Look into a mirror and what do you see? Most of us are never satisfied with what our reflection  – we’re overweight, too skinny, need bigger boobs, need smaller boobs, have a big butt, have a flat butt, have cellulite  … the list of “faults” goes on and on.

Society has a huge influence on what we deem the “perfect” body shape. Throughout history the image of an ideal female body shape has changed. Some of these might even surprise you. At various points in time a buxom, curvy woman was considered ideal, yet in more modern times, she’d be deemed overweight. There was also a period of time when an androgynous, flat body type was fashionable, and women with curves tried to downplay them.

So what exactly determines our body shape? It’s a combo of genetics and circumstance. Here are a few factors:

Bone Structure – Bone structure determines  your widest and smallest areas, and cannot be changed by diet or exercise.

* Body Fat – This impacts the huge variations in female body shapes.  The distribution of body fat can change how a body appears. Hips and waist can widen, as can shoulders.

* Age – Our age can be a culprit as well. When young, females store any excess fat in the thighs and hips, but when estrogen levels drop after menopause, the fat begins to get stores around the waist area, which can cause quite a change in body shape.

Our body shape is, for the most part, determined by things we have no control over. But can we work with what nature, age and eating habits have given us?  We can’t change bone structure, and even though we may wish we could, we can’t change our age.

 So how can you enhance your body shape? Work on your eating habits and incorporate specific exercises. 

 We all know about calories and eating habits, but did you know that there are some exercises that can help balance your body shape?

* The Pear: For women with the typical “pear” shape (excess fat in the thighs and hips), widening the girth of the shoulders and back will help achieve better body balance. Exercise focus should be cycling or walking combined with resistance exercises such as lateral raises and shoulder presses.

* Column: Females with an athletic body build typically have wide waists and shoulder girths, being “straight”, similar to the letter “H”. Using a stepper for cardio exercise can help minimize the waist, while leg presses and squats can creat a more balanced appearance by widening your lower half.

* Long and Lean: Resistance training is needed for women that are long and lean, with chest/hip/waist measurements that are nearly the same. Things such as bench presses, squats and shoulder presses can help build muscle mass and help achieve a balanced appearance.

* Top Heavy: Women with a larger bust and wider shoulders can aim for a more balanced body image by working on the hips and thighs with some squats, treadmill work and leg presses.

* Apple: The “apple-shaped” woman, with the thicker waist and larger bust should focus on a good cardio workout. Because the upper body is wider than the lower half, some resistance work can help build muscle in the legs, which helps achieve the body balance look.

We can’t do much with our basic bone structure, but by building muscle in our “weak” areas, and thinning down the wider parts, you can achieve more balance in your body. Exercise helps achieve the look, but more importantly – it helps get you healthy. A healthy you is an attractive you, regardless of body shape. Start your exercise program, and in a few months take another peek in that mirror – you’ll like what you see!