Body Composition for Women
Hi, I have a body composition question. I'm 42, 5'9" and currently 160 pounds. Just got into size 10 jeans which has been a goal of mine for a while. I've never been skinny and never been "fat" (BMI says something different but it's not designed for fit people)--I'm one of those lucky people who "carries it well". In other words, I'm classically pear-shaped (and why is that a metaphor for things going, uh, south?). I also don't gain weight on my face.
I've been up as high as 200 pounds when I was finishing my degree (lots of studying coupled with a "whatever gets me through the night" eating philosophy). I think the highest my jeans size got was 16, maybe 20. I put a stop to the upward creep (no way I was going over 200) with low-carb. I eventually settled into a setpoint of 170 pounds with half-assed low-carb, but my preferred setpoint is 160. Now I'm dreaming of going a little lower.
Now, this may not seem to be a problem, but when I tell people how much I weigh (getting a state ID card, donating blood), people do not believe me. At the DMV, when for once I didn't lie about my weight and said it was 200, the woman did not believe me. Not that it was any of her business, but I felt like saying something to the effect of: "Step around the counter and I'll drop trou right here so you can see how huge my thighs are." OK, that would be rude and/or get me arrested. My stock answer is (again, why is it anybody's business?) is "It's all smoke and mirrors." One thing that is clear is that I have very muscular legs--I don't drive and I bike everywhere--to work, to get groceries, for recreation, etc.
What is frustrating is that whenever I change my eating habits and lose weight, people start to get alarmed. Right now, it seems like I don't have an ounce of body fat on my ribcage--when I move my arms you can see my ribs around the sternum. Except, well, you know where--and eating primally means those don't get smaller, woohoo!
I'm not exactly "skinny fat" but I know I definitely need to focus more on my upper body and gain a bit of muscle. I could never do a pull up, but I used to be stronger when I worked blue collar jobs and was hefting things up to 70 pounds.
The skinniest I've been is maybe 155 when I was a vegan (craving protein constantly, sneaking bacon and pouring pints of olive oil on my hummus) and people freaked out. A short stint on Adderall for my AD/HD and again, I was down to 160 and people started to worry. Maybe they are just used to seeing me a certain way, my height helps camouflage the weight, and I heed all those tips for dressing to flatter my body type (no mini skirts for me). But the, ahem, bottom line is--I have always had a lot of junk in the trunk!
So I look good in clothes right now, though it's hard to find things that fit correctly because my top is two sizes smaller than my bottom. But by eating primally, I think that "look good naked" is within my reach. It's possible I could be thinner (and fitter, and healthier!) than I've ever been in my adult life--a setpoint of 150 pounds seems perfectly reasonable. I don't want to obsess, because I feel great, my boyfriend adores my curves, and I don't want to buy into the idea that women need to be twigs.
But how do I even out my body composition? (And OK, I admit, if I attend my 25th high school reunion this summer, how do I make everyone envious?!) And dammit, I know my calf muscles are awe-inspiring, but you can't see them because of the layer of fat!
Any insight to the following would be helpful. Any successful transition from pear-shaped to sculpted? Is this just something I need to live with (it's genetic)? Will the weight eventually stop coming off my torso? I know spot exercises don't work. I know continuing to eat primal will help (have been strictly meat, fat and veggies for two weeks), but will mixing up my workouts "melt the fat away" from my butt, thighs and calves? Why do people freak out if you lose weight? Why does a healthy 200 pound woman freak them out? Why does Shebeeste write such long posts?
My wife has been primal for 6 months. That includes diet and high intensity weight lifting. Above the belly button she looks great. Below has been slower to respond... but it will.
I'm sorry but I think that is the bottom line. Take the long term approach. You want to live your life healthy and strong. Below the belly button will catch up if you stay on course.
Sounds like you do a lot of exercise on your bottom half with your cycling and virtually none on the top, so my advice would be to even it out. Probably a bit hard to cut the cycling since you need it to get places, but a weight programme for on top would probably be good. Advice from an amateur. Also how about something like yoga, pilates or body balance which stretches muscles.
no pun intended?
Originally Posted by Vick
shebeeste [excellent name, btw], i'm in the exact same boat you are - i wear a 6 and people do not believe me when i tell them i weigh 150-155. er, that's what i weighed last time i stepped on a scale, which was a few weeks ago. i'm also that classic pear shape, the majority of my fat is stored anywhere between my bellybutton and my knees. in our family, we call that the 'manahan hiney'. i also bike. i have 15" calves.
do some work focusing on your UB stregth, it really does help. pulls, rows, dips..yes, those evil, evil pullups/chinups that i hate doing myself, burpees. i am also a huge advocate of the hundred pushups program, because all you need is yourself to do it. focusing on improving the UB strength has really helped to even me out.
and, as vick said, persistence is the key. keep it up, things will fall into place.
Last edited by batty; 05-15-2010 at 04:21 AM.
Reason: I R EXCELANT TYPEIST
I think that your shape is modifiable, but it will alway be curvier in the bottom half. Estrogen dominance can also contribute to storing fat in the hips, thighs and butt. There are some good herbal formulas to help with that and eating Primally also will help.
As far as exercise goes, Lotte Berk Method/Core Fusion might be a good choice. it's known for creating strong, long muscles and being great for trimming the thighs and butt. Plus, it's a very effective (and Primally friendly!) way to work out because it utilizes a lot of body weight moves and is very good for the core.
We're in the same boat
I'm also 5-9, and have always had a little sumthin extra in the trunk. On the upper half of my body, I'm muscular and like 10% BF. Below the waist...a lot more. What I'm trying lately is to continue my upper body exercise (push-ups, sit-ups/crunches, planks, pull-ups), while alternating Carnivore days (high fat/high protein/zero carb/ignore calories) with mixed Primal eating (while keeping calories <1,400 or so). I have huge thighs and calves from all the hilly walking I do here in San Francisco, but I do really want to peel off some more fat.
I don't want to lose any of my hard-earned muscle, so I've been aiming for at least 100 gms of protein per day, no matter what.
Anyway, things seem to be moving in the right direction for me now; probably just takes a little more effort, since our bodies are healthy and happy where they are...
It's nice to know I'm in good company. Batty, I'm only 5'3" and have 15 inch calves, too -- some good muscle, but not all of it. Looking at people in my family -- male and female -- there's no escaping it for me. Trying to do a better job of embracing my body type, doing what I can do balance it out, and focusing on being healthy and fit overall.
Reading about all your journeys is really inspiring -- thanks for sharing. And, three cheers for the SOs who love strong, curvy women like us -- wherever our curves and strength are!
Yes, indeed. Here's to strong, kick-ass, curvy fems!!!
Originally Posted by AutumnP
For a positive spin, I just wanted to add that it's far healthier to store fat below the waist than above the waist. I know that doesn't solve the desire for a slimmer bottom half, but for many years I wished I was slimmer below the waist, and then lo and behold menopause hit and my weight shifted above the waist. Compositionally, I look better on the bottom half than I ever used to at the same weight, but now I'm struggling with the opposite problem. Guess it never ends. LOL!
...as Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say, "If it's not one thing, it's another!"
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