Do you have to "tone up" while losing weight, or can you do it after?

neffybetty
neffybetty Posts: 25 Member
Just wondering about loose skin and lack of muscle tone. Some people seem to lose weight and have tight, toned bodies with lovely bodies, while others don't.

I'm 33 this year, and have been overweight since I was about 16. I have had a large stomach since childhood. I now have bingo wings as well. I would like to lose about half of my body weight. I haven't had kids and I don't really have stretch marks.

Will things tighten up on their own, or will I have to strength train, and use bio oil, moisteriser etc? At present, I just walk.

Thanks. Sorry for using "toning up" I couldn't think of a better expression. I think you guys know what I mean. Like low body fat and muscles.

Replies

  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,894 Member
    People who lose weight and have "tight toned bodies" strength trained while they were losing weight. Strength training while losing weight preserves muscle mass that is then revealed when the fat is stripped away. In a catabolic state (dieting), in the absence of resistance training you will lose muscle as well as fat, as muscle is a use it or lose it kind of thing...and building muscle is very hard and slow. It is much better to preserve what you have than to lose it and have to spend months and years building it back.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 4,046 Member
    I think you're confusing two things:
    - skin tone: whether or not you have loose skin is impossible to know beforehand. I think losing more slowly rather than quickly helps, but a lot of it is genetic/personal. You also have age on your side. Not knowing how much weight you have to lose, makes it even harder to predict whether it will be an issue for you. I'm not sure if moisturizing helps, but it certainly can't do any harm.
    - strength training increases muscle mass, which can give a better esthetic (lower bodyfat) for the same bodyweight. It's not mandatory of course, but I've never heard anyone complain about starting strength training to soon, only wishing they started earlier 😉
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,638 Member
    The amount of effort to retain your muscle is far less than the effort and time required to have to build it back up again. Apart from that it's a healthy habit for life and there's no good reason to put off adopting as many healthy habits as possible.

    Remember muscle and skin are two separate and distinct tissues - you don't work your skin with exercise. But having a better shape of underlying muscle to hang your skin on would look far better.

    Yes your skin will adapt but how much is affected by lots of factors including some you can't change such as your genetics and history. Being relatively young is in your favour.

  • neffybetty
    neffybetty Posts: 25 Member
    Thanks, that's definately helpful!

    How do you split strength training/exercise?

    Is it like Mondays and Thursdays Upper Body, Tuesdays and Fridays Lower Body, Wednesdays Midsection? Or something else?

    I am a little confused. I would have to work out at home with little equipment. I have a kettlebell (the one shaped like a bell), some light hand weights, a medicine ball, a step up bench, a skipping rope and a yoga mat. I could get a yoga ball as well.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,894 Member
    edited May 25
    neffybetty wrote: »
    Thanks, that's definately helpful!

    How do you split strength training/exercise?

    Is it like Mondays and Thursdays Upper Body, Tuesdays and Fridays Lower Body, Wednesdays Midsection? Or something else?

    I am a little confused. I would have to work out at home with little equipment. I have a kettlebell (the one shaped like a bell), some light hand weights, a medicine ball, a step up bench, a skipping rope and a yoga mat. I could get a yoga ball as well.

    I am partial to full body programs as they are very efficient and effective. Unless you want to actually body build, you don't need to do any kind of "bro split". Full body programs are typically done 2-3x per week on non-consecutive days and you work everything. They are typically focused on compound movements with little in the way of isolation movements. Usually in an A/B format like this, just as an example...

    A:
    Bench Press
    Squat
    Overhead Press
    Rows
    Romanian Deadlift
    Biceps

    B:
    Incline Press
    Deadlift
    Leg press or some other squat variation
    Lat pulls or pullups
    Dumbbell Laterals
    Triceps

    There are tons of structured programs out there and you're going to get a lot more bang following a structured program than being left to you own devices. If you don't have much equipment you could do a combination of bodyweight calisthenics and band work...there are programs for that as well.
  • neffybetty
    neffybetty Posts: 25 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    neffybetty wrote: »
    Thanks, that's definately helpful!
    If you don't have much equipment you could do a combination of bodyweight calisthenics and band work...there are programs for that as well.

    That just reminded me! I have bands as well, but am not totally sure how to use them!
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 802 Member
    edited May 25
    Well, it all depends on what you actually mean by "tight" and "toned."

    Typically what people mean by this is low body fat, with visible muscles, and firm skin.

    The low body fat can only be achieved by losing a lot of fat if you have any excess. The visible muscle requires having muscles large enough to be seen under your remaining fat. Whether or not you can build substantial muscle is largely genetic, some people just get stronger without putting much mass on.

    So for example, I'm a great muscle builder, I bulk up easily, so it's easy for me to look "toned," whatever that even really means. Compared to my spouse who gets much stronger than I do, but doesn't build muscle mass easily, but they look super "toned" and actually downright "ripped" because they have very low body fat.

    Then there's skin. Well that's largely genetic and lifestyle. Some people's skin bounces back easily, others not so much.

    It's best just to focus on living as healthy a lifestyle as you can and embracing whatever your healthiest body looks like. Healthy bodies tend to look pretty great, so try not to overthink it beyond that.

    That's just my opinion though.
  • neffybetty
    neffybetty Posts: 25 Member
    edited May 25
    douobscc3dly.jpg

    I'd like to look like this if possible. I don't have an hour glass figure though (more like a plank). I like her midsection and how she has slim arms but they still have muscle tone.

    Would this woman be considered a body builder?
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 802 Member
    edited May 26
    neffybetty wrote: »
    douobscc3dly.jpg

    I'd like to look like this if possible. I don't have an hour glass figure though (more like a plank). I like her midsection and how she has slim arms but they still have muscle tone.

    Would this woman be considered a body builder?

    That is a VERY aggressive body composition goal for a woman. That is not something realistically achievable through a typical process of diet and exercise.

    In my educated opinion, very few women will get results like that and just stay looking that way. Most will have to cycle bulking and cutting to achieve that look, which means it's temporary, and many of them will cycle steroids and thyroid meds to achieve it. Let's not even get into the injuries I've seen.

    Appearance enhancing drugs are rampant in the fitspo world/fitness model world. So don't get too attached to fitspo images as something sustainable or realistic to aspire to.

    I say this as someone who got very close to that physique when I was body building at 20. The work it took to achieve it wasn't realistic, even for someone like me who builds muscle abnormally easily for a woman. It took many, many hours every day in the gym, an astronomical diet, an even more astronomical amount of sleep, and by 22, I couldn't maintain it anymore and my body completely crashed, and my spine never fully recovered.

    That said, it's super easy for me to maintain a "toned" look. Your muscles don't need to be that big in order for you to have a lean, athletic look. Also, in person, muscles look a lot bigger than they do in photographs, so perhaps you're not seeing her as muscular as she really is. In person, she would not look "toned" to you, she would look very muscular. I've spent a lot of time with fitness models/body builders, and their bodies look like insanely hard work, not like they're just sporty, active, fit people.

    Chances are just maintaining a good muscle mass through regular exercise and keeping your fat level low will give you the kind of "toned" look you want without needing waaaaay above average muscle mass for a woman.

    Also I keep putting "tone" in quotations, because muscle tone has nothing to do with muscle appearance. What people call "toned" just means that you can see muscle.

    It's important to define what you actually want to achieve. If you want to be able to see muscle, then you need enough muscle bulk and little enough fat so that the muscle bulk isn't hidden too much. That's what most people call "tone."

    So yes, if you want to see the contours of muscles under your fat, you will need to have good muscle mass. The leaner you are, the more that muscle mass will show.

    I recently lost weight down to a BMI of about 20, and everyone who sees me keeps asking what exercises I'm doing. They think I'm much more muscular than I was a year ago because they can see my muscles so much better. Meanwhile, I've likely lost muscle mass over the last year since I've become more disabled.

    Still, everyone sees more muscle and assumed I built muscle. The only thing that's making me look more "toned" now is less fat and the fact that I had decent muscle mass to begin with.
  • neffybetty
    neffybetty Posts: 25 Member
    Xellercin wrote: »
    neffybetty wrote: »
    douobscc3dly.jpg

    I'd like to look like this if possible. I don't have an hour glass figure though (more like a plank). I like her midsection and how she has slim arms but they still have muscle tone.

    Would this woman be considered a body builder?

    That is a VERY aggressive body composition goal for a woman. That is not something realistically achievable through a typical process of diet and exercise.

    In my educated opinion, very few women will get results like that and just stay looking that way. Most will have to cycle bulking and cutting to achieve that look, which means it's temporary, and many of them will cycle steroids and thyroid meds to achieve it. Let's not even get into the injuries I've seen.

    Appearance enhancing drugs are rampant in the fitspo world/fitness model world. So don't get too attached to fitspo images as something sustainable or realistic to aspire to.

    I say this as someone who got very close to that physique when I was body building at 20. The work it took to achieve it wasn't realistic, even for someone like me who builds muscle abnormally easily for a woman. It took many, many hours every day in the gym, an astronomical diet, an even more astronomical amount of sleep, and by 22, I couldn't maintain it anymore and my body completely crashed, and my spine never fully recovered.

    That said, it's super easy for me to maintain a "toned" look. Your muscles don't need to be that big in order for you to have a lean, athletic look. Also, in person, muscles look a lot bigger than they do in photographs, so perhaps you're not seeing her as muscular as she really is. In person, she would not look "toned" to you, she would look very muscular. I've spent a lot of time with fitness models/body builders, and their bodies look like insanely hard work, not like they're just sporty, active, fit people.

    Chances are just maintaining a good muscle mass through regular exercise and keeping your fat level low will give you the kind of "toned" look you want without needing waaaaay above average muscle mass for a woman.

    Also I keep putting "tone" in quotations, because muscle tone has nothing to do with muscle appearance. What people call "toned" just means that you can see muscle.

    It's important to define what you actually want to achieve. If you want to be able to see muscle, then you need enough muscle bulk and little enough fat so that the muscle bulk isn't hidden too much. That's what most people call "tone."

    So yes, if you want to see the contours of muscles under your fat, you will need to have good muscle mass. The leaner you are, the more that muscle mass will show.

    I recently lost weight down to a BMI of about 20, and everyone who sees me keeps asking what exercises I'm doing. They think I'm much more muscular than I was a year ago because they can see my muscles so much better. Meanwhile, I've likely lost muscle mass over the last year since I've become more disabled.

    Still, everyone sees more muscle and assumed I built muscle. The only thing that's making me look more "toned" now is less fat and the fact that I had decent muscle mass to begin with.

    Ah ok. Do you have any pictures of what would be possible? previously, my goal was to have a body fat level of between 17 and 20% and have stick thin arms and legs. That wasn't very healthy either.

    And I'm not naturally muscular, I'm quite soft and tubby. (If I'm allowed to describe myself that way). I am big all over but don't really have the curves women aspire for. Some would describe me as a plank (straight up and down, no waist), and others would describe me as an apple (because I have fat on my stomach).
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,846 Member
    neffybetty wrote: »
    Xellercin wrote: »
    neffybetty wrote: »
    douobscc3dly.jpg

    I'd like to look like this if possible. I don't have an hour glass figure though (more like a plank). I like her midsection and how she has slim arms but they still have muscle tone.

    Would this woman be considered a body builder?

    That is a VERY aggressive body composition goal for a woman. That is not something realistically achievable through a typical process of diet and exercise.

    In my educated opinion, very few women will get results like that and just stay looking that way. Most will have to cycle bulking and cutting to achieve that look, which means it's temporary, and many of them will cycle steroids and thyroid meds to achieve it. Let's not even get into the injuries I've seen.

    Appearance enhancing drugs are rampant in the fitspo world/fitness model world. So don't get too attached to fitspo images as something sustainable or realistic to aspire to.

    I say this as someone who got very close to that physique when I was body building at 20. The work it took to achieve it wasn't realistic, even for someone like me who builds muscle abnormally easily for a woman. It took many, many hours every day in the gym, an astronomical diet, an even more astronomical amount of sleep, and by 22, I couldn't maintain it anymore and my body completely crashed, and my spine never fully recovered.

    That said, it's super easy for me to maintain a "toned" look. Your muscles don't need to be that big in order for you to have a lean, athletic look. Also, in person, muscles look a lot bigger than they do in photographs, so perhaps you're not seeing her as muscular as she really is. In person, she would not look "toned" to you, she would look very muscular. I've spent a lot of time with fitness models/body builders, and their bodies look like insanely hard work, not like they're just sporty, active, fit people.

    Chances are just maintaining a good muscle mass through regular exercise and keeping your fat level low will give you the kind of "toned" look you want without needing waaaaay above average muscle mass for a woman.

    Also I keep putting "tone" in quotations, because muscle tone has nothing to do with muscle appearance. What people call "toned" just means that you can see muscle.

    It's important to define what you actually want to achieve. If you want to be able to see muscle, then you need enough muscle bulk and little enough fat so that the muscle bulk isn't hidden too much. That's what most people call "tone."

    So yes, if you want to see the contours of muscles under your fat, you will need to have good muscle mass. The leaner you are, the more that muscle mass will show.

    I recently lost weight down to a BMI of about 20, and everyone who sees me keeps asking what exercises I'm doing. They think I'm much more muscular than I was a year ago because they can see my muscles so much better. Meanwhile, I've likely lost muscle mass over the last year since I've become more disabled.

    Still, everyone sees more muscle and assumed I built muscle. The only thing that's making me look more "toned" now is less fat and the fact that I had decent muscle mass to begin with.

    Ah ok. Do you have any pictures of what would be possible? previously, my goal was to have a body fat level of between 17 and 20% and have stick thin arms and legs. That wasn't very healthy either.

    And I'm not naturally muscular, I'm quite soft and tubby. (If I'm allowed to describe myself that way). I am big all over but don't really have the curves women aspire for. Some would describe me as a plank (straight up and down, no waist), and others would describe me as an apple (because I have fat on my stomach).

    So, I'm confused by the bolded. are you only willing to so some exercise type work if someone can define the end "look" for sure? I don't think it's even possible to do that.

    A good strength training routine will move you in a positive direction, if you want to look gradually somewhat more like your "ideal body" photo. I agree that that's a very aggressive goal (a lot of work, probably takes favorable genetics besides, for sure need good nutrition, etc.). Maybe you won't get all the way there. However, doing more strength work will have a favorable effect, given how you describe yourself, and what you'd like to achieve. And who knows, you may get closer to your ideal, with patience and time, than others of us might expect.

    You can find out how far it's possible to go along that track, given your personal genetics, by starting along the track and seeing what happens. Warning: It will take lots of patience and time.

    As far as what can be achieved, there are threads here where regular MFP-user women talk about their very own strength training results, such as:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/1120789/females-only-lifting-weight-training-results/p1

    It has photos of women from those who've only be strength training for a few months, up to those who've been doing it for many years. You might want to look at some of the higher-numbered pages. The thread started long enough ago that some of the photos on the early pages don't exist on the web anymore (though some do).

    Here's another (same issue here about some missing photos in the oldest posts):

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/977538/halp-heavy-lifting-made-me-supah-bulky/p1

    This one is focused on how women's stomachs look, at quite a variety of ages and weights. Some of them strength train, some of them do other exercise, and they're specific about their exercise routines in the thread:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10689837/does-this-uterus-make-my-stomach-look-fat/p1

    As far as how to minimize loose skin, this is my generic advice: Genetics matter, and likely age does, too. That's the hand we're dealt, and it's unpredictable and pretty much unchangeable.

    Beyond that, skin is an organ. The things that keep other organs healthy will also tend to keep skin healthy, which means elastic and more willing to adjust. These include:

    * avoiding fast loss (because it's a physical stress to lose fast),
    * getting good well-rounded nutrition (macros and micros, especially but not exclusively protein),
    * getting regular exercise (both cardiovascular and strength),
    * managing all-source life stress,
    * hydrating adequately (not crazy much, but enough),
    * avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol,
    * specific to skin, also avoiding tanning.

    People will say all kinds of things about creams, dry-brushing, etc., but personally I'm inclined to thing those are mainly ways to pass the time while skin does pretty much what it was going to do anyway. Help a little? Maybe. Big help? I doubt it. But it can feel good to feel like we're doing *something*.
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 802 Member
    neffybetty wrote: »

    Ah ok. Do you have any pictures of what would be possible? previously, my goal was to have a body fat level of between 17 and 20% and have stick thin arms and legs. That wasn't very healthy either.

    And I'm not naturally muscular, I'm quite soft and tubby. (If I'm allowed to describe myself that way). I am big all over but don't really have the curves women aspire for. Some would describe me as a plank (straight up and down, no waist), and others would describe me as an apple (because I have fat on my stomach).

    It's impossible for anyone to know what's "realistic" for you because it depends on your genes and what effort you realistically want to put in and what risks you are realistically willing to take. Extreme bodies come with huge risks of injury. As I said, my spine has never recovered from getting to a point very similar to the photo you posted.

    I also completely agree with Ann that it's not rational to only exercise with the goal of looking a specific way, because you don't have that granular level of control over your body.

    I agree with everything Ann said, so I'm not going to repeat it.

    What I will repeat though is what I said before. As much as you can't control exactly what your body will look like, you CAN control how healthy your lifestyle is, and the healthier your lifestyle is, the better your body is going to look.

    If you lose fat and do no exercise, you won't look nearly as good as you would if you also exercised. Likewise, if you lose fat and don't exercise, and have poor nutrition, poor sleep, and poor stress management, then you won't look nearly as good as you would if you had all of those things optimal.

    I personally am the exact same weight as I was several years ago, but I look totally different. Several years ago I was over worked, drinking wine every night, in a lot of pain due to my condition, stressed out of my mind, not getting enough exercise, and not sleeping well.

    Years later I don't drink, I medically retired in my 30s, I get plenty of rest, exercise, my stress is low, and my pain level is managed.

    As a result, despite being older, I look younger, my hair is nicer, my skin is firmer and brighter, my fat deposits on my body are smoother and less dimpled, and my body generally looks perkier.

    Exact same weight, exact same size, and slightly less muscle mass now than before, and yet I look A LOT better because I'm healthier.

    So you have to take care of your body if you want it to look it's best, whatever it's best turns out to be. No matter what, it's worth it, because when your body looks it's best, it also feels it's best, and then you get to live your life in a healthy, strong body, which in and of itself is WAY more exciting and fun than looking a certain way.

    If you do what it takes to become optimally healthy, you will never, ever want to exist any other way. If you told me I could look "perfect" for the rest of my life, but feel unhealthy, I would never take that deal. Ever.

    Instead of having an all-or-nothing goal of trying to look a specific way, how about having some curiosity about what your body can do, how good it can feel, and as a result, seeing how good it can look?

    It's actually fun to watch and feel your body trabsform over time as it gets healthier and more vibrant. And that's what's going to make you look amazing.

  • sarabushby
    sarabushby Posts: 651 Member
    I would also add that a lot of the ‘attraction’ in that photo is the pose. The pelvis tilt is exposing her abs a lot more than if she just stood square on. There’s a reason models & body builders work hard on their poses!

    Also keep in mind it’s very likely photo edited. Most of the images we see in media are. It can be very subtle.