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OptimumKitten

Two different body types I can’t keep in proportion!

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Hi there. I have an issue that I suppose isn’t really a big deal but was wondering if anybody had advice.

 

I’m female and of very slight stature: very short and very slim. I’ve always been very slim my whole life even though I’ve always had a healthy appetite. I have broad but bony shoulders and my upper torso has always been what gives off the illusion that I’m underweight to people that wish to mention it to me. My lower half (legs, butt, thighs) have always been larger which I understand is common for ladies because of hormones and whatnot.

 

I’m quite ectomorphic on top. I’ve never much gained weight on my upper body, my arms stay very bony and my waist doesn’t gain weight easily either - though more easily than my arms. My upper torso has always been very weak and hard to gain strength in. 

 

My lower half however has always been strong. I’ve always had powerful legs and gain muscle on them very easily.

I can squat and lunge for days but have never once completed a push up and even when trying simplified versions, my strength just doesn’t increase up top.

 

I suppose I’m trying to find a way to balance myself out but so far nothing works for me.

I like my large legs, and I’d actually like to maintain them and hopefully add healthy mass on top to balance my body out.

However, when trying to eat healthily (following paleo for example), no matter how many calories I get, I find myself losing far too much weight, even on my legs which is starting to make me look deathly. Even though my appetite is healthy, I just can’t eat enough to maintain mass on my legs without eating junk and start driving again when eating paleo, and my upper torso just doesn’t change at all. I’ve noticed my jeans are all hanging off me now and no matter how much more I eat, I just keep getting smaller. 

 

I’m a bit lost and I’m not sure if there are exercises I could do to maintain my legs and hopefully build at least some upper body strength. Even things I could do as I go about my day to provide some small regular challenges (for example I walk everywhere instead of driving now - but I’m just losing even more weight!) Here’s the big problem though, I have a spine problem which has been detrimental to my physical health and it means I can’t lift weights. 

I can confirm I definitely don’t have any thyroid problems by the way. 

 

I’d really appreciate any advice on my half-and-half body. Thank you!

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Welcome to the forums!

 

Along with eating Paleo, are you counting calories? I totally see that you said no matter how many calories you get, it doesn't matter (I swear I read your post!). But, in healthy individuals, you shouldn't be losing weight if you are eating more calories than you burn. Have you calculated your caloric needs and looked at how many you are taking in daily? If you enjoy eating Paleo, increasing fats should help with eating enough calories to maintain. Remember, walking everywhere (which is great!) is going to increase your caloric needs - are you taking that into consideration? Additionally, making sure you get enough protein will help to maintain muscle.

 

Unfortunately, you won't be able to build upper body strength without using those muscles. I'm not qualified to give too many suggestions on exercises considering your spinal problem. Have you worked with a specialist to determine what you are and are not able to do? I see you said even variations of push-ups are too difficult - did you try starting with wall push-ups? How does that impact your spinal problems?

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33 minutes ago, Sylvaa said:

Welcome to the forums!

 

Along with eating Paleo, are you counting calories? I totally see that you said no matter how many calories you get, it doesn't matter (I swear I read your post!). But, in healthy individuals, you shouldn't be losing weight if you are eating more calories than you burn. Have you calculated your caloric needs and looked at how many you are taking in daily? If you enjoy eating Paleo, increasing fats should help with eating enough calories to maintain. Remember, walking everywhere (which is great!) is going to increase your caloric needs - are you taking that into consideration? Additionally, making sure you get enough protein will help to maintain muscle.

 

Unfortunately, you won't be able to build upper body strength without using those muscles. I'm not qualified to give too many suggestions on exercises considering your spinal problem. Have you worked with a specialist to determine what you are and are not able to do? I see you said even variations of push-ups are too difficult - did you try starting with wall push-ups? How does that impact your spinal problems?

Hi! 

 

Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it.

 

I have a Fitbit Charge HR which I use as reference for my expenses calories. I wear it all night and day (except in the shower obviously) and to be honest, I thought it was overestimating my calories. I try to count my calories to match or go slightly over what my Fitbit says I’ve burned. I got extremely pedantic over my calories at one time but it took too much time and wasn’t hugely varying to my estimations (I eat pretty much the same things each day usually). I still found I was losing weight even with protein shakes. Doctors don’t seem to find anything medically wrong with me so I’ve been inspecting my diet a lot more closely.

I do walk everywhere as you’ve said, but I do take it into account because some of the walks I do are quite intense (I have to walk up a long, steep hill for most of the walk to work) as far as walks go. 

I tried at one stage just eating when I was hungry until I was full to see if my body would tell me what it needs but I just don’t have the stomach to eat any more than I already do. Protein especially fills me up and I find it difficult to eat for a long time after consuming high protein meals. It’s hard to find the right balance of protein that I need and calories I can consume, and it’s hard to find accessible high calorie foods which are healthy that I can use to my benefit. 

 

I’ve tried wall push-ups but even after months, my rep ability just doesn’t increase which I suspect is also related to my diet. 

 

I can do most bodyweight exercises that dont recquire heavy twisting. I’ve never had problems with beginner-intermediate body weight exercises - some of which were given to me by a physiotherapist. Weight-lifting is my only definite no-go. Most other things I can try and see how I feel about it afterward. Because I’m not particularly adept in muscle anatomy, I’m not sure what exercises are going to benefit which part of my body when trying to balance myself out.

 

I really appreciate the advice and help! Thank you!

 

 

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43 minutes ago, OptimumKitten said:

Protein especially fills me up and I find it difficult to eat for a long time after consuming high protein meals. It’s hard to find the right balance of protein that I need and calories I can consume, and it’s hard to find accessible high calorie foods which are healthy that I can use to my benefit. 

 

What do your current macros look like? What is your height / weight (or your current caloric needs if you've already calculated it)? Diet wise, it is usually easier to increase fats as they are more calorie dense (so avocado, nuts, cheese if you are able to eat any of those). 

 

54 minutes ago, OptimumKitten said:

Most other things I can try and see how I feel about it afterward. Because I’m not particularly adept in muscle anatomy, I’m not sure what exercises are going to benefit which part of my body when trying to balance myself out.

 

There are a couple things you can do. First of all, take some form check videos and post on the forums. We've got some great people here that are really good at pinpointing where weaknesses are. Secondly, Google search the muscle groups that are used for push-ups. 

 

what-muscles-do-push-ups-work.jpg

 

You should be able to find alternative exercises that can help you strengthen them. When you say you can't lift weights, I'm not sure if you mean ALL weights or just heavy. For example, bench presses are going to work a lot of the same muscle groups as a push-up. So if you can start with like a standard Olympic barbell (45 lbs), you'd be lifting less than your body weight. Again, I am not a medical professional, so it's just something to review with someone more qualified than I am. 

 

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5 hours ago, Sylvaa said:

 

What do your current macros look like? What is your height / weight (or your current caloric needs if you've already calculated it)? Diet wise, it is usually easier to increase fats as they are more calorie dense (so avocado, nuts, cheese if you are able to eat any of those). 

 

 

There are a couple things you can do. First of all, take some form check videos and post on the forums. We've got some great people here that are really good at pinpointing where weaknesses are. Secondly, Google search the muscle groups that are used for push-ups. 

 

what-muscles-do-push-ups-work.jpg

 

You should be able to find alternative exercises that can help you strengthen them. When you say you can't lift weights, I'm not sure if you mean ALL weights or just heavy. For example, bench presses are going to work a lot of the same muscle groups as a push-up. So if you can start with like a standard Olympic barbell (45 lbs), you'd be lifting less than your body weight. Again, I am not a medical professional, so it's just something to review with someone more qualified than I am. 

 

Hi thanks for your reply again! 

 

My macronutrients currently, as I’m not exercising as much the last few months,  are 35% protein, 45% carb, and 20% fat. Based on my height, weight, and exercising 5 days/week, I always get the caloric intake of 1600-1700 which doesn’t feel satisfying to me so I usually eat between 2000-2300 but the latter is when I’m naturally more hungry from a busier week than usually. 

The fats are a good idea! I’ve been snacking on cashews and throwing coconut into my yoghurt to get a bit more calorie intake too. I used to eat a lot of peanut butter and apple so maybe that’s something I should start snacking on again. 

 

You're right, I could really just educate myself better with Google about the muscle groups. I think I sometimes overwhelm myself because I have have-to-know-everything-at-once syndrome instead of just focusing on one thing per week. I end up going off track a lot. Thanks for the advice! 

 

I can’t lift any useful weight essentially. My specific medical recommendation was a bit unusual but it was not to carry more than a newborn baby, and if I have to, do it with correct posture and for as little time as possible. At least that’s how the doctor explained it to me. 

 

Thanks so much for all your useful information. I really appreciate it. 

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if you have a spinal problem,

then surely the most important muscle group to exercise is your back right?

more importantly, what about PT for that problem??  

 

I mean generally there is HUGE amount of knowledge here about all the different kinds of exercise you could do.  but what we don't know; is why you've been stopped from lifting weights.  Doctors, we are NOT!  is that something that can be healed??  it seems to me that a lifestyle where you can't lift any weight is a very bad one; affecting your ability to do everything from pushing a mower, shoveling snow, to getting groceries.

 

then, this , I would think should be the priority.  not so much your figure; but chronic weakness that limit your ability to do "functional" things.  

 

also as other people would tell you on here;  don't merely take any one doctor's opinion as the final word on exercise.   medical science generally thinks exercise (including weight lifting) is very, very healthy doing all kinds of good things for you.  unfortunately some doctors seem unenlightened. 

 

 while it may be very true that you have to be careful and patient about how to set up an weight lifting exercise program- the idea that you Can't have one and get over a chronic back problem (in time) doesn't sound right to me AT ALL.  PT, or physical therepy basically IS exercise.  careful, medically supervised exercise to get you back to what a functional adult should be able to do.  if no PT is indicated; i would seek medical attention on how to work on your upper body weaknesses.

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Adding peanut butter back into your diet is a great idea. Also upping your calories in your smoothies. Put some peanut butter in your smoothies, taste good and ups your calories. Steve Kamb added oil to his smoothie to up calories, which doesn't sound tasty to me, but will up your calories  and since you are drinking it, won't leave you overfull

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