The mirror doesn't lie ... but it might not tell the whole truth

Q. I'm a woman, 5-foot-7 and 130 pounds, 46 years old. I've been going to the gym faithfully for a year and have some nice definition in my abs. But I have a weird problem: My sides look very different.

When I stand squarely in front of the mirror, I can plainly see that my left side has an hourglass shape. My right side has more of a boyish shape, without much of a curved-in waist.

Does the hourglass left side mean that I have a muffin top of fat on that side below the waist? Or does that hourglass side mean that my waist there is more toned and I should do extra work on the right side?

I don't want to do extra reps on the wrong side and make the imbalance even worse.

A. Fat can be sneaky, but I find it hard to believe you can't figure out whether you have a muffin top poking out of your waistband. Believe this: You put on jeans and you know.

If there is extra jiggle peeking out on one side of your waist — not so unusual, because humans are rarely perfectly symmetrical — you're in the same position as anyone who wants to spot-reduce.

Exercise more and watch your diet to make weight come off all over, and maybe then you'll know which side was carrying the additional baggage.

Also consider that you may not be standing as squarely as you believe. Tom Brose, the manager of City Fitness in Washington, D.C. thinks your issue could be interior rather than exterior.

"There could be a hip imbalance, or your pelvis could be tilted without you knowing it," he suggests.

As for upping the reps for an exercise on one side of the body, that makes sense only if one side is stronger than the other — which also is not unusual. But that's more likely to happen because you favor one arm or leg over a period of years, not from accidentally doing a couple more oblique crunches on your left side.

Brose recommends doing the same number of reps for every exercise on both your left and your right to keep yourself balanced. "Just work the weaker side first," he says.

Share This Story