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Women and body fat

by Bev Short
Women and body fat

I've been a person who worries about whatever I put in my mouth most of my life.  I’ve dieted, counted calories, and starved myself – all in the name of being thin.  At the ripe old age of 50, I realise that thin isn’t in.  Fit, healthy and strong is now the new “thin” and boy, am I glad!  I’m not a naturally thin person.  I have curves and even if I exercised intensely every day and ate very little, I would still have curves.  It’s how I’m made. 



why are women generally curvier than men? 


Why do we seem to have more jiggly bits in all the places we don’t want them, e.g. our thighs and bottoms?  Well, principally, we are genetically designed to carry, and hold on to, extra fat in order to nurture a fetus, to breast feed and to have a backup supply of fat so we can care for our offspring in times of famine.  Not a lot of famine going on in 21st century New Zealand though, and with a poor diet and/or over eating we can end up with a lower body that many of us would like to reduce in size.


Different from men, female hormones also play a part as we produce oestrogen, which acts as a fat storing hormone, resulting in us carrying around 5-6% more body fat than men.  Unfortunately, it’s easier for women to put on body fat and harder for us to lose it.  And that’s where “stubborn fat” and cellulite come in.  Female fat cells, and the structure of our layers of skin, are quite different from males’ and that’s why guys don’t get cellulite and we do.  Saying that, though, 70% of cellulite is caused by lifestyle and 30% by genetics.



So how much fat should we have? 


The “ideal” is between 18 and 25%, which is achievable if you are regularly exercising and eating clean.  Too much body fat, though, can lead to obesity and has serious health consequences for women of any age.  Breast cancer after menopause, infertility and stress incontinence are just a few conditions that are attributable to being overweight and are female-specific.


On the other hand, too little body fat, for example in the case of anorexia and bulimia, can lead to a loss of bone mass plus interruptions in the menstrual cycle.  The body is also forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, resulting in serious medical consequences; heart failure for example.


We need our fat, just not too much.  


Want to reduce your body fat and eliminate your cellulite? 


Start exercising


  • Walking is one of the best ways to slim your thighs and an easy way to begin a fitness routine.  Brisk walking for at least 30 minutes per day (preferably 45 minutes to 1 hour) on a route that will challenge you with ups and downs of inclines and hills.  Ensure you wear a good pair of trainers.


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  • Bodyweight exercises such as squats and lunges can be done at home or in the gym. If you are member of a gym ask a Personal Trainer to help you with the correct technique.



Eat Clean

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  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – more of the latter.
  • Reduce/eliminate your intake of sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake and try to have at least 4 or 5 alcohol free days per week.
  • Drink a lot of water every day and reduce your caffeine intake.  Try herbal teas.  (I’m a recent convert!)
  • Swap your normal iodised table salt for Celtic sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt.



work your way into it


Try not to look at the above tips and think you have to do them all by tomorrow.  Take one at a time and give it a go.  When you’re ready, take another one and so on.  Before you know it these things will have become part of normal daily life for you.  Then, if you nourish your body with the right foods, keep it happy with exercise and have faith in yourself, my belief is that you can learn to accept and appreciate your body for the wonderful machine that it is – imperfections ‘n’ all.



Until next time…




Bev Short is a qualified Personal Trainer, Gorgeous Me photographer and a mum to two teenage daughters.

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