So enquiring minds want to know about Loose Skin. What does one look like naked after losing half their body weight? Does my stomach hang down to my knees? Do I resemble a human shar-pei? Will you resemble a human shar-pei if you lose weight?
I completely understand why this issue causes so much worry. At the end of 2000 when I was trying to work up the nerve to Do Something, part of me was reluctant to even start for fear I'd end up looking like my furry friend on the left there.
Of course now I can only answer from my own experience, and I am happy to report I don't look like a roly-poly-dog.
Now lets get down business.
I must have read a dozen articles with varying levels of doom and gloom but most folk agreed that how your skin bounces back from a large weight loss depends on a range of factors:
- the elasticity of your skin – this decreases with age
- how long how you carried the excess weight (eg. 9 months pregnant vs 9 years being overweight)
- how much excess weight you carried
- if you've previously gained/lost large amounts of weight
- how quickly you gained the excess weight
- how quickly you lost it – slower loss allows skin more time to readjust
- your body composition – how much body fat vs muscle you have
One of the more interesting articles I found was by Tom Venuto, author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle. He said that in many cases when people have lost a lot of weight and think they've been left with great puddles of excess skin, it's actually still body fat. You may have reached your Goal Weight on the scales but Tom sayz it's worth looking at your body fat percentage (see point 12 of his article).
"Except in extreme cases, you are very unlikely to see someone with loose skin who has very low body fat. It's quite remarkable how much your skin can tighten up and literally start to "cling" to your abdominal muscles once your body fat goes from "average" to "excellent." Someone with legitimate single digit body fat and loose skin is a rare sight.
So… the key to getting tighter skin is to lose more body fat, up to the point where your body composition rating is BETTER than average (in the "good" to "great" category, not just "okay"). Only AFTER you reach your long term body fat percentage goal should you give thought to "excess skin removal."
… unless you are really, really lean, it's difficult to get a clear picture of what is loose skin, what is just remaining body fat and how much further the skin will tighten up when the rest of the fat is lost."
Now Mr Venuto is a pretty hardcore personal trainer type and his article seems directed at blokes, but in my experience I have found this to hold true. Body composition makes a huge difference. The more muscle I build, the more my skin appears to "tighten up". I have not had any dramatic weight loss on the scales for two years now, but my body composition has changed – I have gone down another size or so and I'm much firmer. I once said I could flap my arms and fly all the way to Australia for free, now I think I'd only make it to say, Dubai. Haw haw haw.
Honestly, the best thing you can do is be realistic. I knew when I started out that there was no way my 351 pound body would ever snap back flat and flawless Elle McPherson stylee. But my aims were more about making the bed without getting breathless than attaining perfection.
- losing weight slowly
- keeping your skin hydrated
- preserving muscle tone and
- eating nutrient rich foods:
"If your meals and snacks consist of junk food (even if you eat it in smaller quantities than before) then you're unlikely to nourish your skin properly and build up its strength.