Exercise for Waist Trainees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Corsets—and Cinnamon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Let Go — Let Corset — Un Do!

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

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

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

Go figure that one!

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

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

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


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Beware of branding – a trap for the unwary readymade (“OTC”) corset purchaser

My New York Times Magazine from 5/21 has a terrific section called “First Words.” Normally I go first to that article because I like words. I believe they should be carefully crafted in writing, and also carefully and deliberately spoken. Those two beliefs are likely why I don’t cotton much to social media with its rapid-fire modality…but I do like blogs, that permit more thoughtful comments.

This weeks  NYT’s article is about branding, storytelling, commercialism, and the “scam economy”. The author says, “More and more, we fully expect things to fall short of their advertising,” says the author—and more’s the pity! We’ve become accustomed to hype, super-branding, and false claims.

I believe that some reasons these negatives run rampant include our own failure to exercise caution, think for ourselves, and embrace patience. We don’t often bother to ask “on what do you base your conclusion?” or “how do you know that?” It’s not always a pretty habit to others. Sometimes I drive my partner crazy. He  is one talented man who can fix anything and understands machines the way I understand corsets and corset waist training. So I am inclined to ask that question more times than not when a machine has broken down or is giving me fits and I’ve asked for his help.

We must look behind every commercial claim if we want to avoid being victimized. I hate to think that we have to be suspicious under every circumstance, but perhaps we should start out that way, or at least, start out with great caution before we purchase any product or service.

I’m particularly peeved with the way “wannabe” readymade (“OTC”) corsets are flooding our US marketplace, and how they are advertised. Somehow calling something  a “waist trainer” or “for waist training” makes it so in some folks’ minds. As the NYT article says, “We are now expected to favor the story over reality, to accept that saying a thing makes it so.”

That’s why it pays to look behind the story on every website, and behind the claims of every corset maker. I’ve known some corset makers who aren’t willing to pay their dues, or put in their journeyperson time to hone their skills and up their quality before they overprice their products or enter the marketplace or sub marketplace. You never know how a web advertised and pictured corset holds up over time — unless the corset maker has paid her dues, has countless recommendations of those who wear their corset in the manner you intend to wear yours, and who can recommend the quality of the product as tested over time. You don’t know if you can properly or easily train in the corset you are buying–unless you talk to someone experienced, and one who won’t “oversell” the product or sell you a style that just won’t work for your purposes.

Take a look at the ‘eye candy’ pink corset pictured here. It’s cute, perhaps. But look at the strange shape of the waistline on this model, the wrinkling of fabric  at the midriff (that will or can uncomfortably pinch over time with tighter lacing or long wear), and the overbust embellished style that is tough to train in because it limits body flexibility (compared to the recommended underbust style). Furthermore, the ruffles are hard to disguise underneath clothing if the corset is for foundation wear on a daily basis. Your belly might be squished out from under a too-short readymade corset, or you may encounter muffin top. The too-short bottom pictured here on the model wearing a custom muslin (interim corset) was corrected and lowered in the final fully custom corset. Those problem issues can be avoided in the main when you order a custom corset.

Talking directly to some customers is always a good bet. Taking time to examine the length of experience in business making corsets, and the number of corsets made in that particular style by your chosen corset maker, is always wise. Just because some burlesque queen on the web looks stunning in a gorgeously-embellished corset, isn’t sufficient information when it comes to purchasing a quality, durable and comfortable training corset.

As a related matter, I’m saddened when I learn that some custom corset maker has gone out of business, or gone overseas to find a sweat shop to make readymade corsets to sell. I’m gobsmacked every time someone emails me and rather than purchase a ROMANTASY custom corset, tells me they have already found a readymade corset and want to start waist training now. The reason usually has to do with being penny wise and pound foolish: making a quick purchase according to brief social media recommendations or buying a particular “brand” or unthinkingly believing a claim that the corset is “for waist training,” or because the maker has quick shipping practices so that the corset enthusiast can quick! — start to lose weight before he loses motivation.

But corseting and waist training are marathons, not sprints. You don’t get anywhere rushing around before you do your homework, especially when it comes to ordering a training corset. A Halloween corset for maybe two hours of continuous costume wear? Well now, 0k! Go for the OTC cheap “wannabe” corset!

I’m even more saddened and frankly, disappointed, when I learn that some qualified custom corset maker has agreed to assist an overseas readymade manufacturer “improve” his corset product. To my mind, that is extremely detrimental to the art and craft of custom corset making, and it jeopardizes the existence of same. I’m aware that not everyone shares my opinion, even among otherwise responsible corset enthusiasts. Still, I know many accomplished corset enthusiasts who share my opinion.

If you are new to the corset and waist-training scene, you’ll have to make up your own mind about the issue, but I fervently hope you will come down on the side most times of supporting custom corsetry.


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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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Success by one student in working the corset waist-training process!

Yesterday, Sunday, was the last day of a three-month dedicated corset waist-training effort by my coaching program student, Ms. K.

I am exceedingly proud of her perseverance despite her grave doubts that she could “toe the line”, lace the corset on, and give up a few guilty pleasures that had likely added on a few pounds she decided she wanted to drop. And yes, I heard a bit of mild complaining along the way, especially when I asked her to forgoe her guilty pleasure of milk chocolate! She subbed in 70 percent dark chocolate and found it not too too tough to do. She doubted she could give up chips — but after reading The Dorito Effect (highly recommended reading!), I think she gave up and gave in to the author’s and my point that this manufactured food as well as most processed foods, contain additives that are truly not good for us or our figure-shaping efforts.

Here are Ms. K’s concluding stats:

Waist line inch loss from 34.5 to 32.25, a 2.25″ loss
Ribs from 37.5 to 37.25, a 1/4″ loss
Derriere from 40.5 to 38.5, a 2″ loss
Weight from 184 to 171 lbs, a 13 lb loss

Compare these stats to her initial goals of:

Weight loss goal:  lose from 190 lbs (by the time she started training, on Feb 7 she was, by herself, down to 184, not 190) to 180; she lost to 171!
Waistline inch loss goal: lose from 34.5″ to 32.5″ or two inches, thus, she reached her goal plus 1/4″ more!

As for her written evaluation the following 10 items were rank ordered in terms of importance in reaching her goals:

  1. Regular exercise
  2.  Contact with Coach
  3. Changing eating habits: manner of eating and food choices
  4.  Specific exercise routine
  5. Cutting way back or out fried foods,, sugars and fats
  6. Monday reports to Coach
  7. Increasing water and juices (NB cut with 1/2 water)
  8. Cutting back portions
  9. Small presents from Coach
  10. Tiny increments of tighter and longer corset wear every three days; going slowly.

The process works — if you work it!  I’ll be back soon to post Ms. K’s ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures … and I can’t wait to see the results!




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What if you don’t like corsets? (Or will I like them?)

Ms. Kiska, my present waist training student who is just about to conclude her three-month experiment and coaching in figure shaping, just wrote: “Unfortunately my corset feels like more of a nuisance than not.”

This is after almost 12 weeks of daily wearing her custom training corset, less one day per week, and after building up slowly in hours and tightness in lacing down so the process is comfy in general. She chose a well-fitting and extremely comfy training corset by Sheri, who patterns out over the rib cage more than others might, in order to allow for easier breathing and flexibility of movement. That’s why we recommend Sheri for waist training students who will have to work up to long hours of wear, and also for a second corset when you have dropped some fat and inches off your torso and waist to leave mainly muscle, and need to go more slowly and make sure it is comfy when you lace down to the next level. Sheri’s corsets are perfect for either person!

You’ll see Ms. K. in her underbust cotton corset by Sheri, pictured before she began waist training, so this corset doesn’t fit “the best”. That’s because she had to lace loosely and wear it loosely to begin training, to enhance her own comfort and let the corset gradually ‘breathe’ and accustom itself to her torso in return. In that manner you minimize the risk that you might damage your corset, altho with Sheri’s sturdy creations that is highly unlikely to begin with.

Of course to me, a 100 percent corset enthusiast, Ms. K’s message initially made me feel a bit sad. I had kept hope that over three months as she seasoned her new corset and got used to longer hours wearing it six days a week, it would become more comfortable and she would take a shine to it as well as to her shrinking waistline and improved posture.

Regarding the last two items, a shrinking waistline and improved posture, she did take a shine! But regarding the actual corset, and corset wear, she clearly did not.

Still, Ms. K. intends after formal training to keep up better nutrition choices she has learned, and some new exercises that target her waistline muscles to keep them toned and under control, but plans only occasionally to wear her training corset. We’ll soon share her simple but sound Maintenance Plan and final training results in the next blog.

As I thought about her reactions to a corset, I reflected on the incredible range of reasons that anyone might choose to wear a corset. I thought back on thousands and thousands of corsets clients I’ve served over my 27 years in the corset education and purveying/designing business. I also reflected on the 100 stories of why and how people who wrote to Lucy Williams, the young corset enthusiast from Canada, wore their corsets. Check out Lucy’s fascinating book collecting these stories, “Solaced,” available for Kindle on amazon.

If I have learned one thing in my 27 years focusing on this magical garment, it is that every individual reacts differently to wearing corsets (and to waist training). It is simply impossible to know how a specific person  will “take” to wearing a corset, and how one will find a corset useful in one’s life, if they take to corsets at all. Not everyone loves the garment!

Yesterday I tried corsets and corset muslins on my BFF Letha, pictured here wearing a muslin  of an overbust Victorian corset underneath her black outfit. She has decided she wants an overbust foundation corset to improve her posture and figure, plus  improve the fit of her clothing as she, like me, ages gracefully into her 70s. Letha loved the look and feel!

Within a few try-ons of a corset (her first ever!) and maybe 10 total minutes, she was strutting around the living room admiring herself in the mirror, laced down 5.5″ from her natural waist measurement. Yup. In about ten minutes! It stunned us both.

Obviously Letha is the type of client who is relatively plastic (“squishy”) in her midriff and can easily lace down. More importantly, she has no aversion to a relatively new feeling for her of wearing a body-fitting, closely structured garment on her torso. That was a bit surprising to me because her typical way of dressing is to wear flowing, artistic clothing.

Letha reminds me a bit of “Frankie” in the wonderful tv series “Frankie and Grace” if you have seen it? She’s experimental, adventurous, and cheerful, just the kind of personality I like and resonate with. I think she expected to like corsets–and she did! (If you haven’t seen the show, run, don’t walk, to rent the series. It’s a pure hoot, with wonderful actors Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda and a terrifically funny and heartwarming story line to boot).

So how will you know if you will ‘take’ to corsets? You won’t know for sure if you have never worn them or tried them on. But if you tend to like tight belts, panty hose, boned shapewear, fitted clothing like princess seams and well-fitted waistlines in pants and dresses, and tight jeans, you will likely take to corsets and to waist training as well. But then this guideline doesn’t explain Letha’s positive reaction, since she had never tried on a formal corset!

So keep your mind open to corsets, expect to like them, and if you can do so, try a fit sample corset on and lace it snugly (but not quickly!) to see if you like the feeling.

If you don’t have access to a try-on corset, then get a wide belt and belt down snugly or tightly. Try to keep the corset or belt on for more than five minutes! The more minutes you can wear a structured garment, the better you will be able to tell how you will react to the real thing. Stand up, sit down, walk around and if you can, eat a light meal to see how your stomach will feel while corseted.

Hopefully the real thing you finally choose, will be a well-fitting custom corset made especially for you, and not a dubiously-fitting readymade or over-the-counter OTC corset. You usually  can’t go wrong with custom, whereas you can easily go wrong with an uncomfy, non-individually fitted OTC choice.

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