Q: I’m writing because I have an issue with loose skin on my lower back. I’m 51, and I’ve been weight training my entire adult life. I’ve competed very successfully in bodybuilding. I’ve never really been out of shape, other than getting a little chunky during college. My lower back is the only area I’m having trouble with. I’ve seen you onstage, and your skin looks amazing. Do you have any secrets or advice for me?
A: You’re not the first person to ask me about loose skin, and I often see it on the masters competitors when I’m judging. You are unique, however, because more often than not it’s due to people gaining too much weight and stretching out their skin. That’s obviously not the problem in your case.
Other factors that produce sagging skin are the loss of collagen and the resulting loss of elasticity due to exposure to UV rays and/or heredity. And, finally, dehydration can result in loose skin as well.
My suggestions to tighten the skin on your lower back include supplementing your diet with essential fatty acids, applying natural oils topically, massage, avoiding UV exposure and making sure that you stay fully hydrated.
If you aren’t already supplementing with essential fatty acids, I highly recommend adding them to your nutrition program. EFAs increase the elasticity of skin, muscle and tendon cells. In addition, they have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, improve brain function and dramatically improve cholesterol profile. My client, Dr. D’Lorm, who has successfully treated his own skin condition with EFA supplementation (and topical oils) recommends Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend. Take one tablespoon three times per day with meals. My clients who are dieting find that taking the Udo’s Oil before meals significantly reduces their appetite, as well—which is extremely helpful when you’re trying to reduce bodyfat.
Don’t expect the EFA supplementation to produce immediate results. Dr. D’Lorm says that you need to take the Udo’s Oil for at least 90 days so that all of the body’s tissues reach a level of full saturation. So be diligent and consistent!
The second major treatment for loose (or dry) skin is to moisturize using a topical oil. You should use only natural oils, such as almond, avocado, olive and vitamin E. Read the label of your topical oil to make sure that it does not contain any dimethicone, parabens, mineral oil or petroleum-based oils, as they will ultimately dry out your skin and reduce the elasticity. Apply the oils after you shower and while your skin is still wet. That will help trap moisture in the skin. Spend a few minutes massaging the areas where your skin is most loose. Try to apply skin oil twice per day for the best result.
While you can’t go back and undo damage from overexposure to the sun or tanning beds, you can take steps to avoid further damage. If you’re going to be out in the sun, use a good sunscreen. My best recommendation for sunscreen would be Bull Frog. Just this summer, Diana and I were out fishing in the Tampa Bay area with Layne Norton and several other natural bodybuilders. We were out on the boat for eight straight hours without a cloud in the sky. Diana and I used Bull Frog SPF 30 sunscreen, which we applied before we went out and once during the day. The other guys used other brands. Diana and I ended up with golden tans and no sunburn at the end of the day. All of the other guys were badly burned. Two words: Bull Frog! Get it and use it!
Also, if you need to use a tanning bed to get a base tan for a show, do it very gradually. Always underestimate the amount of exposure and be very careful not to burn. Never stay in the tanning bed for the maximum allowable time, and use topical oils after exposure to keep your skin from drying out.
Finally—and definitely not least—is the negative effect that dehydration has on your skin. Your skin is 70 percent water. Water is the key to the health of your skin. Dehydration will leave your skin dry, saggy and looking aged. It’s one thing that’s very evident at bodybuilding contests, as many competitors still adhere to the notion that dehydration will make them look more ripped. I can almost always tell which competitors have “cut water” by the appearance of their skin.
While bodybuilding contests result in short-term dehydration, many people exhibit aging due to chronic dehydration. You should be drinking 64 to 80 ounces of water per day. If you consume coffee, tea or other products that contain caffeine or other diuretic substances, you should drink more water. I often hear, “I don’t like drinking plain water” (I’m one of those people too). If you’re a person who is adverse to drinking pure water, try adding some lemon or lime juice. One of the things I do to increase my water consumption (in Austin we had 50 days when the temperature was more than 100 degrees in 2008, 68 days in 2009 and 90 days in 2011) is to add a scoop of Xtend BCAAs to a 24-ounce bottle of water. With the pleasant flavor of the Xtend I drink more water, and with the heat here in Austin, I need it! In addition, the BCAAs keep my body from tapping into muscle protein as I’m dieting for competitions.
So, let’s review:
1) Add EFAs to your diet.
2) Apply natural topical oils to your skin, massaging the oils into areas where your skin is loose.
3) Avoid over-exposure to UV rays.
4) Keep your body fully hydrated for optimal skin health.
Try those skin-care suggestions, out and let me know how your skin improves.
Train hard, and eat clean.
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