body fat and one waistline inch loss plus added muscle, so there are beneficial results to be sure.

But, what’s of interest is this:

Here’s our lovely Kiska pictured. She completed our formal corset waist training (three months of coaching) in early May. These show before and after pictures not altered in any way, one set corseted and one set natural. You can note that by the end of the three months Kiska could rather easily close the training corset and wear it up to 10 hrs a day.

Here’s another picture of her before and after posture without the corset. Amazing, no?

Importantly, Kiska dropped over two inches and 10 lbs in her waistline in three months–which leads me to ask:

Can’t DuPont’s pills do any better than one waistline inch loss in six months?

Hmmmmm……I’m wondering what six months of DuPont’s pills cost?

Our coaching program is $400 (plus another $100 is taken on deposit but returned to you if you successfully complete the full coaching program. If you do not for any reason, then we donate $100 to our battered women’s shelter, La Casa de las Madres. How the coaching program works is accurately described on our website.

I’ve occasionally read questions online as to why anyone would “need” a coach for waist training? Some do not and some do.

To be sure, there is a lot of information out there these days online by corset makers, many quite reputable and knowledgeable about corsets. Some have hundreds of clients, but none to my knowledge have formally coached 30 or more students since 1998 when we took on our first student (a man from London, P.H.)

In addition, there is a lot of sharing of information by those with little experience, and experience counts for a lot to help the newbie not waste time by re-inventing the training wheels, or panicking at any little twinge or tweak while corseting.

The more you know — the easier the go in corset waist training!

 

 

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The Most Perplexing Thing about Corset Waist Training

“You’ve got to give yourself two, three, four years of consistent behavioral changes (after maximum effort to lose weight/shape up). That is hard work. You’re building new habits. And that takes time,” Bellatti says.

I’ve read about the facts covered in the above July article, that The Biggest (weight) Losers from the tv show of that name, gain most or all of their weight back — and some gain even more.Why?

I’ve read explanations that hormonal changes dictate this result, or that during strict dieting one’s metabolism slows down and remains down even when one starts to eat more after a diet ends.

The above article summarizes a position I’ve come to, that yes, there are genetic and complex metabolic processes going on that we cannot change, but that is not the be all and end all of maintaining a healthy waist size over the years. Behavior change and sound decision making are also important. I call it “acting like an adult and not letting your adolescent rule your eating choices and behavior.”

One aspect of behavior change that can have a positive effect on the figure and weight, involves fashion. Start wearing a corset!

Wearing a well-fitting, attractive, fashionable custom corset either as foundation wear or on the outside of clothing, is not only effective in controlling portions of food and encouraging better posture (especially holding in the lower belly), it is darned fun!

For women who often from childhood play around with clothing, fashion, style, and color, designing a corset then wearing it as a piece of sexy lingerie can be the opposite of what one might expect. Not only is that type of corset not painful — it’s comfortable and it quickly becomes easy to wear and to slowly lace down as inches drop off the waistline,  and even pounds drop off if you want that, too (each result requires a bit of a different approach to corseting).

Not long ago the Sunday Magazine of the NYT had an article authored by a curvy woman who had tried every conceivable diet and approach to weight loss, to improving her health, and to reducing long-term risk, except she failed to mention corseting (see recent blog comment). Clearly, she was unaware of common-sense corset waist training, or had set it aside as an option she would not try (nor did she try expensive, extreme bariatric surgery, thank goodness!).

To me, that’s the most perplexing thing about corset waist training. Not only is it not a diet, it’s not onerous, it’s not hard (tho it can be challenging as one gets used to a structured garment rather than sloppy t-shirts we are more accustomed to wearing these days), it doesn’t take all that long to see results — and — it’s darn right fun! (Did I say that before?) Just like wearing a lacy bra and panties, corset waist training can go on the rest of one’s life (after proper seasoning of a new corset and getting used to it).

One of my three-month waist-training program coaching students told me that each morning when she woke up, she absolutely delighted in rushing to put on her gorgeous waist-training corset. She used that motivation to stay in the corset the required number of hours scheduled for that day, and she found it not all that difficult to do even when the hours each day built up to 10 or more in the latter part of her program, and at tighter lacing-down levels.

We recommend you don’t opt for a readymade, dull, boring underbust corset in which to waist train. Go for fully custom, go for colors, fabrics, and designs that you believe to be artistic and attractive, add a bit of embellishment (some is fine even if the corset is worn under clothing), and get something you love and will be attracted to.

True, some fabrics are a bit more delicate and if the corset is worn under clothing, the fabric may “rub” and threads become loosened over time. There are possible fixes to that (installation of outer bone casings to reinforce fabric or as we did in one case, removed the polysilk front busk and replaced it with cotton twill leaving the polysilk corset otherwise intact). The ivory paisley polysilk and peach cotton-backed satin corset pictured here, is from Bettina, one of my favorite, serious corset enthusiast clients. It is just lovely — and functional, and some years later after a good bit of wear, is still intact!

 

I have always trained in a simple hourglass cotton-backed satin corset such as the black one pictured here, one usually made by Ruth Johnson/BR Corsets. My old corset is showing a bit of scuffing along the front busk. Sometimes the braid trim I’ve added to a corset will fray, but with this minor issue or with eventual scuffing, the structure remains sound.

With a beautiful corset attractive to you, you’ll enjoy the adventure of corset waist training, and most likely begin to see some results in a few months, as most of my dedicated clients and waist-training students have seen.

(Orange polysilk corset by Sue Nice on model Ana; Bettina’s corset by Jill Hoverman; black and paisley corset on model Jasmine, by Jill Hoverman).

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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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Good posture and corsets–initial thoughts on what the Alexander Technique might add to your comfort during waist training

I believe that the most immediate, and perhaps most beneficial, result of wearing corsets and corset waist training, is improved posture. So is the result of the Alexander Technique–the topic of today’s blog.

It is only after some months of dedicated corset wearing, coupled with corset-friendly nutrition practices and waist-targeted exercises, that temporary figure improvement can be converted into permanent figure improvement — if you then don’t pig out on Krispy Kreme donuts and revert to dubious nutritional practices. After all, we have to use common sense when it comes to corseting, as in  all other matters of life!

Recently I’ve started learning about and pursuing lessons in the Alexander Technique (“AT”). My immediate motivation relates to a lingering whiplash cervical injury given to me by a particularly incompetent Chinese wife of my Chinese acupunturist, sad to say. In a moment of pain and depression from a lingering low back muscle spasm, last November I allowed her to manipulate my spine and neck before acupuncture– and three days later, just as with a car accident, the neck injury appeared. I should have known better, but I was too vulnerable. I’m still seeking relief and recovery, which is coming all too slowly for my taste.

Raven, my great friend and web mistress, only a few weeks ago found a video on the Alexander Technique, and “felt” it was for me. I’ve considered cold laser threatment, Feldenkrais, and other. I’ve pursued competent physical therapy, and started swimming three times a week at my warm rehab pool (such a blessing to have the Pomeroy Center in San Francisco!). I’m still not 100% and my neck causes me from mild to serious pain or discomfort every day.

When I viewed the video on the AT that Raven sent a link to, and a few others on the technique, I was gobsmacked. Something seemed to resonate with me about AT theory and practice. I particularly loved it when a local San Francisco AT therapist, in describing the technique and practice, called it: “the thinking person’s physical therapy.”

Like the AT, corset waist training, to be both effective and safe, requires advance thinking and understanding of the whys and hows of what you are doing. That’s why I wrote my initial (600 page equivalent) book in 2003 Corset Waist Training, and updated it substantially with new information, in my Primer book from 2016 (300 pages). But in some ways, the corset and corset waist training, does not go far enough — and there’s where the AT comes in.

The corset, much akin to how a physical therapist or gym trainer works, changes the form of the body, but there’s not too much advance thinking involved, and usually, not much discussion or study from those who jump right in. Sure, there is the “right form” advisable for physical exercises so that we don’t injure ourselves inadvertently. I talk a lot about that in my exercise chapter from the new 2016 corset waist-training book. Starting with the “TVA” squeeze or “set” of that important waistline muscle, minimized injury risks in many exercises. My own wonderful Kaiser PT Matt Sheehy, made sure to teach me the “right” form for my back rehab exercises, however those sessions were only 30 min. long (curse the state of the US health care system) and there was limited time to be sure I knew what I was doing. There was almost never the time to find out “why” I was being asked to do what. Had there been more discussion, then I could have gone off and reflected deeply about those reasons. For me, that’s the way I cement new learning into my body, mind and soul, otherwise it is too easy to just slip away outside of my PT’s office.

If you wear corsets to protect your back from further or new injury, to improve your posture and fit of clothing, and/or to waist train, you might want to look into the Alexander Technique which I believe can be practiced effectively and beneficially in tandem with corseting. Check out this post based on the the AT, and an important mid-page photo showing improper and proper sitting posture.

“Posture isn’t just physical.  It’s a psychophysical (mind/body) state that we get into in response to our environment, technology, emotions, furniture, and people with whom we interact.  It’s easy to get stuck in these habits and then metaphorically spin in circles trying to get out of them.   We can make things worse by trying to fix them in away that intensifies the exact habits that we are trying to change (i.e. The lifting the chest and pulling the shoulders back phenomenon.)”

I was gobsmacked to learn from my talented, amazing local AT therapist. Elyse Shafarman, that unless we think about posture and take ameliorative steps to re-learn correct, non-stressful body habits, we merely take on and reflect, the poor posture of others. “We are social animals,” Elyse says, and we unconsciously pick up on not only the energy and spirit of others–but also how they look and move throughout their day.

I was also gobsmacked to learn form Elyse, that good posture does not mean throwing our shoulders and head up and back! It’s almost the opposite in the AT: the top of the head is “thought” to rise up a wee bit, the chin slightly (ever so slightly) down and the head almost “bobbles” easily on the neck, gently stretching out the cervical spine and elevating the entire spine. At the same time, the shoulder blades are “thought” to expand outward, and I have to learn not to squeeze my scapula, AKA “chicken wings”, backward.

But of course, there’s more — much more to AT, and for me to learn. After all, two lessons does not an AT expert make!

As I’ve been practicing these techniques and new thoughts for the past two weeks during my twice-daily walks, I’ve noticed that as soon as I think of spreading out or widening my shoulder blades, I always notice that my shoulders have automatically hunched up! While my cincher or corset worn on some days, tends to keep my midriff erect and protected, it does nothing to protect or alleviate discomfort in my shoulders and neck.

Even my high-backed corset (there are two or mine pictured, first the  white corset mesh with green and blue patterned bone casings, and above, the hot pink denim corset; the green high-backed corsets is modeled by corsetiere Sue Nice’s sister), at 10″ and 9″ from waist up to top in the back, can only do so much to alleviate neck discomfort and improve posture. Lingerie-style support bodices that promise to hold back the shoulders, also seem to “cut” under my armpits in the most uncomfy of ways.

I’ll post more on what I learn and observe over the coming weeks. If you have studied the AT, I’d love to hear from you as to what you noted, and the results of your practice.

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