Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh, Those BatArms!!

I had a run-in today with my "bat wing" arms, as some bloggers so lovingly refer to their big flabby upper arm area. You know, the part that swings and flaps like a wing whenever you raise your arm above your shoulder? That big huge hunk that hangs there? (If you do NOT know what I mean, thank your lucky stars. And do NOT let yourself become morbidly obese. Ever.)

This morning I got out a new size L (normal!) shirt to wear. I knew it would fit me because I had bought several of the same brand/cut in size L, in tee shirts for summer and they fit me wonderfully. Imagine my surprise when I put on the L long-sleeve shirt and my upper arms were nearly strangled by the fabric, which hung nicely on every other part of my body: chest, waist, hips, forearms. All lovely. But the bat wings? They were stuffed into that fabric to the point of bursting. I wore it anyway, because it looked SO darn good on me everywhere else, but dang! My upper arms feel like sausages overstuffed into tight casings! It might take some Vaseline or butter greasing my skin to be able to get these sleeves back off my giganto-arms.

You know, I am pretty proud of every part of me. (okay, forget the thighs and preggo-belly. I am proud of *almost* every part of me). I have a nice defined waist and a good overall shape and most of me is starting to look kinda normal (not like I am grossly overweight)... except for these ARMS! I swear, the ONLY reason people used to say I "carried my weight well" at 278 pounds is because MOST of it was hanging on my upper arms!! Good heavens...

So I broke out the measuring tape today. My upper arms are still at their lowest measurement over this weight loss journey: 16.75 inches each, measured at mid-bicep. But here's the kicker: when I weighed 278 pounds, do you know what my upper arms measured? Seventeen inches. Seventeen!! Can you even believe that? So they have only shrunk 1/4 inch while losing 50 pounds! I've lost MANY INCHES off my waist, hips, bust, and each thigh... even more than an inch off my neck... but as much as I have shrunk, I still have the upper arms of a 278 pound, morbidly obese woman. Which explains why every time I go to the doctor now, they break out a normal-sized blood pressure cuff, try it, look shocked, and apologize while they go to find the super-huge-sized, extra-large cuff that will fit my arm. (They used to take one look at me and run off digging for the giant cuff, but now that I look normal, they're always taken off guard when the small one doesn't fit).

It is the one spot on me that has not changed. These arms, they embarrass me. I look in the mirror and really, everything else looks pretty darn good, but the arms tell my story. They tell my secrets to the world: "she used to be almost 300 pounds!" There is no denying my fat history when anyone sees those arms. And it's time to do something about it.

Yeah, I hear all the "experts" saying "there is no such thing as spot reducing," blah blah blah, but I am not buying it. Maybe that's true for relatively thin/normal sized people or folks without a lot of weight to lose. Or maybe it is true for some large people. But I have noticed over the past 2+ years that the areas on my body that shrink in measurement are the ones I am working the most. I believe forming the muscle in any area makes it look better AND burns the fat surrounding the muscle. Which is why when I started to bike regularly, my entire butt/hip/thigh area started shrinking dramatically. So, for me, I think there is *some* correlation.

I've lost 50+ pounds but my arms lost nearly NO fat. I hardly ever use the triceps; I am sure that's part of the problem. So one of my goals over the next few months will be to shrink these darned arms! And using them regularly is the key. I'm diving back into strength training with a vengeance; it is something I enjoy, and I am going to put the focus on arm work (along with core exercises). I can't wait to measure those batwings and FINALLY see them starting to shrink! Because I am NOT going to cut the arms off my old 3XL shirts and sew them onto my new size L ones to create a garment that fits!

Time will tell... and strength training certainly can't hurt!

38 comments:

Megan S said...

I know! I had this *exact* same experience yesterday. I take my measurements monthly and in nine months I have lost 3 inches off of every torso measurement and, literally, zero inches off of my arms (and thighs, but my thighs never really got bigger with the rest of my either so it's ok). I'm beefing up the arms strength as well. Like you, I'm not buying that it won't help. Oddly, since I've been strength training my arms, as the rest of me has continued to shrink (albeit slowly) my arms have gone up a half inch. I think I have built muscle underneath the fat! I am hoping that now that muscle will start working for me and I'll see some downward movement there. Goodluck!

JewliaGoulia said...

I totally am with you!

I have the not so lovely bat-wings right now. I am actually dreading the time when my body is thinner and my wings remain. At my wedding, I had to constantly "fold" them back during pictures. Ugh!

I can tell you that I have noticed some changes in my upper arms since I stared doing push ups on my exercise ball. Maybe that could help.

Here's to being wing-less in 2010!

Julia
jewliagoulia.blogspot.com

Amazon Runner said...

I am so sympathetic. I've lost over 40 inches of fat from my body since I started measureing in July and only 1 1/4 inches of that came from each arm. Also, my arms are about the same as my calves. YIKES!

I have been slamming my arms with skull crushers, tricep extensions, bicep curls and the like and they are startng to look better.

Don't give up!

Thrice Blessed said...

whether spot reducing works or not, having some muscle there will at least firm them up a little, AND speed your metabolism more, AND make it easier to lift things, so I say "go for it!"

Enz said...

I am a batwing sufferer too. It sucks, but they have gotten a little smaller over the last year and I hope they will continue too, but I am afraid of the hanging skin issue and think I will never be comfortable in tank tops.

Ms. PJ Geek said...

Count me in to the bat wing club. I was just showing my husband "my guns and my wings". I've been weight training for a couple of years-first at Curves and now for the last year with a Trainer. I highly recommend affording even just 1 or 2 sessions with a trainer. It really makes the difference. I have nice shoulders and a curve and great biceps when my arms are held up posed over head. Turn the arms down and I flap. They even got caught in the movie theater chair when my husband sat with me. Apparently , the wings would be much worse if I were not weight training.

Angela said...

Don't know if you like exercise videos, but Jillian Michaels' "No More Trouble Zones" is fantastic for hard-to-work areas of the arms, thighs and butt.

beerab said...

I feel your pain! Definitely work those arms- walk with small weights and weight train if possible- and don't forget about your triceps! :) I've been running with weights (like 5 lbs) and I notice it also gives me an even better workout than before :)

Andra said...

I call my bat wings "bingo arms." I hate to rain on anyone's parade but nothing other than surgery will get rid of that excess skin. I've been working my triceps religiously since I started strength training last spring. The fat has lessened quite a bit and there is even defined muscle underneath (I can do 3 sets of 15 of tricep dips with my body weight, 3 sets of 15 with a 15 pound weight over my head and 3 sets of with the cable weights set at 48 pounds) but unless I see a plastic surgeon, that loose skin, those bat wings will always be there.

Tammy said...

I can't believe you posted this. I was just crying over my bat wings yesterday, lol. I've been told what exercises to do to target them, and I do them, but I don't see a change. I'm wondering if a 10 lb. weight isn't enough to use, and I should use some of the 20 lb. dumbbells in the gym maybe?? I really wish I knew how to target them. I don't think any of the weight machines that I use at the gym every week really target the underarm area. Granted, I haven't taken any measurements....I think I'll do that tonight for the first time. And then find out how the hell to shrink the wings. If you know of a specific thing to do or weight to use, please email me!!! I'd love to shrink the batwings together and have the measurements to prove that it's working! :)

Autumnforest said...

You're totally onto it. Even if you can't spot reduce or prove that muscular parts of your body burn more fat in that region, the fact is that the more muscle content you have in your entire body, the more of a calorie burning machine you are. The more calories you burn, the less fat. The less fat, the more you see your arms new muscles. It's a win/win.

redballoon said...

Lyn,
You are SO right. I do a lot of weight training and believe me that the triceps are an area where you can see the fastest results of anywhere. Yes, you don't use them much anymore in daily life but if you do some good exercises that hit them directly (and don't be afraid to go heavy). You HAVE to feel it burn after 15-20 reps. When people say there is no such thing as spot reducing they are talking in a purely scientific way but muscle tone and WHERE the fat goes on IS affected by what areas you use the most. But the biggest difference is going to come from tone. Go for it. You'll be glad you did!

Lee said...

I've been following your blog for a few months now. I discovered it on some website that recommended the best blogs to read about losing weight. And I kept reading it because you are so positive. You are positive about your choices and when you can't be positive about your history, you're hopeful about what the future holds.

Anyway, I read your blog. I like your blog.

I too am morbidly obese. I weighed this morning at 310 lbs. I'm 6'1" tall so that helps some, but I've still got about 140-150 lbs. of excess weight. One day during a period of rationalization, I thought to myself "What's the point in losing weight? You'll still have all that excess skin." Since I love to research on google, I decided to learn more about it.

I think I believe this guy (Careful! The picture is a little scary):

http://www.bodyfatguide.com/LooseSkin.htm

His explanation makes the most sense. Plus building muscle never hurt anyone.

redballoon said...

Just another note after reading the comments and seeing Tammy's dilemma. You're right, it's hard to target the triceps directly with machines. You tend to use too much other muscle with them. There are some but I don't seem them in many gyms. My advice is to use cables and/or ropes, dumbbells or barbells. These will really hit the triceps. If you are in a gym get advice on form. It's important for tricpes exercises because other muscles come into play if your form is bad. Here are a few sites. http://www.exercisegoals.com/tricep-exercises.html
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Triceps/CBTriExt.html
http://www.shapefit.com/triceps-exercises-triceps-pushdowns-with-rope-attachment.html

Hope this helps!!

moonduster said...

I added several different arm lifts using handweights to my Wii Fit workout when using the stepper routines. It has definitely helped.

The weigtht didn't come off from my arms very quickly at first either. It wasn't until I got way down in weight that the weight started to really fall off of my arms. It will start doing it for you too eventually.

I still have some loose skin there though, and I hate it. It's the reason I am doing the arm lifts.

antgirl said...

Them wings are tricky dastards. They are one of the last things to go along with the thighs and parts of the abdomen.

Strength training helps. Over time, they will begin to tighten up. The younger you are, the more forgiving it is and the less time it takes. So take heart, they will go away and lessen.

Ria said...

I'm with you - I think strength training/building muscle in an area definitely helps its appearance. Although I've certainly got the batwing thing going on too, my worst problem area is my thighs . . . I'm going to be working them HARD this winter.

Seren_Sighs said...

I totally get the arm thing.

I'm 21 and only a bit overweight. But I hate my arms and it's probably the thing I am most self conscious about. Having a big but and large thighs doesn't bother me too much because at least I can say that that's womanly. But big arms? And when I work out I notice I feel like I'm losing it from other places than my arms.

Good luck weight lifting! Keep us updated!

Anonymous said...

One of my goals for 2010 is to go sleeveless in the summer - it's been on the list before, but it has to be conquered, because like you, tops fit every place else beautifully, but the arms look like stuffed sausages.

theantijared said...

Now I have been singing the Batman theme! The good old TV show one, Adam West style!

Larkspur said...

I know spot reducing is impossible, but you know, with weight training, I more or less did it. I was always way pear-shaped but I'm now better balanced-- I really attribute it to the weight work, though who knows.

purple_moonflower123 said...

Oh yes, the bat wings! I have my own set! They aren't attractive but are a reminder that I do not want to be severely morbidly obese again!

My wings may remain, although I have started lifting weights and noticed that my arms are looking better, but my wings are still a hanging. I still have fat to lose, so I'm hoping that there will be some shrinkage in the wing area.

FrogiNater said...

It's been a while since I've posted on here... but do you have a Wii?? Because, I hate my arms too, and I'm working on those first- but there is a Wii fit game that works those arms like CRAZY!! Weights girl- it'll help.

screwdestiny said...

You should try swimming. It's amazing cardio (so that will help to burn fat all over), it won't bother your knees, and it is *awesome* for toning your arms. Good luck with them! I hope whatever you decide to start doing works, 'cause that does suck that there's one part that's giving you such trouble.

Vickie said...

bless your heart.

Ironically, I just commented on my own blog that when I compared my final numbers to my starting numbers - I had lost more inches in my arms than in my thighs! Not much more, but more none the less! How bizarre is that?

My belly fat was my big motivation. and it held on to the end. but was a good thing - because it motivated me all the way to the end - to have it done/gone.

jojo said...

I have always loathed my arms...and my thighs (had cellulite even as a kid) and now I too have that pregnancy pouch. As far as the arms go...when I was at my specialists last year (for Rheumatoid Arthritis) he hadn't seen me since gaining all my weight. Started lecturing me about it, and then says "I can't take your blood pressure with that size of arm!" It was horrible.

You are doing awesome. Keep it up, the bat arms will catch up. Mine did the first time I lost 100.

Me said...

I'm with screwdestiny on this; go swimming!
I'm a swimmer and swim trainer and it does help. I do have the wings and I get so embarrassed when I'm writing on the black/white board in front of a class... But I haven't swum for some months now, but getting back to it in two weeks time. I know my arms will start to change slowly then. They need to.
Good luck!

ctina said...

i also some batwing action going on. i work my arms several times a week and i weigh about 127. it's just where the weight first goes... like onto my thighs.

spot reducing doesn't work at all, but weight training does give big results and boosts weight loss-- esp exercises you don't do normally. so, do those hammer curls, pushups, and military presses. good luck! i'll be doing the same.

Jess said...

Hello! Just wanted to leave a comment and feel even more stalkerish...but I read through some of your entries and enjoyed it. I am new to weight loss blogging and stumbled across your page. Anyway-your before/after pics look amazing! Hopefully some day I will have some equally amazing pictures!

Eat To Live said...

Goodluck to all you lovely ladies working on getting rid of your "wings". I don't have them but I do have about 200 lbs to lose. My journey begins 1/1/2010.

Tiff said...

I love your honesty! If you find the secret workout to getting rid of the old bat arms be sure to share! :)

Anonymous said...

I have been back to the gym for about four months now, doing a lot of weight machines. For the first time in DECADES I can see real definition in my arms, primarily the spot that indents underneath the shoulder. Weights really are the answer, plus muscle burns more calories than fat does, so it's a win win situation! I had been going to a physical therapist because I have a herniated disc in my back, and she stressed the best thing is to build muscle and rev up the metabolism that way. As God is my witness I plan to wear sleeveless tops when summer gets here.

PaulaMP

Cortney said...

I think you're right on with strength training. It's true that once you lose the weight, if you have excess skin that will always be there, but it's clear from your description that you have hardly lost any weight from your arms, so you're not dealing with the "loose skin after weight loss" bat wings yet, you're dealing with the "excess fat before weight loss" bat wings. At this point, managing the weight loss in your arms with strength training may help you lose it slower, and allow the skin to adjust better. Sounds like a win win all the way around :) Keep up the good work!

Moongirl said...

My friend calls them "hello Betty's". I asked her why and she said "you know, when you wave at your neighbor over the fence - 'Hello Betty!' and they jiggle. I think this is the cutest, most hilarious name for them. As opposed to another, less fun name my husband heard on the radio: meatcapes.

Hillary said...

Lyn, can you clarify whether it's fat or skin? I've lost 120 lbs. and have strength trained my arms religiously, but the saggy skin hasn't moved. I'm planning to get surgery to take care of it once and for all - $3500 is worth it to me!

Lyn said...

Hillary~

It's still fat. The skin is there of course, but the skin is also there on other parts of my body that have deflated and gotten smaller as fat burned off. Even if the skin doesn't shrink, as fat leaves, measurements go down. My arms are way, super fat!! But not for long :)

Steelers6 said...

I agree with Thrice Blessed & Autumnforest, and from what you post here you mostly bike and walk. Both of these help every part, arms included, but work some areas more than others. So I think using some weights will be great. I think you will like it too. It will make you stronger and more toned. I'm thinkin lovely collarbones too. :)

It can be a little discouraging that they don't just plain disappear, but keep measuring, and keep trying on that shirt and you will see improvement that way for sure. Probably shocking improvement. I can see that mine are more toned, but I still got work to do & if I focused on how they currently look it would be depressing. I do get encouraged though when I measure or try on a shirt that used to pinch my upper arm & almost needed the sleeve button undone. Amazing, & encouraging! ChrissyS

happyfunpants said...

I have been *so* behind on my google reader readings that today I finally bit the bullet and read all of the posts that I have missed since I was off work. I tend to save yours for last - and I think it's because I enjoy yours so very much.

Anyway, I just wanted to wish you luck in your efforts to target a part of your body that you're not so happy with.

I, like you, just have to believe that working out parts of your body DOES help. I mean, even the people on "The Biggest Loser" have cut arms (even if they have some baggy skin).

Good for you. :)