Tuesday 10 May 2022

Ask The Expert: Marla Ahlgrimm On Women’s Body Shapes

Marla Ahlgrimm
As a retired women’s healthcare entrepreneur with more than four and a half decades of experience, Marla Ahlgrimm is often asked about everything from weight loss to why women’s breasts are not the same size. One such question revolves around body shape. 
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, women’s bodies actually come in all shapes and sizes. However, there are four primary body styles. These are rectangle, triangle, hourglass, and round. While there are many variations among these, the vast majority of women fall into one of these categories. 
Rectangle. Women with a rectangular body shape have shoulders, hips, and a waist that are within just a few percentages of the same width. This type of body is not particularly curvy, but tends to distribute weight proportionately, meaning a few pounds does not usually affect their overall appearance or the way clothing fits. 
Triangle. Within the scope of the triangular body shape, there is the pear, which features large hips, a medium-size waist, and relatively small breasts. On the opposite spectrum of the triangle is the apple, explains Marla Ahlgrimm. This body style features wide shoulders, a narrower waist, and even thinner hips. 
Hourglass. We are all familiar with Marilyn Monroe’s famous hourglass figure, and many of us are likely envious of our perfectly-proportioned friends. A woman with an hourglass figure has proportionately large hips and breasts and a small, well-defined waist. Marla Ahlgrimm says that women with an hourglass figure also tend to have rounded shoulders and voluptuous buttocks. The vast majority of clothing is designed with the hourglass figure in mind. A woman with a top-heavy hourglass figure has proportionately larger breasts than hips. 
Round. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, a rounded body features a fuller stomach. Women with a rounded body (sometimes also called a diamond) gain weight in their midsection more easily. Unfortunately, of all of the body types, those with a round shape are most affected by the dangers of belly fat. Belly fat can surround the internal organs, and it is a leading risk factor for everything from diabetes to heart disease and certain forms of cancer. 
What Causes Variations? 
Marla Ahlgrimm explains that women’s body shape is not determined by any single factor. Instead, the shape of a woman’s body is dictated by a combination of things, including genetics and hormones. The latter of these can also cause a woman’s body shape to change throughout her lifetime. 
One hormone that can affect body shape is cortisol. The stress hormone can cause a woman to suddenly gain weight in her belly and back, which can turn even a “perfect” hourglass figure into a round body style. Cortisol is triggered by both physical and emotional stress, which Marla Ahlgrimm says can be caused by any number of problems. 
Thyroid issues can also change a woman’s shape by significantly altering her size or creating a pattern of up-and-down weight gain and loss, respectively. Liver function decline can also affect body shape. Both men and women with a hard, rounded belly may actually be presenting with symptoms of ascites, which happens when the liver struggles to process blood into nutrients. 
Marla Ahlgrimm
Marla Ahlgrimm further explains that a pear shaped body on a woman who has never been bottom heavy before might be the result of an estrogen overload. Low progesterone, slow digestion, and even chemicals within a woman’s environment that mimic estrogen can all cause weight gain in the hips, thighs, and lower belly. 
Ultimately, Marla Ahlgrimm suggests that women who are concerned about their body shape or size speak with their primary health care physician. While a healthcare provider can’t make someone taller or change their bone structure, they can recommend diet and exercise changes that may help a woman reshape her own body and gain control over her health.

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