‘Skinny Boy’: It’s Not Just Metabolism

Creative Commons photo.

For as long as I can remember, my mother christened me with the nickname, “Skinny Boy.” I mean, I was a very skinny kid, so the nickname made sense. I remember during a rare family vacation where we doubled up with a friend’s family, the mom remarked about how skinny I was and I was still so skinny at that point, I had “abs.”

For as long as I had that nickname, I was able to eat whatever I wanted and still stay skinny. Back in those days, I was drinking soda fairly regularly. Obviously, I wasn’t counting calories or “watching my figure,” as it were. But I was young and very active (we used to play a lot of backyard neighborhood sports almost on a daily basis after school).

Metabolism was king!

Then, after high school, when I was on the cusp of turning 18, I discovered three things: 1.) Beer and liquor, 2.) Chipotle, and 3.) I became way less active once everyone in the neighborhood went off to do their own thing in college.

That’s a recipe for overthrowing the king and clamping down on my metabolism. Over time, I went from my high school weight of around 150-ish pounds to about 165-173, give or take. While that may not seem like a lot, and it’s still with my body mass index range for someone my height of 5 feet, 10 inches (although, I was pushing it because at the high range, I was at 24.8, or one decimal away from being considered “overweight” instead of “normal weight”).

You can check your own BMI here.

When my metabolism slowed down because my activity slowed down and my consumption increased, I lost my baby abs and grew a bit of a pudge!

I’ve been unhappy with that pudge ever since. We’re talking a good 13 years now of PUDGE. Which, it’s disgusting it’s already been 13 years since high school graduation and it’s disgusting it’s taken me 13 years to address, finally, the pudge.

In the years since, my weight has fluctuated, I’ve tried diets, including going vegetarian for a number of month, and I dropped back down to 150 pounds, only to balloon back up to 183 pounds most recently in 2020 prior to the most recent attempt at dropping weight (which is definitely in the “overweight” category per BMI standards).

Now, after dedicating myself yet again to MyFitnessPal, incorporating FitOn and actually addressing my mental health, I’ve gone from 183 pounds to 155 pounds (I was at 153 pounds, but hey, Thanksgiving hit me a bit!). Now, per BMI, I would say I’m at the middle of the “normal weight” metric. What’s crazy is I could theoretically lose another 30 pounds before I’d teeter into “underweight” per BMI. So, I’m slightly skeptical of BMI, but I digress.

So, that took work! That took 13 years of ups and downs, and sometimes plateauing because I wasn’t always doing something.

Yet, something I’ve noticed being I guess you would say, a naturally skinny person, is that people will always think I just have great metabolism. But no, I had to put in the work to reverse my metabolism back to the days of old! To get it back to where it was better than it had gotten. To return the crown to the king! I didn’t just overnight drop nearly 30 pounds because my metabolism decided to jumpstart!

It’s such a weird thing.

And on the flip side of this, there’s a notion that people who are overweight, like on the popular show, The Biggest Loser, can easily drop 50 to 100 to 150 pounds in a short period of time because they have more fat to burn, ergo, it’ll burn quicker. While that makes intuitive sense and is right, it still lacks a certain obvious context similar to the “skinny person”: They still had to do the work! It wasn’t like they woke up one day and their body kickstarted a fat-burning regimen. They had to do the work!

I feel like people these are jealous of skinny people and/or people who are overweight but who are losing that weight because they tend to fall back on these two things: 1.) The skinny person is skinny because they have great metabolism, with the implication that not much, if any, work is involved; and 2.) The overweight person is losing weight because they have more fat to burn, with the implication that not much, if any, work is involved. So, there’s that throughline there.

Maybe that’s not being generous with the implication. Maybe people do recognize that there is work involved, particularly with the latter. But I’ve always found that a weird notion myself.

And yes, obviously, there’s all sorts of factors beyond one’s control that help, including being predisposed to a certain body frame where a certain weight will be realistic, or having a starting point of a good metabolism, or yes, having a lot of weight in which to burn off, but I just want to make sure we’re not losing sight of … there’s work involved!

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