Building a Healthy Hourglass Shape
The “hourglass” shaped woman is often depicted in paintings, photographs and movies as the ideal of female beauty. People from a wide variety of cultures find this “curvy” shape especially attractive. But even those with a natural hourglass shape can find themselves carrying excess weight and that can present specific challenges when they are trying to shed the extra pounds. If you are an hourglass who wants to lose weight, here’s what you need to know.
What is an Hourglass Shape?
You would be categorized as an hourglass if your hips and shoulders are about the same width. You may have a clearly defined waistline and your lower hips are wider than your high hips. Your buttocks are rounded and your thighs are full but narrower than your lower hips.
Taking your measurements is an easy way to find out your body shape. According to Healthline, “If your hips and bust are nearly equal in size and you have a well-defined waist that’s narrower than both, you have an hourglass shape.”
Maintaining these proportions is not easy, especially as we get older. When people with this body type gain weight, it tends to accumulate in the chest and hips rather than in the belly. For many people with this shape, the extra pounds tend to be most noticeable around their faces, arms, chest, knees and ankles.
Hourglass Health Concerns
The good news is that people with the hourglass shape are less likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and cancer than those with the “apple-shaped” body type, who have large waistlines and accumulate fat around their abdomen. However, because the extra pounds show up in a variety of places on the hourglass figure, it may be less noticeable and therefore easier to ignore than a bulging belly, says Penn Medicine. Being overweight, wherever the extra fat gathers, does increase your risk of metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Exercising Your Hourglass
No matter what your body type may be, exercise is essential for proper health. About 30 minutes of daily activity—either all at once or broken up into 10-minute segments throughout the day—can help tighten up an hourglass figure and give it an even more appealing profile. Even better, toning up your body transforms fat into muscle. Muscle burns more calories when you’re at rest than fat does.
The ideal exercises for the hourglass shape work your whole body. According to Penn Medicine, “Full-body workout routines are good for hourglass-shaped people, since you could gain fat in both your upper and lower body.”
Swimming laps (if you have regular access to a pool) gives you a great full-body workout. Walking works well for toning hips, legs and buttocks. However, you’ll want to complement that with some work for your upper body. Light weightlifting helps tone your arms and shoulders without bulking you up. You can also try some simple calisthenics such as planks or incline push-ups.
The “inchworm” is a great full-body exercise to try at home whenever you have time, says the American Council on Exercise (ACE). It’s not too challenging but still tones your muscles. Start by standing tall with your feet together or slightly apart. Flex your abdominal muscles and bend at your hips until you can place your hands on the floor. Now slowly walk your hands forward until you are in a plank position. According to ACE, your spine, hips and head should be parallel with the floor. Do a push-up, then slowly walk your hands back to your feet. Keep practicing each day until you can repeat this move 10 times and you will see a real difference in your muscle tone.
Dressing Your Hourglass Body Shape
Dressing for your specific body shape can help you feel confident and ready to take on the day. You can choose the perfect outfit for your hourglass by keeping a few key tips in mind. According to Nordstrom Trunk Club, “Fitted and structured tops look naturally great on your frame.” Since you have a defined waist, high-waisted and belted pants are also a great choice. A jumpsuit can be especially flattering, while fit-and-flare dresses show off your waist. Don’t be afraid of pointed shoes to elongate your legs and accessorize with your favorite belt, says Nordstrom Trunk Club.
Eating for Your Hourglass Shape
The basic elements of a healthy diet are generally the same for everyone: eat a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables and modest amounts of fruit, whole grains and other high-fiber carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean protein. But when you’re trying to lose weight, a plan that’s designed for your body shape will ensure that you drop the extra pounds from the places where they are most troublesome.
For people with the hourglass shape, the goal is to target fat around the lower part of the body. An effective eating plan for that is to make sure you are getting about 25 percent of your daily calories from high-quality protein. Fill your menu with healthy PowerFuels, which are sources of protein that are low in saturated fat. PowerFuels provide you with lots of energy to get you through your day but don’t load you up with extra fats. These lean proteins are best paired with high-fiber SmartCarbs, which leave you feeling full long after you finish eating. Stay away from added sugar and extra fat. Check out the lists below for grocery additions that may work best for you:
Smart choices for women:
- Salmon, eggs and low fat dairy products can help you fill up and keep you feeling satisfied all day.
- Make a sandwich with sourdough bread.
- Fresh fruits like blueberries, pomegranate seeds and prunes fit well into your meal plan.
- Make an arugula salad filled with chopped bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Smart choices for men:
- Enjoy a wide range of lean proteins, such as eggs, milk, chicken breast and salmon.
- Focus on fiber-rich carbs like brown rice and pinto beans.
- High fiber fruits like prunes are your best bet.
- Your top veggie picks include broccoli, spinach, bell peppers and cucumbers.
Nutrisystem expert dietitians take your body shape, gender, age and other attributes into account as they create a personalized diet plan that’s tailored to YOU. Your menu will be full of the foods you love, including deliciously flavorful meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, satisfying snacks throughout the day, and, yes, indulgent desserts you will feel good about. Combined with your daily activity, your meal plan will help you optimize your naturally attractive hourglass figure.