“Back Fat”

I’m not a fan of talking about “fat.”  I think our culture is a little obsessed with it.  I try to steer clear of social expectations when it comes to wellness in my own personal life and this space is no different.  But, I am breaking one of my own rules and mentioning it today because of something a client asked this week.

One of my long-time clients asked me how to reduce her “back fat.”  She pointed to the bulge surrounding her bra on her back.  She said that since she went through menopause, it has increased and nothing seems to work on it.

I’ll tell you what I told her.  Then, I will tell you what I should have told her.

Be properly fitted for a really terrific bra.

If, when you put your shirt on over your bra in the morning, your “girls” don’t look fabulous, you need to get a new bra.  Yes, it can be pricey.  Yes, they require special care when laundering.  But why would you spend oodles of money on clothes that go on top of your “foundation” garments, only to have what’s underneath bulge and sag?

If you are in Atlanta, make an appointment at Intimacy now.  (They are also in other major cities, so check their site for the store nearest you.)  You will spend more on bras than you ever imagined possible, but if you care for your garments properly, they should last a long time.

There is no such thing as spot reduction.

If I could figure out how to carve the fat from just one part of a person’s body, I would be a gajillionaire.  How to spot reduce is a question I get about once a month and my reply is always the same.  It can’t be done.  You can work to lean out your body generally and you can plump up the muscle underneath the area of fat that concerns you, but you can’t just carve out the fat from that one area.

For the “bra bulge” area, I suggested one-arm bent-over rows (which can be done with either a weight or resistance tubing.)  I also suggested lat pull-downs, which can be accomplished with either a pull-down machine or resistance tubing but not with free weights.  (This client travels a great deal for work and wants to be able to use resistance tubing when traveling.)

OK, so that’s what I said to her.

And here’s what I should have said to her.

If you are not using your body the way it was designed to be used, then start doing that now.  It matters.

So, in fairness to me, I did actually start down this road with her.  I reminded her of what I tell them in class that if you are not firing glutes when you walk, you are likely to see some degradation of the tissues of your posterior that you don’t enjoy.

But, and I have a tendency to do this, that answer only focused on the lower part of her body.  I neglected to mention that not engaging our upper body in a natural, functional way regularly can also have consequences.

As the women in my stroller workout class can attest, I’ve become a little obsessed with natural movement for the upper body of late.  We hang from monkey bars, we swing from trees.  Our kids stare at us wide-eyed.  “Why does Mommy get to have all the fun?”

If our present-day sedentary lives cause dysfunction and atrophy in our lower bodies, then one can only imagine the havoc that said lifestyles wreak on our upper bodies.  Our lats, shoulders, traps, rhomboids … they were all designed to move and be challenged in many planes with varying pressures.

So, what I should have told this client is that she needs to start hanging as much as she can.  She needs to incorporate pull ups, arm hangs, and plain old tree climbing into her lifestyle as much as possible.  We recently installed a chin up bar in our home so that the kids and I can “hang around” together.  I was a monkey-bar-averse kid, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

I can’t promise my client that her “back fat” will go away.  But, worst-case-scenario, she will have stronger, more functional, healthier tissues as a result.

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