Question for a short person!

  • I am 5'0" and trying to analyze everything that is going on in order to fix what I'm doing wrong and focus on what I am doing right!

    I'm starting week 8 today, the scale as of this morning (yes, why not torture myself on Monday morning before heading into another 5 days of work!).  I've only lost 2 pounds and my clothing is NOT getting looser.

    So here is my question.  My muscles seem to be getting bigger.  I was  never afraid of being bulky, because I read the book and I believed lifting weights would help me lose weight and not get bulky.  However, after a discussion with another BFL'er, I am worried that since I am so short and my muscles are short, my transformation may make me appear more "muscular" than "defined or toned".

    Is there a possibility that by increasing my weights and really striving for 10's at this point that I may actually become a muscle head rather than a defined, leaned, peitite girl?

    Any insight would help.  Thanks!

  • Weigh yourself later in the week so that the free day is not a factor in your weight and also take a body fat percentage reading if you can.

    “"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out..." - Robert J. Collier”

  • I weighed myself on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday and the scale is the same.  My BF % is very erratic also since I have a crappy scale.  I like to measure by clothing, but that, like I said, is actually tighter, not looser.  Any insight on the "bulky" thing?  I sort of see some muscle coming through and its making me a little nervous.

  • Hello Rosemary,

     Most women do not start seeing big results until after 8 weeks. Stick with it, follow BFL to a T, and you will see amazing results, I promise!

     Do not worry about getting bulky, women do not have enough of those male hormones to get real bulky. Due to the fact that women do not, and cannot, naturally produce as much testosterone (one of the main hormones responsible for increasing muscle size) as males do, it is impossible for a woman to gain huge amounts of muscle mass. Instead of building large amount of muscle mass, women will become lean, toned and shapely from lifting weights.

    You must be doing something right if you are seeing some muscle. Remember that the more muscle you have the more fat you will burn. Muscle turns you body into a fat burning machine.

    Stick with it, amazing results are just around the corner!

    Follow BFL by the book! And Give it your all!

    Best wishes to you!


    Sylvia Bortman

    Sylvia Bortman

    2006 BFL Grand Champion Women's 50+

  • I'm also 5'0" and my quads just naturally curve out so it looks like I have larger quad muscles.

    I did my own BFL challenge 2 years ago and I remember somewhere in the middle of the challenge (probably 6-8 weeks), I increased the amount of fish and veggies in my diet and I noticed an almost immediate difference in that I became leaner.  I'm not a big seafood fan so that was a big jump for me.  I wouldn't have thought it was what I was eating but that seemed to be the trick that time.  

    I'm planning on starting my new challenge at the beginning of April (had a baby 9 mos. ago).  What do you, as a petite person, do for lower body routine?  I prefer the Smith Machine for squats and lunges but I do worry about adding too much weight.  I start out at 40 lbs. with my HP being 60 lbs. but I feel like that's too much weight so last week I changed it up and did 35 lbs., 4 reps of 12 with some 2-count reps and some pulsing reps.  That was a good workout and I wonder if I should stick to lower weights.

  • What makes me nervous is that I see some before and after pictures where some women are lean and feminine and some where women are bulky and muscular.  I personally don't want the muscular look.  It was explained to me that the shorter a person is, the smaller the muscle span is which causes more of a muscular look.

    I am staying with the weights to levels and still hitting my 10's but I too am afraid that I will get much bulkier as I've seen many women become.  I realize I will lose more fat by gaining muscle but I want a happy median of muscle and not all bulk.

    For lower body, I do switch it up, but I basically do leg extensions and another exercise I saw with the fitness ball sort of a squat.  I do lunges for hammys and the fitness ball hamstrings buster.  Calves I do heal raises and another exercise where I hang my foot off the end of a raised platform, with weight in hand and raise the heal with weight in hand.  I know there is a specific name for these but I don't remember.

  • Rosemary,

    Don't fret! I know it's really easy to second guess yourself when it just doesn't seem to be happening fast enough. I want to reassure you that you are NOT going to turn into a meathead by lifting weights intensely.  I am barely 3 inches taller than you and I remember feeling less than satisfied with my progress at 8 weeks as well. I lost 9.4% body fat during my challenge, but 5+% of that was ALL lost during the last 4 weeks!  I also lost 4 pants sizes during the last four weeks. Honestly the biggest changes I had weren't until weeks 10-12.  

    It's hard to comment specifically on your overall training program/eating program without seeing it all laid out, but what I hear you saying, I've heard from many people. I think if you are doing BFL by the book, then you need to keep at it and have faith that you will get the results your'e looking for. Montioring in other ways is also super important if you aren't doing them already (body fat testng & progress pics every 2-4 weeks).

    Also, you didn't mention much about your HIIT and if you are truly hitting your 10's on cardio days or if you've changed up the mode of cardio and varied which types you're doing (bike, treadmill, elliptical, stairclimber, outdoor activity). If you aren't, just remember it's equally as important to change up cardio as it is to change up the strangth training exercises. Keep your body guessing and challenge it in new ways as much as possible. You will start burning fat like crazy if you make sure you have intensity and variety in ALL  parts of your training.  I swear that fasted cardio first thing in the morning is a magic bullet as well, so not sure if you're already doing it fast upon waking, but I really feel that has worked for me in a big way.

    Lastly, take a close look at your diet.  If you really want to make the most of your last 4 weeks, make sure you are drinking water only, are cutting out condiments with hidden sugars/carbs, and cutting out any products with artificial processed ingredients. Many people don't realize how much little changes can go a long way. Even replacing things like mayo, ketchup, or honey mustard with spicy mustard instead, cutting out "light" salad dressings to opt for red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar on salads, or replacing so called "whole grain crackers" that contain HFCS or hydrogenated oils with healthier whole grains can make a difference. The more sugars and artificial ingreidents you are able to cut out the better, because your body will be functioning at optimal fat burning power without any interference from chemicals and sugars that  keep the fat on.   Go back to the basics and choose things with really a really short ingredient list (one you can pronounce), and make sure you're getting plenty of fiber in every day (30 g is a good goal).  Drink up the water too!  Aim for 4 L every day!

    If you are already doing all of the above, then just keep at it and be patient. Best of luck to you! I know you will do great if you stick with it! :-D


    "If you want something you've never had, you must do things you've never done!"

  • Em, thank you for your thorough, intelligent response.  I feel much better already!  The only thing I can think of that may be "off" is I really enjoy my free day.  I do eat bland foods all week just because I know Sunday is my day to splurge.  I wanted THIS 12 weeks to be successful so rather than trying out different recipes, I opted for what I know is authorized and as bland as it might be (I know there are much tastier authorized options) I follow it and enjoy my Sunday.  So this past Sunday, I only did a cheat "meal" and not the whole day.

    As far as cardio goes, I've had this debate/discussion with  couple of other people in the beginning.  I really enjoy the treadmill.  What I normally do is change up the workout by either reaching my 10 by running faster and on other days I reach my 10 by doing my workout on a higher incline.  I know its not completely different since its all on the treadmill, but I make sure I never do the same "routine" - speed and incline two days in a row.  I do think I hit my 10's, some days I dry heave!

    I actually did the elliptical on Saturday just to mix it up since I was away from home (I only have the treadmill at home).  It felt different but it seemed the I was fatigued quicker with less calories burned.  Not that I base my workout on calories by any means, I just like to be in the ballpark of what I might burn on the treadmill.

  • Ah yes, the free day! Well all out free days can absolutely erase much of the progress you could be making throughout the week. I am not a big fan of going completely crazy on free day, esepcially for people our size. Men might be able to get away with it a tad bit more, because they already have so much more muscle mass, but I would not recommend eating all day long. When I did my challenge, and still today, I stuck mostly with authorized foods, but had a few treats that I wouldn't normally have. I relazed a little and got out of the house to eat. But, and this is a BIG but....I also never once ate fried food all day, fast foods, really poor quality crap foods like that. I am a sweets person, so I chose to have a couple sweet treats and to have higher calories in my meals but stil ate quality stuff for the most part. Sometimes I don't even take a whole free day. Maybe I'll just have one free meal each week (that might be some edamame, white wine, cheese, hummus, and crackers on a Friday night maybe).   But on days when I decide to have a real free day here is what it might look like for me...

    I eat less often and drink less water.  I eat larger portions of mostly authorized foods, but allow myself a few splurges too.

    M1- egg muffin (whole grain english muffin + 2 eggs + turkey bacon + reduced fat cheese) + glass of OJ

    M2- salad buffet (huge salad with plenty of beans, legumes, nuts, veggies) + bowl of lentil soup w/cheese on top + whole grain bread w/butter + low fat vanilla ice cream & brownie with caramel & nuts

    M3- 12 in. roasted chicken *** sub (no cheese, loaded with veggies, mustard only) + bag of baked chips + 2 white chocolate macadamia nut cookies + diet soda

    *Calories are higher on this day, but not enough to undo my entire week of working out and eating healthy.

    I just wanted to add that there were also times  I opted not to take a free meal at all (the last couple weeks of my challenge I didn't take a free meal or free day). Actually I didn't even take a free meal this past weekend either. Just didn't feel like it. It starts to become less tempting the longer you live this lifestyle and you start to lose cravings for many of your old favorites. I used ot have a HUGE sugar bingeing problem before BFL and I still can't believe how this really can be a lifestyle forever, especially for someone like me with so many sugar addiction issues, but it absolutely can!  Plus, once you opt NOT to take a free day for a week or two and see how fast progress starts speeding up, it's motivating. I think you need it every once in a while for sanity purposes and to keep the metabolism revved up, but your metabolism isn't going to slow down just from not taking a free day one week. .

    It sounds like tightening up on your free days might  help you make some progress inthe right direction. It sounds like you are doing great at building some muscle, which is so key, so that is awesome! Now, just tighten up on the eating and moderate those free days. It doesn't hurt to have a plan on your free day instead of just waking up and going for anything and everything. Have a plan. Maybe start with a healthy breakfast and allow yourself a splurge or two for lunch/dinner. Try to stick to quality ingredients even on your free day if you can help it. I bet you'll start to see some progress really quick. Eating is at least 70% if not 80% of the equation. You can kill yourself in the gym, but if the eating isn't on point, it's not going to fall off like you want it to. Keep the eating super clean and it will blow your mind how quickly the fat can drop!  Stick with it! You are on the right path. Make the adjustments you need to make and keep going at it! Once you get yourself to your goal, then it will be so easy to maintain it and you can be a little less strict. You need to stick to the plan in the strictest sense possible right now if you want to get there fast. It's all about working smarter....not harder! :) Keep going strong and visualize your dream body the entire time, because you absolutely can be wearing it in no time if you stay focused!


    "If you want something you've never had, you must do things you've never done!"

  • In case my last post did actually post instead of being deleted like I think it did, I apologize if I repeat myself.  I read your story Em.  And wow!  You look absolutely amazing!  If you were a little heavier in your before picture, you would have been my goal!  Jen Weatherman's before is most like me so I picked her as my goal.  

    I just want to congratulate you on your success through this challenge and adversity.  You should be so proud of all your accomplishments.

    I also wanted to thank you for your insight and support.  It's nice to have a female, about my height, and about my age who is most like what I am at this point in my life physically (in your case BEFORE the 12 weeks). I am motivated, dedicated and ready for this to work and with help like yours, I know I can do this and succeed.

  • You are so very welcome, and thank you for the kind comments!  I can already sense that you have a renewed focus and confidence that you can get where you are hearing that! Surround yourself with all things healthy and stick with the plan. You will get there and start to experience things you might have never thought possible. I know it might sound cheesy, but it's so true. The physical transformation you will have is just the beginning of great things to come! I'm proud of you! Stay positive and focused on your goals, and a whole new world of opportunity will start to present itself!  The BFL community is filled with love and support for you! Stay strong, and have a terrific day Rosemary! :-)


    "If you want something you've never had, you must do things you've never done!"

  • Em,

    Thanks for all of that great information. I am in the middle of Week 6 and will make some adjustments based on your advise. Specifically, I need to vary my HIIT. I have been reliant on the treadmill because it's easy to measure intensity levels. Also, because I have a treadmill at home, I was able to stay out of the gym for three days.

    I'll also be adjusting my nutriion to find hidden ingredients that might be slowing my fat burn.

    Thanks again.

    Winners never quit, and quitters never win

  • Hi Rosemary and Em,

    I am just starting my challenge today.  I am 5'1" and share your concerns.  It was good reading Em's answers and gaining more motivation to get going.  

    Thanks Ladies,


  • Nancy,

    I just wanted to say Congratulations on making today the first day of the rest of your life! Stick with the plan by the book, and you will be amazed at how much you can change in 12 weeks. Stay strong and stay focused! Best wishes to you!


    "If you want something you've never had, you must do things you've never done!"

  • Hi Everyone,

    I was wondering if pilates might be a good addition right after lower leg training?  It is supposed to lengthen muscle fibers and really works the abs.  I know we are supposed to follow the program to a T, but what do you think of doing a pilates class right after the lower body workout finishing up to the ab portion.  Pilates really works your core muscles and helps with spinal alignment. 

    I am going to try it this morning and see what happens.