22 Jun Building a Bikini Body
First the bad news. There is no magic cure, there is no silver bullet. Like everything else in life your body shape will most likely be determined by the time and effort you put into it. No amount of liposuction or nipping and tucking will make up for a poor diet and exercise pattern and unhealthy lifestyle habits.
So many people when they see the weight creeping on and the waistline expanding head to the gym to “work it off”. Undoubtedly exercise helps with your body shape. It raises your metabolic rate and can burn those excess calories.
However your body is a very efficient machine. It doesn’t need a lot of fuel to run. If you want to get depressed, measure the calories in that fast food snack you had and then work out how long it would take on the treadmill to burn that off.
It’s all about using the right tools for the right job. The right tool to control your body weight is your diet. Exercise is to maintain your muscle bulk and your bone density which will help shape and contour your body, but diet will always be the major determinant of your overall weight and shape.
Significant advances have been made in dietary regimes. The traditional low-fat diet is falling further into disrepute. These diets significantly reduce the fat content in your intake and substitute carbohydrates.
More recent scientific research has suggested that the concentrated carbohydrates – the “white stuff” (pasta, rice, sugar, potatoes, bread) – are actually the “bad guys”. They raise your body’s secretion of insulin and this locks away your fat stores and helps to lay down new fat stores. It’s the last hormone you want to raise when you’re trying to trim down.
And the other major disadvantage of low-fat diets is that……you feel hungry the whole time! It takes a very determined soul to persevere when the hunger pains are gnawing.
More modern dietary regimes are focused on reducing the intake of concentrated carbohydrates and increasing the amounts of protein, fat and low GI (glycaemic index) carbohydrates in the diet. These food sources have much less effect on stimulating the body’s secretion of insulin but also help to keep the hunger pains at bay for longer.
Whilst diet is the key to controlling your overall weight, exercise is what you use to shape your body. Used appropriately it can help hold off the hands of time and delay the brittle bones of the aging woman and the “empty seat” of the trousers of the aging male.
An exercise programme should be centred around resistance training, ie weights. Weight training will stimulate the bones to retard the development of osteoporosis and it also stimulates the muscle tissues to maintain or restore their more youthful bulk, which naturally gives the body a more youthful shape.
Much is written these days about growth hormone being the “fountain of youth”. Well, rather than having injections you can give yourself a “shot” of growth hormone by a weight-training session of not more than 45 minutes. The spike in growth hormone levels seen after this kind of training is maintained for about 36 hours so three sessions a week of 30 to 45 minutes are sufficient. You may also find that many of your aches and pains disappear as joint instability is one of the effects of muscle wasting and a lot of joint pains result from this.
For men, diet and exercise are certainly the mainstay of maintaining or achieving a healthy physique. Sure we all remember 18 year olds who lived on junk food and still sported a six pack. But if you carried that dietary pattern past the mid 20’s that 6 pack rapidly evolves into a beer barrel.
Some fat zones are resistant to being shifted. In males, most commonly this is the “love handles” area and the abdomen. If skin tone is good these areas usually respond well to liposuction.
The key to success with liposuction is to get your weight down prior to surgery. Your body works like a thermostat. If there is no change to the dietary and exercise patterns, removing a few kilograms with liposuction will have a short-lived effect as the weight drifts back to it’s previous point. Sure the fat may not reform in exactly the same place but much of the benefit would still be lost.
In addition, liposuction relies on good skin tone to accommodate the loss of size in the fat deposits below it. If the reduction in size is significant and sudden the skin may not cope and dimpling and irregularity may be seen. When you lose weight the reduction is so uniform and gradual that the skin is more able to cope and recontour to suit the new shape. So the less that is required to be done at surgery with liposuction then the easier it is for the skin to recontour to the new shape, giving a smooth even result.
Women’s bodies face the additional insult of childbearing. The expanding abdomen stretches the musculature and the sheath of the abdominal muscles as well as the overlying skin. If the elastic layer of the skin is unable to cope it will “rupture” and as a result stretch marks (striae) will be seen. Although some advances are being made, in general, stretch marks are very difficult to get rid of.
In addition the sheath that lies between the strong vertical muscles of the abdomen (rectus) may stretch to the point where it either remains lax and allows a significant bulge to continue after pregnancy or it may even rupture and a hernia may form.
In addition there are significant weight gains in pregnancy which can stretch the torso and legs significantly and the lifestyle change from being single to parenthood may make it difficult to find the time to accommodate the previous exercise pattern.
Start with prevention. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal but seek your Obstetrician’s advice on what is an appropriate weight gain. Pregnancy isn’t an excuse to eat anything you want anytime you want. Babies weigh 3 to 4 kilograms at birth so you don’t need to put on 40 kilograms during pregnancy! The less harm you do in the process, the easier it will be to get your old body back.
When significant stretch of the skin has occurred and a permanent weakness of the muscle wall has resulted, the operation of choice is abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). These days, abdominoplasties come in different styles. Where mostly there has been a stretch of the muscle sheath and a little deposition of fat, a “mini-tuck” with a little skin excision, liposuction and a tightening of the lower muscle sheath (perhaps through a caesarean scar) can achieve quite a pleasing result with a scar that is easy to conceal.
If skin excess is remarkable then a full tummy tuck is usually required. The length of the scar is usually determined by the amount of skin that needs to be removed. Doing liposuction on skin that has poor tone will almost certainly result in contour irregularity and do little to improve the appearance there, so that excess skin really needs to go.
The upside of the tummy tuck is that most stretch marks occur in the lower zone of the abdominal skin and that is removed by this procedure. The upper abdominal skin which is usually less ravaged by pregnancy is then stretched out to cover a larger part of the torso with smooth healthy skin. The repair to the muscle sheath helps greatly to contour the torso and you may find that your backache gets better too as the “pillars of support” at the front of the trunk help take the strain off the backbone.
Liposuction may be used in conjunction with a tummy tuck to contour the love handle region or to further shape the abdomen itself for a more pleasing result. Technical advances in this procedure coming out of France have helped to make it safer, more effective and the results more aesthetically appealing.
Remember however that a tummy tuck is like having a suit made. Really your abdominal skin and muscle sheath are being shaped to fit you. The slimmer and trimmer you are the more the “cloth” can be cut to fit you and the better you will look.
It will take most of twelve months after pregnancy for your body to recover. I occasionally get requests to do a tummy tuck at the time of a caesarean. At caesarean the baby is of course removed but the significant weight gain that accompanies pregnancy is still present and the muscle wall and abdominal skin have not had the chance to spontaneously shrink back to their previous proportions. Therefore a tummy tuck is best left until these natural recovery changes have occurred.
So don’t be afraid of those warmer months. A sensible dietary and exercise regime combined with appropriate plastic surgery can have you in that bikini body at any stage in life.