Thursday, May 19, 2011

More on the Arm Thing...

As I was looking back through my old blog posts, I found one about my arms, written one year ago in April. I am amazed at this post, because it is so loving and self-accepting and shared a difficult picture of what I was dealing with in hanging flab on my arms. Take a look: Flabby Arms: Exposed for Renovation.

If you've been reading lately, you know I am having a huge amount of trouble accepting this part of my body right now. Somehow, over the winter I developed an aversion to showing my arms. It's crazy, because I do weigh less than I did a year ago yet I no longer have that free feeling that allowed me to wear anything I wanted without feeling self-conscious. Yesterday I posted about my plan to add strength training to my routine. Crazy thing... I made this same commitment in that year-old post, but never followed through. This time I am doing it. I cannot stand the way my arms make me feel right now. In fact they look *worse* after losing more weight, because the skin is still there, hanging even lower and looser, and the fat now looks kind of chunky and weird instead of just plump and smooth like before. Several folks have commented that my workout routine is not going to fix my arms, but you know what? I have to believe it can get *better.* Not perfect, but for goodness sakes it just has GOT to get better! It is obvious from the pictures I took yesterday that I have a LOT of fat to loose from these arms. A lot! Losing the fat, smoothing things out a bit, shrinking them down and defining the muscle is going to improve the look and feel of my arms, even if I still have hanging skin. If I didn't believe that, I would go drown myself in a batch of milkshakes and cupcakes right now. It is that distressing to me.

So, obviously, I know my arms look horrendous, and I do not usually "talk down" about my body at all, but this is the first time I have truly felt ill whenever I look at a certain part of me in the mirror. I can accept it just fine when it is covered with sleeves or when I am naked alone, but throw a t-shirt on me and try to go out the door and the stress is overwhelming so that I end up putting on long sleeves in 100 degree weather. So, it does take a lot for me to post these pictures. I do not expect anyone to tell me they aren't that bad; they are. But I am working to change this. I am GOING to post update pictures of these arms throughout the summer. I am going to feel better about this part of my body. I cannot live with the amount of crazy anxiety this gives me.

I will post the pictures soon, along with my list of exercises so that anyone who wants to can join in and improve their body. If your arms are a trouble spot for you, take a couple of pictures in the mirror and get ready to work those arms starting next week. All it will take is 15-20 minutes 3x a week and a couple of hand weights. I will probably start with 5 or 8 pounds and work up. I had gotten up to 15 pounds dumbbells for some exercises back when I was lifting before.

We can't control everything, but we can make our best effort and be proud of the improvements we do make.


Anonymous said...

When I was obese, I worked really hard to accept and love my body. My self esteem was better than it ever was when I was thin before. I accepted myself as being fat and at the same time beautiful. Because I knew I did not fit into the norm of what beautiful is "supposed" to look like, I did not worry about comparing myself to it. Now that I am closer to a "normal" size, I find that it is now possible to compare myself against an ideal, because I am closer to that ideal, and I find myself doing it from time to time. I try to bring back the feeling I had when I was bigger of liking how I look regardless of how I compare. Therefore, even though I have flabby arms, a belly pooch, or whatever, I am still awesome. I relate to your experience though, and thought you might relate to mine.

Andra said...

I lament about my "flappy bingo arms" sometimes but then I stop myself and thank the universe that I have arms. Without my flappy bingo arms I wouldn't be able to cook healthy meals, pour a glass of wine for my husband, work in my garden, hug my dog and so many things I do every day that I take for granted. No matter the situation, stop and consider the alternative.

Your arms may be flabby, Lyn, but your arms also hug your little princess every day and I'm sure she loves them just as they are.

Anonymous said...

I have stretch marks all over my thighs, breasts, and hips from losing weight. Usually they don't show. However, last year I went out to a formal dance and wore a dress that was about mid-thigh. There is a picture of me sitting with my legs crossed and--oh no!-- even in the low lighting I could SEE my stretch marks and the weird way they criss cross my thighs. Bright white.
Funny thing was, most people didn't notice them until I pointed it out. A few people did, mostly people who had also lost weight, and all they said was "oh, yeah, that happens." Bodies are bodies. When I look at that picture all I see are my thighs and the stretch marks. Most other people saw how happy I looked and how healthy.
I share this story with you Lyn in the hopes that you will know that yes, certain parts of our body can be "bad." But most other people will notice those things in passing, if the notice them at all. If your daughter one day had arms like yours and felt the way you do about them, what would you say to her? :)

Diandra said...

The workout may not work miracles, but it will definitely help shape your arms. Talk to a skin specialist concerning special skin care to help your arms reshape themselves (I've certainly said so before, my sister recommends rose oil products). It will get better.

Anonymous said...

I have often said that what we refuse to understand we are destined to experience. I know that from personal experience.

When I followed the link and read your past post, I let out an "ahhh" of recognition when I got to the part about how "some women" are so embarrassed about their arms that they hide them, followed by the "Not me."

I went thru a period--with a subsequent 20 pound gain--in which I totally freaked out about my face. I got to 169 pounds, looked in the mirror, and realzed that (1) I had aged a good 10 years and (2) I now looked like my mother.

For someone who had sneered at the shallowness of other women re: their concern about how they were aging, my extreme emotional reaction came as quite a surprise to me.

The 20 pounds gained fixed my face. Good job.... yeah.

So, to those commenters who may be tempted to be a little smug about how they are above feeling the kind of distress Lyn describes--beware. Enlightenment can be painful.

Have at it, Lyn, you're gonna rock this thing. Your arm flab doesn't have a chance!


Anonymous said...

This is bordering on obsession. Have you played the "and then what?" game before?

I will lose the weight, and then what? (answer: my arms will be unacceptable.)

I will have my arm flaps surgically corrected, and then what? (answer: there will be something else I use to distract me from the real issues.)

I will address the real issues (in a theraputic setting) and then what? (answer: and then I won't have to do anything but live my life as it comes, with the good and the bad, but without distractions and obsessions.)

Just sayin'.

bbubblyb said...

I know how this feels Lyn. A part of me feels I have no right to even comment since I will soon be having plastic surgery to remove my arm skin but what I am realizing through the plastic surgery process is I will still have scars to bare when I am done. So there will never be a time that I don't have reminders of the body I once had. What I'm realizing is I need to be comfortable in my own skin whatever it looks like. I know not everyone will do what I did and spend thousands to have the loose stuff removed. I know I'm judged for making that choice. Sometimes I question am I doing the right thing. Bottom line is we all have to do what is best for us. We all strive to feel good about ourselves. I hope we both can find peace and contentment in ourselves at some point.

Linda said...

I have weight-loss induced 'bingo wings', too. I wear light cotton T's with 3/4 length sleeves and call it good. It looks nice and I don't think about my arms. When I need to go somewhere in a nice dress (most are sleeveless) I wear a pretty shrug or wrap. You can't fix everything and there are going to be body characteristics that will always fall short of of our expectations. We are real women, not the airbrushed covers for Cosmo we've been forced to accept as the gold standard for femininity.

Princess Dieter said...

I'm always looking for cool and nice stuff with 3/4 sleeves , but If ind it's hard to find, even in PLUS size stores (which I almost do not need anymore). I don't understand who the hell is designing these clothes, but it's not fat women. Fat women, and women who WERE fat, tend to have issues with upper arms and upper thighs/belly. We want stuff to hide the trouble-spots and accentuate the good.

3/4 length sleeves are our pals. :) Wish I could find more pals.

I go out with my flabby flappy arms. I hate em in pics, but when Im out and about, I just try not to even think about the arms or poochy belly or how I need a flying buttress level bra to keep things UP.

Your distress really is bordering on the NOT right, the dysmorphic, the obsessive. It's worrisome, L.

If you want to rent a DVD, I found that the Jackie Warner personal trainer one really made my triceps and shoulders sore when Id id the upper body segment.

Push-ups. Triceps dibs. Bicep curls.That trio will do your arms proud. PUSH UPS. TRICEP DIPS. BiCEP CURLS. And go heavier and heavier. Until there's muscle fatigue. You know the drill. Fatigue, rest day. Fatigue, rest day.

Princess Dieter said...

Deb's right about the face. I'm 51, and the fat filled out the undereye area and plumped out here and there. I'm told I look YOUNGER now, BUT...I see the dark circles I never had before and the lumpy undereye area that was never lumpy before. And with my sensitivities, I can't use eye creams or eye circle concealer or eye shadow. I pretty much have to just go out there with my aging face.

I wonder in 40 fewer pounds if I'm gonna look like a granny. ; )

Princess Dieter said...

Okay, found a year old post from my old blog--Once Upon a Diet--with me at 266 lbs showing my FATWINGS in a pic for the first time:

That was 68 pounds ago.

I think I'll take another one May 31 for the "in a year". They still hang like mad. There's muscle in there, as I work my upper arms to soreness a couple times a week for 3 years now. hah. But lots of fat and lots of hang. It won't be purdy. But documentation can be a good thing... We'll see progress, no matter how minimal. Or even loads.

40 and Fat, but not for long! said...

That post was one of the first things I ever read of yours, and I so wanted that love for unloved body parts. I have been coming here faithfully for a year now. I know you can do it!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about my arms. I like winter when I can cover them in long sleeves. Looking forward to doing the exercise.

Katie said...

Hey! new follower here. I feel your arm pain! I have recently lost 52ish lbs since September. I have lost 38 inches, but only like a inch from my upper arm. I am trying new things to help them shrink, but if not, I will just have to accept them as is.

timothy said...

hey darlin sheryl aka bitch cakes uses these compression bands for arms that are like $20 they should help to tighten it up along with exercise. and i know for you it is but hon it's not that bad we all have some part of us that is our least fave. my neck and chin drive me nuts but i've learned to love them (all of them! lol) even as i try to change them!

Anonymous said...


Haven't commented here before, but have been reading for a while. I really admire you, your spirit, and your progress!

I've lost 60 pounds over the last year, and would like to lose about 30-40 more.

I wanted to share with you that the BEST thing I've found for toning arms BY FAR is swimming laps. I've noticed very marked improvement in appearance and toning by swimming -- far more than weight training or any other exercise...

Anonymous said...

After a substantial weight loss, which I've maintained for several years, I still have very flappy arms, and stretch marks to boot. I'm at my ideal weight, have exercised with weights for four years, and at age 48 am as fit as I'm going to be in terms of the muscles in my arms. My arms still don't look good, and I never wear sleeveless tops or tank tops. I always wear a little sweater, a jacket, or at least a 3/4 sleeved shirt. And yes, it can get hot in the summer where I live. You know what? I am fine with this. I accept that I do not feel comfortable with a sleeveless shirt, because I wouldn't feel like I could wave or lift my arm without feeling somewhat self-conscious. I just don't need to feel self-conscious in this way, and I don't think I'm not self-accepting simply because I can't show my upper arms in public. I'm not wearing a bikini in public either (stretch marks on tummy). I have also realized that even those women who have never had weight or stretch mark issues change their style as they get older. At a certain point in life, tank tops, mini skirts, no bra, etc. are just not a great look. So hang in there! This is tough stuff.

Anonymous said...

Exercise of any kind is the key to long term weight lose and maintenance. Sure you won't be able to spot reduce the arms, but if you do the work the weight will come off faster, you will be more toned and most importantly you will feel better physically and emotionally. Cannot believe anyone would tell you otherwise.

Like anything else it is all about habit. Do it regularly for two weeks and will become a habit. Promise yourself just two weeks and make the time even if you just go to bed a half hour later or get up a half hour earlier. That is all you need to start. You don't need a personal trainer or to spend a lot of money to get and stay fit. Some of the Biggest Loser DVDs and Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper cost just 10 bucks-less than can be spent on a good food binge for sure. They start at all kinds of levels and incorporate cardio and muscle.
Bottom line is you just find whatever it is you like to do and stick with it until you get bored then go to something else. Not to sound cliche. Just do it.

Lyn said...

Thanks for the input, everyone! Just a couple points I thought to clarify based on comments:

I am not worried about wearing tank tops or a bikini... that is not in my future. I do wear 3/4 length sleeves right now, but that is really not doable when it is 95 or 100+ degrees (which it will be here soon). I would die of the heat not to mention looking insane wearing sleeves in that kind of heat.

I have no intention of getting any kind of skin removal surgery. I think it would be great, but I need to be here to care for my children. It is essential. I don't have family to raise my daughter if something happened to me. So I am not taking any unnecessary risks, however slight.

I do have many workout DVDs including Biggest Loser and Jillian ones. I hate them, not the videos so much as the act of doing a video at home. I do not like to be watched, and since we only have one TV available and it is down in the game room I am very uncomfortable with it. Thankfully I can do other things, like free weights in a private room in front of mirrors so I can see my form. And the exercise bike is there when I am ready. Right now I am focusing on the PT exercises and the arm workout.

Jayne said...

Hi Lyn,

Best of luck with this - I completely understand your worry. I've always hated my arms and how they will look is my biggest fear when I consider the downsides of my ongoing weight loss. Please keep us updated!

Jayne x

Susan said...

At first I had a ton of vain things to say. I am 53..I best get this weight off before I die and later on in life when I do die after (after the weight loss) I will have a burial at sea: they can carry me to a top of a mountain near the sea and throw me off and watch me glide like Rocky the Squirrel with my skin flaps as wings into the cool calm ocean.

Sheryl said...

Lyn, I don't comment often on your blog, but I had to comment on this because I understand 100% what you are talking about. It sounds like we have the same body type. Having flabby arms (only) and disproportionate arms are two different things. When your torso is 2-3 dress/shirt sizes SMALLER than your arms, then there is definitely a big disproportion. This pain about my big arms and losing weight has derailed me before--don't let it derail you. When I got to my lowest adult weight of 233lbs (from a high of 386lbs), I was heartbroken because my arms where still so big. For most shirts (non-stretchy), my arms would fit into a size 22/24, but my clothing size was 16-18. And I not only have huge upper arms, but Popeye forearms, which makes it even more embarrassing. I've seen strangers gawking at my forearms before.

Anyways, I just want to say that what you're describing is not dysmorphic--it's real. It's just that we more often see extreme pear shape disproportions instead of arms.

What you should know is that your arms will be that LAST place that you lose your excess fat (since this is your stubborn area), so they won't come into proportion with the rest of your body until you get to your ideal weight. Strength training is great, but as long as you have excess fat on your arms, you most likely won't see significant external changes. Hang in there and keep exercising until you get to your ideal weight. It will get better months and years after you reach your goal weight. You have to give your body time to stabilize. Also, I've looked extensively into body lasers, and there have been quite a few to come on the market that can tighten arms, tummies, etc., by reinvigorating collagen. From the looks of your arms, it seems like you would be a good candidate. I have a little one to care for, too, so I'm hoping that lasers will help me. But in my case, I've been too heavy (almost 400 lbs at one time) and yo-yoed for too long that the damage is done on my arms. Somewhere down the line, after reaching my ideal weight, I'm going to have an arm lift or live my life wearing long sleeves (or 3/4s for the rest of my life). It's that bad. BTW, I've done extensive weight lifting/strength training, and while my arms were super strong, and my muscles defined--they were still covered in fat.

Hang in there and try not judge your body too much AS you are still losing. Your view will be skewed. You have options and time.

All the best :).

Lyn said...


thank you! Yes, that's exactly it. They are disproportionate. They look like the arms of a morbidly obese woman while the rest of me looks pretty average. There is a huge size gap. Thank you for understanding and putting it into words. I know they'll never be the arms I had 20 years ago, but I know strength training will help, at least some... as will losing the rest of this weight. :)

Susan said...

I hope I did not seem insensitive to your feelings...with my funny little comment.

This is real and I WAS wondering about the skin issue. Thank you for bringing it up and thank you to the comments for the wonderful answers you provided.

So I had wondered when looking at the before and afters on the diet blog network if they had nip and tucks or if there is a solution au natural to flappage.

I remember Richard Simmons answering negatively on the solution, but I don't see that he looks disproportional. And so many who's pics before and an observer let me tell you that I can't see anything but beautiful weight losers!

It is ok to be self critical to a limit (coming from the queen of self critical) but I think you are just addressing another stage you need to begin working on. That is perfectly human and natural. I like how you can blog about it.

Good luck on this next stage of your loss program. With all the help provided from your network seems really promising!

Sheryl said...

Lyn, you're welcome! Check out the lasers, too, as you zero in on your goal weight. And dry brushing, massage, and deep moisturizing can help some now, too.

You will reach your goal weight long before I will (still have over 100lbs to lose after yo-yoing, again), so I'll be watching your progress. Thanks for sharing so intimately of these private, and often, painful experiences :).

Oh, and one positive thing about having fat arms--research has shown that women with arms have more heart protection. I'll try to find the article that I read a couple of years ago about that. So when I'm feeling mad at my arms, I just thank them for protecting my health. Because despite being morbidly obese, my labs for cholesterol, lipids, etc. are always perfect. So give the girls some thanks!

P.S. Re-posting to mention that Thermage is the laser that seems to have the best results. Google it when you get the chance (if you're interested).

Lyn said...


no, not at all! I think a lot of us are in this same boat together :)

I am kind of excited to see how my arms compare in a few months or a year. I will be posting pictures... no retouching!

Carrie said...

I so agree with Sheryl. The 3 of us must have the same problem. I have a small waist but my arms are huge.

In the last 4 1/2 months I've lost 70 lbs. on Medifast. (I still need to lose about 60 more.) While I am ecstatic about being smaller I actually had a meltdown and cried about my arms on Monday. Most people do NOT understand.

Pretty woman talked about her sucess but when I looked at her blog and when she was at her heaviest size (same as MY heaviest size) I noticed that her arms were 4 inches smaller!! That is a lot!!

I also have a lypoma on one arm that I've had since I was a child. I had it removed surgically a few years back but it came back even worse than before.

I live in the south. It's already 95 degrees here. People are already in tank tops and shorts and I look ridiculous in my long sleeve and quarter length shirts. And yet, I will wear them.

I have been skinny. I have been 125 lbs. before and toned (I'm 5'8") and guess what... my arms were still extremely disproportionate. I still would NOT wear sleeveless or anything close to it.

I saw a picture of myself a few days ago and that is what made me have my little meltdown. Someone posted them on FBook and while I thought I looked so great, the photo told another story. My arms made me look so much wider than I am. I have a 36" waist right now and still need to lose 60 lbs. at least. I'm in a size 14/16 but my arms look crazy big. It is depressing to work so hard and still feel this way.


I may have surgery though. Funny thing is I need a tummy tuck and a boob job but I don't care anything about that. All I care about is getting my flabby arms fixed. I can always cover the belly and boobs. I could live with ANYTHING else. Unless you have the problem you would never understand. :(

Lyn said...


thank you so much. I am sorry you have this issue too, but I feel so much better knowing I am not alone nor crazy for letting it bother me. I think my upper arms are each something like 15-16 inches around! That is darn big, and they seem misshapen as well. I have the pics but have not been able to bring myself to post them yet.

Anonymous said...

The best thing about arms is that when you do start the weight training you can see results pretty fast! I hope you will be loving your arms soon!

Anonymous said...

You are awesome Lyn! Did you know that if you have big arms it makes your butt look smaller? It's all proportion. Many people choose to have breast implants to make their upper body appear bigger, so their lower extremities appear smaller. You have bigger arms... so your butt looks smaller, if you didn't your butt would look larger. It's proportionate to body type. Trust me...I have your problems, only reverse. :0) Love ya Lyn!

Kendra Ogroske said...

I feel the same way. I have always hated my arms. I used to play softball and guys were scared of my cuz I had a muscular arm as much or more than they!Now there is some muscle definition, but flab on the other side. I really want to loose that! I still have about 25-30 more to loose (from my guy and thighs too), but I'm more wanting to loose the arm giggle first :). I can't wait to see your exercises so that I can do them too!

Anonymous said...

I think u should just stay in long sleeves until u feel comfortable, its nobody elses business. And if its that stressful you need to avoid it.

Sheryl said...

I feel your pain Carrie. It can feel devastating to lose so much weight but have your arms still be several sizes larger than your torso/waist! I'm with you--my breasts will most likely be deflated balloons when I finish losing weight and my tummy will need some help, too. But like you, I only care about arms, and I'll take the long post-surgery scar from an arm lift over wrinkly, hanging arms any day! Best of luck to you! I'm a re-start on Medifast, too. Love it!

Sheryl :)

Vickie said...

I think I understand this on so many levels.

I understand having a disproportional body part on the way down.

I understand having ones eyes go instantly to that area when looking in the mirror/pictures.

I understand when everything else gets smaller and more toned, the 'trouble' spot appears bigger.

(I also understand that as one tones, and builds a wall of muscle, the fat can 'push out' more until more weight is lost. So as you tone, you may see the fat pockets be more defined sitting on that muscle wall, until all the pounds drop - just warning you).

You can either take all that information and wallow. Or you can acknowedge it (as you did) and then let it motivate you to healthy action.

My disproportional spot was my belly. I had to drop all the fat to lose the belly. It was the last place to leave my body. It motivated me all the way to goal and keeps me there.

Vickie said...

(Actually, as I think about it, to be totally honest, it motivated me to 20 lbs below goal. . . because I had to lose all the fat to lose the belly.)

Nichelle said...

I've lost 100 pds and understand the arm skin thing. My arms are 2 sizes bigger than my torso. I can wear a small shirt, but get a medium due to my arms (and still have to clip the insides). I work out several times a week and no amount of exercise, moisturizer, etc will make the skin retreat. I'm in the process of getting an arm lift (after 5-6 yrs at my goal).

If you can't do the surgery, I do suggest just trying not to focus on it. Do your exercises, but try to switch your thinking from "they are so ugly" to "this is me and I love me", because I can promise you as you lose more, it will get worse (in fact your whole body will get worse)...nobody ever tells fat people that when they defat the skin will replace the ugly fat. It's all good, though.

I do have to say through exercise, I've been able to make my shoulders look much better, I also have lots of muscle under the skin. However, I still get comments from people trying to 'help' me get better arms. The surgery is worth it to me, but I have no children I'll leave behind if (heaven forbid) something happens.

I hope you find peace! WL is such a tricky thing..others is a lot of head work that must accompany the weight loss. It took me about 2 yrs t maintenance to finally seamy loss, it took another few yrs to stop having nightmares of waking up fat, it took another few yrs to accept my new body, etc,

I will say that with continued maintenance, my arm skin has retreated some...but definitely not a noticeable amount,