A wise person once stated, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But beauty has become less about the “beholder” and more about the projected image of what beauty is. The media – though it is getting a teeny bit better these days – continues to promote images of rail-thin models telling us that is beautiful. Actresses are typically a size 0 or 2. The image of how we portray a woman’s body and what we think is beautiful has drastically changed over the past decades.
Marilyn Monroe was by far the biggest sex symbol of the 50s. There was not one woman out there who did not want to have the body of this blonde goddess. In the 1980’s Denise Austin was the face of women’s fitness. I can recall watching my mother work out in the mornings to Getting Fit on ESPN and hearing her say, “If Denise can do it, so can I.” This lady coaching my mother through the television appeared as though she had the total package; sculpted legs, toned arms, and a booty that you could bounce a coin off.
Today we have a host of beautiful fitness models and role models for young women to look up to and aspire to be. However, our self-image and what we accept about our bodies has become distorted. We are on a quest for the perfect body.
But what defines the “perfect body?” And who is to say what is perfect and what is not. And why do you work out? Do you work out for self-confidence? To justify some of the “comfort” foods that you eat? Or, to relieve stress? While these reasons are common, by far the most common reason for working out is for that one stubborn part that you are not happy with.
As a fitness professional, I will tell you that no matter why you work out, there will always be those stubborn body parts. But, you can always improve them and strive to achieve what YOU want out of your body.
Stubborn Body Part #1: Cellulite
Let me start off with explaining what this dimply thing they call cellulite truly is. Cellulite is fat deposits that are underneath the skins surface, which can cause a dimpling effect and usually targets the abdomen, thighs, and glute region on women. There are numerous factors that come into play when looking at the reasoning behind cellulite with the main ones being a woman’s genes, hormones, lifestyle, smoking, and diet.
The Fix: The best way to get rid of pesky cellulite would be through diet, exercise, and not letting stress get the best of you. A healthy, well-balanced diet and a minimum of 30 minutes a day of some form of exercise will help you reduce the appearance and fat content in the cells that produce this unwanted cellulite. Fruits, vegetables, and fiber are some of the best choices when it comes to preventing and reducing. Avoid sugary and fatty foods as much as possible and limit your alcohol consumption.
Stubborn Body Part #2: The Arm Wave or Bingo Wings
When I first heard someone refer to their tricep/arm as bingo wings I was definitely interested in knowing what the heck this meant. I have heard the term arm wave, and the example I usually get is that of someone waving the hand and their arm proceeds to wave with it, but never bingo wing. So I had to do some research and this is what I found as the definition, “The fat that swings from a woman’s arm such as that of an obese woman when they raise and shake their hand while shouting “Bingo!”
WOW! The terms people will come up with to explain a body part.
The Fix: In order to get rid of these flappers, you are going to have to incorporate some weight training into your everyday routine. There are three main exercises that will help to tone and strengthen this target area; tricep pushups, dips, and medicine ball slams. I strongly believe that as long as you can use your limbs and body weight, then this is by far the best form of exercise out there. And the best part is, you can do it ANYWHERE! You don’t have to be at a gym to perform these three exercises. All you need is yourself and an 8-10 lb. medicine ball.
Stubborn Body Part #3: Muffin Top
I can remember the first time I heard someone refer to their abdomen area as a muffin top. After discussing what she believed was a muffin top here is the conclusion I have came up with. A so-called muffin top is when a woman wears too tight of clothes and her skin tends to flow over the top of her waistband resembling that of a muffin. Now honestly, who doesn’t like muffins? I can say I do, but only healthy ones and not on my body.
The Fix: The first fix for getting rid of this unwanted muffin top is by far the easiest…MOVE! By exerting more energy, you will burn more calories. An example would be instead of taking the elevator to your office in the morning, take the stairs. Another great way to burn extra calories is to go on daily walks. Don’t sit in front of the TV, get outside and get a 20-30 minute walk in. This will not only start to reduce the appearance of your muffin top, but it will also produce endorphins, which help to improve our overall happiness.
The second fix would be to change up your eating habits. This doesn’t have to be done drastically all at once, but slow and steady. First step would be to start limiting your portion sizes. So instead of eating a whole bowl of cereal in the morning cut it back to ½ cup. Next you will start to cut different foods out of your diet such as sugars, fats, etc. If you are one of those many women who like to drink soda, you need to cut this out, NOW! This absolutely has to go. I don’t care if it’s diet or not, it has to go!!! Find a healthy alternative such as Green Tea, Propel, Crystal Light, etc. This will make a huge difference! Start incorporating more whole grains, lentils, and lean meats. You will notice that muffin top melting right off.
Stubborn Body Part #4: Thighs
Being a trainer for more than 6 years, I have come in contact with numerous women who have come to me in hopes of looking like a Victoria’s Secret Model. They want the skinny legs that go on for days. Well guess what ladies…I am here to tell you that if you are not 6 feet tall or taller, you aren’t going to get those tall stems like you see in the magazines or on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. And while yes their legs look long and lean, they really appear to have no muscle. Who wants to have twiggy stems? A lean muscular leg is much more appealing.
The Fix: No matter what shape of leg you have, you can always tone and improve the appearance. It might not be a Victoria’s Secret Model leg, but it will look that of a fitness model leg. Who doesn’t want that right?
There are three main exercises I have found to produce the best results when it comes to toning and leaning out the legs, the first one being a squat. No matter which way you choose to do a squat, it is going to create great results. You could try a sumo squat, which is going to target more of the inside of your leg. Then there is a plain old bodyweight squat, which is going to target the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
The second exercise to strengthen and lean the leg would be a lunge. There are many different forms of lunges out there. You choose which one best suits you depending on your fitness level. You could start off with a stationary lunge, progress to a walking lunge, followed up with a Bulgarian lunge. All three of these will definitely get you feeling the BURN!
But by far, my favorite leg sculpting exercise would have to be box jumps. Now this is absolutely not for everybody, but if you have some ups, then you should give this a try. For you beginners, you can start off with stepping up on a box or bench.
Problem Area #5: The “I don’t want to get bulky” lady
I am not ashamed to say this: I was one of these girls at one time. I can remember thinking that weights were the devil and would only make me look like a man. I didn’t even want to think about stepping into the weight area of the gym. To me, the cardio area was for women…this is where we did our working out. But let me tell you, the minute I started lifting weights, it gave me a high like I had never felt before. I had POWER!
The Fix: For those of you ladies out there who believe the myth that if you lift weights you will get big, this is absolutely 110 percent not true! There is no way that you are physically able to get big like a man (like the woman pictured above) unless you are taking hormones to do so. Women produce estrogen, which tends to make it harder for us to lose body fat and men produce testosterone, which is why they shed body fat quicker. They don’t have that annoying estrogen slowing them down.
Here is why lifting weights works for us as women. When you lift weights, you start to build lean body mass, which in turn helps to burn that stubborn body fat. For you cardio queens, sad to say, but you might be hindering your fitness goals because you are not lifting weights. When doing too much cardio, you start to burn your muscle, which then slows down the expanding body fat process. Lifting weights will only make you stronger and give you that lean look.
Beauty is not skin deep. Beauty is what YOU define it as. You are the judge of what you want to be. We all have problem areas that we want to fix and change. Let these suggestions be your guide to your problem spots but be realistic and don’t sweat the small stuff. What is vitally important is we accept ourselves for who we are with the intention of always improving. Love your body and it will love you back!
By Aundrea Stoetzel, NASM-CPT, WBFF Pro Fitness Model