Diet strategy: Think high complex carbohydrates loaded with fiber and antioxidants and moderate healthy fats, including canola oil, olive oil and omega-3 fats. That means avoid foods made with white flour and sugar and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grain foods. Choose olive oil instead of butter or margarines. Avoid all products made with partially hydrogenated oils -- those are the dangerous trans fats, which increase the risk of heart disease.
Exercise strategy: Walk a minimum of 30 minutes over the course of each day to burn apple-zone visceral fat.
Medical monitoring: Get regular tests for blood pressure, total, HDL and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. Save copies of your test results.
Secret sabotage: too much STRESS and not enough SLEEP -- they add inches to your waist!
My final tip: Release guilt! Your body shape is not your fault. We are all born with a genetic propensity to have a particular body shape. Full-figured, pear-shaped women will never have slender thighs, and apple-shaped women will never have an hourglass shape or washboard abs -- it is simply not possible, no matter how much you exercise or diet. Plus, there are some very real body shape changes toward a more apple shape that normally occur after each pregnancy and at menopause.
Nature, it seems, is determined to eventually make apple shapes of us all.
To learn more about the importance of body shape, visit www.DrSavard.com.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments.
Dr. Marie Savard is an ABC News medical contributor. Savard's most recent book is "Apples and Pears: The Body Shape Solution to Weight Loss and Wellness."