June 7th, 2007

Scary Skinny Tabloid Tell-Alls, And The Skinny Fat Syndrome

I admit it. I bought the National Enquirer. I know, I know, you should never admit you bought the Enquirer, but the headline GOT me!“Hollywood’s Deadly Skin And Bones Diet: Stars Risking Their Lives To Be Thin.”Not to be outdone, IN TOUCH magazine’s cover story was remarkably similar with the headline:“SCARY SKINNY!”

Thin is in, but how thin is too thin?

Actually, I wasn’t “reading” the Enquirer at all, I was, ahem, “Doing professional research…”

And besides, you have a lot of time on your hands at the checkout line when your weekly grocery list includes:

7 grapefruits, 4 packs of blueberries, 6 apples, 12 dozen eggs (yes, I still throw away most of the yolks, deal with it), 9 lbs of chicken, 2 lbs of lean top round steak, 3 packs of salmon, 4 cans of tuna fish, 2 tubs of quaker old fashioned oats, 7 bags of broccoli, 7 bags of mixed vegetables, 4 bags of spinach, miscelleanous salad vegetables, a big giant bag of sweet potatoes, several bags of brown rice… uh.. and that’s just in the first shopping cart, LOL!

TABLOID TELL-ALLS!

Anyway, on the cover of the Enquirer there were photos of a “bony skinny” Angelina Jolie at 5′ 7″ 100 lbs, Anna Kournikova at 5′ 6″ and 110 pounds, and Cate Blanchett at 5′ 8″ and 106 pounds, among others.

After I flipped past the picture of Sharon Stone’s butt cellulite circled and enlarged for detail (no, I’m sorry to say, I’m not joking about that!), the feature story inside discussed an issue that’s really quite serious:

Dr. Stanley Title said that, “The skin and bones diet is extremely dangerous and can cause serious health implications. Literally, they are starving themselves to death.”

Dr. Title said that Hollywood celebrities know that they look 10 lbsheavier on camera so they’ve almost all at one time used extreme measures (often including diet drug abuse), to the point where even casusal observers notice the protruding bones and rail thin bodies and wonder if they’ve gone too far.

People are dying to be thin, and unfortunately, that cliche has provento be literally true on more than one occasion in the case of severe anorexia.

SKINNY DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN HEALTHY

lean-or-anorexic?

All too often, people forget to include “health” when they’re setting their goals. It’s just “X lbs” or “size X” or “X percent body fat,” but seldom a mention of health, strength, energy, nutrition and quality of life.

There’s a side to this “scary skin and bones diet” that’s even more alarming than what the Enquirer alluded to.

I am privy to this only because I’m a fat loss coach who has taken thousands of body composition tests over the years, which is why most people don’t know about this.

Dr. Title, in the Enquirer story, said that these diets “leave the dieters looking skeletal with bones protruding under the skin.” True. And many clearly are flirting with eating disorders.

But something else I’ve noticed from my experience is that starvation dieting can often produce the opposite of the intended result. Instead of improving your body composition…

YOUR BODY FAT TO MUSCLE RATIO CAN ACTUALLY GET WORSE AND YOU BECOME A “SKINNY FAT PERSON!”

That’s right. Not only does skinny NOT = healthy, skinny also does NOT = lean, and skinny certainly does NOT = muscular.

Starvation dieters become victims of “skinny fat syndrome” and they diet off lots of “weight”, but the weight consists of more muscle than fat, so they end up with almost no muscle left, but a lot of the fat still remains!

Too bad they’re dieting off all their muscle, because MUSCLE is the engine that drives your metabolism and MUSCLE is what gives you the fit and athletic look that everyone is really after.

Sometimes it’s not the “skin and bones” diet at all, it’s the”Bones and Fat diet.”

I’ve measured the body composition of some women who at a casual glance looked thin or even down right skinny, and to my absolute shock and dismay, I found they were carrying body fat in “worse than average” range!

One woman I took a test on was about 5′ 7″ and 121 pounds.On any height weight chart or by any other standard that would be thin.

And this shows the flaw of thinking only in terms of “skinny,” “thin”or even just “bodyweight”: Her body fat measured an astonishgly high 28%!

That’s 34 lbs of fat out of 121 lbs, leaving only 87 pounds of lean body mass and fat free-tissue!

Imagine for a moment an arm bone, with a one inch pad of fat surroundingit, kind of like foam insulation around a pipe. That’s what her arm was like, only the insulation was pure fat!

When I grabbed the back of her (very thin) arm- it was just one giant fat fold! Literally no muscle – just bones and fat.

Are you now starting to see the problem we have here with the way most people are dieting and thinking?

Do you realize how slow your basal metabolism would be if you only had 87 poundsof lean body mass? How about how weak you would be?  Is that what youreally want?

I used to think “fat” was bad. Then I found out about “skinny fat” – nothing worse than skinny-fat, right?

Not so fast, How about “skinny-fat, malnourished, unhealthy and weak?” NOW THAT’S BAD!

People are so fixated only on the pounds of bodyweight and the outward appearance of “skinny” or “thin’ they are paying NO attention to health, energy, strength, function, muscle and vitality – the things that count!

4 TIPS TO BE “FITNESS MODEL LEAN”…
NOT “WAIF-MODEL SKINNY”

(1) FIRST. Above all else, do not starve yourself.

ANY very low calorie diet can work in the beginning, but that’s exactly where the danger is – there’s a false sense of success achieved with rapid initial weight loss.

Rapid bodyweight loss almost never lasts. The thing is, in this day and age, you already know that. But you so desperately WANT to BELIEVE in the promiseof the quick fix, that you ignore your own logic and act on emotion.

Never starve yourself. It’s better to burn more calories with exercise and activity – which in includes resistance training for strength and muscle –  than it is to cut more calories.

A nice bonus: When you’re active and burning calories, you can eat much more, providing you with more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, essential fatty acids and essential amino acids (That’s the essense of the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle approach: “Eat More, Burn More.”

Proper nutrition = optimum health.
Starve yourself = inadequate nutrition = poor health

(2) SECOND, you must make strength training a part of your lifelong exercise program.

You must do resistance training. This is the stimulus and signal to your body to keep the lean muscle when you are on a moderately reduced calorie fat loss program.

Weight training is NOT just for bodybuilders. There is simply no substitute for strength training in keeping your muscle, stoking your metabolism, getting you lean, making you biologically young and keeping you healthy.

Yes – do your cardio too. But don’t do just cardio and think that’s enough. It’s NOT. Cardio + weight training are the TWO exercise elements that when done in combination will produce the fastest healthy fat loss results you can get, while maintaining all your muscle.

——————-DON’T DO THIS—————————

Almost all “skinny fat” people do two things:

1. Starve themselves on very, very low calorie diets
2. Refuse to lift weights

————————————————————

(3) THIRD, you have to change your language.

Words are so powerful aren’t they? Just a change in vocabulary can instantly change a feeling and begin to change your behaviors.

If we stopped trying to be “skinny” and stopped “dying to be thin”(what a terrible metaphor), and instead we focused on “being healthy,” “being lean” and being ”strong,” what a difference it would make.

What if you focused on “improving your nutrition” instead of “going on a diet?” what kind of difference do you think that would make? Just the sound of that – “nutrition program” – how does it make you feel compared to “diet?” I’m SERIOUS, THINK about that. What associations come along with each word?

What if you added to your goal list a desire to look and be”athletic.” How would that change your perspective? Is the rail-thin, protruding bones waif-model look “athletic???”

————————–DO THIS!————————————-

  • Always include “being HEALTHY” in your goals, not just reaching a certain weight or dress size.
  • Always include “being STRONG” in your goals, never just getting skinny.
  • Always include “being LEAN” in your goals, never just losing bodyweight.
  • Always focus on “improving NUTRITION” not “dieting.”

———————————————————————-

(4) FOURTH, measure your body composition.

You must become aware of the difference between body fat and bodyweight and you must understand body fat percentage and body fat testing.

That doesn’t mean don’t use your scale and ignore what the mirrorshows you and how your clothes fit, it means doing all of the above.

Always measure your body composition (skinfold caliper or other method), and understand what youre losing – is it weight or fat? Is it just water weight? Could it be lean muscle you’re losing?

A single measurement will tell you.

Burn The Fat, KEEP The Muscle

Here’s an incredible revelation that you should tatoo onto your brain so you’ll never forget it: Everything I’ve described here about what you should do and what you should not do is the same approach that *natural* bodybuilders and fitness competitors have always used.

Why? Because these athletes CANNOT afford to lose an ounce of muscle, so they train hard and eat sometimes as many as five or six ”nugtrient-dense” “natural-food” (clean) meals a day to stoke energy levels and feed the muscle.

It’s the approach I use to reach the type of physical condition you see in the picture on my website, and its’ the approach I have been teaching to others for years in my Burn The Fat program.

I hope that more people who were focused only on being skinny will begin to focus on the right thing:

It’s not about being “skinny.” It’s about being lean and strong and healthy.

Your friend and coach,

Tom Venuto, body transformation coach and best-selling author
www.BurnTheFat.com

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40 Responses to “Scary Skinny Tabloid Tell-Alls, And The Skinny Fat Syndrome”

  • This post is so timely for me as I just this morning hashed out (on my own blog) my feelings about fitness, athleticism, and long-lasting well-rounded health. The post is also so important. Emphasis on health and energy is hugely key for long-term sustainable fitness.This post touches on many of the things that drive me insane.I cannot tell you how many times people have bemoaned the fact that their “diet” is not “working” and are shocked when I tell them that they should probably eat MORE.Equally disturbing is the concept of “saving up” for a special treat. As in, I skipped breakfast and lunch so i could have this pastry. People have no idea how detrimental that is for their body!Don’t even get me started on old school three meals a day eaters.I read your blog religiously – it’s informative, well-written, and spot-on. I was referred to your site by Daniel Iversen who runs my local boot camp. Keep writing, your work is changing lives.Heidi

  • Roz

    I find it absoultely ridculous of how stars starve themselves for ages and drop themselves to a stupid weight. They think they look good on camera when they are skinny and they also think thy are fat on camera, but they’re not, as its only wide screens that make them look fat. It is stupid and I myself am totally against it. It’s downright out of order to starve yourself because of some poxy camera.

  • shawn

    it amazes me that we have two epidemics in this country at opposite extremes on the same subject. obesity and unhealthy weight loss. it is an obvious lack of education in our children. i thought that in school P.E. stood for PHYSICAL EDUCATION….what happened to the education part????

  • Doug

    As a personal trainer, I continue to be amazed at the intelligent female clients I speak to about resistance training who shy away from any serious weight training because they don’t want to “bulk up”. Cardio is OK, and so is doing 50 reps with a two lb. dumbell, but for health, weight loss, and body composition, you need some WEIGHT. Too many woemen equate “working out” with a treadmill or an eleptical machine or taking a sculpting class at the gym. Too bad because their body fat will always be above average. Muscle = Metabolism!

  • aimee

    I have always said I would much rather someone tell me that I am buff (great word) or toned than to tell me I am skinny. Anyone can starve themselves to skinny and hate every minute of it. I have worked really hard to get this body and I want people to know it. And I have loved every minute of it.Keep the great information coming Tom!

  • Kara

    Thanks so much for this blog. As a woman I find it hard not to feel pressure to be rail thin. I have been consistently weight training, doing cardio and eating well for the past two years and I am likely in the best shape of my life – definitely a curvy fit physique. However, sometimes I feel that I am too big and get down on myself because I compare myself to the scary skinny people in the tabloids!I was once at a scary skinny weight and myself was shocked at that time to find that my BMI was in the overweight category – LET’S CELEBRATE SHAPELY FIT WOMEN

  • Hi Tom,I heard about this tabloid over the radio on my way to work this morning. The DJs were poking fun at the female celebrities’ cellulite, etc.As a personal trainer, I couldn’t agree more with what you said.I’ve seen a lot skinny fat people. Some people may look normal or skinny from head, shoulder, chest, then there comes the belly fat, finally down to a pair of skinny bird-like legs. Their BMIs may be lower than 25. But their body shapes and body compositions are well less than desired. Well, they judge themselves by the scale readings without thinking of body fat % and distribution.I was asked by some already-fat or overweight males to help them “bulk up,” while some skinny females to help them “slim down.” People got to understand what they mean and what they want.Strength training + proper nutrition + success mindset ==>lean, fit body and mindCareywww.careyforfitness.comcareyforfitness.blogspot.com

  • Laynie

    Here Here! Finally, someone has the guts to say something truthful and honest about these over glorified, airbrushed & underfed icons of fashion and beauty. As an amateur female bodybuilder I am amazed at how today’s society & media supports/advocates for women to be ‘skinny’. Their twigs that they call arms and legs are no bigger than my forearms & calves – probably smaller. And I am called the freak, told I am unhealthy and ugly. I eat and train right with the 2001 Natural Mr World Champion, have lost 20kgs in weight, competed and won. I don’t smoke, binge drink, live on chocolate and eat all other meals in bird-size portions and definitely steer clear of any form of protein. But because my butt is solid, not small (and wobbly) I am wrong. I am not the one with stretch marks anywhere may I add! Well, revenge is sweet. Annual checkups have just proven that I am healthy on the inside as my vascular system is almost perfect, and a lot younger than my calendar years. At almost 47, I feel vindicated in what I am doing. Let’s face it, muscles are sexy – young, old, male or female! Keep up the good work with this blog as it is slowly having effect – with some of us!

  • rebecca

    Okay so now what?Yup, I am one of those girls who in a sad attempt to like her body felt the only way to get skinny was to loose weight through not eating. I was 15 at the time and I now know better but am struggling with trying to beat what turned into a type of eating disorder. I have gained and lost over and over again, and now that I am living proof of a “skinny fat person” I don’t know exactly what to do. I want to not loose “weight” anymore but to loose fat and through a healty diet, cardio and weight lifting. Problem is where do I start with a decent caloric intake? Since I am sure that after going through several starvation periods followed by a backlash and subsequent weight gain I have totally screwed up my metab. How do I know what is appropriate as far as daily calories for fat loss are concerned??Not sure if anyone can or will answer but I’d really appreciate any advice at this pointThanks!!

  • Arun Paliwal

    Yeah As far as fitness level is concerned it must not be confused with looking good . On wide screen and in front of Camera generally a Skinny model will look better (Otherwise why So many guys will go mad about these sexy Lads ) But for non-models and for general people like us whats important is to keep our health and fitness at prime . We can not and should not compromise on our Metabolic Rate which certainly suffers deadly from fast dieting . Again as Tom has mentioned the best formulae remains the same ” EAT HEALTHY and EXERCISE HEALTHIER ” .

  • Let’s face it! The media and society have pushed false images and thinking about our bodies for a very long time! I’ve seen many shows trying to denounce female bodybuilders as un-feminine, or the other the other insults of being men with breasts.Anyone who’s ever watched a tigress, a thoroughbred mare or any other creature KNOWs that muscle is far more attractive than fat. A woman shouldn’t think that thin equals feminine, or that vulnerability is sexy. This is a mindset that has to change if we really want to see a healthier, more active and happier society.I believe that growth in one area can lead to expansion in others. The stronger and fitter I feel, the more energy I have mentally and the the further I wish to reach spiritually! First of all, we must denounce the misinformation that only leads people into further unhappiness by giving them mirages instead of realistic goals.That’s why forums like this are SO important. The Fountain of youth lies next to the river of truth!

  • Let’s face it! The media and society have pushed false images and thinking about our bodies for a very long time! I’ve seen many shows trying to denounce female bodybuilders as un-feminine, or the other the other insults of being men with breasts.Anyone who’s ever watched a tigress, a thoroughbred mare or any other creature KNOWs that muscle is far more attractive than fat. A woman shouldn’t think that thin equals feminine, or that vulnerability is sexy. This is a mindset that has to change if we really want to see a healthier, more active and happier society.I believe that growth in one area can lead to expansion in others. The stronger and fitter I feel, the more energy I have mentally and the the further I wish to reach spiritually! First of all, we must denounce the misinformation that only leads people into further unhappiness by giving them mirages instead of realistic goals.That’s why forums like this are SO important. The Fountain of youth lies next to the river of truth!

  • Wesley

    Hey Rebecca,Quite honestly I feel for you because I’m the male version of you…excepting that for me I’ve just always had a seriously fast metabolism and messed things up by trying to gain weight by eating elephant-sized plates of food and as much junk as I possibly could because I always believed that FAT+WEIGHT TRAINING = MUSCLE – dead wrong there though…My advice to you is in the form of a referral – Tom’s programme looks excellent for ANYONE. What I’d suggest is starting off with where you are NOW in terms of body composition and weight and then determine what you goal is – to gain lean mass in order to start building muscle in order to get your metabolism back to what it should be. This would involve eating frequent, healthy meals to provide you with a total caloric intake = more than your maintenance intake. It would mean weight training. It would mean resting well and getting enough sleep. Drinking a lot of water. And, this is going to be the shocking bit – it would mean not being overly concerned about your body SHAPE in the beginning – remember the story of the ugly duckling – a swan also has an ugly phase…but as long as you know that eventually your training programme is going to be aimed at toning when you’ve gotten your composition right, it wouldn’t matter in the long run. I’ve gone through so much literature from so many authors about what works and what doesn’t etc. but the 4 fundamental, bread-and-butter items that should always be there are: NUTRITION, RESISTANCE TRAINING, REST AND ATTITUDE. Start there and you’ll be just fine. I’ve started with my own tailor made programme and honestly, I feel great these days – not worrying about how I LOOK is a relief because I know what my goal is and while I’m training and eating right I FEEL GREAT about myself. Read more of Tom’s articles and do some research about how to set up a proper nutritional meal list, know what your maintenance calorie count is and then work from there – the point is that you BEGIN. Good luck!

  • Fran

    Thank you Tom for what you are doing. I began using weights last year but not to gain muscle. I was diagnosed with osteopenia and am terrified of going into osteoporosis! Weights will build bone as well as muscle. A twofer!! Lift those weights girls, and the earlier the better! Be strong, be healthy, be safe.

  • md

    I do think that sometimes the Enquirer and other such dish rags do a public service in showing the star’s failings. I think my 12 year old gangly son at 5’8 and 115 lbs has the same or better figure (more butt) than the starving starlets.Still, though healthier, I’m not sure there isn’t a bit of extreme in the lean fitness model/bodybuilding trend as well. How many breast implants are out there that really wouldn’t be needed if a woman just kept a bit more healthy range bodyfat and didn’t obsess over a tiny bit of fat in the troublezones? I struggled and struggled with the protein, weights and stepper/treadmill trying to lose the lower body fat, very lean above the waist and except for times I dropped weight faster and to an difficult weight for me to maintain (at 5’7″ closer to 120-125lbs) was always a bit bottom heavy. I have naturally big leg and glute muscles then some fat over that would make me look bottom heavy compared to the upper body where the fat loss is easier. I’d start losing my chest at lower weight that people gush over… and after 3 kids the breasts would deflate and I’d be unhappy with that.Exercise, eat more and relax. I’m more balanced upper body to lower body and happier with a high BMI (obese, lol) and some fat (more a traditional hourglass figure than a fitness model), have low cholesteral, good blood pressure and all the basics are fine. I have decided I can live with some normal healthy range female bodyfat and enjoy having natural, bigger breasts – and eating more to what seems natural than forced. I’d like to thank the latin and black cultures for making this white girl’s big legs and bubble butt more socially acceptable.

  • Morgan

    In my 20′s, I was always trying to starve my self to look thin. Well, who wasn’t? It was the era of low-rise and “skinny” jeans with midriff-baring shirts a la Britney Spears.My problem, though, was always have a “pear” shaped curvy body instead of the “no hips, rail-thin” type that was (and still is) so popular. I would do 2 hours a day of cardio and live off tomato soup and air-popped popcorn and often “hit the wall” because I did not have enough energy to get through the day. To me, less calories and more cardio = skinny! But then, I was just a bag of bones with loose skin…and was tired all the time with huge mood swings.However, once I started to weight train seriously with a figure competitor I admire, Natalie Waples, I learned how to eat properly and rev-up my metabolism to unheard-of heights much like Tom’s burn-the-fat programme. After I built up my upper body, I have become much more proportional in size and look younger, healthy, and totally ripped to the point where I get envious stares in the gym from girls who refuse to step in the weight room.It’s hard to change your way of thinking. I recommend finding someone you admire and trust to help mentor you through the process. It requires a HUGE leap of mental faith but just HANG ON, be CONSISTENT, and the results will come AND stay!!!It’s WORTH it! Educate yourself! Talk to those who already have the results you seek…they are only too happy to help and share their hard-earned knowledge with you.

  • kristal

    Thanks so much for your information! I have went from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be lean and healthy! I have went from 148 pounds to 129… 4 months, size 14 to size 8, with healthy eating and exercise and weight training. My husband is down 30 pounds too! My overweight friends say i eat more than anyone they know and are puzzled how i keep loosing! They just don’t get it! I eat healthy, burn off the excess! I owe alot of my success to your education! My husband is getting pretty buff too! Here we are mid 30′s looking better than we ever did!Keep up the good work! It is so important in an age of really obese people and eating disorders! Healthy eating and living seems to be the minority.

  • Tom:Thanks so much for what you do. Last summer at 43, I decided to get back in shape…to the level I was when I was in my 20s in the Marine Corps. The first thing I did was stop eating. WRONG! Thankfully, I got advice from someone who understood your philosophy and corrected things before I did any real damage.At 6′, 235 I began lifting, doing cardio and eating right. At about 200 lbs, I came across your ebook and bought it. At that point I started measuring my body fat. I’m now very lean and between 175 and 185, depending upon how hydrated I am. (It’s amazing to me how much body weight can swing from day to day.) I am now cycling competitively, while continuing to do weights on my upper body…and my life has changed completely. I had hight blood pressure, could barely walk up the stairs without being out of breath. Now my resting heart rate is in the 50s and my blood pressure is totally normal. Needlss to say, I can leap up the stairs. :) Although I was on the right track when I found your book, I credit you with helping me take health and conditioning to another level. Others have seen the changes in me and have begged me to tell them the “secret,” which I always do with enthusiasm.So, again, thanks for what you do. Would that more people know about your program/advice!

  • KINA

    There are so many of us out there who have fallen into the i want to be skinny like the girls on tv that its a miracle that our daughters all dont have eating disorders. I am 43 years old and have been starving myself my entire life.A year & 6 months ago after starting the winter at 120 (im 5’5) flabby “skinny” pounds my weight started creeping up. by the end of the winter i was 135 pounds and pudgy all while eating less than 1000 calories per day. wow. In june of 2006 i decided it was time to do something healthy for myself so i could live and feel good about myself so i joined my small town gym.I have always watched my fat and calories so that part wasnt a problem for me . it is eating several times a day that scares the crap out of me. you all know the mentallity that we starvers suffer from. in one year i have learnt so much. i feel better about myself. i look younger . i have succeeded in having sexy arms.i am still working on my lower part. loose skin and fat deposits still needing toned but i know that it took me a long time to get into this terrible shape and i will succeed at being toned and healthy with persistance. by the way . i didnt get on the scales for 6 months . i decided weight was not going to deter me since i knew i would gain if i was doing it right.i am now 126 pounds and went from the original size 9 jeans to a size 4. I hope you young girls out there don’t fall into the trap. eat healthy, excercise including weights, treat your body right for you will be glad you did when you get to be my age.you are all beautiful whether your 36-24-36 or not.as long as your lean & healthy

  • nico_mo

    2 years ago, I lost 27.6 Kg over a period of 3 months on a low calorie diet with intensive training.How? I use the right words. I just said “Enough is enough and I need to get my life back”. I was 90Kg then and dropped to 62.4 kg, I was 37 years old and getting lazy. Now I am a healthy 70Kg, but the weight difference of roughly 8kg was expected in the last two years primarily muscle gain. Of course a little fat is needed and essential for me to remain healthy and Lean.If you convince yourself and you want to improve your confidence – then you need to use the right words, don’t say diet – say new lifestyle or exactly what Tom says, he’s absolutely right.6 months before I changed my life, I did the research while recovering from a fractured wrist. I had to eat calcium – the best source is not in Milk or dairy products, its actually in various seeds. I surfed the net – one handedly and jumped around a lot of the medical government health sites to verify and cross-reference the facts. Once I knew the facts I started playing around with carbs, proteins and fats and finding out what kind of food contained how much of everything. Living in Poland didn’t make it any easier as most products here still lack the neccessary information.When my plaster cast came off, my left arm muscles were depleted and I had to re-train it with squeezing a ball and low weights, it recovered after 6 weeks and is now stronger than my right ;) Though I didn’t intend that.So how else – well every time you complete your training – you MUST praise yourself on your excellence and promise to do a little more tomorrow or the day after – Keep your promises to yourself and you will succeed. Build yourself an exercise plan that you CAN do and set a START DATE a month in advance. You must believe in yourself first, try learning to say NO to the things that you believe you eat too much of, delay them for a day, two days to a week and then every two weeks. Psyche yourself up. When you believe in yourself – you will start feeling more confident – you will eventually improve your mental state.Start eating a little less than usual before you start dieting and cut down on the fatty products learn to grill your food, find healthy nutruitional alternatives and try eating them. I removed butter and all oil from my usual eating habits 6 months prior to starting my diet, I stopped having milk in my coffee, changed the sugar to unrefined and eventually stopped eating meat. No I’m not a vegetarian, I like my meat and enjoy a healthy portion in moderation today. Actually I eat anything I want today but only in moderation.My diet began with a workout in the morning, just a few stretches followed by a few sit ups, after four weeks I was up to 60-80 sit-ups a day, at the moment I maintain a hundered with weights every morning. I started with low weights stretches using just a couple of kilos and even today I use 7-10 kilos on each arm when I stretch. But there is no hurry. I dont want to look muscular – just lean and healthy.The workout used to be 5-10 mins, now I admit I take 30 mins every morning around 5.30am. I’m early bird and often my first meetings begin around 7.30am.I always used to get up, use the loo, check my weight, make a note, then workout, then have breakfast, shower, dress and head off to work.Breakfast then is the same as today, 1 glass freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice, 1/2 glass freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons) and 1 green apple sliced (grannie smith’s the best)2nd breakfast was around 11am, often my first break of the day, a light green salad with onions a glass of water followed by a cup of pu-erh tea.At this point in time it happened to be summer, the days were hot and I had a lot of free time. Working as a teacher I had nearly all summer to myself, though not much money. I had bought a rougth terrain bike and I would cycle around Warsaw, starting at just 5km a day to 30km, often weekends would be 50-100km. You can do it if you believe in yourself. But don’t push too hard initially just build up progressively.At around 2pm was Lunch time and I enjoyed a healthy no-fat soup about 400ml just green veg, no carrots nor corn, no bread of any sort nor pastas. Followed by another glass of water and a cup of coffee.Then I’d go to a private lesson/meeting and only drink a glass of water while there.around 5pm I’d have a healthy salad, just greens no fish no meat – just greens – dont add oil or vinegar either.Weight training around 6, walking fast on the treadmill to jogging, and then upper body workout.7pm home, last soup and glass of carrot juice, cup of pu-erh and a glass of water.By 9pm I often felt sleepy because of the diet and the hot water and would easily fall asleep. Its important to sleep a lot while dieting, it helps the body re-generate, it also helps you overcome any hunger pangs you may or may not be feeling.But dont sleep too much, 8 hours is enougth.I repeated this and survived for 3 months, I didn’t cheat and still look great. When I finished my diet, I was a lot lighter, could run like the wind and dance all night long, I lost ten years off my looks, everyone thought I was someone else, I even had difficulties with my ID cards.My clothes were ALL replaced from XXL to small, thats UK 38 to 30.I did well. And I’m healthy and strong. But I always had a good heart and a good mind, so I always knew what I was capable of and I still know today.Next month I’m getting married.My Life is Fantastic. I believe in Myself – You can do it too.Tom is a brilliant guy – he’s got his head on right and there’s not many people like him in the world today. I wish there were more level headed people around.On a final note, anyone wishing to undertake any diet, should consult a qualified doctor – I know I didn’t – but I know you should, I stopped when my skin got too tight, my fingernails stopped growing and my hair too. I know what my limit is and I worked out my pace – please dont hurt yourselves.Next year I’m 40 and I look like a 25 year old, or should I say would if I could stop my hair from graying :)

  • Cynthia

    Hi Tom,I’m a very fit female but people are surprised at what my actual weight is: 160lbs. I have quite a bit of muscle, especially in my legs. I weight train and do cardio but I’ve lost a ton of inches! I went from a size 16 to a size 8. I started out at 201lbs. and adopted this exercise program because not only did I want to lose weight, I wanted to be tight and toned. I still live by this and now I have other women I work with beginning to lift weights because they watched my transformation and realized I didn’t bulk up but lost inches and have definition and I don’t look like a bodybuilder. I think it’s so ridiculous to starve yourself as these women look not only unhealthy, but just plain skeletal. As a woman in my 40′s, you have to start considering long term effects of osteroporosis, which these women will undoubtedly have. Hair loss and a list of other things that is not worth it. Lifestyle changes and weightlifting has been a godsend for me and I just hope other women will adapt to the same.Thanks for great articles and information.

  • Sharon

    An extremely important article! Since I have always been athletic, I haven’t had trouble holding onto my muscle mass but most people are totally shocked when they find out what I weigh. This fascination with the number on the scale is just so wrong. If I went by my weight, I’d be doing all the wrong things.I look at women my age and their “skinny-fat” bodies and I’m baffled as to why you want to do that to yourself. Why is it so much easier to starve yourself than it is to move? Starving is definitely not a natural state for humans while moving is.How did our programming get so corrupted? Maybe because the natural response to starving is to stop moving. You’re not moving if you don’t have enough calories going in. Since so many people cut way back on the calories when they see their weight creeping up (largely due to inactivity), they get themselves into a vicious cycle of cutting calories which slows them down even more which means cutting more calories.The way to break the cycle is to move and eat MORE, as Tom says.

  • Sharon wrote:Why is it so much easier to starve yourself than it is to move? Starving is definitely not a natural state for humans while moving is. AMEN!How did our programming get so corrupted? Maybe because the natural response to starving is to stop moving. You’re not moving if you don’t have enough calories going in.AMEN! The way to break the cycle is to move and eat MORE, as Tom says.AMEN!:-)thank you sharon..tom vPS and thank you ALL for all of your comments.

  • Jenny

    I have had bulimia for two years now and my weight has fluctuated so much, it’s disgusting. I started at a heavy 175 then dropped down to 130 in 5 months, then back up to 150 then down to 140 then 145 and now 150 again…all in two years. The idea of being thin is extremely desirable for me, as I cannot feel comfortable in this body being the way I am. My genetics lead me to have a curvy body, small waist, big hips, large thighs and butt…and I hate it. But, I turned myself into an eating disorder out patient program as well as always reading Tom’s blogs and to be honest, I’m beginning to see the light that it’s NUTRITION not DIET and a mix of cardio AND weights (not just starving, binging, purging and cardio) that will make you into the absolutely healthiest person at your setpoint weight. It’s hard to be a girl in this world…where no matter whta, you’re either too skinny or too fat…but I think with people like Tom out there, expressing this information with such honesty, maybe one day, the world will change and girls like me will no longer suffer.

  • Hi TomAwesome information! This is the information a real Fitness Professional should be giving. I don’t know why I just found your Blog…I thought I had read or known about just about everything you write. your are a real credit to our profession!Georgette PannOwner NutriFitnesshttp://thenutrifitness.comhttp://thefitnessbootcamp.com

  • Amy

    oh my god! i fit that descreption above completely. i really have no idea what to do now. i get tired from the least excercise the maximum i can do is jog for 1 minute and walk for i hour. i used to be very very toned and had a six pack. i never lifted weights but i did swimming, ice skating, roller blading, running, volleyball, basket ball, and competed in school competitions and everything. my height was and still is 5 foot 11in. back then i literally ate like a pig and my weight remaind constant at 57kgs or 125lbs. i was very healthy even though i seemed skinny, but it was all muscle. four years ago i had a hormonal problem and my doctor put my on some pill for six minths. i had severe mood swings and i suffered depression, therefore didnt want to even go out for a run or anything. all i did was that i stayed home and ate everything i can lay eyes on. i gained 33 kgs in those 6 months and got even more depressed, that i quit everything in life including food.i was bulemic for a while too using laxatives very day to loose that extra weight. it took me two years to recover from depressing after being on seroxat and prozac. but it took 3 years of living almost on next to nothing to lose 23 kilos.now am 67 kgs/148lbs, but i am just pure flab. no muscle. i have loads and loads of cellulite on my legs. eat healthier now. 3 portions or fruits and vegetables perday. 1 portion of brown carbs, and two portions of protein. but i didnt know how to gain back all my muscles again, and how long that would take.after reading this amazing article am back to roller blading starting tomorrrow!thanks tom for 3 years i had no explaination to that skinny flabby body of mine!thanks alot…

  • Hugo

    Thanks for your posts and emails. Really has been helping me through the spring months.You’re not the only one who uses the term ‘skinny fat’. My brother and I have been using it since we started training10 years ago.Such a great way to describe being out of shape.CheersHugoGreat Britain

  • This is a fun post for me. Fun as in, I’m giggling while I read it.Why? Because I weigh a lot. Almost 30 years of weight lifting and yeah, I weigh a lot. My doctor would be delighted if I weighed less – that’s all – weighed less. It annoys me.We are so weight conscious to the point of sheer stupidity.

  • elisabeth

    THanks for this article. I started weight training seriously about 9 months ago, after recovering from a long illness. I have reduced my bodyfat by at least 10%, down to 27%. I am doing my best to not freak out, but to just keep doing what I am doing, because I weigh 170. I’ve been trying to focus on fitness, not my weight.AT the dog park the other day, I brought my little bodyfat meter because someone had asked to use it. I ended up doing everyone’s bodyfat, and the most striking one was a woman who weighs 55 pounds less than I do, yet her bodyfat is the same as mine! She eats 2 meals a day, and she looks flabby, but “thin”.I was amazed to realize that my lean weight is more than her entire weight, and I eat 6 times a day….no one there would believe I weigh as much as I do.I may still have some fat around the middle, but I will never return to the days where I could not get out of my chair without using my arms. At 44, I am in the best shape of my life despite my “curviness”. It’s hard to adjust to my new, muscular body, but I love my stregnth and energy, and I will never go back!

  • Of course… another great article Tom!This reminds me of a time when I began training an 18 year old female client. She came into my office with her mother and we began with a fitness assessment.This girl was very thin, but I could tell had never participated in any physical activity. When I told her that her body fat percentage was 35% she just about flipped and her mother lost it.The mother told me that her friend (who was into fitness as she called it) guessed that her body fat percentage would be around 15%I guess this friend never grab the young girls arm to feel how soft and mushy it was.I ask the mother to grab onto her daughters arm and tell me if she felt much muscle under there.She was very resistant and asked me to do the measurement again.Before I did, I showed her my wife’s arms (which are cut, lean and muscular.) My wife’s arms were not much bigger than this girls arms but you could clearly see the difference.I measured this skinny (but fat) 18 year old girl 3 more times (this is after the 3 measurements that I already did) and she still didn’t believe me. She took the word of a friend who reads magazines over mine even though she watched me the entire way.I trained the girl for about a month and had to fire her because of missed appointments and the unwillingness to put in any kind of effort in the weight room…. she’s still a “skinny fat” person with no muscle tone.Give me a lean defined woman with some feminine and athletic looking muscle any day!Thanks for the great article again Tom.Scott Tousignant, BHK, CFCUnstoppable Fat LossFit Chic Fat Loss Blog

  • rachelle

    i love reading all the updated news on nutriton. loveworking out (always have), and i eat regular healthy small meals most of the time. i am still consistently 50 punds overwieght. i am trying to work in more strengh training since this is what he highly recommends. well see how much that helps me, oh and i am keeping a food and exercise journal to get objective advice from a friend. good luck evryone.

  • Aidk

    Hey Tom, im one of those skinny fat guys because i starve myself alot and never excercise!Im really gonna try and do more, eat healtily and do some weight training. Thanks for your blog!

  • Holly

    Hi, I have just come across this site. I need help. I suffered from anorexia when I was 14 and dropped to 70 lbs. Since then (I am now 20) I have yo yo’d but finally managed to find a healthy place in my mind and body. Until a few weeks ago, a teacher at college (I am a dance + musical theatre student) told me I am not allowed to attend partnering classes with the boys because of health and safety reasons and weight. I weigh about 112 lbs. There are plenty of people that weigh more than me at college. Everyone is saying it is stupid but I have a tendency to slip back into my old ways and have been having spurts of complete starvation because of the way she has made me feel. I have a lot of muscle at the moment but I don’t want to end up one of those skinny-fat people! Obviously I need muscle and energy for college. But I want to get rid of any fat and I don’t know how to go about it in terms of food intake. I would appreciate any help greatly!

  • Eva

    Guess what? I am so skinny I get sick from it! Some times I lose it when I don’t eat enough. Then my bf takes me to the doc and he tells me to eat more. That is why you should NOT try and be skinny.

  • Lauren

    hiUntil I read your article, I thought about going anorexic. I am not happy with my body and wanted to become skinny like all my friends. I am 13 and 8 stone but I want to be so much lighter and thinner than that. However when I read this article I realised that by being anorexic, I would be all flab and no muscle and that is NOT what I want. As you said, the key is exercise and healthy eating.Thankyou so much!

  • Hi everyone.I have been modeling for years now. Those skinny girls you have on there are runway models, you have to look like that but for print you don’t. Look at Victoria Secret models there a good weight and beautiful. Everyone of you can look like that. I do runway and I’m 138 lbs being 5’8. The usual girls on the runway are 5’8 to 5’11 being 105 maybe even less. I have gotten more jobs then them because they find the beauty in me. You might think skinny is beautiful but remember they have photoshop. All my pictures are photoshopped and i look skinner because they take inches of your inner thighs, arms, hips and face (they want to define your cheek bones and make up doesn’t always work). Don’t think all these models are perfect and they have no flaws because personally i have scars, acne, stretch marks everything every other girl/women does or will have. Whoever is reading this can think it’s bullshit but I’m just trying to tell you that i have almost died from it. I had a sever throat infection from throwing up when i did eat. I barely ate, i just took vitamins. I love modeling so thats why i changed my life style and said if they really like me now they’ll like me when i have curves because i’m better to be alive then not have a life. Just think about it and don’t bullshit all of this because its severe. These models who are skinny are not making as much money as the ones that have curves. Example Tyra Banks, she is the most known model out there next to Kate Moss but Kate Moss has lost jobs from being skinny. Tyra Banks is a plus size and is still getting jobs. Everyone had a different shape and thats what makes us all different. I love myself and you should too.Thank You.Bless You All and Wish You All The Best

  • Sarah

    Hi!I’ve never had a problem with body fat, I exercise regularly and was gifted with a very high metabolism. But this article has been immensely useful. I showed it to my friends (many of them are “skinny fat”) and two of them decided to go see a coach of their own! That was a while ago–I just stumbled across this article again and decided to tell you, they both look a lot better! They say they have an easier time sleeping, too!On behalf of my friends, thank you! :D

  • Rachel

    It’s rediculous how thin some people are getting – There’s this girl in our class and because she models she sais she’s on a diet – she’s already borderline anerexic – Luckily , I’m just a healthy weight. :)

  • kryz

    Get the film/tv industry to develop a camera that makes people look 10 thinner !

  • iona louise jarvis

    i would like to wish people with anirexia a happy life and eat what they want because i used to be anerexic and im now putting weight on but i am still under weight for a 15 year old but i am still putting weight on with big meals

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