The following article, about a recent study showing body shape impacts kidney function, is noteworthy for not just its thoroughness for the science behind it but for its use of two terms that have fallen out of favor: apple and pear, as in shape: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-virgin/body-shape-metabolism_b_3390774….
I bring this up because its worth remembering that sometimes common vernacular has a purpose that science often forgets as it poses to be above the common.
You see, as the reporter notes here, the old phrases of apple and pear shapedness were used by the actual researcher him/herself. it was not the lay reporter trying to make hay or headlines by using terms that are out of favor. It was the scientist.
Now, to review the meanings of these terms, Let’s simplify matters. When you eat or drink more calories than you use or burn off, you store those calories as fat. If you eat the right amount of calories relative to what you use esp in motion, you build muscles or cardiovascular soundness. There are two basic types of fat – white or brown. The latter is what’s called metabolically active. That is, it actually participates in functions throughout the body and can be called upon to provide energy should you need it for activity. It’s the white fat that tends to be both a marker of and instigator to inflammation.
Ironically, while we tend to store excess fat everywhere, fat that is stored in the belly, deep down, viscerally, is the more dangerous type, more a marker of inflammation than that stored around the hips and thighs. Hence, people with big bellies are called ‘apple-shaped’ and those with wide hips and thighs are called ” pear-shaped.” Those apples are at higher risk for insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. This study concluded that this belly fat is more likely to contribute to kidney disease. While not giving solace to those many women, and even some men, who are pears, this model confers greater health benefits and longevity to those who store fat around the butt and thighs.
I bring this up because so many people are so stuck on their body shape – yes, I know, I’ve ranted enough about this issue but bear with me at least this one more time – that they fail to accept who they are even if they begrudgingly accept what they are: fat around the butt and thighs. women, being more prone to this shape, and being more apt to be unhappy with their bodies, are all the time seeking ways to slim it down, as if somehow some miraculous exercise or program can do that without both changing how you eat and who your parents and grandparents are/were. You see, it’s not just a storage depot issue; it’s also a genetic one.
Some of us are blessed with bodies that fit the mold of whatever gender we affiliate.
You see, I started lifting weights overhead when I was about 12 in the what I’ve since learned vain attempt to have big broad shoulders like Charles Atlas on the inside cover of my comic books. While I did get pretty damn strong and built pretty solid for a little guy, I never did get the V-shape I so admired by men and women alike. Here, 48 yrs later, weighing about 8 lbs less than when I was in jr high and still fairly toned, my shoulders are no bigger – tho a lot more worn out – and my waist is about 2 inches bigger. Given a few years of sedentary living, who knows? Maybe I could be apple shaped, too. you see, my dad is build this way, as was grandpa, and I’m sure others. we can put on a gut but we can’t put on a wider shoulder girdle.
Likewise, many women, clients, family, girlfriends, complain of their wide hips and thick thighs only to have to come face to face with the facts that even if they lost some of that extra fat, they would still be larger in those areas than they’d like. Not being delicate, I am often the bearer of such sad news.
Now, granted you can lose weight – properly or not- and diminish sizes of various body part, but you can’t call the shots; nature will. Some will lose from the face, breasts, chests, butts, etc. Even that is most likely pre-determined genetically. Studies do show that interval training does get to the visceral fat better than other forms of exercise and maybe even diet. It is about time we all look in the mirror, one of the clearest and simplest if not cheapest forms of feedback, and come to grips with who we are. Like the Army ad, ‘be the best that you can be’, we would all be better off just by trying even if we never can succeed. Then, when we see that body in the mirror, we can smile with pride that we’ve done what we can with the clay we were given, and call it ‘fine art’….