I’m blessed to work with women of all ages, shapes and sizes. One thing that most of them share in common, though, is a dissatisfaction with their weight – and their shape. I was sharing this with my personal doctor Dr. Christian Barney, Founder and CEO of Mind Body Transformation, the other day. Dr. Barney specializes in functional medicine and teaches men and women how to truly understand why they eat the way they do, and how to permanently keep excess weight off (without crazy-ass dieting!).
We were talking about the different shapes of women’s bodies and the surprising connection estrogen has in affecting our body shapes. His insight was so interesting, and he had such good tips, that I had him write an article to share with you here.
You know, a lot of women tell me they want to lose weight before they work with me. But I have to share that when we move forward and I style them at their current weight, how matter what size or shape they are, their confidence levels soar. And that confidence energizes them to go to the gym more often, pay attention to their nutrition, and power a true transformation that is amazing to watch.
I love seeing this happen and if this is something that you’re struggling with, I was inspired to share Dr. Barney’s and my thoughts with you to help. When it comes to fashion and style, I’ve included pictures here of what you can wear to make a pear shape look amazing. And Dr. Barney will give you some answers and actions you can use starting right now.
Estrogen and Weight Loss
By Dr. Christian Barney, D.C., C.C.S.P., D.A.B.C.O.
Are you having difficulty losing inches around your hips? Did you know that your female hormones are one of the biggest things that affect your body shape?
Your body shape can be telling about what’s going on with your health. A major, often overlooked, explanation for a plateau in weight loss and extra weight around the hips can come from an imbalance of female hormones. Excess estrogen, also called estrogen dominance, can change your body shape, causing an increase in fat deposits in the area of your thighs and butt. This is what gives some women a “pear” shape, where the hips are far wider than the shoulders.
Don’t give up, though! There is a solution.
First, let’s talk about what’s normal. In a healthy menstrual cycle, estrogen levels rise during the first fourteen days of the cycle, then decrease the second half of the cycle. Problems arise when the body produces too much estrogen, ingests foods that promote estrogen levels, and has difficulty getting rid of the estrogen.
Women accumulate fat around their hips at a greater rate than men because they have 9x more estrogen receptors in that area than men, making them far more sensitive to fat deposits in that area. While this may not seem fair, there is a reason for this difference between men and women’s bodies. When a woman gets pregnant, they gain weight in the abdomen, which raises their center of gravity and makes them off-balance. By adding weight to the hips, however, the body is able to make itself more stable, and less likely to get hurt. It’s a survival response by the body that is no longer appreciated by our modern times.
So what can you do?
- Get tested. This is probably the most important step. Find out if this is a problem and why it’s occurring. I recommend testing both blood and urine to check levels of the female hormones and how the body is excreting them. This gives insight as to how to fix the problem.
- Increase fiber in your diet. Fiber binds to estrogen and also lowers the body’s insulin response, both playing a role in estrogen levels. The easiest and healthiest way is to eat more vegetables, 9 serving per day.
- Eat organic. I know it can be expensive, but commercially raised animals have hormones added to their diets to increase size and production. Fruits and vegetables are grown with pesticides that increase estrogen levels.
- Decrease stress and get good sleep. It’s simple, yes, but stress and the body’s ability to recover play a big role in estrogen levels.
- Adjust your exercise intensity and carbohydrate intake. Estrogen plays a role in multiple systems within the body, plus interacts with other hormones. There is mounting evidence that menstruating women can tolerant more exercise and promote fat burning to the hip area during the first 14 days of their cycle. You can also eat more carbohydrate during this time, about 10% more. During the second half too much exercise can be stressful causing fat deposition, plus the body is more sensitive to sugar during this time.
If you’ve been struggling with extra weight in your hip area, try these recommendations. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me at Performance Health and Wellness, 949-476-1250.