Waist Training – Should You Try It?


Published: June 9, 2015

Health + Wellness

While you’ve likely heard of the growing trend of waist training, chances are you haven’t explored the purported benefits and dangers. The question is – if you have the opportunity to try it – should you?

Let’s take a short journey of discovery focusing on the claims and the facts to help you decide if waist training is right for you.

What is Waist Training?

Waist training, also known as the Corset Diet, is the practice of wearing a corset – beginning with a few hours and working your way up to sixteen hours – with the hope of achieving a tiny waist and a sensual hourglass figure. According to proponents like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, the waist training trend actually reduces the size of your waist permanently given enough time. Other advocates including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jessica Alba and Brooke Burke claim waist training restored their figures to pre-baby shapeliness. The Corset Diet even claims that waist training can secure weight loss up to six pounds per week (though they only guarantee two).

Waist training, while appearing to be a fresh new trend exposed by Hollywood celebrities, is in fact simply wearing a corset (or corset type device), a centuries old practice that originated in the 1500s in Europe. Until that time clothing had been fashioned to fit the body, but with the introduction of the corset, the body was being molded to fit the fashion.

Does waist training really work?

Now when you give it some thought, can wearing a corset really train your waist to shrink? Won’t your body return to its own unique shape once the corset is off? Proponents do claim that wearing a corset makes you sweat (not exactly a pleasant side effect) but can sweating actually trim inches from your waist? There is no doubt that tightly cinching the waist trims and shapes instantly while the corset in in place, but what really happens when it’s removed? And the most important question, even if it works, is it safe for your body? There obviously are reasons that corset wearing fell out of favor following its height in Victorian times, right?

Is it safe?

The medical community, in general, comes down hard against the potential benefits of waist training. Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University, explains that wearing a corset brings discomfort to the point of constrained movement and shortness of breath. Co-Director of Memorial Weight Loss and Wellness Center, Nicole Florence, M.D. agrees. In an interview with Ebony Magazine, Florence explains that waist training not only causes shortness of breath and restricted movement, but actually can restrict organs including the lungs (promoting infection and other issues) and the digestive organs causing reflux, constipation and other problems.

The Doctors agree. Travis Storkharm, M.D. elaborates by explaining that with the corset in place and cinched tightly, the diaphragm is unable to function thus limiting lung function. In addition, the corset won’t allow the core muscles to develop, the very muscles you need for a slim and trim waistline. Jennifer Berman, M.D. concurs, offering that the corset can affect food intake and result in digestive issues that were previously non-existent.

Medical weight experts like Jyotindra Shah, M.D. weigh in on the waist trimming debate, in an interview with The Huffington Post, presenting additional risks such as the bruising of internal organs including the kidneys, liver and spleen while also restricting oxygen intake and lowering the body’s natural metabolism. In agreement, Christopher Ochner, PhD., elaborates in an interview with Marie Claire, that waist training can cause fainting, chaffing and bruising in the short term and constricted lungs, compressed organs and cracked ribs in the long term.

What’s a girl to do?

Let’s face it – the photos of the Kardashian sisters show tiny waists and curvy hourglass figures; but were these actually achieved by waist training alone or by something a bit more traditional – like diet and exercise? The famous sisters’ waist training is admittedly accompanied by intense workouts and exercise with trainer Gunnar Peterson, a dairy-free diet and lots of water.

Brooke Burke is no different, her waist training works alongside the Mediterranean Diet and various exercise routines throughout the week. In addition, Jessica Alba used waist training in conjunction with exercise, lots of water and a healthy diet.

Medical practitioners and health gurus agree – there is no quick fix for weight loss or magical device to a tiny waist. Those tried and true methods of weight loss and body shaping through a healthful diet and ongoing exercise are still the safest, healthiest and surest methods.

Every body is unique and let’s face it – not every one is destined for an hour glass figure – but certainly everyone can strive for a healthier body and a firmer, leaner core. Don’t compromise your health with waist trainers, instead use a waist cincher for those times when you want to look your most smooth and shapely, and focus on health and wellness with a heathy diet and plenty of exercise to look naturally beautiful everyday.

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