Have you ever tried on a shirt with a tag that claims “One Size Fits All’? I have, several times actually. I’ve been on both ends of the scale too. I’ve been the person who can’t even get both arms into the (blankety-blanking) shirt to even try pulling it over my head and I’ve been the person standing there laughing as it hangs off of one shoulder because the neck hole is so big I can’t keep it on both shoulders at the same time! Shirts and shoes, like weight loss, are NOT one size fits all. That’s why what works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another person. Why is that?
I have to chuckle to myself when I have someone approach me, usually with a newsstand celebrity spotlight magazine in hand, inquiring which of the exercises sited in the oh-so-resourceful guide in their hands do they really need to do in order to achieve their goal of looking like the spotlighted celebrity in the magazine. There’s more to it than exercise, period. There are actually a handful of variables that have an effect on how you look and feel, though I’m only going to cover four of them in this post; genetics, nutrition, body type and body shape.
First and foremost is genetics. You can only rearrange, rebuild and improve upon what good old Mom and Dad gave you in the first place. In order to look like a certain celebrity, you’d have to have that person’s parents…and really, if you think about it, not even siblings in a family look identical. So to say that your goal is to look exactly like a certain person seems silly. It is not an attainable goal…unless you have the time and money for surgery, well actually more than one surgery. We’re talking surgeries.
The second factor is actually two separate factors but they go hand in hand. Nutrition and exercise. Nutrition and exercise, like genetics, are key. In order to have something good as your end result, you have to put good things into the equation to begin with.
- Nutrition You can’t (or at least 90% of us can’t) eat garbage and look good (and the 10% who can, won’t be able to forever. It will catch up with them eventually). The age old adage that claims “You are what you eat” is absolutely right. If you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. If you eat healthy foods, you’ll feel healthy. Each time I think of this concept, a scene in Toy Story 3 comes to my mind and I find myself smiling! In the scene, Mr. Potato Head has had to use a cucumber instead of his normal potato self to put his assorted parts into. When he is reunited with Mrs. Potato Head, she asks him how he feels to which he replies, “I feel fresh! Healthy! It’s terrible!” (Honestly, I’m not sure which I laughed more at, Mr. Tortilla Head or Mr. Cucumber Head! That and Spanish Buzz were all that kept me awake during the movie).
- Exercise Just like putting healthy food into your body is important, so is requiring your body to work, it’s what we were made to do. We no longer live in the day of the cavemen when food had to be hunted, killed and prepared. All of our ancestors had to work in order to maintain life. Most of us (with some exceptions of course) don’t have to do the kind of work they had to do such as tilling the land, planting crops or taking care of the animals each and every day. We don’t have to build our own houses, dig ditches or (thank heavens) churn butter either. We have automatic washers and dryers instead of a wash board and seemingly endless miles of clothes lines, we have automatic dishwashers instead of tubs full of dirty dishes to wash by hand, refrigerators to keep food cold right in our kitchen instead of ice houses to trek to in the back 40 and electric stove tops to cook on instead of a fire to be built in the fireplace. We are lucky to have these things, but as convenient as they make life, they take the work out of it as well. Rather than turn into a couch potato, hit the gym and put the work back into your life!
The third factor is body type. There are three groups or classifications of body types. While some people fall into one of these three main groups specifically, most people are a combination of two of the groups. The three main groups are endomorphs, mesomorphs and ectomorphs, with common combinations being ecto-mesomorph and endo-mesomorph.
- Endomorphs Endomorphs tend to have bigger bones that the other body types. Endomorphs usually have round faces, larger thighs and hips as well. They usually have arms and legs that appear short and tapering, which gives them a somewhat stocky appearance. Most endomorphs have comparatively small hands and feet accompanied by a high waist. Endomorphs have higher levels of body fat than the other body types, making weight loss much more difficult for them than others outside this body type. However, they can build lean muscle mass much easier than any other body type.
- Mesomorphs Mesomorphs have an athletic build. They are often an hourglass or ruler shape and gain muscle mass easily. Most mesomorphs have broad shoulders and a narrow waist along with a fast metabolism. Mesomorphs lose weight more easily than endomorphs.
- Ectomorphs Ectomorphs have a thin, linear appearance. Most ectomorphs look like rulers, having narrow waists, hips, and shoulders. Ectomorphs can lose weight easily and tend to have low to very low levels of body fat. Though being overweight is not usually an issue for ectomorphs, they have a much harder time gaining lean muscle mass than the other body types.
The fourth factor is body shape. Whether you realize it or not, you have heard of this. Most people fall into one of two groups, though there are three groups in all. Apples, pears and proportioned (ruler or hourglass).
- The apple shape. People in this group store fat in their upper bodies so are generally bigger on the top half of their bodies than on the bottom half. They often have thin hips and a large chest and stomach. Apples tend to gain weight above the waist or along the backside. The apple shape evolved to adapt to long periods of famine. While not perishing in a famine is definitely a plus, fat stored in the upper body can lead to heart disease, so it is extremely important for people in this group to be very health conscious.
- The pear shape. People in this group have larger lower bodies and smaller upper bodies because they store the majority of their fat in the lower body; hips, buttocks and (every girls’ favorite) saddlebags. Pears find that their hips are slightly wider than their shoulders and that when weight is gained it is usually below the waist. Pears usually have small chests, flat stomachs and are women. This shape evolved because fat stored in these specific areas aids in increased fertility and breast-feeding. While this type of fat is not as much of a health risk as the abdominal fat apples store, it is definitely harder to lose. (Great, huh?)
- The proportioned shape. This group of people have fat cells distributed equally throughout their entire body. When they gain weight, they gain it everywhere and when they lose weight, it comes off evenly as well. People who fall into this category are usually termed either rulers or hourglass.
- Rulers have no large differences between the size of their hips, waists, and shoulders. Rulers tend to put on weight in their stomach and backside, while maintaining slender arms and legs.
- Hourglass shaped women have well-proportioned upper and lower bodies, with a distinctive waist. Those who are an hourglass gain weight all over their body, particularly in the hips and chest area.
You may find yourself wondering how body type and body shape combine. Let me shed some light on the subject.
- Most rulers are ectomorphs.
- Most hourglasses tend to be endomorphs or mesomorphs.
- Most pears are mesomorphs.
- Most apples are mesomorphs or endomorphs.
So there you have it. In order to look like Jennifer or Angelina, you’ve got to have genetics, proper nutrition and exercise, body type and body shape on your side…well, either that or a million bucks.