Congratulations! Chances are, you’ve worked really hard to lose your love handles and slim that waist line. It probably hasn’t been a very easy road to travel, but you’ve seen some amazing results. You feel healthier, you have more energy, and you can fit in to those pants that you got however-many-years ago! It’s an amazing accomplishment and you should feel proud. Now… time to do something about all that leftover skin.
I should mention that if you were a very big person and lost a very large amount of weight, 50% of your body mass for example, it may be likely that there is no way for you to get rid of ALL of the loose skin without having some surgical work done. That said, if that’s not for you, you can still make a really big difference in the way your skin looks on your new, trim body.
Is it Really Excess Skin?
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if what you’re seeing is truly excess or loose skin. It’s possible that you actually have some fat in the flabs that are most unsightly to you, but it may not just be skin. Go ahead and pinch the area of skin you think is overly loose. If you can grab on to more than half a centimeter of it, there is still some fat in there you can lose. Chances are, you’ve lost so much weight that the fat that is left is difficult to see because of the excess skin. So long as the fat is in there, the skin has no reason or way to form back to a tight state. Unfortunately, more work needs to be done to remove these extremely stubborn fat stores before you can start really worrying about the leftover skin.
Replace the Empty Space
Okay. So you’re sure that you’re dealing with loose skin and little to no excess fat is left. Time to replace the space left over in your highly elastic skin with muscle so you don’t have the “skinny fat” appearance. This is easily the most effective way to do something about the excess skin that’s left behind after weight loss. Perhaps this isn’t what you wanted to hear because you have already been working so hard doing cardio workouts in the gym or running around town to lose the weight, but this will be a different type of work out. You need to bulk back up. The trick is, bulking up with muscle and not fat.
This takes as much, if not more dedication, than it did to lose the weight. Our bodies can be extremely well-oiled machines. By using these machines frequently, we make sure they’re not getting rusty and decaying. What I mean is, once you start to build muscle, you will lose it again if you abruptly stop, resulting in the same saggy skin you’re working so hard to get rid of. You need to hit the weights at least 5 days a week, no excuses. Remember to rotate your workouts so you don’t get injured. The following are considered to be some of the best workouts to help build muscle quickly and to maintain your “machine” after you’ve improved it:
- Dead lifts. Dead lifting is one of the only exercises that will stimulate the entire body, if performed correctly. Start small and work your way up over a very long period of time and you’re grunted to see unprecedented results.
- Bench press. Probably the most well-recognized weight room exercise, and for good reason. The bench press is likely the most effective upper-body exercises when it comes to building muscle mass. You work out almost all of the major chest, arm, and shoulder muscles. Be sure to have a spotter at the ready and like the dead lifts, start small and work your way up in weights.
- Classic Push/Pull exercises. There are a large variety of push or pull machines at your local gym. These are used for long-term muscle building. Repetition is key. Start at a moderately light weight and continue with that resistance your entire workout. Go until you feel the burn.
Supplement the Hard Work
Don’t buy a pill that supposedly will help you become Popeye overnight. Seriously, don’t do it. Almost all pills on the market that will “help you get in to shape” don’t have sufficient enough research done and cost a fortune. Realistically, you’ll see better results just by changing your diet and making time to hit the gym – but I’m not saying that there is no supplement out there to help you on your path of muscle and skin reformation. There are many legitimate muscle builders on the market to help you reach your goals, but you still hve to put in the work at the gym. The following three items should be taken seriously and not be overlooked:
- Protein powders – A very significant amount of research exists proving the direct relation between high protein diets and the increase in muscle mass. Protein diets help give your body energy and keep your carb count down. Protein powders fit in because they can make a fast and east snack that will be low in carbs and fat. You’ll get full faster and can enjoy your meal times a bit more when they come around.
- Beta-alanine – This is an amino acid that is actually an option part of your diet. Humans don’t need it. That said, your body uses part of beta-alanine and stores it in your muscles, helping to regulate the acidity. The more you use your muscles, the more acidic they become. The more acidic your muscles become, the more fatigued they are when you try to use them. Beta-alanine can help regulate this muscle acid and allow you to work out for longer periods of time.
- Creatine – I’m sure you’ve heard of this molecule before. It’s used by all the professional athletes and many professional sports teams actually require it to be a part of the regular diet for players. Creatine is found in nearly all cells of your body ready to be used as a source of energy. Naturally, if you increase the amount of creatine in your cells, particularly in your muscles, you’ll be able to have a more enhanced workout. Perhaps the best part of creatine is that it really has no negative side effects. It will help you bulk up while assisting in the muscle retention.
It’s surprising just how many gym rats smoke. I go to the gym fairly regularly and see people ashing out on their way in to the building or lighting up when they go out and stand in the fresh air. It’s common knowledge that smoking leads to all sorts of health risks. What you may not know is just how terrible it is for your skin. Chemicals in cigars and cigarettes will mess with the elasticity of your skin and often leads to an unfortunate change in pigment and texture. Let’s be real: You can often tell if somebody has been a long-term smoker just by looking at them. You need to quit to rejuvenate your skin effectively.
The unsightly wrinkles that are caused by smoking develop more quickly than those caused by prolonged periods of sun exposure. Smoking will literally reduce the amount of moisture in your skin, effectively ruining the elasticity. Think of a rubber band that’s been dried out and laying in the sun for a few weeks. All of your work will be for no reason if you can’t put down the tobacco.
Foods Can Help Skin Elasticity
There are a variety of foods that will help you on your path of transformation. After you’ve lost your visceral fat and got down to what you consider to be a healthy weight, you can be a little more lax on the types of foods you can eat. Altering your diet to include some food that enhance and boost the production of elastin and collagen, the hormones that give your skin its elasticity, will pay dividends in as little as a week’s time. The following fruits are high in the compounds you’re looking for:
- Oranges and Tangerines
- Brussel Sprouts
- Bell peppers
Remember to try to include a bit of one of these foods in your daily diet while you’re trying to bulk up at the gym. Try making a daily power shake by blending some of these up with some of the muscle-making protein supplements we talked about earlier. Ten or 12 ounces of your concoction each day would be plenty.
Get Adequate Sleep
The amount of hours of sleep each of us need each night to function throughout the day without getting tired too early can widely vary. On average, we need somewhere between 6 and 10 hours of sleep per night in order to be high functioning each day. Sleep doesn’t only affect our thought processes. It also affects our bodies, skin included! A good night’s sleep is precisely what your skin needs. When we’re sleep deprived, our bodies make cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that will lead to inflammation in the body, making it more difficult for your skin to regain natural tautness. On top of the inflammation, you may be unfortunate enough to experience flare ups in acne or even psoriasis.
Sleeping the recommended six to eight hours a night will enhance the pigment of your skin. As your body gets tired, you literally start to fade. Your skin literally loses pigment the longer you go without sleep. Hyaluronic acid levels drop when you go without sleep and it makes your skin look dull and transparent. On top of that, you’re not letting your body’s hydration rebalance. When we sleep, your skin can recover moisture while the leftover water in our body gets sent down for removal, if you know what I mean. Lack of sleep will give you a low water balance and lead to saggy skin, particularly on your hands, neck, face, and increase the dryness of your skin.
Much like smoking, a lack of sleep will accelerate the aging process. When we’re sleeping, hormones are released allowing damaged cells to be repaired. No cells take more of a beating than our skin cells. They’re constantly exposed to everything and we put our skin through hell each day. Without getting a good amount of sleep, this regeneration will not occur and it will allow breakdowns to accumulate without being reversed during sleep periods. This will make us look considerably older and actually encourage signs of aging skin, making it impossible to improve tautness, no matter how much you work out.
Keys to getting a good night’s rest to assist in getting rid of loose skin:
- Stay hydrated – Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day so that your body will be able to hydrate those skin cells and revive the damaged cells each night. Make sure not to drink too much water too close to bed time as that can be counter-productive if you need to get up to go to the bathroom mid-sleep. This should be avoided at all costs.
- Use unscented laundry detergents – Most laundry detergents that have a scent will actually harm the rejuvenation of skin cells each night. The scents used may smell fresh but they often ensure that your skin will remain dry and not be able to regenerate the dying skin cells from the difficult day that passed. If a laundry soap has a strong and fresh scent, it probably means more dead skin cells in your clothes/sheets. Comforting, isn’t it?
- Sleep in a cool, semi-humid room – Sleeping in a dry and hot area will decrease the amount your body is able to regenerate its skin cells. Instead, your body goes into survival mode and the water will be retained due to the dry climate. By sleeping in a cool room, you will not sweat and the humidity will allow for a boost in skin hydration and cell regeneration.
Record a Journal and Keep on Keepin’ On
It might sound a little strange, but keeping a skin journal can make all of the difference in the world. Only you know what your body feels like. Nobody sees your body more than you do, believe it or not. Think about just how often you look at your reflection in a window, vehicle, or mirror. You’re the only one that studies your figure like it’s a collegiate level math test. Keep track of the different measures you’ve taken to influence skin-sag-reduction. Write down the different affects you’ve been seeing from the things you’ve eaten and which workouts have given you the most desirable results. You’ll be able to focus on the things that are working best for you and avoid the bits that really have had no effect. This is exactly like the document you’d have used when you were carb/calorie counting or when you are working out in the gym. Take it seriously and be diligent. You will see the desired changes and be able to avoid going under the knife completely while still reducing loose skin after weight loss.