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Talk with me...how do some women stay so thin?

post #1 of 117
Thread Starter 

Everyone I know is so tremendously thin.  Their Facebook pages are plastered with the most amazing pictures of themselves in teeny tiny bikinis.  They look fabulous!  They seem happy...I see lots of nice marriages, good parents, friendly, happy kids.  And flat bellies and beautiful legs.



How do other women control their appetite?  I can read the diet plans, but really...who can follow them?!?  3 oz of salmon, 1/2 C of brown rice and a nice salad.  You have got to be kidding me!  I can eat that and then sit down to a meal.  My appetite is huge!  



I am not jealous.  I am not angry at myself.  I do not have a negative self image.  I am strong and happy.  I run and exercise and eat decently.  I just want to know how so many women are able to stay so very, very slim. 



And yes, I know what a lot of you might say -- that I don't know what women are going through to keep weight off -- they may be bingeing and purging, they may be battling eating disorders.  I just don't see it.   I see healthy women, living active lives who all seems to be sporting size 2 jeans.  I have seen eating disorders before and I don't see the signs in any of my friends.  



Help me out here.  My big pants are starting to taunt me.  winky.gif

post #2 of 117

Why don't you ask them?  How would anyone here know?


My skeleton is a size 2, there's no way i could be that thin, or would WANT to be that thin.  So i don't really "get" the attraction.  But if you really want to know how they do it then you need to ask.  Last time i was thin (a 6, BMI 19) i was 16, i was eating about 800 calories a day and exercising 2-3 hours a day, except on weekends when i did a heavy manual job for 4 hours then exercised (horses, so mucking out, grooming, riding, etc.) for 6-8 hours in the afternoons/evenings.  I didn't have an eating disorder, i just didn't find time to eat, so i was basically having one slice of toast for breakfast and a light evening meal which i picked at, because i was fussy.

post #3 of 117

Most of the thin women that I know (a lot of women) have always lived in the same state they grew up in. They maintain friends from high school and college. They live close to their families. They have been married to their college sweetheart for over a decade, and are financially stable. That being said, they are happy campers. My metabolism has so much to do w/ my happiness. I notice that I eat more when I'm angry, lonely etc, but I also notice that if I eat healthy small portions, I gain weight (or don't lose weight) if I'm not happy. For the past year, I've worked on my happy quotient and have kept my life routine. I've lost 30 pounds w/out really trying (not working out etc). For me, it's all about being happy. I spent time on me now. I make sure that I get regular hair cuts, paint my toenails, meditate, light scented candles, drink fun teas and coffees, watch comedy movies, say no to people when I don't want to do things, stay away from negative people, put make up on daily (this isn't a suggestion if you hate makeup), spend at least an hour alone daily (I sometimes get up at 3:30 AM to do this), make sure my house is clean (this is something I need to be happy), and anything else to keep my happy quotient high. Just my 2 cents. : )

post #4 of 117

Well, I think it's just genetic. I have always been thin. I don't know why, I never ate brown rice and salmon and all that. I will say, though, I have to work at it now after I had my 2nd baby.

post #5 of 117

I think people who are "naturally" thin use food the way it was intended ~ to provide energy.  Not to drown sadness, not to celebrate, not to fill bored spaces in life or for any other reason other than to nourish the body.  I tend to use food for other reasons, but there have been times in my life when I have concentrated on eating ONLY when I'm hungry and stopping, even mid plate, when I'm satisfied.  When I do this, I get normal-thin.  Not skinny.  I'm not dieting during these times, nor am I bingeing or purging or exercising 3 hours a day.  Just listening to my body's energy needs and feeding myself appropriately.  It works well, until I get really stressed, or angry, or bored and my brain tells me that a dozen donuts would be the ticket out of those uncomfortable emotions!  Gee, just writing this makes me realize how much I need to get back to honoring my body's true hunger needs!

post #6 of 117
Originally Posted by nola79 View Post

Well, I think it's just genetic. I have always been thin. I don't know why, I never ate brown rice and salmon and all that. I will say, though, I have to work at it now after I had my 2nd baby.

Same here.  I weigh more now that I ever have not pregnant but I'm still pretty thin.  So is my mom.  So is the majority of my family.  We're also pretty active people too.


post #7 of 117

I think it's 90% genetics.


I have never been thin, and (short of catastrophic illness or famine) I never will be. Whether I'm active or sedentary, whether I'm happy or miserable, whether I have healthy habits or not, I'm just not thin. I do have a muscular build. I'm muscular when I'm getting regular exercise & I'm muscular when I'm not. I think we are programmed to have a certain body type and that basic type doesn't change.

post #8 of 117

Only time I was ever that thin, I was not eating, period.


Some people are made thin. Genetics is 90% of it. My great grandmother, during the depression, barely ate due to no food. Yet, she was over 300 pounds.

post #9 of 117

Well... I don't see a lot of thin women, or men, or even children, where I live!  Most people around here are overweight.  I know that varies over different places in the country but overall the US is getting heavier and heavier!


I have always been thin (135 lb 5'9") and have had 6 children and been pregnant more times than that.  I don't exercise though I am fairly active.  I don't think it is genetic because my parents and sister are all overweight.  I have often wondered how I have managed to stay thin despite all these pregnancies and not really exercising, plus my family being overweight.  When the weather is nice I try to get out for a walk a few times a week and i work in the garden, but during winter I stay inside and my only regular exercise is cleaning and walking up and down the stairs.


The one difference between my parents and me is that I have always been a very picky eater-- as a child there were only a handful of things I would eat, even as an adult, especially during times of stress, there are very few things I am happy to eat.  While I don't eat sugar or processed foods, I do eat a high carb diet with "bad" foods like fruit juice and bread from white flour.  I eat a lot of nuts, fruits and veggies, and a small amount of poultry.  Occasionally I drink skim milk.  That's about all I eat!  I don't count but I would guess I eat about 1700-2200 calories on any given day.  Not a huge amount but definitely not a small amount either.


Here and there I have dabbled with a restricted calorie diet for health reasons-- when I do restrict to, say, 1200 cal a day, I will get down to around 130 but I don't like being that thin.


When I look at old movies and black and white footage from ~80+ years ago I'm always amazed by how scrawny everyone looks.  I don't know why people used to be so thin and now we struggle with obesity.  People ate plenty of junk way back when.  Could it be the advent of transportation made people stop walking?  I don't know.


A person's perception of how much they are eating is not always accurate.  I saw a documentary once where they measured the caloric intake of two friends, one heavy and one thin.  The heavy one swore she hardly ate and the thin one swore she ate like a horse.  Well it turns out the opposite was true-- the heavy one was eating far more calories than the thin one.  I think different people have different "fullness triggers."  It is probably a chemical reaction between the brain and stomach.  Some people feel stuffed on a piece of bread and a cup of milk, some people feel stuffed after half a chicken and four sides.  So in that respect there is probably an organic/ genetic issue at play though I don't think that answers the puzzle entirely, since worldwide, people are getting heavier and heavier.  Even places like china are starting to have a rise in obesity.

post #10 of 117

I think genetics play a role, but it is definitely not the whole story.  I read recently (can't remember where) but people who are adopted tend to have similiar body types to their adoptive families rather than their genetic ones.  So definitely more environmental causes happening there. 


I mainly agree with JayGee - I think people who are naturally thin eat only the amount of food that their bodies require.  Whether intentional or just because that is how they have always done it. 


I know that I am fat because I eat too much and am too sedentary.  It only stands to reason that healthy, thin people only eat what they need and don't spend night after night binging on the couch. 

post #11 of 117
You really can't know unless you ask them. Take me, for example-- I gained about 40 pounds when I was pregnant with my twins, and then in the first three months after they were born I lost 90 pounds. You do the math. People were constantly stopping me and asking me how I managed to lose so much so soon after the birth, and how lucky I was, and I even got some resentful "Oh, I hate you thin people so much" comments that I never know how to answer.

The truth was that four days after the twins were born I got sick with a serious, chronic, and incurable autoimmune disease that meant that I wasn't able to eat more than a few crumbs at a time without excruciating pain. I nearly died, that first year. When I look at pictures of myself from then, I look positively skeletal. (I was about 90 at my lowest weight-- my normal weight is/was about 140, on a small frame. And yet to the casual stranger, or to acquaintances, I obviously didn't look "sick" since they were making all these comments.

I do think that the genetic factor is the strongest in this. So are basic lifestyle patterns, like how much time is spent sedentary. So are food choices, and the reasons why one eats, and all the issues surrounding food. It's extremely complex, and there are so many factors in weight gain and loss that we still don't understand.
post #12 of 117

Before my endocrine system crashed after my first pregnancy I was able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight, and able to lose weight easily. 


I think many women who are overweight have an underlying health problem or are eating something they are reacting to, even if its not a full on allergy.  I think cutting out wheat/gluten for awhile can help tremedously in healing the body.  Since I did so I am able to eat 1400-1500 calories a day and still lose, when previously I would have to eat under 1000 to do so! 


My mom is still thin.  I see what she eats, its more like big salads, lean meats, a little dairy and an occasional bread or junk food.  By no means does she eat a lot of refined flour, sugar, etc and if I had to guess I'd say she eats 1100-1200 calories a day.


ETA:  I am somewhat of an emotional eater.  The way to overcome this is to emotionally eat fruits or veggies instead of bad foods.  Your body will thank you for the extra nutrition!  My favorite comfort food now is baked sweet potato w/butter and salt =)

post #13 of 117

I have a friend that is quite thin.  I'm 5'9 165 so not overweight but could stand to loose 10 to 15 pounds.  The main difference between the two of us is that I like to eat until I feel full and she eats until she doesn't feel hungry.


I also think people have a "resting" weight.  If I don't watch what I eat and don't exercise my body will eventually find its way to 165.  I don't know if the number is determined by genetics, habits, body memory or what but I think most people have a weight their body likes to hang out at.  Maybe some people have a lower resting weight than the rest of us.

post #14 of 117

I think it's Facebook. Are these people you still see on a regular basis? Everyone posts their best pictures there. What you're seeing might be 5-10 years ago when they lost a bunch of weight for a trip. Also, at least with my group of friends on Facebook, very few of them post the rough spots in their marriage. They only post when they are going through a phase of feeling like newlyweds. In fact I think a couple of my friends used the "I love my husband" posts to try and save their marriage.

post #15 of 117

When I do a moderate amount of exercise (running 15-20 miles per week)  I am able to eat pretty much whatever I want and stay around a size 6.  I attribute it to having been active for most of my life  and that foundation makes it easier for me to maintain a smaller size.  I also think genetics and how I ate growing up has a lot to do with it (very healthy, mostly homemade meals).  I eat fairly healthy now, but I certainly don't calorie count or do much food restriction. 

post #16 of 117
Thread Starter 

Apologies for not replying  Mothering has been eating my posts...trying again.  


Thank you for all of the wonderful replies.  I have read everything and been doing a lot of thinking.  


I know a lot of it is genetics and I do come from a long line of obese family members.   Obesity is taking my family from me -- diabetes, heart disease and cancer are killing us.  I have done better than most of my immediate family - I have kept my weight under 200 pounds and I am now 175.  Yes, I am obese, but the painful truth is that I am quite slim by my family's standards.  My 7 year old son is now overweight and I am at pains to improve his health before the excess weight takes a toll on his health and well being.  


We are living in Sweden right now and I am keenly aware that we are the heaviest people around.  The Swedes are slim people.  I am 1/2 Swedish by heritage, so I just cannot continue to believe that I am genetically preprogrammed to be overweight.  Lifestyle is central to the Swedish method of staying slim.  While we have been here I have been eating better and exercising more and it has showed with a 7 pound weightloss.  


But my "healthy" eating is simply not good enough -- like many on Mothering, I work hard to insure that my family eats well -- we have food sensitivities -- no wheat and no milk.   These limitations have meant that we eat nothing processed  -- no fast food, no pizza, nothing packaged, nothing prepared.  All of our food is home cooked, all of it comes from simple ingredients - oatmeal and brown rice are our basic starches, we eat chicken and fish, no beef.  We grow a large garden, we eat fruit and vegetables with every meal.  We eat nuts and seeds and lentils and beans and avacados and olive oil and coconut oil.  


And yes, I am pained by the Facebook pictures.  I admit to being very frustrated.  I feel that I am doing well, but I am simply not doing good enough.  I see friends who are outrageously slim.  And not "I squeezed myself into Spanx" slim, but "I look rocking naked" slim.  I go to the gym here in Sweden and I am clearly the fattest woman in the locker room.  


I know that I am simply the fat woman who is eating too much.  And feeding my family too much.  


I hurt today.  I am sad to be struggling with this.  I am sad to be doing so much and to still be so far from my goal.  


Forgive my self-indulgence.  I thought about not posting at all, but I now that I am not the only one who feels this way and it helps to get it out.  My dh has the kiddos out to ice skate and I am off for a run.  I do love to run and have worked my way up to a nice 3 mile loop at an easy pace.  It feels great and I love to be outdoors -- soothing for my achey soul right now.  


post #17 of 117



I was thinking about your question and I notice when I am happy and busy I am slimmer...so that makes me wonder if I am eating from boredom/sadness when I am bigger.  I was also thinking of women old and young in my family that stay slim and they seem to eat full meals slowly, without snacking, and no off-limits food.  The bigger people in my family seem to do the opposite.

post #18 of 117

OP, please don't be too hard on yourself. You're taking great steps for a healthier lifestyle, and the weight loss will come. It just takes time, unfortunately. 7 lbs is a great start!


post #19 of 117

And that is one reason why I am no longer on FB.   It drove me crazy and made me feel bad about myself.    Getting off there was the healthiest thing I have done for myself in a while.  


post #20 of 117

Things I have noticed about my seriously skinny friends- All of them:

~Drink TONS of water

~snack on raw veggies a lot

~Nuts are their source of fat

~indulge in the occasional "bad food" but in a small portion followed or preceded by raw veggies

~walk or do some sort of light exercises regularly

~rarely eat out


As easy as all that looks, I too still struggle with the last 20lbs I carry. 

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