Hello friends! Today I’d like to talk about loose skin.
Loose extra skin is something that commonly happens when a human body becomes significantly smaller in a relatively short period of time. In my case, that loose skin is something I acquired after losing more than 100lbs of spare body fat. More than two years after the majority of my physical changes, I still have a considerable excess.
Your skin is a living organ. It needs a lot of time and effort to change, and it often can’t keep up with changes happening in the rest of your body. Pictured above is a common example of what that can look like. Dramatic fat loss often results in loose skin and deposits of empty fat cells, like you can see around my belly button. I’ve got wrinkles. I’ve got stretch marks. It’s not as loose as it was maybe a year ago, but I’ll probably always have skin loose enough to grab and move around like an ill-fitting garment.
The photo above is the way my midsection looks when my body is around 15-20% body fat, aka the “Athlete” range - a range where another female body may start showing “defined abs”. I will never have defined abs, I may never have a “cut” physique no matter how fit I am. My skin will most likely never “tighten” completely. All the healthy eating and athletic training in the world can only take me up to a certain point. The reality is that I have taken my waist size from 50+ inches in 2011 to 28 inches in 2014, and the skin itself can only recover so much. Surgery to remove excess skin from the entire body (belly, back, arms, legs, butt) can cost upwards of $25,000, and I know I will never have that money. (Nor can I continue dropping bodyfat in a vain attempt to “cure” the skin, as I lost my period and a lot of my hair last time it went that far, so don’t even say it.) My loose skin is not unhealthy or a flaw or a failure, but it something I am emotionally self-conscious about. Fortunately… it has absolutely no bearing on my actual level of physical fitness. And in my level of physical fitness, I have the utmost confidence.
**shit gets real**
Just because I don’t have a “flat stomach” or “visible abs” at a bodyfat percentage where another woman may look like a fitness model, does not mean I am not fit. I am fit as fuck. Loose skin doesn’t change the fact that I have muscles of steel under jiggly arm skin and a wrinkly tummy. An ultra-lean physique is not the definitive indicator of one’s fitness level. I’ll never talk down to someone who has such aesthetic goals (yeah it’s nice and I’m not denying you do have to work for it), but I certainly do encourage everyone to make goals based around ability rather than appearance! After all, you don’t really know what your body is going to look like a few months or years from now, but you sure as hell should respect what you have trained your body to do, regardless of whether you can see your abs or not.
I am learning to love my body. I’m learning to love it not “despite” all the sags and wrinkles and weird skin blobs, but “because of” and including all of those things. My body has a story to tell. And even though I’ll never see a six-pack, that core is made of iron and sinew. Those arms and legs are powerful. That butt is a fucking battleship. And even though I look at myself naked in the mirror some days and struggle not to confuse extra skin with extra fat, I’m slowly working on my own reality of self love and fabulous fitness.
PLEASE NOTE! I am not writing this post to discourage someone who is starting a fitness initiative, getting in better shape, losing spare fat, or otherwise making some healthy lifestyle choices. This post should not discourage you! I am simply working to broaden the common perception of what a fit body can look like (despite what the fitness industry tells you),and to urge all of you to focus on what your body can do regardless of what it looks like.
In the interest of good advice to anyone currently making healthy lifestyle changes, I’ll also share some recommendations for keeping your skin in good shape:
- Slow, healthy fat loss. NOT rapid, blind weight loss. As I mentioned above, your skin needs time to keep up with changes happening in the rest of your body. The faster you lose weight, the more you’re stressing out your skin. Rapid weight loss also causes loss of beneficial lean tissue, which will further exacerbate the issue. If you are focusing on “losing”, focus on specifically losing spare fat instead of “weight”. This will help ensure that your loss is healthy and slow enough to keep your skin in good condition. (And you are much less likely to gain it all back later.)
- Work your muscles. Muscles are what give your skin a shape, and they give your skin something to grab on to. If you are working on fat loss, ditch the endless cardio sessions. Excessive cardio burns muscle tissue, which lowers your metabolism. Include some form of full-body strength training in your exercise routine, to ensure that any “loss” you experience is spare fat, and not the muscles you want to keep.
- Eat well. Your body runs best on a wholesome and nutritive diet; therefore, your skin will recover optimally if you are eating right. Do your best to reduce intake of artificial and highly processed foods. Get plenty of dietary fat, and do not starve yourself. Skin cannot restore itself if you are not properly nourished.
- Drink water. Everything in your body requires a ton of water to work right. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your body definitely won’t spare any effort towards non-life-essential processes like shrinking extra skin.
- Take care of your skin. Stay clean. Find a gentle moisturizing bodywash. Exfoliate. Put on lotion. Use sunscreen. Stay out of the tanning bed.
- Try supplementing with Vitamin E. Vitamin E is essential to collagen production in the hair, skin, and nails. Most people can get enough E in a balanced daily diet, but if you choose to supplement, be sure you are eating enough fat - Vitamin E is only fat soluble, not water soluble.
I might never be “tight and toned”, but I enjoy seeing a little shape nonetheless and I’m glad I did my research throughout the process. Nothing can entirely prevent loose skin from occurring, but taking care of yourself can make a big difference! And always remember that your body is a good body. Loose skin is not a flaw. It is not ugly. It is just part of your body, and your body is amazing.
Why does this not have a billion notes. Pick up ya game tumblr x