This is the final reader request post (I’ve had a few other requests since then, which will be coming soon!). I enjoyed answering all your questions, so please keep them coming! Being the procrastinator that I am, I left the hardest question until last.
Jess asked for a post about loose skin. She said: I’m restoring weight after anorexia, and because I lost the pounds through starvation and overexercise my stomach is a crepey mess. I’m *almost* back to a healthy weight. I have been working with a powerlifting coach for 5 months (who has me eating lots and building muscle!). He says we need to build the muscle in my back to tighten everything back up. Do you have thoughts on a good exercise or set of exercises to help with this problem? I’m not interested in surgery. If I have to just live with it – well, I can. But if there’s anything I can do to improve my stomach, I’d sure like to.
Firstly, congratulations on overcoming anorexia and returning to an (almost) healthy weight! It’s great that you are powerlifting and working with a coach to build muscle. I’m definitely NOT an expert on this topic, but I will do my best to give some advice.
I have never undergone a drastic weight loss so I’ve never had to deal with loose skin or stretch marks. I do, however, know why it happens. When you lose weight too quickly, your skin’s elasticity does not have time to adapt and regain its shape. All the more reason why I’m a fan of dieting slowly!
The good news is that your skin will eventually adapt to its new structure. Unfortunately, it can take as many as 2-3 years for this to happen, and some people never get rid of their loose skin completely. Unless you rapidly lost more than 100 pounds or more, surgery isn’t necessary and should only be considered as a last resort.
There are certain things you can do to help get rid of your loose skin. Firstly, make sure you are sufficiently hydrated – aim to consume at least two litres of water every day. Eat foods that enhance collagen and elastin production such as garlic, soy products, fish, nuts, leafy greens and red fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating highly processed foods and large amounts of sugar. Supplementing with vitamins A, C and E will also promote the production of collagen.
Lifting weights will certainly help to increase the appearance of your surrounding musculature, but building mass unfortunately has nothing to do with ‘tightening’ up your skin. There are no specific exercises you can do which will help the skin improve its elasticity. You can do 1000 crunches a day, and you will still have a tummy pooch (not that I would ever recommend doing that many crunches!). Only time will heal your skin.
I’m no beauty blogger, but I know that it’s important to exfoliate your skin daily to remove dead cells and increase circulation. Applying moisturiser after every shower is essential to keeping your skin hydrated. I don’t know how well those magic ‘firming’ creams work, so I’d suggest researching heavily before handing over any cash. I have also heard success stories involving Preparation-H (the haemorrhoid cream!), but try it at your own risk.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful! Does anyone else have any tips for Jess?