Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Happens When a Body Loses 100 Pounds

I've seen a lot of bloggers post about having loose skin after they've lost a significant amount of weight. Some are pretty philosophical about it, while others seem to fret and some have even had surgery to remove it. As for me, I tend to fall into the philosophical category - yes, I have it, but that's what happens when you are in your mid-forties, have been overweight for nearly two decades, and lose a lot of weight.

It's funny how the loose skin can surprise you - for example, I have a bit of a belly flap. Not horrible, and since it's still shrinking as I lose more weight, I don't think it will end up being all that noticeable - when I'm dressed. It would be, say, in a bikini, but I gave those up after my first pregnancy left me with some lovely stretch marks all over my stomach. So while I'm pretty accepting of that, I will admit to being shocked not too long ago when I was in a dressing room (oh those three-way-mirrors!) and caught sight of the back of my thighs. There was this funny-looking crepe-y skin that hung down when I lifted my leg to try on some pants. It was so weird looking that I had to stop and check it out, moving my leg several different directions and watching what the skin did. I guess I never thought about the back of my thighs looking bad because the fronts look ok - still a little on the ham-hock side, but much better than they used to look, that's for sure!

My first thought was that I won't be wearing any shorts now. My second thought was that I could still wear some bermuda shorts - you know, the ones that go to the top of your knee. My third thought was that I remembered enjoying wearing some sundresses last year, and why not just embrace that idea further? Bada-bing, problem solved. Don't you wish everything was that easy? Well, there's no use wailing and gnashing my teeth over it...and even if I did, the result would still be the same. So why not skip all of that and just move forward?

Speaking of sundresses and other body issues, a while ago I posted about the lovely batwings that my arms were sporting. Well, nearly a year and about a gazillion push ups later, my arms are looking better. But they still have that flappy skin sag, and because of that, last year I wouldn't even consider any sleeveless sundresses. But, thanks to Kristen over at Low Fat Dressing, I am learning all about layering - she is a pro at putting cute outfits together - and if I find a cute sleeveless sundress, I won't automatically dismiss it - instead, I'll look for a thin t-shirt that I can wear under it to make me feel more comfortable about my upper arms. Another problem solved. By the way, Kristen has lost a lot of weight and is enjoying dressing her "new" body - something that I am relating to more and more!

The other strange thing that has happened to my body since losing all of this weight is that my legs are thinner than they've ever been, relatively-speaking. I've always carried my weight in my thighs - even when I was tiny in high school, I still had heavy thighs. But the combination of diet AND exercise has really changed their shape. My calves, while still too big to fit into most boots, are thinner and shapely, and my knees no longer have a glob of fat surrounding them! It's like they are improving from the feet up in firmness (exercise), and the thighs down in size (diet).

My jewelry wardrobe has also changed since I lost weight. Necklaces are longer on me now, and I actually need to get a 16-inch silver chain...the standard size that comes with so many necklaces that I couldn't buy in the past because it was too short. Not anymore! Now I need the shorter length for several of my necklines. I am able to wear a silver cuff bracelet that I received as a gift several years ago - it fits now - along with two other silver cuff bracelets that I wore in high school. I have a bunch of rings that are too big, and another bunch of rings that fit me again - including one that I have had since I was in high school (can you tell that my love for the bling goes way back?!?). It's like getting new jewelry, for free!
These don't fit anymore - some resizing is in my future...
These fit me now!
Scary picture of a 46-year-old hand wearing a 16-year-old's ring!

Do I wish my skin was taut and perfect? Of course - who wouldn't? But seriously, this is where I'm at...a 46-year-old woman who looks pretty decent when fully-clothed. I will take that any day over the 44-year-old me who looked downright terrible no matter what she wore!


  1. Hey thanks for this post. I am currently 275, down 40 lbs from my highest weight. And the loose skin factor has definitely worried me. This definitely puts me more at ease! :)

  2. FANTASTIC POST, Shelley.

    Really great answer to a question so many people have.

  3. Shelley, I have the same issues, right down to the legs. "Why do cowboys love me? Because they like fat calves!" So I just tell myself I'm a cowboy's sweetheart and go right on.

    I went through a bit of a crisis of confidence a few years ago when a jerk I was dating at the time made a comment about my flabby @ss, but instead of opting for surgery, I just cut him out of my life. Less recovery time.

    Yea, I've got some wobbly bits, but the wonder of being in my late forties is that my eyesight is going so fast that I can't see them with as much clarity any more. Bad eyesight is like being Barbra Streisand's photographer - everything is seen through a soft haze. Just like I like it!

    So wear shorts, dresses, whatever - just don't look back!

    Great attitude you've got there!

  4. PS - Thanks for the link to Low Fat Dressing! She is just what I've been looking for. I wander through the stores, not knowing what to buy and praying for a style guide. Thanks to you and her, I've found it. YAY!

  5. Great post!

    I, too, have a lot of stretch marks from pregnancy, although they don't really bother me because it was such a miracle I got pregnant at all (long struggle with infertility). I think of them more as battle-wounds, but I wear them proudly.

    Stretchy, saggy skin...I'm not sure how much I'll have THIS LAST TIME losing the excess weight, so I'llhave to wait and see if some surgery will be required. My stomach is very crepe-y.

    I'm with you, though, I'd rather look like a Sharpei wrinkle dog under my clothes than to stay fat one day longer.

  6. I'm with you on that one, in clothing you dont get to see the skin...or the stretch marks...so many women are hiding lots of sins under clothing...
    I only lost 48lbs and have lose skin and am 47...its part of growing older...

  7. Yep, this is the price paid for losing significant weight post age 40. Imagine being 58!!!! LOL No, actually, it's not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. My waist/abdomen is pretty taut. It's the skin where my ass ends and my back of thighs begins that is the flabbiest. Legs are awesome except right above both knees-wrinkles. But certainly not enough to prevent me from wearing shorts. Upper arms, a tad saggy, and I'm not sure about sleeveless, but whatevers. Again, I'm 58. There is bound to be some sags. Like I said, not nearly as much as I anticipated. And like you said, far better than carrying unhealthy weight around. ;)

    I have about 15 rings-good rings-that need re-sizing too. I'm just waiting for early summer because fingers swell then, and I don't want to do it now when it's cold and maybe get them too small. ;)

    Great post!

  8. This post is great in so many ways Shelley. I hope and pray I can find my way to accepting my body the way you have. Right now, I have to admit that if I had the money, I would definitely go for the tummy tuck.

  9. What a good post, Shelley. So many people worry about this. I went from 'nobody's going to see me because I'm fat' to 'nobody's going to see me because I'm flabby.' So its not so bad...

    Hey, have you tried one of those body slimmers--kind of like a girdle that goes from above your knees to just below your bra-line. I love it! For me it just smooths out the lumpy thighs and lets me wear form-fitting dresses. I don't mind the tightness because it just reminds me not to eat too much!

    Plus, I love the whole jewelry thing--had the same thing happen to me. Fun!

  10. So once I get to the weight I want to be, I should dress like a woman from the 1920s? Okay, fine. I'll be a flabber.

    Good post. It's good to be prepared :)

  11. I go back and forth on this issue. My stomach is pretty flabby from being fat most of my life and having a 9 lb baby, I would say MOST of the time I try to be pretty zen about it but sometimes (and usually after looking at a magazine with pictures of super thin women) I want to have that FLAT stomach!

    My watch is now WAY to big as are my wedding rings...I need to have them resized!

  12. Hi Shelley - this is my first visit to your blog, though I've read your comments on others' forever! What a great post this is. I'm a 56 y/o woman, and at some point I have to know that if I lose - I'll have foldable skin in many places! Better that than for all the skin to be stretched taut, which could happen.

    You've made wonderful progress! I'm going to browse your archives and catch up a bit. Thanks for having a great site here.

  13. Eh, I say "hell with it". You've lost a lot of weight and now your focus can be TONING! But it's a constant reminder of where you WERE and where you ARE NOW! I hate saggy skin (I've already got some) but it's your body and you should be proud of your success. Hopefully another year of heavier weights will help tone up some of those areas! GREAT JOB!!!

  14. Amen! You are one great looking 46 year old woman!

    Enjoyed wearing your present today?


  15. I love(d) this post. I have skin (yes!) and I'm so thankful that it's not filled with chub. ANd I don't care about my arm flaps. I figure they'll come in handy should I ever have to fly anywhere.

  16. Great Post! I was just thinking all those same things. I had the "opportuniy" to see my thighs really good. 1st time in a long time. They hang! I have an old lady butt and thighs now. WTF! When did that happen? Oh well. Clothes really do make a huge difference.

    Tahnks so much for the Low Fat Dressing link. It's fun to see what she wears. Cute stuff.

    Thoughtful post!

  17. Ugh...I won't lie- I'm TERRIFIED of losing weight and gaining loose skin. To me, loose skin will have the same affect on my self esteem as see a '3' as the first digit on my scale. I'm just trying not to worry about it now since weight is an obvious health issue and loose skin is mostly a vanity issue. I'll worry about it when it happens. Congrats to you and your new body image! ...And jewelry wardrobe!

  18. Great post! I don't think I had much loose skin the first time I lost all my extra weight, but I was thirty, not forty, so we'll see what happens this time. But I loved reading about your path to (almost complete) acceptance and the link to Low Fat Dressing. I used to have some funk to my wardrobe and I dream of having again. I need to pull out my sewing machine and get to work!

  19. Having lost 110 lbs, I feel ya on this one! When your skin sags, realistically you have three options: 1. Regain the weight and fill it out. 2. Cut it off. 3. Deal with it. I'm going with 3. My body isn't my ideal, but it wouldn't be at 42 after having twins anyway. I wouldn't have worn shorts pre-weight loss anyway, so forgoing them now doesn't feel like a sacrifice.

  20. I'm one of those loose-fat, lots of skin hanging people. Thanks for this post Shelley. You give me hope. :)

  21. You are so right! My stomach is flappy and awful, but it still looks better than it did before.

  22. WOW. Thank you so much for the kind words, Shelley! I'm so flattered that my outfits are encouraging you to try new things; I really concentrated on dressing myself during my weight loss, refusing to wait until I was done before I wore "good" clothes. I really think that helped me lose weight faster, and it made me see this journey as one where I wasn't just taking off pounds, I was reshaping my whole body.

    I lucked out in that I didn't end up with a lot of extra skin after losing weight, but I also did a lot of yoga as I was losing so I think that helped keep things tight. And yes, as you have noticed, it's the most unexpected things that fit differently, like necklaces and rings and even summer dresses. :) Enjoy this phase of your journey, and don't be afraid to try new fashion looks, just like you are trying new exercises and foods. You never know what will work for the new you!

  23. Your 46-year-old hand looks a LOT like my 46-year-old hand and I think my hand looks awesome. Ergo, so does yours. When we meet up, let's take our awesome hands in for a mani :)

  24. I loved this post Shelley! You have come so far and I am so proud of you.

    Never thought of the layering effect, but then again, I have zero fashion sense!

    You are beautiful!

  25. Very good post, Shelley! And I LOVE all of the bling. :D I'm a bling girl at heart too. I love sparklies. Fake, real...it doesn't matter. Just make it sparkle.

    I worry about the skin factor. yesterday I worked out wearing some cover up shorts made for my swimsuit. I hate to even say this but my flabby belly actually made a sound hitting the material while I was doing jumping jacks. How horrifying! I'm trying to learn to deal with the skin sag from weighing a lot and having 2 children. Curse you, gravity!

    I love your positive outlook and I think you look gorgeous!

  26. Shelley, you look WAY better than decent . . . and I love the jewelry wardrobe!

  27. Found my way over from Biggest Diab. Loser. Congrats on the loss. I'm hoping to do the same soon. Lose weight you know...not embrace wearing more sundresses :-) Have a good day!


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