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WAIST TRAINING RESULTS: How long should it take?

 

Here’s a question I receive nearly every day:

“My natural waist is 30 inches, and I just started waist training. How long will it take to see real results, and obtain a natural 24 inch waist?”

 Of course, the exact wording, the numbers, and the goals all vary slightly from person to person. But I will tell you what I tell all of them – and you will not be happy:

I DON’T KNOW. And unfortunately, neither can anyone else. If someone claims that they CAN give you a specific duration of time that you will achieve your waist training goal, they are flat out lying.

If you look at these Before / After Waist Training examples, you will see that people have achieved all kinds of results, in all different durations. Some saw a marked difference in three months, while others achieved less dramatic results over two years. It’s different for everyone.

WHY is this?

The (semi)permanent results of waist training is dependent on a number of factors, including your body’s current state and your genetic pre-disposition, the quality of your corset and its compatibility with your body, and the way you train in your corset. Let’s break those down in further detail:

 

Factor #1: Your body type and current body stats

Abdominal body fat can be subcutaneous or visceral - and they affect your corset training differently.
Abdominal body fat can be subcutaneous or visceral – and they affect your corset training differently.

Your Body Fat

  • Adipose tissue can immediately compress down a lot more than muscle in a corset, but it also bounces back when you remove the corset. Some with a high body fat % are able to cinch down 10 inches in the waist, while someone with very low body fat may only be able to cinch down 2-3 inches.
  • Weight distribution also plays a role. Do you tend to carry more weight in your belly, or do you carry more weight on your hips and thighs? If you do carry weight in your belly, do you have a lot of visceral fat or subcutaneous fat? Subcutaneous fat sits under the skin but above the muscle, and makes your skin soft and malleable. Visceral fat is the more ‘dangerous’ fat that sits under your abdominal muscle, between your organs. Someone with more subcutaneous fat (even over their tummy) will probably have an easier time lacing down than someone with visceral body fat.

Your Muscle Tone

  • Very toned, dense muscles may be more difficult to cinch down compared to less toned muscles, BUT if you time your workouts well, you can actually use your resistance exercise regimen to your advantage in waist training to change the morphology of your oblique muscles and have them almost “grow” into the hourglass shape encouraged by the corset. Also, once you get to higher reductions, you have to “stretch” those side muscles, and also the tendons and ligaments. Some people’s bodies seem to more readily accommodate to this than other people’s bodies.

 Your Skeletal Frame

  • Do you have wider ribcage or smaller ribcage? Are your ribs flexible and are you able to accommodate corsets with a conical ribcage easily, or is your ribcage very inflexible and difficult to move? Those who are easily able to train their ribs are likely to see faster waist training results than those whose ribs are very rigid. My article on the corset’s effect on the skeleton goes into more detail about this.

Your Age

  • More mature waist trainers have bones that are not only less dense, but less malleable compared to younger trainers. For more information on how age can affect your corseting, see my article on waist training and age restrictions.

 Your Organs

  • When you look at human anatomy in a textbook, you’re seeing a general “average” of the size and orientation of organs. But not everyone’s organs look like that! Some people have larger organs, some have smaller organs. Even the position and orientation of organs can very slightly differ between individuals, and that small variation might make a huge difference in how well your body can accommodate the restriction of a corset. For further information, see my article on corsets and organs.

Your Water Retention

  • What’s your water content like? If you are often bloated or have water retention, either due to your lifestyle or because of a medical condition, you not only won’t be able to lace down as much or as readily, but you have more of that “temporary squish” to you as opposed to contributing to that “long term training”.

Whether You’ve Been Pregnant Before

  • Have you had a baby before or not? While this point is a bit more anecdotal, it seems that mothers are (on average) able to lace down more readily/ more comfortably/ to higher reductions compared to nulliparous women. Maybe this has to do with the fact that the baby had moved around a woman’s organs (especially in the final trimester), or the relaxin in your system during pregnancy had stretched out some tendons and ligaments already, or the woman was already accustomed to the feeling of restriction or breathing higher up in the chest, so she may be psychologically more comfortable with the feeling of being corseted. Read more about corsets after childbirth.

 

Factor #2: Your Corset

This corset has a conical ribcage, and will be more effective at training the ribcage.
This corset has a conical ribcage, and will be more effective at training the ribcage compared to a rounded ribcage.

Proper Fit

  • Is your corset comfortable? Does your corset fit you properly: when you lace down, does it reduce only the waist, and is it lying flat and gently supporting your upper ribcage and your hip area? Is your corset gap straight or uneven? Or is the corset overall not curvy enough: and is it giving you muffin top, pinching your hips or causing any lower tummy pooch to spill out underneath? A well-fitting corset is not only more effective at shaping, but it’s also much more comfortable, so you’ll be encouraged to wear it longer and more often.

 Strength

  • Is the corset strong? Does it hold up to the tension without buckling? Are the seams securely stitched? Are the bones creating a proper scaffold and not digging into your body? Are the grommets holding in? Having to put your training on hold – not because you want to, but because your corset breaks every 2 months and you have to replace it – is not cost effective and it’s not time-effective. If you’re in this for the long haul, invest in something strong and custom. See my article on Waist Training vs Tight Lacing, which also covers different requirements of a suitable corset for each.

Silhouette

  • Is the corset the right silhouette to do the right job? If you want to train your ribcage, you might need a conical ribcage corset, which gradually tapers down and increases the pressure on the lower ribcage. A corset with a mild silhouette or with a corset with a rounded ribcage will give you a different effect. Be sure that the corset you are using is designed to do for you what you want. You can’t force a round peg through a square hole and expect a triangle to come out.

 

Factor #3: Your Lifestyle Habits and Training Methods

I demonstrate a bicycle crunch, one of the staples of my daily core workout.
I demonstrate a bicycle crunch, one of the staples of my daily core workout.

 Supplementary Exercise

  • Are you exercising alongside your waist training? Adding or increasing core resistance training can help you see results faster by encouraging your muscles to “heal” in a certain way. Even if you have no intention of losing weight (you only use a corset to see a change in your silhouette), exercise is still important! If you don’t add some core resistance training, your torso may see some shaping from the corset, but it may be squishy and complacent, and not hold that hourglass shape as well as if you were combining it with resistance training.

 Eating

  • Are you eating clean? Are you getting enough fiber so that you stay regular when corseting? Are you avoiding foods that you know can cause bloating or discomfort in your corset? Are you having regular small balanced meals, or are you the type to fast and then feast? Corseting over a large meal can be uncomfortable and difficult, and the quality of that meal also counts. You don’t necessarily need a specific diet for waist training, but eating sensibly goes a long way.

Drinking

  • Are you staying hydrated? Are you getting a lot of clean water or tea? Are you keeping your electrolytes balanced (this ties in with water retention). Are you watching your blood pressure (which relates to your blood volume)? Do you take in a lot of caffeine or other diuretics, and are you making sure that your water intake balances that out?

Duration of your corset wear (and reduction)

  • To get the best results in a corset, you have to use it. What method of waist training are you using? There is Romantasy’s “Roller Coaster” method, and there is the Contour Corsets “Cycle” Method (see the differences between the two waist training methods). Some people use a combination of both, or they may try a different method altogether. Some people consider waist training as wearing their corset only 8 hours a day while they’re out working. Others waist train by only wearing a corset to bed at night. Some people wear their corsets 12 or 16 hours a day, and a few very dedicated ones wear their corset 23 hours a day.
  • The body responds best to consistency – for reasons I’ll explain in an upcoming article, you’ll probably see more results (and more comfortably!) if you wear a corset at a light or moderate reduction for long hours, as opposed to tightlacing or overlacing your corset for an hour and then not wearing it again for a few days.

Let’s use an infomercial exercise program as a metaphor for waist training expectations. Many exercise programs say that you CAN lose UP TO 20 lbs per month (as an example), but read the small print and you find that these results are not typical. Many of these programs are also backed up with a guarantee that with proper compliance to the program, you will see some kind of result (often within 60 or 90 days) or your money back.

But you will notice that they do not guarantee a certain number of inches lost, because people have different bodies, different fitness levels, different levels of compliance. It’s the same with a waist training program.

Ann Grogan (of Romantasy) offers the only corset training program I currently know of – in her some 25 years of working with waist trainers and 14 years officially coaching, she is able to confidently say that with her 3-month waist training program, you’re likely to see some noticable results in your natural waist with proper compliance to the program (the program covers a lot of factors: the type of corset you’re using, the reduction, the hours, the foods you eat, the exercises you do, etc). But since each program is personalized based on goals, each person’s compliance is different and each person’s body accommodates their corset differently, it’s still very difficult to precisely predict how many inches you’ll lose, or how fast.

What I have found is the highest indicator of success is whether you actually enjoy wearing your corset and find it completely comfortable. If you practice patience, and wear your corset consistently (and ironically, not be overly attached to your end goal), you are likely to see more results over time than someone who is less patient and is only corseting for the end result. But I will cover that in another article soon.

Do you currently waist train, or did you train in the past? How long did it take you to see results? Let me know in a comment below!

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Reflections on 2013, and looking to 2014

Dear friends,

Please forgive another somewhat “selfish” personal post. Exactly one year ago today, I wrote a blog entry summarizing my big milestones in 2012. Today, I would like to look back to the highlights that LucyCorsetry has seen in 2013, and give a preview of what’s to come in 2014.

2013 was without a doubt my busiest year in the corsetry world so far. Come January 5th, this website will be 2 years old, and I’ll have been on Youtube for a little over 3 years. If you had asked me 3 years ago what I’d accomplish and what I’d be doing today, I’d have never believed you. Read on for more:

Continue reading Reflections on 2013, and looking to 2014

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Setting waist training goals – focusing on proportion

Back in 2010, I made a two-part video mini-series on waist training 101 – the basics that you should know before you start any corset training regimen. The very first thing I mentioned in those videos were setting goals for yourself – what waist size would you like to have, and why? Sometimes a beginner will tell me, “I want to have a 24 inch waist.” Well, do you want that to be your corseted measurement, or your natural measurement? One takes much more work than the other. (I had mentioned in a previous video that if you want a natural 24″ waist, you may have to lace down to 20″ or even less in the corset to be able to maintain that natural waist measurement.)

I also know women who have started out close to a 34″ waist, and want to be able to close an 18″ corset. While that’s certainly aiming for the stars and I don’t want to shoot down your dreams, it will likely take you several years and several corsets to properly train down to that point. Also, have you considered what an 18″ waist would like like on your frame? An 18″ waist may look out of place if you are 5’10” and 180 lbs. But for a petite woman who is 4’11” tall and weighs perhaps 100 lbs, an 18″ waist may not look out of place at all on this  woman. Instead of focusing on arbitrary numbers for your waist training goals, perhaps you should consider proportion instead as a way to determine your ultimate corseted goal. Below you’ll see a few examples (or you can just watch the video above to learn the same ratios):

Method A: The waist circumference = 0.7 x (hip circumference)

 

Excellent example of where to measure your waist and full hip to determine your ratio. Picture from HealthCentral.com

This equation has been touted by doctors and athletes for years as being the modern accepted “healthy” and “attractive” waist-to-hip proportion. Women with a natural waist below 0.7x(hip circumference) often have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, as it’s often a marker of carrying less visceral fat (the fat that physically chokes the organs in the peritoneal cavity, and is also metabolically more active than subcutaneous fat, releasing hormones that can lead to metabolic abnormalities). If a woman with a 40″ hip circumference were to calculate her goal waist based on this equation, then her goal waist circumference would be 0.7 *(40 inches) = 28 inches.

Method B: The waist circumference = your thigh circumference

Whether this goal is reasonable/ attainable often depends on your body shape. I have seen many pear-shaped women with shapely thighs (likely between 25-30 inches in circumference) because they gain their weight in their hips, thighs and bottom, often leaving the waist naturally small. In this situation, this method may be quite attainable. However if you are naturally an apple shape and you have a tendency to gain around your middle, while having thin legs and thighs (close to 16-20″ in circumference), this may not be the best goal for you.

Method C: The width of your hips = 1.618 x (your waist width)

This is likely the oldest equation. It’s based on phi, (aka the Golden Mean, formed from the Fibonacci sequence) and it is the ratio/ proportion that animals and humans alike are able to innately detect. This proportion is seen everywhere from the crest of waves and the form of a spiral galaxy, to the seeds in a sunflower and the honeycombs of bees. The closer that a person’s proportions adhere to the Golden Mean, the more attractive they appear and the healthier they seem to be overall. When it comes to setting your goals in this manner, you will need a stiff measuring tape, ruler or pair of calipers, and a mirror or someone to take your picture because this proportion is based on the planar measurement (the width of your hips while facing head-on) rather than the circumference. A woman whose hips are 14 inches wide will calculate their waist width as such:

Waist width = (14 inches)/ 1.618 = 8.7 inches.

With corsets, many of them pull the sides of the waist in primarily, bringing the waist in from an “oblong” shape more towards a proper circle. If you imagine that the waist is a perfect circle, then the width of the waist is also the diameter. From this, you can calculate your goal waist circumference if you wish = (8.7 inches)x 3.14 = 27 inches.

 In this situation, the waist measurement for methods A and C are actually pretty similar, but on you it may not be – method C would depend on how much of your hip circumference is distributed from side-to-side (i.e. hips or “saddlebags”), vs distributed front to back (in a full low-hanging tummy or a protruding bottom).

If you don’t like to crunch numbers, then you can simply invest in a “Fibonacci Gauge” or Golden Mean calipers, which are made with 3 “prongs” – no matter how wide or narrow you hold the calipers, the width of the larger gap in the prongs will always = (width of the smaller gap in the prongs x 1.618) so you will always be able to measure and mark out the Golden Mean. On any given day, no matter what your weight, you can use these calipers to mark out the width of your hips, and then compare that to the width of your waist using strictly proportion, but without having to focus on numbers. I personally love numbers, which is why I find the study of phi so fascinating, but I understand it’s not everyone’s thing. This Ebay store has the least expensive calipers I have found – I’ve already purchased 3 and given two to my friends. Do support a phi carpenter if you can.

So you can see, there are many ways that you can set waist training goals for yourself, using your own body’s shape and frame as a reference rather than using arbitrary numbers (which may or may not be realistic for you). It’s using what you already have to an advantage so you can know on a mathematical (and also a natural, almost subconscious) level, whether your waist is truly in proper balance and proportion with the rest of your body. You can also watch my video on waist-hip proportions and using the calipers in the video below.

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Enjoying the Corseting Journey and Adjusting Goals

This article is a summary of the video “Corset for YOURSELF: You must ENJOY the Process (+Screw the Naysayers)”. If you would like more complete information feel free to watch the video, available on Youtube here:

*****

Enjoying the Journey of Corseting

“How long will it take me to reach my goal waist, and can I stop corset training once I reach that goal?”

This is a question I receive with disturbing regularity. When I made my previous video, “Permanent Waist Reduction“, I said that once you reach your goal you have to maintain your new small waist by corseting occasionally. This isn’t unique to corsetry. If you go on a diet and lose weight, you still have to eat well and do maintenance exercise to keep your body at that goal weight. If you want to run a marathon, you have to train yourself up to that level – but once you can run one marathon, there’s no guarantee that you can continue to run marathons for the rest of your life if you never practice your running again. Usually, runners run because they enjoy it. Corseters wear corsets because they also enjoy it.

That is why I say that if you really hate the thought of putting on your corset each day, then waist training is probably not for you. This may sound harsh, but if you are honest with yourself about this, it can save you from wasted time, money, effort and tears.

If this is your case, try to think of why you don’t like wearing your corset:

  • Is your corset low quality? Do the bones poke at you; does it pinch your hips or “crush” your chest?
  • Are you trying to reduce your waist too small, and too quickly?
  • Do you generally have claustrophobia? Do you have a problem with having your mobility hindered, even just a little bit?

There are solution to all of these problems, IF you would like to continue corset training. In the first situation, you require a better quality corset, preferably custom fit. This can solve a multitude of issues, and transform your corseting experience from one of fidgeting in pain, to one of a pleasant and supportive hug.

In the second situation, this is obviously user error and you will enjoy wearing a corset much more if you simply slow down, practice some patience and go at a pace that allows your body to respond to the corset instead of resisting it.

In the third situation, you may find it useful to start with a much smaller cincher like the WKD Baby corset, or even start with a wide belt to get you used to having pressure on your waist before you move onto a full corset. There are also front-lacing corsets that you can use if your issue is not being able to reach the laces behind you. There are flexible sport-mesh corsets which allow more mobility than ones made from traditional coutil.

Again, this is only IF you would still like to try waist training again, even after your negative experience with it. Many people decide that corsets are not for them and give them up entirely – that doesn’t necessarily reflect a failure; it only shows that this world would not be so wonderful if we all liked the same thing. But before you say “never again”, do reflect a bit and ask yourself why.

When you enjoy the journey, the process of corset training simply for the sake of wearing a corset, then you find you’re able to wear the corset more often and for more hours each time – which will result in optimal progress toward your waist training goals. You also become less discouraged by fallbacks.

As a comparison – when you’re hiking, it’s a much more enjoyable experience to take your time and enjoy all the various views, learn about all the flora and fauna, and maybe sit by the creek and enjoy a picnic on your way to the top of the hill. Even if you don’t reach the top of the hill (your goals), you will have at least enjoyed your experience and made positive memories, compared to the person who tried to keep their head down and run to the top of the hill, instead twisting their ankle halfway up and never having enjoyed the process from the beginning.

For a more applicable example: when I was sick with a respiratory infection for 1.5 months, I could not corset at all for that time, as I needed my lower ribcage free to clear my airways when I cough. During that 1.5 months, I lost about 2 inches of progress in my corseting. I used to be able to cinch below 23″ and at this time I can only corset to a little under 25″. But I am fine with this. I corset because I like the “hug” of it, and it makes me feel good about myself regardless of a two inch difference. When I couldn’t corset, it was the feeling of it that I missed, more than the figure-shaping aspect itself.

It is also important to figure out a corseting schedule that fits your daily life. If you like to sleep in your corset, then go ahead and sleep in your corset! I personally don’t like to wear a corset to bed, so I don’t. Would I get more progress in waist reduction if I did sleep in a corset? Most likely, yes. However I didn’t need to do this in the past, so I don’t feel that I need to do this now. If you don’t enjoy wearing a corset at any time, don’t wear it. Simple as that. Taking a day off from corseting or not sleeping in your corset does not make you lazy, weak-willed or undisciplined. Remember that we’re talking about an article of clothing and it’s not the end of the world.

Goals:

While it is always good to set goals for ourselves, remember to be a) patient and b) realistic in these goals. If you are starting with a 40″ waist, it is not realistic to set a goal to achieve an 18″ waist within 6 months. You are not in a race with anyone, and you MUST take into consideration your body’s limits. I would not personally recommend reducing your waist more than one inch per month, and once you get to a certain reduction you may find that you are only able to cinch 1/2″ or 1/4″ per month.

You may also find that your goals change over time. About 18 months ago I mentioned that my goal waist was 20 inches, corseted. These days I think that a 20″ waist would be “nice to have” but it is not something I am fixated on. If my body is unable to ever achieve a 20″ waist, I wouldn’t be devastated and I wouldn’t stop corseting out of dejection. I simply love corseting for the sake of it. (Update April 2013: I did achieve the coveted 20″ waist, with the help of my Contour Corset and Puimond underbust – and once I did, I decided that I actually preferred how I look at 22″! Such is life).

Now I do realize that many people seem to think that corseting is a social activity, but I feel the need to remind some that it is not. Corseting and waist training is in fact a very personal activity – only the individual corseter really knows how it feels to be in their body, in that particular corset, at that particular time. If you feel at home wearing a corset and you come across someone who is trying to convince you that it must be the most excruciating thing in the world, simply dismiss that person. Conversely, if you feel that you only want to (or are only able to) corset to a certain size, and you come across someone who tries to bully you into cinching to a smaller size, avoid that person too. You are responsible for your own body, and when it really gets down to it, only you can truly control your laces.