I have been a YoYo dieter for most of my life and I would say that up until about 2008, I never had any real visible leftover signs of fluctuation such as increased cellulite or stretch marks. In other words, before 2008, I would gain weight and lose it without additional stretch marks. In 2008, however, my skin must have been so badly expanded that stretch marks appeared mainly around my buttocks and thighs. I note also that my cellulite has become more prominent in the last 5 years. This is not to say that I never had cellulite before this time; it is just that it never really bothered me because I had to really squeeze my thighs to make it visible. Now, I don’t need to squeeze to see the celluliteI have read however that it is difficult for women in mid-life to build up or maintain muscle in their buttocks and legs because of several factors including muscle atrophy and sarcopenia. Apparently, many women in mid-life are insulin resistant and this can lead to the protein contained in the muscle and legs to be metabolised, turned into sugar and stored in the mid-section! A topic for another day! In this post, I want to talk about loose skin.
When I embarked on my current weight loss journey back in 2014, a friend of mine told me that I was going to end up with loose skin. I was shocked that she said that, I had never considered this even given my history and if I am honest, I felt a bit hurt. I decided to let the hurt fuel me and I have gone on to
lose weight ever since her comment albeit very slowly and with lots of plateaus. However, now that I am 12 lbs away from my goal weight of 130 lbs, I find that the prospect of loose skin is playing on my mind a bit. Accordingly, I have done quite a bit of research about the topic and would like to share my findings with you in this post.
- Maintain a stable healthy weight: The best way to avoid problems with loose skin is to refrain from gaining weight in the first place! In many ways, this is advice for my younger self. I started comfort eating as a kid for a variety of reasons including countering boredom. A better strategy would have been to reign in my portion sizes.
- Limit any weight gain as much as possible: If you are overweight, it is still worth limiting the extent of your weight gain. The more weight you gain, the greater your skin potentially stretches and the more likelihood you will have of dealing with excess skin. Apparently, loose skin is more common with weight loss of about 100 lbs.
- Age and genetics play an important role: The younger you are when you lose weight the better chance you have of avoiding loose skin. In my research I saw that some dieters in their twenties and sometimes thirties lost weight successfully and have avoided loose skin. See High Carb Hannah’s channel on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8eKZabjLCE – How to avoid loose skin following 70lbs weight loss on a plant-based diet over 2 years. The other point of course is that some people simply have more elastic skin than others.
- Lose the weight as slowly as possible: I have to say that I have often felt ashamed about how long it has taken me to lose weight this time around. It has never ever taken me this long before. I now realise that this pace has been a blessing in disguise because it has allowed my skin to retract for the most part in a healthy way. I carry most of my weight in my mid-section – in fact I have lost 10 inches off my belly. If I do end up with loose skin once I hit my goal, it is going to be around my belly and no while the prospect does not make me want to sing with joy, I would rather lose the fat in exchange for some loose skin.
- Keep yourself well hydrated: Hydration helps promote skin retraction following weight loss. I would imagine that hydration helps carry nutrients to our skin cells and waste products away. This is something that I still struggle with especially when I am at work.
- Exfoliation: This is meant to help minimise both loose skin and cellulite. I have no problem with exfoliating daily when I shower because it is a cultural thing and I have done this for my entire life.
- Skin brushing: This is supposed to help minimise both loose skin and cellulite. It helps to brush the skin towards the heart. This is another thing that I have never got around to adding to my self- care routine.
- Moisturising: This helps or has no effect depending on who you speak to. I have always used moisturiser, so I see no reason to stop now. I hope it helps.
- Intermittent fasting to activate autophagy: Autophagy is a Greek word meaning to devour one’s self. Fasting, according lots of health gurus, is supposed to be the holy grail for regulating insulin and in effect reversing insulin resistance. Apparently, the deeper we can go into the fast, the better to activate autophagy. Autophagy is supposed to help our bodies recycle and reuse imperfect protein such as excess skin for instance. See how to fix loose skin a YouTube video by KenDBerryMD. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWh4qeVEaqw&t=8s
- Exercising during weight loss: Exercise also apparently helps induce autophagy and promotes healthy skin retraction. I have noticed that working with Odell doing a mixture of strength training that my body has changed a lot in a good way. In the past I only focussed on doing lots of long steady state cardio.
- Good diet and possible supplementation: It goes without saying that you need to have a good diet including good quality protein particularly collagen. If you are Nigerian and love eating Pomo and so on, then this one is for you. Oxtail also contains lots of collagen. If you don’t eat meat you could try marine collagen, I don’t know whether the products I see advertised for vegans and vegetarians are any good because I assume that collagen would never be acceptable being an animal product. There is however a school of thought that believes in activating the body to produce collagen rather than take it as a supplement. I don’t know enough about this, but it could be a starting point for research if you are vegetarian or vegan. Collagen can be applied to the skin in creams and lotions but again this is a topical solution and depending on what school of thought you belong to; it might be a good idea or complete waste of time.
- Laser treatment and micro needling – both are expensive, and it would appear that the results are not dramatic. I personally would give both a whirl budget allowing.
- Liposuction: Going through this procedure when you still have fat to burn seems like a waste of time to me. I would personally rather keep going to burn off all the fat. Once all the fat is burnt, the standard advice is to wait a year after you have reached your weight loss goal. Lots of people find during the wait that they have no loose skin left. However, if you do end up with loose skin, there will be less work for your plastic surgeon to do.
- Surgery: if you do press on to the end of your weight loss journey and you are left with loose skin, then surgery could be an option. Hopefully, as mentioned above it will be to remove loose skin only. Apparently the most problematic area for dieters is the abdomen so tummy tucks are a popular procedure it would appear. Bear in mind however that the results can be mixed. For instance, black skin can end up with a lot of visible scar tissue. I remember discussing abdominal plastic surgery procedures with my late brother in law, Dr John C Ogeah and in his opinion women of child bearing age face particular challenges with these procedures. Many years ago, liposuction and a tummy tuck were always a backstop in my mind. I assumed that if all else failed, I would go off and have surgery. It is safe to say that I no longer view surgery as a last resort.
Going back to my personal weight loss journey, I now weigh 142 lbs and I know I don’t look overweight anymore. Thank goodness for high waisted fashion I can even disguise my soft muffin tops from time to time. Yes, they are still there, both of them but given what I know about minimising loose skin, I am now happy to go slowly for my remaining weight loss journey. Odell thinks that I can get rid of my muffin tops very easily by being “anal” about my diet, so I am trying my hardest to be anal because I still feel very motivated to keep working towards my final goal. I have always thrown in the towel before reaching the finishing line when it comes to weight loss but this time, I would like to reach my goal weight whether or not it comes with loose skin.
Until next time it’s
#NoToTheYoYo #YesToAstableWeight #NoTimeToPauseForMenopause #YesToAstableHealthyWeight #Menlogues