For your age, a 20-25% body fat range would be a good goal. There's unfortunately no way to tone and reduce your bodyfat. The only way you can maintain your weight while reducing your bodyfat is by building muscle. This means strength training with weights that really tax your muscles, a few times per week. The sagging skin might come back on its own, but some people find that they need excess skin removed surgically after losing a large amount of weight.
It sounds like you do need to lose more fat, but that will cause the number on the scale to go down. At this point, I don't think bulking would really be recommended because your bf% is so high. So, I'd continue with cardio, but add in some nice, heavy lifting. Go for some slow loss so you can eat a bit more. Do this for a few months and see how you feel. Once you drop your bf% a bit, then I think eating at maintenance or slight surplus, cutting back the cardio and lifting HEAVY to build some mass will help you with the "skinny fat" thing. After a bit of weight gain (and yes, some fat), you'll hopefully have a better muscle base, then you can cut again, and get your bf% down even more. It may take a few cycles of this for you to really feel happy, but it's likely going to be the best way. And, just remember, the number on the scale is just that, a number. I wouldn't purposefully dip into an unhealthy range, but if you're on the lower in, and that's what it takes for you to lose some more fat & get your % down, then there's nothing wrong with that.
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1 9/28/12 9:38 A
I am female, 25 years old, 5 foot 5 inches tall and 130 lbs. I lost 45 pounds about 1.5 years ago over a six month period. My highest weight was 175 lbs and I felt awful. I ate super healthy and did a fair amount of exercise (mostly lots of walking w the occasional gym trip when I could manage it with my crazy 12 hr work schedule) but honestly it was mostly diet modifications that helped me lose the weight. Other than a few months where I gained 25 lbs of it back due to dealing with some grief r/t death of a family member ..I have been maintaining my weight. I lost the extra weight I gained from eating non stop after a family member died and havent had too much trouble staying around 128 - 135 lbs ish area for the last 8 months.
I just got a DEXA scan done out of curiosity r/t health wise and it showed that I have 33.7% body fat. This means I probably was wayyy higher % wise when I was overweight. The main issue I have right now is that I feel "skinny fat" - especially around my stomach and love handles area. I'm shaped really strangely where I have a thin upper body and legs but all the weight concentrates in my abdominal area. It's like I still have a spare tire around my midsection and I only weigh 130 lbs. I gained so much weight in my stomach that I got awful stretch marks and it looks like I have given birth when in reality I don't have kids. Then, after losing...my stomach looks totally different from when before I gained it. I have a front "overhang" uggh.
1) Is it possible to tone or get rid of this abdominal fat WITHOUT losing weight? I feel like I dont want to lose weight because I am in a healthy weight range...
2) Should I eat my maintenance calories and just work out on top of this and that will get rid of my problem areas? Or should I eat back the calories I burn up exercising so I dont lose any more weight...
3) I am confused with body fat percentages. I keep reading online that "fitness levels" is like 18 - 20% BF but then my old gym trainer once told me that good for women is in the mid 20s and that some women lose their periods even if they are like 23% body fat. So is that BF % unattainable and unhealthy?
4) When I was losing weight I was trying to eat between 1200 - 1500 daily on average. I'm worried because exercising always makes me feel starving so I feel like I need to eat and eat and eat...but I dont want to go nuts and gain the weight back. I know you have to eat more cals if your working out but I go overboard cause I get so hungry after the gym even if I have a small snack after. I feel like I need to eat an entire extra meal afterwards!
5) I am planning on making some type of fitness goal to attain next year...I was looking at the Tough Mudder challenge (look it up!) and it looks so fun (but difficult!). I am thinking that this is too crazy of a challenge to take on but I'll have to do more research before I commit.