Q: Despite a regular gym routine, I can’t seem to melt flab or build muscle. What’s the deal? -Chris H., Los Angeles

A: Before I let you complain about being “skinny fat,” I’m going to ask you a few questions:

  • Are you hitting the gym a few times a week? Every week?
  • Are you eating 4-6 nutrient-dense meals per day?
  • Are you eating at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day?
  • Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night?

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, go bug someone who cares or get your ass in the gym, slam some nutrition down your gullet, and get some quality sleep. If that doesn’t work after a consistent 12 weeks of training, then let’s talk.

Now if you answered, “yes” to all the above questions, look great in clothes, but appear to be wearing your grandfather’s skin when you’re having “Nakey Time,” then answer the following questions:

  • Do you hit the gym nearly every day?
  • Are you constantly feeling overwhelmed or stressed out?
  • Do you lie awake at night worrying about the next day, the next week, or the next month?
  • Do you find that whenever you’re around someone with a cold, you’re the first guy to get sick too?
  • Has that nice waitress you met at Hooters recently dumped you, or have you gone through a divorce?

If you answered “yes” to ANY of the above questions, I’m here to help.

I’ll start by disagreeing with good ol’ Tom Jefferson (I can call him Tom because he’s a distant relative … an uncle actually) when he said, “all men are created equal”.

They aren’t.

Some of us can handle the day-to-day challenges of life and bang away at heavy weights in the gym and make solid, regular gains in muscle and fat loss. Then, there are those of us who toil and struggle to gain any appreciable muscle, or battle to lose even miniscule amounts of body fat. What gives?

The difference is in your body’s ability to deal with stress, and the quantity of hormones you produce when training. For another approach to goign from skinny-fat to fit, see Lou Schuler’s The Cure for Skinny-Fat.)

Obviously, the goal of your gym time and eating plan is to create a muscle-building environment rather than a muscle-wasting environment. To gain some meat, you need higher levels of testosterone, which is your primary muscle-building hormone. You also want lower levels of its evil twin, cortisol, your muscle-wasting hormone.

“Skinny fat” guys typically produce more cortisol in response to the stress of working out AND any other kind of stress—bills, kids, your dog died—and not enough testosterone. Even if your testosterone levels are higher than those of the only male rhino in a zoo full of in-heat female rhinos, higher levels of cortisol will block the muscle building power of testosterone. That’s because cortisol inhibits the effects of growth hormone (GH) and its conversion in the body to a hormone that builds muscle. And from a fat loss standpoint, cortisol inhibits the production of a fat burning or “fast metabolism” hormone.

So if you haven’t figured it out by now, controlling your cortisol levels will be the key to developing a leaner more muscular physique if you’re in the “skinny fat” crowd.

Here’s your plan to control cortisol and get buff:

Chill-out, rest, and sleep
Anxiety and skinny fat go hand in hand. So you’ve got to get your stress levels under control. Do this: Quit worrying so much. Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Take a nap or two during the week. All of those things will keep cortisol at bay.

Train smart.
Remember that workouts are stressful, and that your “skinny fat” body will react by producing more cortisol than average. To fight this, reduce the total number of workouts you do per week, but make them count. Less time at the gym = more muscles. Easy, right?

When you do hit the gym, here’s how to spend your time. Split your workouts into two parts, upper body and lower body, and use a weekly schedule similar to the following:

Week 1:

M- Upper

T- Off

W- Lower

TR- Off

F- Upper

SA- Off

SU- Off

Week 2

M- Lower

T- Off

W- Upper

TR- Off

F- Lower

SA- Off

SU- Off

Focus your efforts on multi-joint exercises like bench press, chin-ups, rows, overhead presses, and squats. Keep intensity high in the 5-8 repetition range for 2-3 hard sets of each.

Eat Right
Diet-wise, try to cut back on the carbs, because they tend to spike your insulin levels. High levels of insulin—a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your blood—promote fat gain, so if you keep your insulin levels under control, you won’t put on as much fat. The exception to this rule arises AFTER you finish your workout. Spiking your insulin levels post-workout is a good thing. It helps reduce the natural increase in cortisol that comes from the stress of your high intensity strength training. Reach for a carb/protein shake. Choose one with a good dose of protein and carbs. We like this option from At Large Nutrition.

Eat Enough
If you reduce your calories too much, your cortisol levels will be kicked into high gear. The best way to build muscle and lose fat is to cycle your calories throughout the week and surround your workout with high quality nutrition. Then, on weekends, create a caloric deficit by cutting back on your calories. This strategy promotes fat loss and still provides sufficient nutrients and calories to build muscle.

When I talk about “surrounding your workout with high quality nutrition,” I mean this: before you workout, have a high quality meal of protein, healthy fats, and moderate carbs, or a protein shake with some added healthy fats. Right after, do the same.

The Food Plan
Here’s how you should eat every week, assuming you’re training on a 3-day per week schedule:

Monday High calories

Tuesday Maintenance

Wednesday Maintenance

Thursday Maintenance

Friday High calories

Saturday Below maintenance

Sunday Below maintenance

Maintenance calorie level will be around 12-15 calories per pound of lean body weight (total weight – fat weight). Below maintenance calories will be 10-12 calories per pound of lean body weight. High calories will be between 15-20 calories per pound of body weight.

To estimate your lean body weight, use the YMCA body fat calculation formula:

(4.15 * (waist circumference in inches)) – (0.082 * (body weight in pounds)) – 98.42

This will give you your fat weight in pounds. Then merely subtract your fat weight from your total weight to find you lean body weight.

Apply these strategies consistently for 8-12 weeks, and you’ll no longer have to label yourself “Skinny Fat.” Be sure to take a week off from training after each 8-12 week training cycle as a buffer against too much stress.

By Anthony Mychal

If you had to live with one of these characteristics, which would you pick?

  • String bean arms
  • A sunken upper chest
  • Dilapidated deltoids
  • The propensity to sew satchels of fat around the waistline
  • Cheerio sized wrists

Consider yourself lucky if you sat back and thought about your answer, because there is a breed of people out there—a breed I call skinny-fat ectomorphs—without that luxury. Unfortunately for them, they have all of these characteristics.

Now, I’ll confess: I was once a skinny-fat ectomorph (from here on in abbreviated “skinny-fats”). If it wasn’t for a scarring situation in ninth grade when I was teased for having “girl boobs,” I might not have broken from the curse.

But consider my pain your gain, because I’m here to help you break free too. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that we can’t play by normal rules. True skinny guys have it easy. Somehow, they never seem to get fat. For them, it’s about shoveling sustenance down the chute.

Unfortunately, skinny-fats—being kind of skinny in their own right—are fed the same advice. This is bad news, as skinny-fatness is a purgatory of sorts. Turn one way in an attempt to bulk up and further fat forms. Turn the other way in an attempt to cut down and muscle mysteriously melts.

What gives?

Saving Skinny-Fat With Signaling

The state of your body is determined by the signals it’s sent from the external environment. Hang outside for a while on a nice summer day and your skin tans—an adaptation to better handle the sun’s radiation.

Being skinny-fat is a consequence of sending signals not strong enough to either queue for the creation of muscle or ship for the slaughter of body fat. Fixing skinny-fat is about fixing signals.

Sadly, it’s not that most skinny-fats don’t try sending the right signals. They do. But they’re usually the wrong ones. Below are seven signaling secrets to start the strike against skinny-fatness.

1. Stop prioritizing cardio.

While cardio is usually recommended for fat loss, the best fat loss results often come from making better nutritional choices. Running on the treadmill might put you 300 calories in the hole. This can otherwise be accomplished by foregoing the Twinkies after dinner.

One of the biggest problems skinny-fats face is, quite simply, skinniness. What is cardio-ing yourself to death in the name of fat loss going to do without a muscular body to uncover underneath of it all? The correct answer to this question: it’s going to transform you into a ghastly, bony, and lanky person with a whole new bag of psychological issues.

2. Start lifting weights.

Instead of hopping on the treadmill, prioritize meaningful weight-training. Don’t seek refuge in machines either. Pumping Iron taught us that the barbell should center any quality training program for someone looking to gain muscle. Remember, this is all about signaling. Take the barbell bench press and the pec deck machine as a comparison.

During a bench press, the bar is stabilized as it wobbles above the throat. This creates a strong signal. If your body could talk it would probably say, “If you lose your focus here, this barbell will crush my larynx.” Compare that to sitting on the pec deck machine, not having to stabilize much of anything, and probably being able to manage yawning once or twice. Which one is going to send a stronger signal? Which one is going to hint at the importance of having more muscle for survival?

3. Don’t bulk.

Hit the weights and build some muscle, but be careful. Don’t eat-eat-eat in an attempt to bulk up. Pounding down the calories means getting even fatter. Get fatter decreases the insulin sensitivity of the muscle cells, which—surprise—makes fat gain even more likely.

Besides, us skinny fats are terrible nutrient partitioners (that is, we store more of our excess calories as fat instead of muscle). Creating more fats cells is just all around bad news as it may take them ten years to completely “die” (1).

Don’t get me wrong—building muscle is a skinny-fat priority. But you don’t have to do a traditional “bulk up” to make it happen. Body fat itself is stored energy. And while body fat won’t magically turn into muscle, it’s broken down and used for energy when needed. Let the body do what it can with that energy in the name of building muscle before resorting to eating the house in an effort to “bulk up.”

Eat a little less than you need every day and hit the iron hard. Good things will happen.

4. Stop Bench Pressing.

Most muscle building programs aren’t fitted to specific skinny-fat needs. For instance, the bench press is often a “go-to” barbell exercise for building muscle. But for skinny-fats, it’s not worth doing.

Now, I know this might seem like blasphemy, but skinny-fats are already terribly self-conscious about their upper chest lacking in proportion when compared to their lower chest. The flat barbell bench press, when done correctly, puts much more emphasis on the lower chest. Therefore, the incline bench press is a better alternative.

Skinny-fat is a unique breed. Not only do we battle our genetics, we battle a lifetime of self-inflicted anguish. There are aspects of our body that we’re just kind of sensitive about. More often than not, it’s better to address concerning areas as long as you’re substituting an equally worth exercise.

Swapping the incline press in favor of the flat press is a good substitution. Swapping leg extensions in favor of squats, however, doesn’t quite cut it.

5. Don’t Neglect Arm Isolation Exercises.

A common recommendation these days is ditching direct arm work in favor of bigger, compound movements. While I can’t fully argue with this, ditching direct arm work for a skinny-fat is a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong. Do your rows, chins, and presses. But it’s OK to throw in a few curls afterwards. Go with thick grip barbell curls, thick grip cheat curls (an Arnold favorite), and thick grip dumbbell hammer curls. These may just turn your little sprout string bean arms into jolly green giants.

6. Stop sabotaging your progress with poor nutrition.

You’re training hard to build muscle and lose fat, don’t let your life outside of the gym sabotage your effort. First and foremost, this means getting your diet in check.

Down a minimum of one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. This will help in the muscle department. Opt for natural foods (meats, fish, vegetables, fruits) over processed foods. Stop eating processed grains and sugars—this includes fruit juice, sweetened protein supplements, sweetened yogurts, and sports drinks. Some skinny-fats might even have to eliminate wheat, flour, and milk to live within the confines of a lower body fat.

Replace processed grains and sugars with fruits and vegetables. Replace sugary drinks with water and the occasional coffee or tea. And here’s a tip on how to shop: Stay primarily around the perimeter of the grocery store. This is usually where the “fresh” stuff is that can’t be housed in boxes that can sit on shelves for centuries.

7. Stop stressing out and go to sleep.

Get your stressors in check. Too much stress and too little sleep aren’t conducive to much of anything in the name of being muscular with little body fat.

If you aren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep, start there. Don’t be afraid to take naps either as long as you aren’t substituting them for a lack of sleep.

Leave most of your work or school baggage at the office or in the classroom. Devote some happy time to yourself every night. It might even be beneficial to de-stress for five minutes before you go to sleep.

Use this breathing protocol outlined in Bill Starr’s classic book, The Strongest Shall Survive.

  • Inhale through the nose as close to 100% as possible
  • When you think you’re at 100%, take one last inhale (you’ll never be at 100%)
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds
  • Exhale 100% through pursed lips
  • When you think you’re at 100%, take one last exhale
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds
  • Repeat

This clears your mind and settles your heart rate—an especially useful tactic before sleep.

Skinny-fat Wrap Up

Being skinny-fat sucks, and there’s no reason to pretend it doesn’t. The narrow shoulders, tiny wrists, and longer frame is the exact recipe called for by Emeril Lagasse to create a stunning combination of looking lanky while also sporting a muffin top. But don’t yet condemn yourself to a life sentence of never taking your shirt off in public. There’s hope, as long as you start using these six tips to help you slay skinny-fat syndrome. What are you waiting for?


Anthony Mychal is a former coached turned writer. He’s been featured in T-Nation, STACK, My Mad Methods, Greatist, Elite FTS, and LIVESTRONG.com. In his spare time, he can be found lifting barbells or flipping around on a bed of grass in the name of martial arts tricking (http://www.tricktraining.net). His personal blog, Beast Mode Fitness Systems (http://anthonymychal.com), is dedicated to sending salutations to skinny-fat syndrome and awakening the athletic animal within.

Website: http://anthonymychal.com

Here’s What Being ‘Skinny Fat’ Means for Your Health

What I’m about to say may sound like an admission from an Addicts Anonymous meeting, but here goes: My name is Kelsey Castañon and I’m skinny fat. There, I said it.

On the outside, you’d never know. I have an athletic build and a pant size that’s readily available at department stores. But don’t let my appearance deceive you. On the inside, I am skinny fat and often suspect my body hates me. (By the way, body shaming leads to a higher mortality risk.)

That’s the thing: While the term “skinny fat” seems entirely against the body-positive movement—and, true, it could use a better name—it’s ultimately about health. Keep reading to get the scoop.

What Is Skinny Fat?

Let me explain this whole skinny fat thing. Despite my five-foot-three frame, I can put away more food than most dudes out there. This is not me boasting; it’s a fact. My typical dinner consists of two full-blown meals. Some days I go for the grease (like pizza—not salad pizzas, BTW, and mac ‘n’ cheese) while other times I’m healthy (think: quinoa and a salad). But there’s never just one. Always two.

And working out? I can’t bring myself to do it. I assure myself that I’m not immobile, I do walk 20 minutes to work every day, but I rarely engage in muscle-building exercise. My skinny fat excuse is consistent: I’m “allergic” to sweat and often get sneeze-y and itchy for days after a workout. (Which, in my defense, is totally a thing—although my assumption remains undiagnosed by a doctor.)

All signs point me to the term “skinny fat”—medically known as metabolically obese but within a normal weight range for my height—a phrase used to describe people who look fit and healthy on the surface yet, due to a lack of exercise or poor diet, have a slew of health problems brewing beneath it. “I see these patients every day. At first, they look healthy, sometimes even skinny, with a low or average body mass index (BMI),” says Lauren Klein, a certified weight loss management professional in New York City. “But upon further evaluation, they fall victim to the same diagnostic markers of diabetic patients: high blood sugar, low good cholesterol, high triglycerides, inflammation, and/or high blood pressure.”

The Health Risks of Being Skinny Fat

On top of the aforementioned problems, skinny fat people also have low muscle mass (guilty), either from a lack of exercise or “a past of excessive dieting without eating enough protein to maintain any muscle,” she says. Labs can show vitamin deficiencies too, which can lead to fatigue or low concentration levels. A good way to tell is if you have a little extra belly fat, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (And if this all sounds familiar, you could also be at risk for the Female Athlete Triad.)

Needless to say, when I first read about the term in an article published by Time earlier this year, I was alarmed at how similar the symptoms sounded. Someone who never eats veggies? Check. Hasn’t worked out since middle school? Check, check. I nearly had a heart attack. Despite my consistent second dinners, I’m lucky to have normal blood sugar and pressure levels, but I’m no angel. I still have zero muscle mass (which Klein says is the “true backbone of metabolism”). I consider red wine my downfall and, while a single glass can be good for your heart and mind, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I overdo it. Pair that with my unwise eating habits and I’ve got an expensive diagnosis of inflammation, with a side of constant heartburn, stomach pains, and gas. And as my gastroenterologist has warned me, high levels of inflammation account for the majority of diseases that affect Americans today-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and autoimmune disorders included. I may not have the latter, but I could be well on my way should I keep up my unhealthy habits.

The truth is, the lifestyle practices—lack of exercise, fatty foods, stress—that lead to these disorders or symptoms aren’t always exclusive to being overweight. So people with normal BMIs, like me, don’t always consider the risks. For my own sake, I’m going to do better. I must end my polyamorous affair with dinner. (And fight the temptation to make all 12 of these recipes to lighten up mac ‘n’ cheese at once. The struggle is real.) I will take little steps to build muscle (like doing this 10-minute workout to boost metabolism before bed).

Do you need a skinny fat routine reboot? Ask yourself these lifestyle questions to find out, then follow get-healthy plan to get your life back in check. I promise: We’re all in this together.

So Are You Skinny Fat?

Check out the below statements that are, according to Klein, trademarks of being skinny fat. If you identify with a few (or all) of them, check in with your doctor to get all the necessary blood tests. (Related: How to *Finally* Kick Your Weekend Overeating Habit)

  • You haven’t lifted weights since 10th-grade gym class.
  • You experience constant “sugar crashes” or “brain fog,” such as fatigue, low energy, or difficulty with your focus, memory, or concentration.
  • You pass on protein-packed foods.
  • Your belly is bigger than the rest of your body. “Look for abnormal body fat in the mid-section, similar to an apple shape,” says Klein. (Related: Can We Please Stop Talking About “Belly Fat”?)
  • Your diet regularly consists of excess carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, sugar, or processed foods.
  • You feel light-headed after mild exercise.

What to Do If You Think You’re Skinny Fat

Being mindful of your everyday habits-what you eat, how often you exercise-can make or break your path to wellness. These little steps are easy and have a big impact.

  • Adopt a balanced diet. Here’s the key: Get in less sugar and more good-for-you nutrients. “Stick to the four major food groups: protein, good fat, non-starchy vegetables, and carbs,” says Klein. “Try to stay away from processed foods and man-made carbohydrates, like bread, pasta, and chips.” Check out this new app that shows you how much sugar is really in your food.
  • Don’t forget your protein. That means eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, or chicken. Not only will you feel fuller, “sufficient protein intake protects your muscles and maintains a healthy metabolism,” she says.
  • Move your body. It’s not always easy, but even getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day helps. (Need proof? Science says you don’t have to run very far to reap the benefits of running.)
  • Lift, bro. Turns out, people with higher muscle mass have a lower risk of death and heart disease, regardless of how much body fat they have, according to the study published in the American Journal of Cardiology. To test this, researchers divided 6,400 people into four categories: low muscle/low fat mass (“skinny fat”), low muscle/high fat mass (“fat”), high muscle/low fat mass (“athletic”), and high muscle/high fat mass (“fit and fat”). Unsurprisingly, those in the “athletic” group had the lowest risk of death and the best heart health. But the “fit and fat” group came in a close second, far ahead of the “skinny fat” or “fat” groups when it came to health. “Regardless of a person’s level of fat mass, a higher level of muscle mass helps reduce the risk of death, highlighting the importance of maintaining muscle mass, rather than focusing on weight loss, in order to prolong life,” the researchers wrote, adding that people should be actively encouraged to focus on lifting weights over weight loss. And according to another piece of research, you should pair your protein with strength training to optimize muscle mass.
  • Relax. Stress can cause your blood pressure to skyrocket, so take a yoga class (or try our 30-day yoga challenge), meditate, or read. Anything to get your stress levels down.
  • Sleep. Six to eight hours is the goal. (First up for me: naps.)

I received this email from my client, and what came out in response was an outpouring of my deepest desire for all women and men who have ever struggled with the issue of weight and body image. If you’ve ever struggled with this, or know someone who has, this is for you.

Client Letter:

Hi Anne!

So I thought of something else that we didn’t talk about today that I would love your feedback on.

I spent a lot of my life as a skinny, pretty, attractive female.

It’s hard to not be that after you have been. And I want it back. And I get that it’s superficial. But I want to be honest about my goals. I want a better relationship with food, but I miss being attractive in that way. I won’t ever stop missing that, and that’s where a chunk of my unhappiness comes from.


My Response:


First of all, I want to say that I truly know how you feel. My heart understands you and ALL my fellow men/women who have ever felt this way about their bodies and their health. It breaks my heart, but this is why I do what I do. My mission is to help individuals, like yourself, truly attain balance and finally feel wonderful in their own skin.

Imagine what you could do if your life was no longer consumed with what to eat, how much you weigh, or how you look in pictures or mirrors? How might you use that energy to heal the world? Now, more than ever, it needs your attention.

I recall you mentioned doing competitive cheerleading in high school. I grew up doing musical theatre, majored in it, and the need to be “skinny” onstage was deeply embedded in my psyche. It caused me a lot of grief.

I’ll never forget when my agents told me I needed to be 100 lbs to be considered for TV/film roles. Yet even when I was at my lowest weight, and probably in the best shape of my life from running, dancing, and working out, it never felt good enough. And as a result, I would soon gain weight back from lack of self worth and the behavioral choices that followed.

Your desires are not superficial; they are totally normal. You are not the first to desire being back to the weight/look you were at an earlier stage of your life. I’ve felt that same way before, and many of my clients have shared the same desire with me.

What I would help you do from the start is to shift the perspective around your goals so that you attain what you truly desire. The desire to be skinny and attractive are actually a deeper desire to feel fantastic about your body, comfortable in your own skin, and at peace with yourself. That desire IS attainable, and will give you what you deeply want and need most. You’ll naturally feel “attractive/skinny” when you have the energy levels you need to support you, and the neurotransmitter support to feel happy, and when your gut health and hormones are working for you and not against you. You will feel like a rock star! But that comes from a place of balanced health. Not from the goal of strictly being skinny. Trust me, love, I’ve “yo-yo’d” enough in the past to finally come to terms with this and it’s saved me. You have enough experience now to know that way of life doesn’t work.

The way I help you get back to feeling like the rock star that you are is a tri-fold approach. I take an in-depth look at your current diet and lifestyle, and we begin by “crowding out” what may not be working/serving you with what will! Win/win choices that make you feel great now AND great tomorrow. I love the crowding out method because we’re built on habit. So we keep the basic habit structures in place and replace old patterns with newer behaviors that truly support you. I’m NOT for deprivation diets or causing you unnecessary stress. The changes are gentle. I believe in simplicity and daily, reasonable practices that add up over time. Like compound interest, we see tremendous results, and those results are far more sustainable (especially when we’re feeling so great!) than doing yet another intense fitness/dietary challenge that simply is not doable long-term. That causes the “yo-yo” effect where we dump the new routine and gain all the weight back. That I don’t wish for you, or anyone!

Now, I mentioned this is a tri-fold approach. While our diet and lifestyle choices are very important, probably THE most important element of the entire practice is the mental perspective. If we were to work together, we’d simultaneously bring your body back in balance AND give you mental healing techniques so that you start to love your body again, right now. The great news is you don’t have to wait to be happy and healthy. Your true happiness does not lie beyond in the “someday” mindset when you finally reach a goal weight. Trust me when I say that we save ourselves a lot of unnecessary suffering when we finally learn that truth, as cliché as it may sound. Happiness is your birthright, and you have access to it right here, right now.

When we bring the body and mind back in balance, a wonderful thing occurs. The final stage, and most rewarding: the spirit reawakens. Mainly by relieving the stress that’s been clouding your system on the mental/physical planes. Stress is another huge culprit when it comes to weight gain. Cortisol and adrenaline rush our system, we go into fight or flight mode, our blood sugar goes out of whack, and we “puff out”, holding onto unnecessary weight, simply because the body thinks it’s under attack. Energy that’s needed to digest and perform normal bodily functions is deemed unnecessary for survival. The good news is, most chronic stress is not life threatening. You’re safe and not under attack. In bringing your body back to parasympathetic mode, or “rest and digest” mode where it’s able to perform automatic bodily functions, we bring ourselves back to peace, back to a state of healthy balance, and back to love.

And you know what happens then?? Our bodies work for us naturally, as they were built to. You don’t have to tell your heart to beat. It knows what to do. We remind ourselves that this state of peace is ours for the taking, regardless of our outer circumstances. And our spirit comes out to play in miraculous ways when there’s room for it to flow. We feel “in the zone” at work, we communicate beautifully in our relationships, and we feel like we’re glowing from the inside out! Our creativity is on fire, we go on spontaneous adventures, and we simply love our lives and love ourselves.

So the goal wouldn’t simply be to make you “skinny”. It would be to grant you access to the incredible happiness and fulfillment you already possess, but that’s simply been clouded over. And I’m here to help you unlock that again. It’s far more empowering seeing my clients believe in themselves and trust their “gut” again, rather than seeking solace outside of themselves or saying “I’ll be happy when…”. You possess this powerful ability, and I’m here to help you become your own best friend and welcome it into your life.

Now, how does that sound for a new way of life?

Love, Anne

Health coach Anne Markt works with Dr. Frank Lipman at Eleven Eleven Wellness Center.

Possible Ways To Get Skinny In A Week – Diet Plan & Precautions Charushila Biswas Hyderabd040-395603080 January 6, 2020

If you want to get skinny in just a week, eat right. You will lose weight fast by choosing foods that burn fat, prevent fat accumulation, and help you stay active. You must also exercise and tweak your lifestyle. This article gives you sample 7-day diet plan that adopts a gradual decrease in calories per day policy, an exercise routine, and lifestyle changes. Set realistic goals and you will be all set to turn heads at the big event. Keep reading!

Things To Keep In Mind Before You Begin

This Plan Is Not For Long-Term Weight Loss

Losing weight quickly is challenging. That’s why we have devised a plan that helps you lose water weight to make you look slimmer. Please note that you should not follow this plan continuously beyond one week. It is designed for short-term weight loss goals.

Talk To Your Doctor

Before you start following this plan, you MUST talk to your doctor to seek their approval.

Your Body Type


There are three main types of bodies: ectomorphic, mesomorphic, and endomorphic. Let us take a brief look at each one before exploring ways to get skinny quickly.

  • Ectomorphic Body Type

When you think about skinny people, you are thinking about ectomorphs, who have very little fat and muscle and have a bone structure that is more delicate than the others. Individuals with ectomorphic body types are naturally skinny. It could also be that it is easier for them to lose weight. An example of an ectomorph is the always-skinny Taylor Swift.

  • Mesomorphic Body Type

People with this body type build muscle naturally. Their body also gains fat faster. However, their advantage is that they are able to lose the fat they gain quite easily. A good example of a mesomorphic body type would be actress Jessica Biel.

  • Endomorphic Body Type

Endomorphs have a body type that is quite complicated. They have to work hard to control the percentage of body fat. It is a struggle for them to lose weight. Singer Beyonce is an example of an endomorphic body type.

The level of difficulty or ease with which you can get skinny depends on your body type. Also, set realistic goals of getting slimmer so that you can achieve them without being disappointed.

Do Not Ignore Health To Become Skinny

Health should always come first as it trumps being “skinny” any day. Maintaining a healthy weight and improving your overall health should be your primary goal. If you are not feeling the whole vibe of “getting skinny” then drop it! Do not force yourself to do something that your body and mind are rejecting.

With these points in mind, take a look at our short-term plan to get slim fast:

Diet Plan To Follow

The 7-day diet plan requires the dieters to cut calories gradually. After the 7th day, for the next 2 weeks, the dieters must consume healthy foods and avoid sugary foods, saturated fats, and foods that are loaded with trans fats.

  1. Day 1 – 2000 Calories
  2. Day 2 – 1600 Calories
  3. Day 3 – 1200 Calories
  4. Day 4 – 900 Calories
  5. Day 5– 800 Calories
  6. Day 6 & Day 7 – 700 Calories

1. Day 1 – 2000 Calories

Meal What To Eat
Early Morning 1 glass warm water with 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 a lime.
Breakfast Options:
Scrambled eggs, 1 slice of multi-grain bread, and 1 cup milk.
Any healthy juice made up of fresh ingredients.
Lunch Options:
Tuna salad with fresh veggies and Dijon mustard dressing.
Asparagus, spinach, and carrot/beetroot salad with a light dressing.
Post-Lunch 8 almonds and 1 apple.
Evening Snack 1 cup black or green tea with2 multigrain biscuits.
Dinner Options:
Broccoli, butternut squash, and cauliflower blended soup.
Stir-fried chicken/turkey with veggies.
Why This Works

Adult women need 2200 calories per day (1). Start by cutting 200 calories on the first day, so that your body does not feel deprived. Start your day with detox water to flush out the toxins. Eating every 2-3 hours throughout the day will keep your cells active and keep you from munching on junk food.

Since you will be taking 2000 calories on this day, it is recommended that you expend the energy by working out. Here is a list of exercises that you can do at home at your convenient time.

Exercises For Day 1
  • Neck rotations (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Spot jogging – 5-10 minutes
  • Forward lunges – 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Jumping forward lunges – 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Jumping jacks – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Sit-ups – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Crunches with feet perpendicular to the floor – 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Mountain climbers – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Pushups – 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Scissor kicks – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Standing side crunch – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Stretch

Day 2 – 1600 Calories

Meal What To Eat
Early Morning 1 glass warm water with 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 a lime or any detox drink.
Breakfast Kale or banana smoothie.
Whole wheat pancake with honey.
Lunch Broccoli soup or Cabbage soup.
Post-Lunch 1 bowl of fruits.
Evening Snack 1 cup green tea with 1 oatmeal biscuit.
Dinner Options:
Chicken clear soup with veggies.
Grilled fish with yogurt and grated veggies dip.
Chickpea tortilla wrap with avocado and mustard sauce.

from munching on junk food.

Since you will be taking 2000 calories on this day, it is recommended that you expend the energy by working out. Here is a list of exercises that you can do at home at your convenient time.

Exercises For Day 2
  • Neck rotations (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Squats – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Jumping lunges – 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Pushups – 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Jumping jacks – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Burpees- 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Crunches – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Plank – 15-20 seconds
  • Scissor kicks- 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Tricep dips – 2 set of 5 reps
  • Stretch

Day 3 – 1200 Calories

Meal What To Eat
Early Morning 1 glass warm water and juice of 1 lime.
Breakfast 1 glass fat-free milk,1 apple, and 2 dates.
Lunch Options: Grilled cottage cheese and vegetable sandwich without mayonnaise or cheese.

Smoked turkey bacon salad with olive oil and dijon mustard dressing.

Post-Lunch 1 cup watermelon.
Evening Snack 1 glass lemonade.
Dinner Options: Grilled chicken cubes with pineapple and honey. Blanched French beans with mashed carrot/beetroot

On this 1200 calorie day, you get to consume a lot of fresh fruits, fruit juices, and veggies so that you provide ample fiber to the body. Fiber prevents fat accumulation and also mobilizes stored fat (2).

Exercises For Day 3
  • Neck rotations (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Stretching exercises or yoga

Day 4 – 900 Calories

Meal What To Eat
Early Morning 1 glass warm water and juice of 1 lime.
Breakfast 1 glass fruit juice made with pineapple, kiwi, peach, and freshly ground black pepper.
Lunch Cherry tomato and greens salad with low-fat yogurt dressing.
Post-Lunch 1 glass tomato juice with a dash of lime and pinch of black pepper.
Evening Snack 1 cup baby carrots.
Dinner Options:
Lentil soup with peas and cauliflower.
Smoked salmon and veggies with whole wheat pita bread.
Exercises For Day 4
  • Neck rotations (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Spot jogging – 5 – 7 minutes
  • Full body stretching exercise

Day 5– 800 Calories

Meal What To Eat
Early Morning 1 glass warm water with juice of 1 lime and juice of an inch of ginger root.
Breakfast 1 whole boiled egg.
Lunch 1 bowl of blended vegetable soup.
Post-Lunch 1 apple or 1 orange.
Evening Snack 1 cup green tea with 1 multigrain biscuit.
Dinner Options:
Kidney bean salad+ 1 glass fat-free milk with a pinch of turmeric before bed.
Grilled chicken salad + 1 glass fat-free milk with a pinch of turmeric before bed.

Eggs provide the body with the required amount of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids (6). A good protein-rich dinner will give nutrition to your muscles (7).

Exercises For Day 5
  • Neck rotations (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Surya Namaskar

Day 6 & Day 7 – 700 Calories

Meal What To Eat
Early Morning 1 glass warm water with juice of 1 lime.
Breakfast Options:
Banana whole wheat pancakes with honey.
Kale, celery, and strawberry smoothie with ground flaxseeds.
Lunch Options:
Grilled brussels sprouts and chicken salad.
Thai papaya salad.
Post-Lunch Options:
Tender coconut water.
Detox water
Evening Snack 1 cup green tea.
Dinner Options:
Baked salmon with lime and herbs.
Baked soy chunk stuffed capsicum.

On Day 6 and Day 7, dieters will be allowed to consume 700 calories per day. Negative calorie foods are included so that you burn fat while you digest what you eat. Coconut water and yogurt are filling yet low in calories (8), (9). Finish the day with a light protein-rich dinner to avoid muscle fatigue and weakness.

Exercises For Day 6 & 7
  • Neck rotations (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotations – (clockwise and anti-clockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Breathing exercises
How Will You Feel After Day 6 & 7

You will be surprised to see your body change, and the best part is losing weight without starving. Eating every 2 – 3 hours and eating foods that burn fat will prevent you from feeling weak and hungry. Yoga will also help keep your muscles and blood circulation active.


Do not follow this diet plan for any longer than seven days. Sticking to a very low-calorie diet for a prolonged period will lead to compromised immunity, weak muscles, and bones. Also, consult your physician or dietitian before following this diet plan to know whether this will suit you.

Along with diet and exercise, you must change your lifestyle gradually so that you do not have to worry about shedding pounds quickly. Here’s what you can do.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Get Plenty Of Fiber

It has been said hundreds of times and cannot be said enough: eat plenty of fruits and veggies to get the dietary fiber they are rich in. This is another important part of losing weight fast. Dietary fiber helps the body in several ways, and making you feel full quickly is only one of them (10). With a diet rich in fiber, you satisfy your hunger faster, which means that you avoid overeating and gaining weight.

  • Eat Small Portions

Cook large meals but eat small ones! People who have lost weight successfully are those that realize the importance of balancing their diet, and not just in terms of food types. You should eat a small meal every 3 hours at least. This will prevent you from overeating and getting fat. Make it one of your goals to take in approximately 1200 to 1800 calories per day. It will definitely help you lose weight faster.

  • Consume Food Slowly

Make sure you chew your food well. This is an important part of losing weight (11). It is vital to ensure that your food is very well-chewed before you swallow it.

  • Create A Healthy Grocery List

Your grocery list should only contain the most nutritious foods. Eating healthy is an important part of getting skinny. You should also limit the time you spend in the grocery store so that you stay away from the aisles that have all the unhealthy stuff. Healthy weight loss is the way to go if you are trying to get thin.

  • Avoid Skipping Meals

A lot of people take the unhealthy route to getting skinny and skip meals. This is one of the worst mistakes that you could ever make as it does more harm than good. It may help you lose weight quickly, but before you know it, you will gain it, and a whole lot more, back. This is because when you do eat, you will eat a lot more than you would if you had not skipped any meals.

  • Find A Weight Loss Buddy

Trying to get skinny fast is no mean feat to achieve. Having a support system that is reliable plays a huge role as it pushes you to keep going when things get tough. When you have someone who has the same goals as you, you can be there for each other and go through the journey together.

  • Keep The Beverages Away

When you are trying to get skinny, there are going to be a lot of cravings as your body will want the foods that you consumed before. Aerated and sweetened beverages, packaged fruit juices, and alcohol are temptations that many people give in to. You need to stop consuming sugar. Drink plenty of water and if you have a craving for something sweet, squeeze the juice out of fresh fruits and have it.

  • Say No To Chewing Gum

Chewing gums contain a high amount of sugar (12). Also, when you chew gum, you gulp air and get bloated. Sure, chewing gums tone your face muscles, but for that opt for low-sugar chewing gums.

  • Keep Moving

If you sit for long hours at home, work, or school, try to change the habit by setting an alarm every 1 hour. As the alarm goes off, take a walk break or standing break. Stretch your arms and legs for about two minutes before getting back to work. Also, take the stairs whenever possible.

  • Keep Stress Away

One of the primary causes of obesity is stress (13). Have you noticed that you eat more when you are stressed? And it is usually unhealthy foods that you eat when you feel this way. Using food to gain comfort is one of the quickest ways to gain weight, so keep stress away and keep yourself busy with activities that make you feel happy and relaxed!

  • Sleep

Get at least 6-7 hours of sleep. Sleep will help rejuvenate the cells of your body and help your brain function better (14).

14 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.

FACT: If you’re skinny, you’re treated better. What thin privilege is, and why we need to talk about it

Whether you want to admit it or not, your overall appearance is how many people will gauge your worth before they even know your name.

The same way people have preconceived notions and prejudice against people based on race and gender, bigger body types are treated a completely different way than their thin counterparts. If you’re smaller, you have privileges and access some of us can only dream of, and it goes beyond playground insults and “skinny shaming.”

This is literally the best thing I have read in 2018!
Every time I talk about #fatshaming people will jump in and bring up skinny shaming. However, the same people will never acknowledge thin privilege nor will they do anything to change society’s attitude towards fat people. pic.twitter.com/MmBg6CKtiL

— Amena (@Fashionopolis) March 13, 2018

I’m sure there will be a lot of women who shop Forever 21 regular who are going to give me a lot of shit on what fat women can do to lose weight to be treated like a human being, but there are real societal hinderances on overweight and even slightly-above-average women.

You never have to worry about finding your size, because it’ll be sold at literally any and every store

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Plus-size shopping is the fucking scavenger hunt I didn’t ask to participate in. Some smart-ass straight-size girl will probably comment that I should bend my back to meet retailers in the middle and lose weight so I can fit into their clothes, but fuck that.

Case in point, I have thin privilege. I know this because most clothing companies carry my size, but I also know this because, on the rare occasions I’m sized out, people empathize with me…they don’t assume there’s something wrong with my body that needs to change.

— Cora Harrington (@lingerie_addict) March 26, 2018

Fashion corporations are meant to represent the people and offer us their problem-solving products and services instead of only serving women who can fit in their very narrow perspective of who’s worthy of clothes. Right, H&M?

Clawing through racks of ugly pieces expected to cover you up is not what I’d call a shopping spree — that’d imply a level playing field for both fat and straight-size women. Shopping while plus-size means you’re competing for sizes with every other plus-size babe searching for the same chic lewks because sections for curvy girls are sometimes tinier than the children’s department.

Let us not forget that with thin privilege, you pay less for your apparel. There’s more fabric needed to design bigger clothing, so plus-size girls are forced to dig deeper in their pockets for their next #ootd. And regardless of the fact that there are far more plus-sized women than straight-size women in America, thickies still pay more for their fashion.

Do you get lectures from your doctor? Oh right, that’s just us

I get that it’s a health practitioner’s job to tell you all the ways you can be the best you, but not being at an “ideal” weight doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll die tomorrow. Not to mention how rarely fatter patients get taken seriously when they complain about body pain — doctors always turn it around to weight, and blame us for our own discomfort.

I can explain why but I hate going to the doctors because I feel like if anything is wrong they’ll just judge me and say it’s because I’m fat.

— ilove ayesha paris lyss magg simon josh vik tobi+ (@KaraAst) March 20, 2018

Doctors don’t realize what kind of mental anguish this level of dismissal can inflict on us. It doesn’t even matter if you’re actively trying to lose weight! You’re immediately dismissed out of hand. Remember when Kourtney literally passed out in the gym after working out too hard? That’s the level of “commitment” we fat girls should all be on to even get a seat at the table. I’m pretty sure that’s not the way to do it.

A study conducted by PLosONE found that physicians had the same strong anti-fat bias as the general public. As a result, it’s thought that doctors might treat overweight patients differently, according to Janice Sabin, an assistant professor in bioinformatics and medical education that the University of Washington in Seattle and head researcher.

Your body is the norm, not a fetish

Phrases like “I’ve never been with a skinny girl” don’t exist in your dating lifestyle because it’s expected that all guys typically only have sex with girls smaller than they are — despite 70 percent of women being classified as overweight.

I too have #thinprivilege, and echo this… https://t.co/S9JPtbBMHu

— Jason Harrison (@GreedyRunner) March 12, 2018

Some people want to ~try something different~ besides the idolized straight-sized girl, and that’s part of the problem. Fat women are just a taste tester, but never the first choice to buy and devour long-term. The principle idea of beauty is to have a thigh gap or you’re automatically ugly, and that’s a huge disconnect between thick and thin.

Being plus-size means competing with your straight-size friends sometimes. That’s primarily because there are some men who already having a predetermined image of what they plan on scoping out and scooping up upon entrance in a social venue. And most times, it’s not someone with stretch marks and cellulite.

Society teaches that fat is automatically associated with ugly. Try to date in a world that tells you you’re intrinsically undesirable, and that your partner (if you snag one) made a poor choice in selecting you.

In the same way white people have been held up as the only race that matters in this country, it’s unsurprising that fat people are also seen as underdogs in any dating scenario.

Airlines don’t charge you just for existing

Fuck diet culture. Fuck skinny privilege. Fuck people who say skinny privilege doesn’t exist because sorry but it does. Fuck people who hate on others bodies because everyone is beautiful and strong and thin or not you’re perfect.

— sad_poet (@_sad_poet) March 15, 2018

The fact that airlines make their seating flyable to only smaller human beings with shapeless figures is appalling in its own right. It’s a fact that airline seats have actually shrank over time in order to cram in as many bodies as possible, so them charging more for “customers of size” isn’t some kind of health and safety issue — it’s a cash-grab, plain and simpIe.

A fat girl makes a spectacle of herself simply walking down the aisle. It’s literally a walk of fat shame as eyes follow you to your bite-sized seat, and you can tell what they’re all thinking: please don’t sit by me. Straight-size women don’t get ogled trying to squeeze into a middle seat that’d be a struggle for anyone who’s not pint-sized.

I don’t know about you, but I highly doubt there’s any airline who can’t afford to redesign seats for actual comfort.

Your body type is always represented in pop culture

If there’s a new female-led movie coming to theaters near you, it comes as no surprise to anyone that she’s a straight-size woman. Whether or not it’s an action movie, a rom-com, a fucking historical drama, the representation of plus-size women in media is smaller that my aereolas—and they’re some tiny little things! We virtually don’t exist in media, and when we are, we’re portrayed as an underdog who against all odds! succeeds and gets a guy, or as comic relief.

I’m tired of thin people with thin privilege trying to tell me, a fat person, how to love my body. How could you possibly know what it’s like to live in my body or the bullshit I deal with daily that is not from me hating myself, but society deeming me unworthy of basic respect? pic.twitter.com/w37kN25Gyk

— Mysse Match (@myssematch) March 27, 2018

To my thickies reading this, you were probably stunned watching This Is Us and stoked to find out that curvy binch Chrissy Metz was a main character. That kind of breath of fresh air is the same response your Black friend had after watching Black Panther. Now if we can just get a show about a fat woman that doesn’t dedicate most of its plot to weight loss.

Whether in private or public, you aren’t judged for what’s on your plate

Women who don’t look like runway models are targeted when it comes to food, point-blank. Even if you’re a fat girl eating a salad and trying to make “healthier” food choices, you can still expect someone to make a comment on your diet.

Thin privilege is being able to eat healthy without everyone asking if you are on a diet. They just assume you’re eating healthy purely to be healthy.

— Menthol Mom (@darlittta) March 22, 2018

“Is that green on your plate?” or “I see you finally decided to take my advice!” and “That’s some healthy eating you got there!” are only some of the comments made by my own family about my food choices.

If you eat a burger, you’re shamed for perpetuating an “unhealthy” lifestyle. If you eat something light, you get those “who does she think she’s kidding?” looks. It’s a no-win scenario and I’m fucking sick of it.

Enjoying food (like everyone else) while being fat is also worthy of judgmental eyes. No one bats an eye if gorgeous, straight-size people like Jennifer Lawrence get caught ripping open mints and talking ad nauseam about her obsession with Doritos and pizza. People think it’s cute, a refreshing and adorable perspective. If you’re fat like me, it’s open season.

We always talk about how fat people should consider eating less and working out and staying healthy. That’s all fine and dandy, but we never talk about whether or not a woman’s mental health and overall happiness is compromised to appease society’s expectations of the female body—produce offspring, but stay skinny and look hot while doing it.

As women, all of us are subjected to critique and struggle. But part of being a good feminist is understanding that some of us are subjected to problems you’ve never experienced. Sorry to my skinny sisters, but sometimes you need to step aside.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

● I’ve got some shocking news for you people: Not all fat girls want to lose weight

● What it’s really like trying to masturbate as a fat woman


Women have long been subject to powerful social pressures to look a certain way. The “feminine ideal” – a svelte female figure – has dominated film, television and magazine culture.

The result is a narrow idea of what feminine beauty should look like and an associated crisis in body satisfaction.

The dominance of the feminine ideal has led to a body satisfaction crisis for many women. Mike Nelson/AAP

In recent years an “athletic ideal” – characterised by muscle tone and power – has emerged as an alternative conception of beauty. Female bodies on the track are as appealing as those on the catwalk.

This might be considered a good thing – a broader definition of beauty is more inclusive. More accepted body types, more body satisfaction, right?

From the perspective of former athletes, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Athletes are a useful population to explore in terms of the relationship between “athletic” and “feminine” ideals – they are exposed to both more than most women.

A recent study of 218 former athletes showed they found body image a difficult terrain to navigate. Gymnasts and swimmers, retired for between two and six years, were asked to identify what body changes they noticed, how they felt about them and how they coped.

Some former athletes embraced a new, less muscular body that emerged due to the retirement-induced reduction in training load.

Chelsea, a 26-year-old retired swimmer, commented:

Lost most of the heavier muscle I gained while training in college about six months after I stopped swimming. Due to the loss, I dropped about 15–20 pounds… I was surprised at how baggy my clothes felt and was pleasantly surprised that I could fit in smaller sizes. I didn’t feel as bulky or broad-shouldered.

With bulk and brawn confined to her former life, Chelsea rejoices in her increased sense of femininity. This suggests traditional conventions of feminine beauty remain the preference even for former athletes who often take pride in their physical strength and muscularity.

Read more: Size is largely in the mind: how your body image can change in two minutes

A stronger ideal doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthier body image. from shutterstuck.com

So, perhaps statements such as “strong is the new skinny” are overplayed and the feminine ideal remains powerful and difficult to resist.

Another finding was that the athletic ideal may be the alternative ideal, but it’s not necessarily a healthier ideal or one that will lead to a more positive body image.

Retired swimmer Abbey, 26, illustrated this point when she stated:

It took me a long time to realise that my body would never be what it was when I was an athlete… I still think back and use that image as a gauge to how I could look, but also know that my life does not revolve around working out 20-plus hours a week or needing to be in top shape to be successful. I still want to be as lean and as strong as I used to be.

Although Abbey remains committed to an athletic ideal, she is unable to fulfil it now she is no longer an athlete. Accepting this is a difficult process and she still pines for her former body.

An athletic ideal may not exclusively focus on thinness but it still demands stringent diets and training regimes and it has been linked to disordered eating and exercise behaviours.

Read more: Social media can damage body image – here’s how to counteract it

Ideals, by definition, aren’t healthy because they demand the unachievable: perfection.

Some athletes were torn between the athletic ideal and the feminine ideal, identifying with both and attempting to walk a tightrope between a sporty look and a feminine one.

Many former athletics walk a tightrope between a feminine and sporty body. from .com

For example, former swimmer Simone, 26, reflected:

My weight is pretty much the same as when I was swimming, but I am significantly less muscular. I’m glad I am not as muscular as I was when I was swimming and that my shoulders shrunk to a size that would fit into clothes, but I would like to be a little more muscular/toned than I am now.

And 25-year-old Carrie, a retired gymnast, echoed the “toned but not too toned” mantra:

I am less muscular and my butt has gotten a little saggy. I feel OK because I am still thin and feel energetic, but I would like to be more toned but not as bulky (muscular) as I was when I was competing in my sport.

Carrie and Simone desired athletic tone but not at the expense of conventional femininity. At the same time, they sought the thin ideal but not at the expense of an athletic look.

The athletic and feminine ideal represent two contradictory masters; to serve one is to reject the other. Finding the middle ground necessary to appease both is an almost impossible task.

Read more: Children with facial difference have a lot to teach us about body image

It is naïve to view the athletic ideal as simply providing women with a different or new way to love their bodies; it might also provide a new way to hate them. The more ideals there are, the more ways there are to fall short.

Strong isn’t the new skinny quite yet. And, if it were, it would be nothing to brag about.

Why Strong Is The New Skinny

Summer is right around the corner, and with that comes everyone rushing to get their ideal summer body. We all know the standard societal expectations. It seems as though every woman is expected to have a flat stomach, a thin waistline and an overall slim figure. So many women have constantly felt defined by a number on a scale. However, society’s standards are changing. While many still believe that the number on a scale is the most important thing, more and more women are starting to realize something so much more important: strong is the new skinny.

I don’t want to be thin; I want to be strong. The world is scary and I’m tired of being seen as fragile and incapable of defending myself solely because I am female. I’m not looking for a number on a scale to go down, but rather up. I don’t want to lose weight – I want to gain muscle. This doesn’t mean I want to be a bodybuilder or get rid of my feminine traits, but I am not interested in being a damsel in distress.

For some reason it has become a stigma that girls who have muscle are not sexy, but rather masculine. But how is it that having muscle makes me any less feminine? Sure, a flat stomach is sexy, but a flat stomach due to abs is sexier. A girl who actually has some definition when she flexes her arms is sexy. A defined calf muscle is sexy; especially in heels.

What’s even sexier? A woman who isn’t afraid to go against the stereotype of being “skinny” and instead wants to be strong and healthy. I no longer look at Victoria’s Secret models and get envious, but rather get afraid at the fact that their legs look as though they could break any second. To me, there is nothing sexy about being breakable.

The new “goals” for women have changed from being twigs to having shape and strength. There is nothing more reassuring than knowing that future generations won’t have to grow up wishing they were a size 0, but rather wanting to be fit.

As more women start to realize that strong is the new skinny, there will be no more comments that insult our capabilities. No more “you run like a girl” or “hit like a girl” being a shot at the female gender. Because I hit like a girl and that’s something to be proud of.

Strong is healthy. Strong is confident. Strong is sexy. Strong is beautiful.

For most of my teenage years and early 20s, I considered a “great body” to be skinny with thin legs and a booty that was on the smaller, flatter end. I thought my bigger bubble butt was too large for my small frame on top, and I desperately wanted to hide my curves that are now much more embraced, even sought after, in today’s world. I’d wear larger tops to conceal my butt, and I’d always feel a little self-conscious when I had to wear shorts, a bikini, or tighter dresses. I’ve always been a pretty confident person, but there was a piece missing: I couldn’t overcome my obsession with how my body looked on a daily basis.

Because I wanted to drop those pounds and look like other people at my school who had skinnier bodies, I developed an unhealthy eating style that persisted for a few years. Cycling through various eating disorders, chronic food guilt, and a compulsive need to think so critically before making food choices, I suffered emotionally all the damn time. I’d plan what I would eat from a restaurant menu a day or two before, going back and forth on what I thought had the least number of calories. I’d decide how much of my meal to eat compared to what others were eating around me. And if I did end up eating more than I thought I should, I’d feel like crap and beat myself up over it for hours and even days. So many wasted minutes were spent obsessing over food, how it affected my body and took me away from getting skinnier, and how not to be so hungry.

As I began to feel happier, stronger, and proud of myself when working out and attaining new fitness goals, that emotional despair went away. ADVERTISEMENT

Then something changed. I’m honestly not sure when my goals and perception shifted, but I think they did as I became happier. I had entered a relationship, I had more friends, and I just came into myself more. But I also realized that my body was my body, and I had a booty. I learned to like myself a hell of a lot and was so sick of feeling bad all the time. I wanted to become the best version of myself, not someone striving to fit a skinny ideal. I needed to find that missing link because it was a daily battle with my body and emotional well-being. I wanted to get stronger, not skinnier, and start embracing my body’s natural figure.

I told myself that if I was going to have a bigger butt, I might as well make it a toned one! Up to this point, I had been working out on the elliptical only. I couldn’t run long-distance, do sprints, or lift weights. I began to go to fitness classes where weights, battle ropes, monkey bars, and resistance bands were included, and I was horrible. I passed out the first time I had a personal training session. Embarrassing.

But I kept at it, and I ended up seeing some great progress. I never thought I’d like to see muscle in my arms or want to have a nice, round tush that was firm and visible. I slowly started to ditch the longer shirts and embraced my curves. They actually made me feel sexier — way sexier than when I was more “skinny fat” during my restricted-dieting years. Now, I’ll go out in crop tops to show off the abs I’ve worked so hard for.

As I began to feel happier, stronger, and proud of myself when working out and attaining new fitness goals, that emotional despair went away. After each set of burpees or every additional squat or renegade row, I felt powerful and bold. I knew I was doing something good for my body, my mind, and my health: I was healing. I knew the difference between right and wrong thinking. Realizing that a stronger body, no matter how “skinny” it is (those who are naturally skinnier are just as beautiful!), is well-nourished and strong was spot on, and honestly, that newfound mindset saved me.

Now I love my body. I love it even when I’m PMSing and have gained five pounds of water weight. I love it after a huge meal when it’s a little fatigued and full. I love it when it’s pushing me through a HIIT circuit. I love it first thing in the morning and when I go to bed. I love it naked. I love how I feel in it. I learned to love it.

All people and figures are unique, and as long as you love yours and treat it well, that’s all that matters. There is no “right” body to strive for.

Now I’m strong and healthy. I make a point of eating protein and veggies and indulging in my favorite cocktails, pizza, and fries. When I eat a protein bar before or after a workout, I feel awesome. I know I’m fueling my muscles and metabolism, whereas before, I’d nibble on a protein bar with food guilt. I got back to enjoying food of all types, listening to my body and feeding it when it was hungry, and falling more in love with my body every day. Picking up those weights for the first time was the greatest gift I could’ve given myself, and it’s made me into the woman I am today.

Image Source: Getty / Hinterhaus Productions

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