How to Fix Your Body’s Problem Areas

Here's how you can combat your problem areas

Here’s how you can combat your problem areas | iStock.com

We all have that body part we’re not so proud of; that little pocket of excess weight that seems to cling on no matter how you eat or what exercises you do. It’s the very reason why “spot training,” a debunked form of exercise that is based on the idea that you can target fat burning to specific parts of your body, was started. While it’s perfectly natural to feel subconscious of your body’s less than perfect features, it’s also important to remember that everyone has them.

For some women, unwanted fat lurks on the stomach, for others it’s their legs or arms, and others watch as the pounds go straight to their hips and butt. Everyone’s body stores excess fat and weight in different ways, but it gets interesting when you consider why your body stores weight the way it does. If you take two women of the same age, body weight, and height, their bodies may look completely different. It’s all about hormones. Here’s what your body’s problem areas can tell you about your eating habits, stress levels, and hormone imbalances. 

Stomach

woman exercising crunches

Woman working on her problem areas | iStock.com

If you’ve always had a belly, regardless of how much time you’ve dedicated to abdominal exercises and weight loss, your stomach fat may be caused by stress. When you’re stressed, cortisol is released from your adrenal glands prompting the body to build fat around the stomach. In addition to adapting a lower stress lifestyle, you can try balancing the bacteria in your stomach, which when out of balance, can cause bloating. Experiment with cutting out sugars and grains, or even citrus fruits to see if you notice a change. Foods that restore cortisol balance and can flatten your stomach include lean protein, green veggies, sweet potatoes, olives, beets, and avocados.

Arms

woman holding a dumbbell

Woman with strong arms | iStock.com

If you wrestle with flabby arms, it may be due to abnormally high insulin levels or low dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone that produces testosterone and estrogen. High insulin levels can be blamed on eating too much over-processed carbs like fast food, sugary foods, soda, and frozen dinners. Not eating enough protein, fiber, or healthy fats can also trigger overly high insulin levels. On the other hand, low levels of DHEA are often a natural side effect of aging, but can be impacted by high levels of chronic stress. Experiment with natural supplements, mediation, and other forms of stress management.

Thighs

Athletic girl doing the leg press at the gym

Athletic girl doing the leg press at the gym | iStock.com/Creative-Family

If you store excess weight and fat in your thighs, it may be because your oestrogen levels are sky high. Oestrogen or estrogen, develops and maintains a woman’s reproductive structures which means it distributes fat around all your curvy bits — thighs included. You can try to limit the amount of exogenous oestrogen in your body by avoiding soy products, milk, coffee, and foods that come from plastic wrappings or containers.

Love handles

close-up of a woman's upper body as she performs barbell squats

Woman performing weighted squats | iStock.com

Many women are extremely slim but still maintain a thick waist with ample love handles. This physical trait may be a sign that your body isn’t handling insulin well, a problem that can be solved by cutting sugar out of your diet. If you already limit your sugar intake, consider stress as the culprit. Like stomach fat, love handles can be caused by chronic stress. Start a meditation practice and munch on antioxidant rich foods to keep your body clean and calm.

Butt

Woman doing jump squats

Woman doing jump squats | iStock.com

Weight gain in your hips, butt, and hamstrings is blamed on high estrogen and low progesterone. Estrogen levels fluctuate with your menstrual cycle and can be impacted by birth control pills or unmanaged stress. Manage your estrogen levels by reducing your exposure to outside hormones or xenoestrogens, which can be found in factory farmed meat, soap, cosmetics, and plastics. Lifestyle wise, add some extra fiber into your diet and keep an eye on the number of hours you sleep and exercise. Low progesterone, the other cause of this particular form of weight gain, can also be triggered by high levels of chronic stress, but may also be due to low levels of luteinizing hormones or an underactive thyroid.