Lean Legs 101

We now know that your hormones affect where your fat is stored, and when it comes to thundering thighs, an excess of estrogen could well be the major culprit.

Estrogen is more commonly known as the female sex hormone and it is essential for female health. However, if we have too much circulating estrogen or what we term “estrogen dominance”, it can lead to poor health and promote weight gain, specifically in the lower body.  That’s right ladies, I’m telling you that all that excess junk in your trunk may not be entirely your fault.

Aside from genetics, that typical “pear shape” is not just due to the estrogen that you produce yourself, but has been correlated with exposure to xeno-estrogens (environmental estrogens and toxins) in the very food you eat, the water you drink, the medications and cosmetics you use, the contraceptive pill and today’s polluted environment.

On the bright side, it is possible to start rebalancing your hormones, and leaning out your legs, using training protocols, nutrition strategies and lifestyle adjustments. 

1. Reduce your intake of sugar, alcohol, refined and processed foods and starchy high glycemic index carbohydrates.  At the most basic level, excess sugar is stored as fat, and when it comes to the female form, we have an abundance of fat cells on our hips and thighs. Remember that saying “once on the lips, twice on the hips”, well, it aint far wrong. 

2. Include weights as part of your training program. Use a circuit style of high reps (12-20), moderate weight (you should struggle on the last 2 reps) and low rest (30-45 secs).  For fans of spin classes, I’m about to ruin your day, as research has shown that spinning can actually increase the intramuscular fat stores in the legs (to avoid this, make sure you set the resistance high)!  If you want to decrease the “size” of your thighs, and you have no prior injuries, then run.  I have found a combination of weight training, HIIT and hot yoga to be particularly effective for women.

3. Minimise your exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants.  Detox your home. Go au natural with your cosmetics and household products (check out www.ewg.org to find out how toxic your favorite brands are), don’t reheat your food in plastic containers, stay away from soy products, and try to stay away from pesticides, synthetic hormones and antibiotics by buying organic produce and wild or grass-fed fish and meat.

4. Support your digestive system. You need it working efficiently to effectively detox your body. Learn to love your cruciferous veges (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage and bok choy) which contain compounds that draw out excess estrogens, and include plenty of fiber, especially flaxseeds, which will bind to and eliminate the waste products. 

5. Support your liver and your detoxification channels using alternative body treatments like acupuncture, lymphatic drainage massage, Epsom salts baths, body brushing and infra-red saunas.  Drinking plenty of water is important for flushing out toxins, and dandelion and green tea are great additions to your daily fluid intake.  Try starting the day with a glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice.  Hot yoga is a great restorative practice to include 1-2 x week as the heat and twisting movements improve circulation and digestion.

6. Use natural supplementation to assist in blocking, binding and excreting excess estrogens.  I have found a combination of DIM, Calcium D-Glucarate, Magnesium, Multi Vitamin, Probiotics, B Vitamins and Vitamin C to make up a really solid foundation, not only for general health and wellbeing but also when it comes to estrogen dominance.  However, ALWAYS check with your GP first and remember that supplementation is exactly that - it is designed to SUPPORT good nutrition and lifestyle habits.