On my last post about eating a primal diet, many people seemed to express the fact that they want to eat healthier, and they particularly want to eat primal, but they don’t want to lose weight! Should they have to choose between their bodies and their skin??

Being “too skinny” is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention as a real issue, especially for women.

For men, there tends to be unfortunate societal expectations that you should be big and muscular, and therefore, being skinny is usually seen as an undesirable trait and is often discussed in the context of body building. Not that this is helpful to everyone, but there does seem to be some information out there for the skinny man.

For women though, we’re supposed to be skinny right? Supermodels and celebrities are “skinny”. So you should want to be skinny too and if you are complaining about being skinny, you are just a whiner.

In reality, being too thin (whether you’re a man or a woman) can be very distressing. If you’ve read my life story, you know that I have always had a complex about looking young, and part of the reason I look so young is not just because I’m very short, but mostly because I’m very thin. I hardly have any curves and I don’t feel very womanly sometimes. It bothers me a lot and if I happen to lose some weight and my pants start feeling a bit loose, I really don’t feel good about myself.

I definitely felt the same way when I first started eating healthy for my skin. Skin or body? It seemed like I couldn’t have both! But my weight seems to have stabilized and isn’t much lower than it was before.

Here’s the thing:

Many people who are naturally thin eat poorly and don’t exercise because there is no danger of getting fat. This is how I used to be… I never thought twice about living a healthy lifestyle because… hey… I can worry about that when I’m older! But the thing is that even though it’s not very obvious, skinny people actually do have layers of fat on their body that are comprised of unhealthy tissue.

Whenever you change your diet to something healthier and begin to detoxify, you will, unfortunately lose some weight. Your body is shedding and releasing that unhealthy layer of fatty tissue. If you are already underweight, I know this can be very scary and upsetting. But once your body is done detoxifying, it will begin to build back up again with healthier cells and tissues. You’ll start looking like you used to and stabilize at a healthy weight for your body.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to look any less skinny than you did before. \

Some of us are just naturally more thin than we’d like.

Of course, you can change your body. If you really want to be less skinny than you have make sure that you are eating above and beyond your calorie requirements and doing strength training.

Wait… strength training? I bet you are envisioning Arnold Schwarzenegger doing bench presses at the gym right now. While guys can usually wrap their heads around this concept of working out and building muscle (although not necessarily wanting to look like Arnold), girls, I find, are like ‘huh? But I want to be soft and curvy…. I don’t want to be hard and muscular!”

Yes… I understand the fear, but the facts are… women don’t get all crazy muscular like that because our hormones are different. When we build up our bodies with strength training, we end up looking ‘fit and toned’ not ‘big and bulky’ (unless you’re on ‘roids).

You don’t have to go to the gym…

Just develop yourself a simple 30 minute full body workout that you can do at home – no equipment required. Do it every other day, and while you should get some cardio in as well, make sure the majority of your exercise is focused on strength training. This is what I do.

The other thing is that you must make sure you are getting enough calories to stay at an even weight and even more if you want to gain weight and build lots of muscle. Vegetables are less dense and calorific than most unhealthy foods, so when people switch to a healthier diet, they end up eating what looks like the same amount of food that they’d eat before and then end up hungry and dissatisfied. If you’re doing paleo, really make sure you are eating lots and lots of good fats. Fats have twice as many calories per unit as carbohydrates or proteins, so it’s easy to get lots of calories in this way.

How am I personally doing with all of this?

I’d say I currently look as thin as I used to before all the healthiness, but not more thin. Maybe I’d be fuller if I had been more consistent with strength training, but I am making a point to stay on track with it now. I’m also eating enough calories to feel full and satiated, but I don’t know if it’s enough to really fill out the way I want. I also don’t know if eating intense amounts of food every day is worth it to me to bother. I guess we’ll have to see what happens! In the meantime, I am working on accepting my total self, skinny or not!

photo by jcoterhals