Author Topic: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak  (Read 16444 times)

Carlin

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Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« on: January 10, 2017, 10:28:36 PM »
I already posted this question on a "Continuing the Discussion Thread" about the most recent MMM post, but I thought maybe I could put it on its own thread:

I am a 23 year old female, 128 lbs, and 5 feet 5 inches tall; so not overweight by any means, but definitely not impressive.  I had back surgery in my early teen years and wasn't allowed to do much physical activity, so I am very "skinny fat."  I lack any sort of muscle tone or physical endurance.  I keep attempting to exercise, and was particularly inspired by this MMM post, but I find it incredibly difficult to even get started because I have so little to work with. 
I can only do roughly 10 "girl" pushups, 20 squats or so, maybe a 20 second plank, and a few dozen reverse situps (no regular crunches, because my spine has a metal rod drilled into it).  I can run maybe a quarter of a mile before I get intense side pain.  I do truly enjoy biking, but Indiana is very flat and I get no challenge from it.  Every time I do a few sets of a muscle building exercise, I find myself in intense pain the next day and unable to do any more of the same exercises.  By the time the pain subsides, I have lost any progress.  I feel like I am spinning my wheels.
My question is, what are some things I can do to truly build up muscle and endurance without setting myself back?  I feel so frustrated.  I know I don't eat enough calories, but I am truly never hungry enough to eat more than one meal or so per day, and when I do eat more I immediately gain fat- not muscle.  Please help, I really am trying to work hard here.  I've been far too coddled and I want a more badass and functional body!

swick

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 10:35:01 PM »
The best thing I found for my endurance was pick up a rebounder (mini trampoline) and stick in right in my living room.  Yu can walk on it, run, bounce, dance it is low-impact and bouncing is the only way of exercising your lymphatic system. I had chronic pain issues for years and once I was well enough to start any exercise it is what I started with. Then you can gradually add in weights and such in a way that doesn't make your body hate you.

It sounds like your metabolism is wrecked. What are you eating for your one meal a day? And what are you drinking throughout the day?

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 10:40:53 PM »

It sounds like your metabolism is wrecked. What are you eating for your one meal a day? And what are you drinking throughout the day?

I usually drink many cups of coffee or green tea through the day, a snack of fruit, carrots, or cherry tomatoes for lunch (occasionally wheat thins with cheese on them, or a cup of homemade soup or rice n beans if i'm really hungry), and dinner is generally a typical balanced healthy dinner.  I will often replace a meal with a spinach/fruit smoothie too.  We do a lot of vegetarian dishes, whole wheat pasta with veggies, chicken stir fry, chicken and veggies...etc.  We have a nice big comfort meal once a week or so, and eat out every couple weeks.  We're not perfect, but we do eat pretty healthy.  I also drink a lot of water.  I am always- I repeat, always- thirsty.

gettingtoyes

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 10:54:32 PM »
With your significant past medical history of back surgery with a metal rod in your back- I really think you need to talk to your doctor about what you can/cannot do and what to expect as far as gaining endurance and toning up. I don't think you're going to fit the typical person's advice for getting fit.

swick

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 11:03:42 PM »
Coffee is a major appetite suppressant, I'm a recovered drink coffee throughout the day skip breakfast and snack for lunch type of person. It also sounds like you are eating your heaviest meal right before your body is shutting down for sleep, so you don't have the energy throughout the day and digesting at night when your body should be spending the time and energy repairing and healing. I would suggest tracking your food intake for a while to get an accurate idea of how many calories and nutrients you are consuming. It can be pretty eye-opening.

Also, how much sugar are you consuming in your coffee/tea?

If you are experiencing excessive thirst, I'd definitely be exploring that with a doc that could be a lot of different things but you want to rule out Kidney problems and serious stuff like that.

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 11:07:44 PM »
Coffee is a major appetite suppressant, I'm a recovered drink coffee throughout the day skip breakfast and snack for lunch type of person. It also sounds like you are eating your heaviest meal right before your body is shutting down for sleep, so you don't have the energy throughout the day and digesting at night when your body should be spending the time and energy repairing and healing. I would suggest tracking your food intake for a while to get an accurate idea of how many calories and nutrients you are consuming. It can be pretty eye-opening.

Also, how much sugar are you consuming in your coffee/tea?

If you are experiencing excessive thirst, I'd definitely be exploring that with a doc that could be a lot of different things but you want to rule out Kidney problems and serious stuff like that.

I have tracked my calories, and I consume roughly 800-1400 calories per day.  It doesn't vary too much.  The highest would be about 1600 on an "Eat out and drink booze" sort of day.  I put a splash of flavored creamer in my first cup of coffee, and then continue to add hot black coffee to it through the day without generally adding more creamer.  As I drink more coffee, I feel the need for less creamer.  So maybe 70 calories per day in creamer?
That is a good point about the big meal in the evening.  I know that's technically bad.  It's just very hard to have a big meal at my desk at work, and it's nice to have a family "dinner" with my husband in the evening. 
I don't necessarily have much fat to lose.  I wear a size 2 jeans.  I know that if I could build some muscle tone, the soft middle would start to go away.  Getting there is the problem. 

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 11:10:25 PM »
With your significant past medical history of back surgery with a metal rod in your back- I really think you need to talk to your doctor about what you can/cannot do and what to expect as far as gaining endurance and toning up. I don't think you're going to fit the typical person's advice for getting fit.

I technically have a green light from doctors to do all basic exercises.  The only things I need to avoid are jarring/vibrating activities.  Things like sky diving, bungee jumping, ATV riding, horseback riding, contact sports- are a no go.  Basic physical activity is supposed to be okay though.  Swimming is something that is amazing for me, and I do have a pool in my apartment complex.  I'm just not sure it provides the sort of strenuous activity I need to see progress.

LadyFI

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2017, 12:35:31 AM »
Swimming is amazing! If you enjoy it and have access to a pool do it!

A quick Google image search of Olympic swimmers should quell your fears that it is not an activity that leads to building a lean, muscular body.  ; )

And for what it's worth I find swimming to be insanely strenuous. Running, weight-lifting, snowboarding my butt off - no problem. But lap swimming? Positively exhausting.

Trifele

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2017, 04:11:06 AM »
Do you work a desk job where you are basically sitting all day?   That can be a killer. 

It sounds like maybe you should take a step back and start simply.  Do you do much walking? 

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2017, 05:15:41 AM »
I can only do roughly 10 "girl" pushups
So work on doing 11.  Then 12.  Soon you will be able to do "boy" pushups, and then you keep progressing. 
Quote
, 20 squats or so
  Do 22.  Keep working up to thirty.  Then Add sets.  Do thirty and then a 60 second rest and do 30 more and a 60 second rest and then 30 more.  Then start adding weight, maybe holding dumbbells, or tie them around your waist to avoid back pain if that is the culprit.
Quote
I can run maybe a quarter of a mile before I get intense side pain.
  You have to push through that intense side pain, or you will never improve.  It goes away.   You will get better each time, I promise.

Quote
  I do truly enjoy biking, but Indiana is very flat and I get no challenge from it.
  Go faster.
Quote
  Every time I do a few sets of a muscle building exercise, I find myself in intense pain the next day and unable to do any more of the same exercises.  By the time the pain subsides, I have lost any progress.  I feel like I am spinning my wheels.
  OK, this is the reason I posted.  What sort of pain?  Is this intense pain down in your spine where the rod is?  Or does running and doing 20 squats cause your legs to be sore?  If we are talking about muscle soreness, then you have to laugh that off and keep going.  It's normal.  It goes away over time.  If you get in shape, and then quit working out, when you start again you get sore again.  It is just the way it is.  Soreness is a part of your body's adaptation process.

Or is it something else?

Describe this intense pain for us, please.

Laura33

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2017, 05:50:13 AM »
I feel you -- I am more on the "a few pounds to lose" side, but very similar frustration that every time I start something, I get injured.  I have just joined Crossfit and *hate* being the weakest one there!  But part of the job is retraining not just your muscles but your ligaments and tendons and such so they become more flexible and stronger.  The things that have worked for me:

Running:  I was just like you.  I mean just -- could barely run before I'd get a huge stitch in my side.  The breakthrough for me was a trainer who told me you walk your way to running.  Run 5 minutes and walk one.  Can't do that?  Run three minutes, or two, or one, or whatever you can, then walk.  Then do it again, and again, and again.  It only took me a few weeks before I could run a mile with no problems.  6 months later I ran my first 5K -- with NO stitches, ever.

Lifting/strength training:  Alternate what muscles you work.  Trainers will be very precise, but I tend to think in terms of "legs," "arms," and "core."  Don't expect to do squats two days in a row; sometimes I'm still hurting two days later!  Hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to make sure your form is correct -- the quickest way to injury is bad form.

Add flexibility training, e.g., yoga.  I get frustrated because it doesn't feel like I'm really working hard enough, but this is the only way I know to re-train all of those other bits between the muscles to lengthen, tighten, etc.

And just be patient.  It took you more than a decade of inactivity to train your body to be what it is today; it will take a comparable amount of time to retrain it back to being active and healthy.  There will be setbacks, just like in anything else worth doing; you just need to keep at it.

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2017, 05:54:59 AM »
Congratulations on overcoming some serious physical issues! It's great your Dr. has cleared you to do most exercises now.

OK, this is the reason I posted.  What sort of pain?  Is this intense pain down in your spine where the rod is?  Or does running and doing 20 squats cause your legs to be sore?  If we are talking about muscle soreness, then you have to laugh that off and keep going.  It's normal.  It goes away over time.  If you get in shape, and then quit working out, when you start again you get sore again.  It is just the way it is.  Soreness is a part of your body's adaptation process.

Or is it something else?

Describe this intense pain for us, please.

Please do tell us about this. IAMNAD (I am not a Dr), but this will make a huge difference in the type of help you can get on this thread.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2017, 07:18:28 AM »
Walking!

No seriously – I am a huge believer in the power of walking. Running is great but even when I ran regularly, I just found the whole situation flat out uncomfortable. I never enjoyed it the way I enjoy a brisk walk. You don’t want to find yourself dreading your exercise routine-  if you do, that means that exercise is not for you no matter what its enthusiasts claim. People act like walking is the precursor to running...as if walking itself is not a good enough exercise or a "baby step" on the way to "real" exercise. This is ridiculous.

The human body was built for walking. It is a low impact exercise that works and tones everything from your midsection down. The healthiest societies have large amounts of daily walking and other low impact exercises. It is extremely pleasant when paired with a good play list and nice weather. I brisk walk every day, weather permitting for 30-40 minutes. Walking won’t get you buff, but it will get you healthy.

I recommend starting with walking for 35 minutes every day, barring pouring rain or snow/ice. No need to make a complicated work out schedule – just look out your window. If it is decent out, you walk. When walking, keep a brisk pace and keep it up for 30+ minutes. Mind your form - stand up straight, look ahead (don't duck your chin), shoulders down and relaxed (not hunched up), chest comfortable in the middle of your body (not pushed out, or caving in). If you are puffing and out of breath, dial it back until you are still pushing yourself but more comfortable. If you are lollygagging, pick up the pace. An upbeat playlist can keep you moving swiftly.

Other low impact but awesome exercise options include swimming and yoga (make sure you tell your yoga teacher about your pain/medical history!).

I used daily walking combined with minor strength training and a revamped diet (cut out added sugar, reduced my flour based food intake) to lose my last 10lbs of baby weight. After 6 months of implementing the changes, I was back to pre-pregnancy weight. No running required.


« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 07:21:08 AM by little_brown_dog »

justchristine

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2017, 07:30:37 AM »
I was in a similar physical condition about 5 years ago minus the metal rod in my back.  I found NerdFitness and started with the basic body weight routine and really struggled with it.  The first few times I did the workout my legs were so weak at the end of the workout that I could barely stand in the shower.  Instead of doing it everything other day, I had to do it every third day when I first started because it was taking my muscles that long to recover.  It took a long time to move to a new level but the key was to keep at.  I kept an exercise journal at first to keep motivated and to make sure I kept increasing my reps/sets.  The journal also helped motivate me because I could look back and see how far I had come.  Now I can do 100+ pushups(still girl ones because real ones bother my knee), 40 one legged squats and can shovel wet heavy snow for an hour with no pain :)

I suggest taking a look at NerdFitness, start slow, progress slow and just keep at it.  On days that you are resting from the body weight exercises, just go outside and walk for 30 min.  The key for me was to do *something* everyday even if it was just a quick walk.  Once you get in some sort of habit, it gets easier.

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2017, 08:12:59 AM »
I can only do roughly 10 "girl" pushups
  OK, this is the reason I posted.  What sort of pain?  Is this intense pain down in your spine where the rod is?  Or does running and doing 20 squats cause your legs to be sore?  If we are talking about muscle soreness, then you have to laugh that off and keep going.  It's normal.  It goes away over time.  If you get in shape, and then quit working out, when you start again you get sore again.  It is just the way it is.  Soreness is a part of your body's adaptation process.

Or is it something else?

Describe this intense pain for us, please.

My back generally always hurts a little bit no  matter what...that will never go away, though exercise does make it worse.  It is muscle pain that I am experiencing.  It takes days to go away, and makes it almost impossible to do the same exercises again until it's gone.  I suppose I will have to work harder to push through it.  I would really like to build more muscle in my back and core, because I believe it will ease some of my back pain.

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2017, 08:14:59 AM »
Do you work a desk job where you are basically sitting all day?   That can be a killer. 

It sounds like maybe you should take a step back and start simply.  Do you do much walking?

Yes actually, I do walk frequently! Not as much now that it's nasty outside, but in friendly weather my husband and I will take 3-5 mile walks and hikes regularly.  Long distance, less vigorous exercise is no issue for me.  I can walk for miles (including 15 miles around NYC one day last summer), bike leisurely for hours, swim leisurely for hours....it's intense stuff that's my kryptonite.

Tris Prior

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2017, 08:17:20 AM »
Posting to follow because I'm in the same situation, minus the rod in my back.

prognastat

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2017, 08:26:23 AM »
I can only do roughly 10 "girl" pushups
  OK, this is the reason I posted.  What sort of pain?  Is this intense pain down in your spine where the rod is?  Or does running and doing 20 squats cause your legs to be sore?  If we are talking about muscle soreness, then you have to laugh that off and keep going.  It's normal.  It goes away over time.  If you get in shape, and then quit working out, when you start again you get sore again.  It is just the way it is.  Soreness is a part of your body's adaptation process.

Or is it something else?

Describe this intense pain for us, please.

My back generally always hurts a little bit no  matter what...that will never go away, though exercise does make it worse.  It is muscle pain that I am experiencing.  It takes days to go away, and makes it almost impossible to do the same exercises again until it's gone.  I suppose I will have to work harder to push through it.  I would really like to build more muscle in my back and core, because I believe it will ease some of my back pain.

The muscle pain is expected. Your body just needs to get used to it. Rotate your workouts.

Only do the same muscle group once per week. You can do the following on separate days:
Legs
Chest and back
Core
Arms

This will give you 4 days of muscle training per week and not targeting the same group for a week until it is feeling better again is not going to lead you to undoing progress.

The following would be an example of a workout schedule you could do:
Monday - Legs
Tuesday - Chest and Back
Wednesday - Break/Cardio day
Thursday - Core
Friday - Arms
Saturday - Break/Cardio day
Sunday - Break/Cardio day

Also if you can just get in some extra walking throughout your day it is helpful. Take the stairs instead of lift/elevators etc.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 08:30:09 AM by prognastat »

wenchsenior

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2017, 08:28:25 AM »
I am in a similar pickle, Carlin.

I'm naturally very lightly built, bone and muscle wise.

Just discovered that apparently I've had scoliosis for years (unbeknownst to me and it's been getting worse for the past 15 years as I was desk bound and not a consistent exerciser). Back grinds like metal gears, though usually without pain since lower discs are gone. 

Aside from spinal problems, I also have issues with chronic pain and migraines (?I guess???...I should really start a thread on that) with severe body pain accompaniment, which I struggled with even when I was young and fit but are worse now that I'm middle aged and not fit. These pain problems might or might not be due to the scoliosis, or to my diagnosed endocrine disorder, or to a known but as yet unidentified underlying autoimmue disorder. 

I eat very similar to you, but I struggle to keep my weight up and have very little appetite due to the slowest digestion on the planet. It's SO frustrating!

About 4 years ago I began exercising more consistently...mostly brisk walking (so as not to burn too many calories) and some body weight work to try to gain mass. I gained about 5 lbs, which was a big deal for me!  But when work got busier and my pain issues flared up very badly this past year, I started to get inconsistent, and now I'm back where I was again.....a brittle, weak, pain-filled twig.

Like you I suffer pretty intense pain just doing basic muscle focused workouts. I remember that from working out when I was younger, but now it tends to send my chronic pain into associated flares. Ugh.  Plus, I can SO easily overdue it and injure myself, setting myself back again.

All this ranting is just to say, I totally feel the OP's frustration.

Swimming is going to be my go-to starting in the spring. It's worked in the past and it's one of the only overall body exercises that conditions me without setting me back constantly due to injury or rebound pain.

ETA: the really annoying part is, until very recently, my inherent cardiovascular endurance was always good...with a little leg prep, I could get into condition to hike up and down mountains with relative ease. But aside from big leg muscles, the rest of me stayed weak and would not progress with the same ease as legs.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 08:31:36 AM by wenchsenior »

prognastat

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2017, 08:33:00 AM »
Also make sure if you are trying to build some muscle you are also eating a decent amount of protein to assist your body in building those muscles. Things like eggs, milk, tuna, chicken, peanut butter etc are great.

Cromacster

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2017, 08:37:45 AM »
My back generally always hurts a little bit no  matter what...that will never go away, though exercise does make it worse.  It is muscle pain that I am experiencing.  It takes days to go away, and makes it almost impossible to do the same exercises again until it's gone.  I suppose I will have to work harder to push through it.  I would really like to build more muscle in my back and core, because I believe it will ease some of my back pain.

The pain is a hard thing for a lot of people to overcome if they are not used to working out or being physically active.  It is uncomfortable.  I will say it does get better as your body becomes used to working out and it never truly goes away if you are pushing your body enough.  The beginning is the worst, keep pushing through and after a week or two the soreness won't be as bad.

My advice would be to pick a short routine that may take you 15-20mins.  Based on what you posted, something like:

Complete 3 rounds:
10 air squat
5 pushups from the knee's
10-15 sec plank.
3 burpees

Do that 3-4 times a week with a day of rest in between each time.  You might reach a point where this is easier and not leaving feel as sore.  When that happens add a 4th round or add more squats, more pushups, longer planks, more burpees etc.

Also take time to stretch each and everyday, especially your hips, quads, glutes, hamstrings if you experience any sort of lower back pain.

Laura33

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2017, 09:05:11 AM »
Also, if the issue is moving beyond "leisurely" exercise, the best way to improve your cardiovascular fitness is high-intensity bursts/intervals.  E.g., you don't need to run a mile, just do a semi-sprint for a block, then walk back, repeat a few times.  There are a lot of articles/suggestions/etc. about high-intensity training programs.  Personally, I like it because it is over quickly -- it's easy to tell myself "I had two kids, I can take 30 seconds of this."  :-)

LifeHappens

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2017, 09:12:24 AM »
If the issue is mostly muscle pain, it sounds like you need to progress a bit more slowly.

Also, if it's okay for your back, can you do something like pilates or yoga? These build strength, and are very focused on core strength, but progress in a less intense way than weight lifting. You might also find it motivating to do things in a class setting.

You might want to join the Strength & Fitness challenge group. http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/strength-fitness-2017/

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2017, 09:12:57 AM »

It sounds like your metabolism is wrecked. What are you eating for your one meal a day? And what are you drinking throughout the day?

I usually drink many cups of coffee or green tea through the day, a snack of fruit, carrots, or cherry tomatoes for lunch (occasionally wheat thins with cheese on them, or a cup of homemade soup or rice n beans if i'm really hungry), and dinner is generally a typical balanced healthy dinner.  I will often replace a meal with a spinach/fruit smoothie too.  We do a lot of vegetarian dishes, whole wheat pasta with veggies, chicken stir fry, chicken and veggies...etc.  We have a nice big comfort meal once a week or so, and eat out every couple weeks.  We're not perfect, but we do eat pretty healthy.  I also drink a lot of water.  I am always- I repeat, always- thirsty.

Hold up. Red flag for me as a nurse here. I haven't read the rest of the thread, but PLEASE go see your doctor and rule out diabetes. Most people are not diagnosed until they are in crisis. But we look for some classic diabetes symptoms: excessive thirst, excessive urination, hunger, and unexplained weight loss. Obviously you are not 4/4 from what you have said, but not everyone presents with all symptoms. Obviously this is not a diagnosis, as you cannot diagnose diabetes through the internet =P

It's easy to rule out, and pretty easy to manage even if you do have a positive diagnosis. But please don't risk a blood sugar crisis before you get this checked out.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/symptoms/con-20033091

spokey doke

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2017, 09:16:54 AM »
And just be patient.  It took you more than a decade of inactivity to train your body to be what it is today; it will take a comparable amount of time to retrain it back to being active and healthy.  There will be setbacks, just like in anything else worth doing; you just need to keep at it.

+1 - it is work and takes time, but there is no magic trick to getting there.  I think many folks who get and stay fit find something that works for them, or even better, they really enjoy.  I bike in part for fitness, but I also just really like doing it.

Along these lines, you can 'train' yourself to tolerate and even enjoy things that cause misery.  I used to hate biking up big hills, and then decided that I was going to make that 'my thing' and would hunt out the biggest and steepest hills and grind up them and eventually came to see it as very satisfying, even if not 'fun' in any obvious way.  Similarly, I came to enjoy the feeling after lifting weights, even the soreness the next day, as I associated it with positive things.

In any case, the long term view is pretty critical, adopting exercise as a chosen lifestyle you identify with, not a process to suffer through.  If you do, you'll then one day stop and reflect and notice 'hey, I'm pretty strong and fit...I've come so far since my skinny fat days!'

MsPeacock

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2017, 09:21:16 AM »
Swimming is amazing! If you enjoy it and have access to a pool do it!

A quick Google image search of Olympic swimmers should quell your fears that it is not an activity that leads to building a lean, muscular body.  ; )

And for what it's worth I find swimming to be insanely strenuous. Running, weight-lifting, snowboarding my butt off - no problem. But lap swimming? Positively exhausting.

+1 on swimming. After being laid up w/ various joint pains and problems for years, I went to swimming to return to some level of physical fitness. When I started I could barely swim 50 yards. Then I'd have to hold onto the side and catch my breath and then breast stroke a bit to rest some more, then swim a little bit more freestyle, etc. The good thing about swimming is that it does help avoid a lot of muscle pain that comes with running or doing things like sit=ups, push-ups, while still giving a very good workout.

For running - I also get cramps in my side very easily. What has helped me is to try to run only on a completely empty stomach (early morning is best). Also, I learned to adjust my stride so that it is much shorter and my stance more upright. There are good videos on youtube about good running form. Start slow - walk 100 - 500 paces, then run (very slowly) for 100 paces - repeat for a mile total or so (or 15 minutes). Slow increase the run to walk ratio and be patient with yourself. Running is hard work on a body.

I went from being "skinny fat" and out of shape a couple years ago (due to reduced ability to exercise) to doing a my first triathlon last summer - and I plan on 3 this year. Swimming really got me started on the road to being in  better shape.

Try to focus on duration (e.g. 20 minutes of swimming) and not intensity (going as fast as possible). Control your pace so that you can get through the time and feel ok. With time and practice you'll get stronger.

Rimu05

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2017, 09:26:58 AM »
Oh this thread is for me, I am totally skinny fat and want to build muscle and just endurance in general. I was playing tennis once a week and taking some skating lessons but have had a rough couple of months and surgery which has made me a total couch potato.

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2017, 09:32:25 AM »
The muscle pain you describe is normal (DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness), and it is often worse a couple days after an intense workout than the day right after.  If you are like me, you are stiff and something as simple as walking up a step 'hurts.'  Strangely, I love feeling this kind of muscle soreness, and if I don't feel it after a workout, I tend to think I didn't work hard enough. (This is not scientifically true, but it's just a head game I play with myself)  I know it can seem impossible to do the same exercise, but once you start moving, something happens, IDK, maybe muscles "warm up" or something, and then you can do more.

I try to do body pump (group weightlifting classes) on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and Wednesday evenings I often go in very very sore, but I always leave feeling good.  And then hurt the next couple days, but like I said, I like it...  I have been a moderate exerciser and try for 2-3 times a week.  I do not consider myself skinny even though I need a size 00 or 0, but I am very short, only 4'11"  (okay, I rounded up a half inch...) and I usually weigh about 97 pounds.  I am not the fittest person in the world, but I am reasonably fit and I think relatively strong for my size.  In body pump class I routinely lift as much as women 1.5 times my size.  I can probably bang out 15-20 push ups on my toes, and I can hold a plank long enough to get very bored.

It sounds like I eat waaay more than you, though.  Your diet seems to be very lacking in fats, and that can be a problem.  Maybe you should try to eat some nuts or something to increase your caloric intake.  I think I probably eat 1,400-1,800 calories a day.

You cannot gain muscle if you do not work them to exhaustion, I think.  Something about microscopic tears in muscle fibers after working them and the necessary repairs your body will do to fix them is what actually builds muscle.

When I am at my fittest, my body tends to naturally want to eat more.  I've never had a problem with weight but my body composition will change if I'm not working out.

You can find body pump classes on youtube because future instructors record audition tapes and put them up.  Try to do one without weights and work your way up to some small dumbbells.  I am a lover of weight bearing exercises and not so into cardio, though.

honeybbq

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2017, 09:36:52 AM »
I didn't read the whole thread but:

SWIMMING

YOGA

RESISTANCE BAND TRAINING


all easy to do and extremely helpful! Also just hiking and walking through parks. Enjoy nature. :)

Inaya

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2017, 09:42:24 AM »
Oh man, totally skinny fat and super weak here. My arms are noodles. I just discovered that I can't swing on a rope because I don't even have the arm strength to hold on anymore.

One thing that worked for me was joining a barre studio--it's somewhere between pilates and yoga, very low impact. A good studio (like mine was) can accommodate all skill levels and injuries. And man it HURT the first few times I went (or rather in the days following)--like I could barely move if I sat for too long (oddly, using the muscle helps the pain a little bit). But the worst of the pain did eventually pass. Once it did, I was always a bit sore somewhere (arms this week, legs last week, butt next week, etc.), but it was never very bad and that's how I knew it was working. I also found I had to have some sort of carby-proteiny snack (lox on a tortilla and a banana was my go-to) about 30-60 minutes beforehand or I couldn't make it through the class--muscles would just give up if I neglected my snack.

Unfortunately, I would get overzealous and injured myself as a result. Pulled a hamstring once, then messed up a shoulder. Doc said let the shoulder heal, so I put the classes on hold. And now I'm in a masters program and working full time (with a 1.5-2 hour public transit commute), so I don't feel I really have time anymore. I will go back in a heartbeat once I have the time again--but maybe not overdo it this time.

If you want to get into running, there is an app called Couch to 5k that is really fantastic for getting started. I do a lot of walking (carless) and NO running, but I found it to be too easy for the first 4 weeks or so. I got about halfway through before school ate my life, and I'm going to try to get back into it once I know what this semester's looking like.



Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2017, 10:34:38 AM »
I can only do roughly 10 "girl" pushups
  OK, this is the reason I posted.  What sort of pain?  Is this intense pain down in your spine where the rod is?  Or does running and doing 20 squats cause your legs to be sore?  If we are talking about muscle soreness, then you have to laugh that off and keep going.  It's normal.  It goes away over time.  If you get in shape, and then quit working out, when you start again you get sore again.  It is just the way it is.  Soreness is a part of your body's adaptation process.

Or is it something else?

Describe this intense pain for us, please.

My back generally always hurts a little bit no  matter what...that will never go away, though exercise does make it worse.  It is muscle pain that I am experiencing.  It takes days to go away, and makes it almost impossible to do the same exercises again until it's gone.  I suppose I will have to work harder to push through it.  I would really like to build more muscle in my back and core, because I believe it will ease some of my back pain.

Well avoid injuring your back, of course, but as for the muscles hurting the day after exercise, completely normal!  I hit the gym a lot.  If I take a break, though, this happens to me when I start again.  You just have to keep going.

It gets better.  The muscles adapt to the workload.  Soreness does not continue forever.

Talk to your doctor and the physical therapist you used about your goals for strengthening the back and core.  I bet they will hook you up quickly with something that works but will not re-injure you.

As for everything else, just do it.  You will get sore, but it will be less and less each time until you are not sore at all.

WEIGHTS - As a beginner, you can hit each muscle three times a week.  Give them a day off in between.

CARDIO - Do something for cardio at least three times a week, too.

DIET - And your diet.  I am scared to ask too many details, but from what little I see you really need to change it.  Use MyFitnessPal to track things.  It's free and takes 30 seconds to sign up.  It makes tracking super easy, and you can even do it from your phone.  Keep protein and healthy fats high and get rid of carbs as much as possible - this is the best way to accomplish your particular goals.

Rezdent

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2017, 10:58:26 AM »
I'm not a doctor.  But I had a similar experience.  Once I was an amateur bodybuilder - and then I got an unrelated illness.  I've experienced two kind of soreness.

Normal soreness is the kind that hurts where you worked out, such as you did squats and now legs hurt.  It truly sucks, but you can still function.  Okay, maybe you puke a bit the next morning but you can still function.  This is something you can work through.

The other soreness is more general.  You worked your legs yesterday and today your arms and legs and everything else is screaming so badly you can't focus on getting dressed.  It is debilitating - you can't function normally.  You can't work through this.  You'll need to make adjustments.

After my illness I was much weaker and sicker than I appeared on the outside.  Even though I could do five push-ups, it was too much for my current level of fitness.  I had to scale back - wayyyyy back.  I could do one pushup, and be sore but functioning.  Or I could do five and bedrest for the next two days.   So I did just one per workout.

If you are experiencing that kind of debilitating soreness I am truly sorry.  It is awful. You might have people telling you this is normal, just work through it.  (And you're wondering how on Earth am I supposed to do that?  Maybe I am just a wuss...)

I suggest seeing your doc to rule out any issues, and then starting with about ten percent of what you think you could do - and adjust up or down for the next workout.  You will be able to work up to regular workouts with regular soreness pretty fast, but it will probably seem like a long time to you.

nexus

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2017, 12:03:19 PM »
Here's my two cents, coming from the equivalent of a college athlete:

Walking is still one of the best exercises out there, even if it is on flat ground. One running workout you could try is going to a track and gently jogging the straightaways and walking the turns (or vice-versa). Repeat for X laps or X minutes. If you don't have access to a track, try jogging for 30 seconds, then walking for 1-2 minutes before you do it again for like 20-30 minutes. Maybe the first few times you only do it for 10 minutes. Keep in mind, there are days when my ankles will not cooperate or handle impact very well, so I just accept it and schedule it for another day.

Biking is a great way to build muscle. I don't care if the ground is flat. Pedal with heavier gears. Have you seen the quads and calves on some of those cyclists and folks in spin classes? It also engages your core and our triceps (having to hold yourself up on the bike is time under tension, which equals muscle fatigue and definition.)

Increase your protein intake too. Your body needs it in order to rebuild/repair muscle.

GuitarStv

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #33 on: January 11, 2017, 12:13:07 PM »
The key for me was to do *something* everyday even if it was just a quick walk.  Once you get in some sort of habit, it gets easier.

There are two parts to getting into good shape.  This is half of it.

You need to make it a regular habit, and you need to rigidly adhere to that habit until it feels as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning.  Every athlete you've ever seen has made a journey of small steps over a long period of time . . . things just add up as you get to know your body and what you're capable of.

The other part is that periodically you need to push yourself to go harder, faster, longer, stronger.  You might do this by setting a goal, joining an event or group, whatever.  You can't just get stuck in a routine . . . because eventually it'll get boring and you'll drop it.

wenchsenior

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #34 on: January 11, 2017, 01:30:53 PM »
I'm not a doctor.  But I had a similar experience.  Once I was an amateur bodybuilder - and then I got an unrelated illness.  I've experienced two kind of soreness.

Normal soreness is the kind that hurts where you worked out, such as you did squats and now legs hurt.  It truly sucks, but you can still function.  Okay, maybe you puke a bit the next morning but you can still function.  This is something you can work through.

The other soreness is more general.  You worked your legs yesterday and today your arms and legs and everything else is screaming so badly you can't focus on getting dressed.  It is debilitating - you can't function normally.  You can't work through this.  You'll need to make adjustments.

After my illness I was much weaker and sicker than I appeared on the outside.  Even though I could do five push-ups, it was too much for my current level of fitness.  I had to scale back - wayyyyy back.  I could do one pushup, and be sore but functioning.  Or I could do five and bedrest for the next two days.   So I did just one per workout.

If you are experiencing that kind of debilitating soreness I am truly sorry.  It is awful. You might have people telling you this is normal, just work through it.  (And you're wondering how on Earth am I supposed to do that?  Maybe I am just a wuss...)

I suggest seeing your doc to rule out any issues, and then starting with about ten percent of what you think you could do - and adjust up or down for the next workout.  You will be able to work up to regular workouts with regular soreness pretty fast, but it will probably seem like a long time to you.

This is finally what I've been coming to terms with. When anything more than a brisk walk or a 20 minute yoga style workout can trigger the debilitating 'full-body flu like symptoms + puke inducing migraine' the next day, then I have to stick to the walk or just a few reps of something. Hell, sometimes just a walk will trigger illness the next day...something about how my hips get stiff triggers an attack. But you are right that you have to try to do it anyway, consistently, and eventually you do get stronger and can do more. My problem is being stupidly inconsistent and having to keep starting from zero. My own damn fault.


Rezdent

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #35 on: January 11, 2017, 02:56:19 PM »
I'm not a doctor.  But I had a similar experience.  Once I was an amateur bodybuilder - and then I got an unrelated illness.  I've experienced two kind of soreness.

Normal soreness is the kind that hurts where you worked out, such as you did squats and now legs hurt.  It truly sucks, but you can still function.  Okay, maybe you puke a bit the next morning but you can still function.  This is something you can work through.

The other soreness is more general.  You worked your legs yesterday and today your arms and legs and everything else is screaming so badly you can't focus on getting dressed.  It is debilitating - you can't function normally.  You can't work through this.  You'll need to make adjustments.

After my illness I was much weaker and sicker than I appeared on the outside.  Even though I could do five push-ups, it was too much for my current level of fitness.  I had to scale back - wayyyyy back.  I could do one pushup, and be sore but functioning.  Or I could do five and bedrest for the next two days.   So I did just one per workout.

If you are experiencing that kind of debilitating soreness I am truly sorry.  It is awful. You might have people telling you this is normal, just work through it.  (And you're wondering how on Earth am I supposed to do that?  Maybe I am just a wuss...)

I suggest seeing your doc to rule out any issues, and then starting with about ten percent of what you think you could do - and adjust up or down for the next workout.  You will be able to work up to regular workouts with regular soreness pretty fast, but it will probably seem like a long time to you.

This is finally what I've been coming to terms with. When anything more than a brisk walk or a 20 minute yoga style workout can trigger the debilitating 'full-body flu like symptoms + puke inducing migraine' the next day, then I have to stick to the walk or just a few reps of something. Hell, sometimes just a walk will trigger illness the next day...something about how my hips get stiff triggers an attack. But you are right that you have to try to do it anyway, consistently, and eventually you do get stronger and can do more. My problem is being stupidly inconsistent and having to keep starting from zero. My own damn fault.
I am sad to hear you have similar problems.

Don't give up - but please don't be too hard on yourself either.  If someone got electroshock therapy or food poisoning after every damn time they worked out, well they'd probably start avoiding it.
Props to you for not giving up.

intirb

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #36 on: January 11, 2017, 04:05:03 PM »
My advice, assuming you are medically cleared:

1)  Try a Couch to 5k program to build up cardiovascular endurance.  It starts out very easy, and you can build your way up to running 30 minutes straight.

2)  For strength, it sounds like you would be a good candidate for a simple bodyweight exercise program.  There is a subreddit for bodyweight fitness with a fantastic beginners routine, which you can also find with this app:  or on this website.

Start slow, but be consistent.  If the pain you are feeling is muscle soreness, then ignore it and stick to the plan.  I would probably pick one of these two things to start out with, and then add the other after a few months. 

.22guy

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #37 on: January 11, 2017, 04:10:11 PM »
I didn't read all the responses here, and I'm sure there is good advice here, but I recommend seeing a doctor.

wenchsenior

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2017, 04:23:06 PM »
I'm not a doctor.  But I had a similar experience.  Once I was an amateur bodybuilder - and then I got an unrelated illness.  I've experienced two kind of soreness.

Normal soreness is the kind that hurts where you worked out, such as you did squats and now legs hurt.  It truly sucks, but you can still function.  Okay, maybe you puke a bit the next morning but you can still function.  This is something you can work through.

The other soreness is more general.  You worked your legs yesterday and today your arms and legs and everything else is screaming so badly you can't focus on getting dressed.  It is debilitating - you can't function normally.  You can't work through this.  You'll need to make adjustments.

After my illness I was much weaker and sicker than I appeared on the outside.  Even though I could do five push-ups, it was too much for my current level of fitness.  I had to scale back - wayyyyy back.  I could do one pushup, and be sore but functioning.  Or I could do five and bedrest for the next two days.   So I did just one per workout.

If you are experiencing that kind of debilitating soreness I am truly sorry.  It is awful. You might have people telling you this is normal, just work through it.  (And you're wondering how on Earth am I supposed to do that?  Maybe I am just a wuss...)

I suggest seeing your doc to rule out any issues, and then starting with about ten percent of what you think you could do - and adjust up or down for the next workout.  You will be able to work up to regular workouts with regular soreness pretty fast, but it will probably seem like a long time to you.

This is finally what I've been coming to terms with. When anything more than a brisk walk or a 20 minute yoga style workout can trigger the debilitating 'full-body flu like symptoms + puke inducing migraine' the next day, then I have to stick to the walk or just a few reps of something. Hell, sometimes just a walk will trigger illness the next day...something about how my hips get stiff triggers an attack. But you are right that you have to try to do it anyway, consistently, and eventually you do get stronger and can do more. My problem is being stupidly inconsistent and having to keep starting from zero. My own damn fault.
I am sad to hear you have similar problems.

Don't give up - but please don't be too hard on yourself either.  If someone got electroshock therapy or food poisoning after every damn time they worked out, well they'd probably start avoiding it.
Props to you for not giving up.

Thanks, I won't give up. I've been dealing with this in some form since I was about 13...so...almost 35 years of this cycle. What's the alternative, really...slightly less pain and getting progressively weaker? No thanks.

To the OP, Carlin...you are taking a more organized approach to this at a young enough age that you might be able to avoid the trap I fell into as I aged.  I've worked through the pain issue several times when I was younger (mostly by swimming or being constantly active) and been fit for stretches of several years and it definitely got easier to maintain, so I assume it will for you if you just stick with it (which has always been my problem).  If you are anything like me, the older you get the more challenging things will get if you lapse and the easier to get discouraged. If you set the habits now, and you won't be trying to always play catch up.

MsPeacock, you are inspiring!
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 06:01:21 PM by wenchsenior »

wanderin1

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #39 on: January 11, 2017, 05:56:02 PM »
Two more important things to help ward off DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)

Spend significant time stretching just after your workout—you’ll reduce the lactic acid buildup, which causes soreness

Eat (at least) a small meal of protein and carbs within 30 minutes of your workout—these are ideal nutrients and timing for repairing the microscopic muscle tears that cause muscles to build

Tris Prior

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #40 on: January 12, 2017, 08:20:32 AM »
I've started doing the Yoga with Adriene videos that are free on Youtube. She has some super-baby-beginner videos that, while they are still a struggle for my stiff, creaky, out of shape ass, I can at least make it through with minimal pain. So I'm starting there.

(I mean, geez, I can barely even do a downward dog any more without my arms immediately shaking.)

prognastat

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #41 on: January 12, 2017, 08:33:53 AM »
Something not so much to getting in shape but to me feels great after a workout is a sauna or if not available a hot shower.

catccc

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #42 on: January 12, 2017, 08:58:14 AM »
I've started doing the Yoga with Adriene videos that are free on Youtube. She has some super-baby-beginner videos that, while they are still a struggle for my stiff, creaky, out of shape ass, I can at least make it through with minimal pain. So I'm starting there.

(I mean, geez, I can barely even do a downward dog any more without my arms immediately shaking.)

yoga with adriene is a great channel!

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #43 on: January 12, 2017, 09:11:09 AM »
I already posted this question on a "Continuing the Discussion Thread" about the most recent MMM post, but I thought maybe I could put it on its own thread:

I am a 23 year old female, 128 lbs, and 5 feet 5 inches tall; so not overweight by any means, but definitely not impressive.  I had back surgery in my early teen years and wasn't allowed to do much physical activity, so I am very "skinny fat."  I lack any sort of muscle tone or physical endurance.  I keep attempting to exercise, and was particularly inspired by this MMM post, but I find it incredibly difficult to even get started because I have so little to work with. 
I can only do roughly 10 "girl" pushups, 20 squats or so, maybe a 20 second plank, and a few dozen reverse situps (no regular crunches, because my spine has a metal rod drilled into it).  I can run maybe a quarter of a mile before I get intense side pain.  I do truly enjoy biking, but Indiana is very flat and I get no challenge from it.  Every time I do a few sets of a muscle building exercise, I find myself in intense pain the next day and unable to do any more of the same exercises.  By the time the pain subsides, I have lost any progress.  I feel like I am spinning my wheels.
My question is, what are some things I can do to truly build up muscle and endurance without setting myself back?  I feel so frustrated.  I know I don't eat enough calories, but I am truly never hungry enough to eat more than one meal or so per day, and when I do eat more I immediately gain fat- not muscle.  Please help, I really am trying to work hard here.  I've been far too coddled and I want a more badass and functional body!

I usually drink many cups of coffee or green tea through the day, a snack of fruit, carrots, or cherry tomatoes for lunch (occasionally wheat thins with cheese on them, or a cup of homemade soup or rice n beans if i'm really hungry), and dinner is generally a typical balanced healthy dinner.  I will often replace a meal with a spinach/fruit smoothie too.  We do a lot of vegetarian dishes, whole wheat pasta with veggies, chicken stir fry, chicken and veggies...etc.  We have a nice big comfort meal once a week or so, and eat out every couple weeks.  We're not perfect, but we do eat pretty healthy.  I also drink a lot of water.  I am always- I repeat, always- thirsty.

If you are serious about making progress, you are going to need to take definitive steps to do this correctly and track your progress. I urge you to take this seriously because what you do today will make a significant different in your quality of life as you age. You have a big strike against you with the rod in your back and you need to work on increasing your muscle strength and endurance to keep it from majorly impacting it in the future. My mother in law had a rod in her back and as she aged, she became more and more limited in what she could do.

You need to do this right. This means being methodical, establishing a plan, and recording progress.

1. See a doctor for a check up to ensure you're in good health and don't have diabetes like the nurse above said. Do not move on until you've done this.

2. Find an expert who can help you establish a plan, taking into account the rod in your back. This person should have specific training and experience in helping people with rods in their backs. It should not be some gym trainer who took a 6 week course and now thinks they know all the things. This person should give you specific exercises to build strength, teach you how to do them, explain specifically how often to do it and how many reps and how many sets, etc.

3. Use an app or even a notebook to track your progress. If you forget how much weight or how many reps you did on each exercise, it will be easy to not push yourself to lift heavier.

4. EAT MORE. Your current caloric intake is way too low. Assuming your body fat is around 26%, you'd need 1430 calories to maintain weight. If it's more like 30%, you'd need 1375/day. 800 calories a day would be over a 40% deficit, at which point you're wrecking your metabolism and your body is eating muscle for sustenance. You will never build muscle if you don't (a) eat more and (b) eat a higher percentage of protein and fat. If you are right that eating 1430 calories/day will make you gain weight, you will need to accept that as a short term issue. You can diet down later but you need to build your muscle first.

For nutrition and exercise information, I have really enjoyed the info in Thinner, Leaner, Stronger. https://www.amazon.com/Thinner-Leaner-Stronger-Building-Ultimate-ebook/dp/B0098PYV7Q/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me= You get a great exercise plan when you order the book but, again, you need an expert to help you craft your plan so you can take into account your limitations.

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #44 on: January 12, 2017, 12:50:31 PM »
I already posted this question on a "Continuing the Discussion Thread" about the most recent MMM post, but I thought maybe I could put it on its own thread:

I am a 23 year old female, 128 lbs, and 5 feet 5 inches tall; so not overweight by any means, but definitely not impressive.  I had back surgery in my early teen years and wasn't allowed to do much physical activity, so I am very "skinny fat."  I lack any sort of muscle tone or physical endurance.  I keep attempting to exercise, and was particularly inspired by this MMM post, but I find it incredibly difficult to even get started because I have so little to work with. 
I can only do roughly 10 "girl" pushups, 20 squats or so, maybe a 20 second plank, and a few dozen reverse situps (no regular crunches, because my spine has a metal rod drilled into it).  I can run maybe a quarter of a mile before I get intense side pain.  I do truly enjoy biking, but Indiana is very flat and I get no challenge from it.  Every time I do a few sets of a muscle building exercise, I find myself in intense pain the next day and unable to do any more of the same exercises.  By the time the pain subsides, I have lost any progress.  I feel like I am spinning my wheels.
My question is, what are some things I can do to truly build up muscle and endurance without setting myself back?  I feel so frustrated.  I know I don't eat enough calories, but I am truly never hungry enough to eat more than one meal or so per day, and when I do eat more I immediately gain fat- not muscle.  Please help, I really am trying to work hard here.  I've been far too coddled and I want a more badass and functional body!

I usually drink many cups of coffee or green tea through the day, a snack of fruit, carrots, or cherry tomatoes for lunch (occasionally wheat thins with cheese on them, or a cup of homemade soup or rice n beans if i'm really hungry), and dinner is generally a typical balanced healthy dinner.  I will often replace a meal with a spinach/fruit smoothie too.  We do a lot of vegetarian dishes, whole wheat pasta with veggies, chicken stir fry, chicken and veggies...etc.  We have a nice big comfort meal once a week or so, and eat out every couple weeks.  We're not perfect, but we do eat pretty healthy.  I also drink a lot of water.  I am always- I repeat, always- thirsty.

If you are serious about making progress, you are going to need to take definitive steps to do this correctly and track your progress. I urge you to take this seriously because what you do today will make a significant different in your quality of life as you age. You have a big strike against you with the rod in your back and you need to work on increasing your muscle strength and endurance to keep it from majorly impacting it in the future. My mother in law had a rod in her back and as she aged, she became more and more limited in what she could do.

You need to do this right. This means being methodical, establishing a plan, and recording progress.

1. See a doctor for a check up to ensure you're in good health and don't have diabetes like the nurse above said. Do not move on until you've done this.

2. Find an expert who can help you establish a plan, taking into account the rod in your back. This person should have specific training and experience in helping people with rods in their backs. It should not be some gym trainer who took a 6 week course and now thinks they know all the things. This person should give you specific exercises to build strength, teach you how to do them, explain specifically how often to do it and how many reps and how many sets, etc.

3. Use an app or even a notebook to track your progress. If you forget how much weight or how many reps you did on each exercise, it will be easy to not push yourself to lift heavier.

4. EAT MORE. Your current caloric intake is way too low. Assuming your body fat is around 26%, you'd need 1430 calories to maintain weight. If it's more like 30%, you'd need 1375/day. 800 calories a day would be over a 40% deficit, at which point you're wrecking your metabolism and your body is eating muscle for sustenance. You will never build muscle if you don't (a) eat more and (b) eat a higher percentage of protein and fat. If you are right that eating 1430 calories/day will make you gain weight, you will need to accept that as a short term issue. You can diet down later but you need to build your muscle first.

For nutrition and exercise information, I have really enjoyed the info in Thinner, Leaner, Stronger. https://www.amazon.com/Thinner-Leaner-Stronger-Building-Ultimate-ebook/dp/B0098PYV7Q/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me= You get a great exercise plan when you order the book but, again, you need an expert to help you craft your plan so you can take into account your limitations.

Thank you, this was very detailed and helpful.  The diabetes thing scares me, but I did have a checkup last year and was given a clean bill of health.  Maybe I should go get checked out again.  I will work on eating more....getting over the psychological aspect will be the hardest part.  I get really psyched out by eating a lot.  I really want to get in shape though, so I will do my best to get help and progress from here! Today I actually managed to eek out 17 "girl" pushups, so that's some sort of progress!

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #45 on: January 12, 2017, 12:51:06 PM »
I've started doing the Yoga with Adriene videos that are free on Youtube. She has some super-baby-beginner videos that, while they are still a struggle for my stiff, creaky, out of shape ass, I can at least make it through with minimal pain. So I'm starting there.

(I mean, geez, I can barely even do a downward dog any more without my arms immediately shaking.)

yoga with adriene is a great channel!

I have actually used this channel! I love yoga, and I need to be more consistent about practicing it.  Thanks for the tip!

Carlin

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #46 on: January 12, 2017, 12:53:58 PM »
I want to thank everyone for their advice so far! From what I gather, my first steps are to see a doctor (Our health insurance from DH's new job kicks in in February, so I'll have to wait until then), learn to work through the pain, and begin to work on eating smarter and eating more.  I really liked the suggestion about seeing a specialized trainer, but I'm unfortunately not sure that's in the budget.  I would like to build the muscles around the rods, because I don't they're under worked simply because my spine doesn't require any support.  I think building them up would reduce some of my pain.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #47 on: January 12, 2017, 01:20:54 PM »
Thank you, this was very detailed and helpful.  The diabetes thing scares me, but I did have a checkup last year and was given a clean bill of health.  Maybe I should go get checked out again.  I will work on eating more....getting over the psychological aspect will be the hardest part.  I get really psyched out by eating a lot. I really want to get in shape though, so I will do my best to get help and progress from here! Today I actually managed to eek out 17 "girl" pushups, so that's some sort of progress!

I will say, this statement and your description of your eating habits concerns me.  I think I would table the "getting in shape" issue for a bit and work on your eating habits for general health and happiness.  You are eating WAY too little to maintain good health.  Several online calculators tell me you need 1500-1600 calories a day to maintain your weight, and you will need more as you add activity to your routine.

I would definitely talk to your doctor about your eating habits and your difficulty eating more.  Your doc can likely refer you to a nutritionist who can help you come up with a plan, and the nutritionist will likely be covered by your health insurance.  Even with a low appetite, there is a lot you can do to boost calories and nutrients.  I worked with a nutritionist earlier this year and I was surprised by how helpful it was, even as someone who knows a lot about food and nutrition.

I think everyone has given good advice about building strength and endurance.  Good for you for watching out for your health and fitness!

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #48 on: January 12, 2017, 01:26:29 PM »
Carlin, unfortunately, you are exactly the type of patient who can fall through the gaps on chronic health concerns. You aren't old and obese, so for now, you appear quite healthy by comparison. Your term "skinny fat" is right on, and is the most under-diagnosed group for diabetes. There are lots of other potential health explanations to (ex, being a woman in her early 20s, you're also prime time for the onset of a lot of autoimmune conditions). Either way, it's worth bringing these specific complaints to a doctor. Drinking a lot, leg pain, low appetite, and extreme/ongoing soreness in particular. Those are fairly distinct symptoms. Like I said, it could be absolutely nothing, but I still think it's a good idea to get checked out. A general physical is such a quick thing that unless you "look the type" for a disease (ie, obese/older/minority) and unless you have specific symptom complaints, it's pretty easy to miss things.

Wishing you the best! You action plan looks awesome. =) You've gotten great advice here.

wenchsenior

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Re: Skinny Fat, Coddled, and Weak
« Reply #49 on: January 12, 2017, 01:46:24 PM »
Carlin, unfortunately, you are exactly the type of patient who can fall through the gaps on chronic health concerns. You aren't old and obese, so for now, you appear quite healthy by comparison. Your term "skinny fat" is right on, and is the most under-diagnosed group for diabetes. There are lots of other potential health explanations to (ex, being a woman in her early 20s, you're also prime time for the onset of a lot of autoimmune conditions). Either way, it's worth bringing these specific complaints to a doctor. Drinking a lot, leg pain, low appetite, and extreme/ongoing soreness in particular. Those are fairly distinct symptoms. Like I said, it could be absolutely nothing, but I still think it's a good idea to get checked out. A general physical is such a quick thing that unless you "look the type" for a disease (ie, obese/older/minority) and unless you have specific symptom complaints, it's pretty easy to miss things.

Wishing you the best! You action plan looks awesome. =) You've gotten great advice here.

I actually think there are a lot of health problems that go undiagnosed in young women. I'm not sure why symptoms aren't taken seriously, but it is incredibly frustrating. It's like, "oh, young women are overdramatic" or some similar attitude.  It took almost 15 years of (in hindsight) incredibly obvious symptoms for my endocrine disorder to be diagnosed, and it only happened because I went to one doctor finally and demanded very specific tests after doing a bunch of research on my own. Not one doctor (and I'd seen half a dozen) had ever suggested any follow up tests or offered any suggestions of possible diagnoses. You really have to learn to advocate hard, or they will blow you off.

I've been back on this merry go round again for the past 5 years. Now it seems to be "oh, you must be in menopause" or similar attitude. Finally they start doing tests, and are shocked at some of the weird results. Still no idea what is causing my issues, but at least weird tests force them to pay attention and make some sort of attempt to figure it out. So tiresome.