Let’s get one thing straight before we start. How do you get a “bikini body”? You put on a bikini.
That’s it. Done deal.
We have come so far in the body positivity movement, and we still have a lot of ground to cover yet, but did you know that the location on your body where any excess weight is being stored can actually give you some clues about your health?
We each have our own unique weight gain patterns, and much of it comes down to genetics, but specific hormone imbalances can trigger weight to accumulate in specific areas and could offer a vital clue as to the bigger picture of what’s going on in your body.
Let’s have a look at some of the locations and what message your body could be sending you.
All Over Weight Gain
Typical weight gain tends to happen all over the body pretty consistently. You might notice it in certain areas first, such as your face or thighs, depending on your specific pattern of weight distribution, but overall, the weight is evenly distributed throughout the body.
In cases of all over weight gain, it may be due to lifestyle. Have a look at your recent diet and exercise to examine whether you need to make any adjustments.
If you are eating well and haven’t changed anything in your eating habits, it could be an indication of a sluggish thyroid. Other symptoms of low thyroid include tiredness, depression, cold hands and feet, dry skin, and thinning hair.
We also know that in menopause significant hormone shifts can cause changes in body composition and a sluggish metabolism.
Check with your healthcare provider to see if any of this could be a factor for you.
Belly and Torso
Weight gain that is concentrated in the belly and torso region could also be an indicator of something being off with your diet. We tend to gain weight in this area first. Have a look at your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake. A blood sugar imbalance could be a health concern that needs attention. Proper testing can be measured through your healthcare provider to make sure your blood sugars are in a healthy range.
If nothing has changed in your diet, it might be worth considering your stress levels. The “stress hormone” cortisol can cause your body to store fat in your belly region in times of stress and imbalance as a form of protection and survival – this can also occur during menopause when hormones are in chaos! The stress response also known as “fight or flight” is controlled by your adrenal glands - the two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys.
Inflammation and bloating are also thoughts to consider around the belly region. Checking for specific food intolerances or if it may be related to the menstrual cycle (a hormone imbalance) is important to investigate with your healthcare provider as well.
Hips and Thighs
Excess estrogen could be the culprit when it comes to weight in the hips and thighs - this is often referred to as Estrogen Dominance. In fact, estrogen dominance can also contribute to excess weight in the belly region.
Estrogen is a normal part of our hormonal makeup, but when it becomes too high in women, it can cause problems such as endometriosis, fibroids, PMS or mood swings, cramps, and heavy bleeding.
One of the main sources of too much estrogen in the body is from environmental toxins found in plastics, pesticides, beauty products, cleaning products, detergents, the birth control pill, and hormone replacement therapy. These “fake hormones,” called Xenoestrogens are structurally similar to estrogen and have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body and cause an excess estrogen state.
Men can also experience the effects of estrogen dominance, and hip and thigh and belly weight gain could be an indicator. Other symptoms in men include lethargy, fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, mood swings, irritability, low libido, depression, and anxiety.
No matter what the cause, I encourage you to begin to reframe the way you think about weight. It has nothing to do with your worth, your intelligence, your beauty, your anything. It is simply communication from your body. Listen to what your body is telling you, and find the right people and resources to give it what it needs.
Here’s to a Summer of Healthy Bodies!
Always seek guidance from your health care provider for proper testing and additional support.