Getting Fit As A Petite Woman

Hello to my fellow short, petite, fun-size girls; I’m sure you’ve heard it all. If you are someone who has been trying to get fit and lose weight but notice it's more difficult than you expected, here is a quick guide specifically catered to you. I personally went through quite a struggle trying to figure out why it was so much more difficult for me, and made a few mistakes along the way, but hopefully, you’ll be able to learn from my experience. 

First, I have to deliver some bad news before I can share the good. It absolutely is harder for a short woman to lose weight. That's undeniable, research-backed, and a reality we have to adjust around. The reason for this, however, is actually quite simple; we have less lean mass. This corresponds to fewer muscle tissues, less connective tissues, etc. in short people. Good news though, progress can be observed quicker when weight is lost. It will be more noticeable in your face, your thighs — any hotspots that you can think of — and that is most definitely motivating. 

woman eating fresh fruit in a sports bra Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels It’s likely that you’ve heard that losing weight is 80% diet and 20% food. The main issue I noticed was that shorter women, on average, have slower metabolisms because of their lower lean mass percentage. To combat that obstacle, it’s recommended to start weight lifting. I know most women hear that and automatically worry about becoming bulky — I remember I certainly did too — but there is no cause for concern. As women, we do not nearly have enough testosterone to achieve that “bulky/ buff” look as easily. The bulk that most women are worried to gain comes from hours upon hours of heavy weight lifting for a number of years combined with a caloric surplus. In short, it is extremely difficult to achieve. Starting to lift heavy, however, is an effective way to lose weight as it will burn more calories throughout the day— even more than cardio would. 

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) exercises with strength training will be your key to ensuring 20% of your weight loss goal is effective. Hours of cardio will unfortunately tend to make girls on the shorter side hungrier more quickly and result in binge eating. I was a victim of this for a long time! I could go the whole day in a healthy caloric deficit but by night, I would cave in and start binging. As previously mentioned, strength training allows you to burn calories throughout the day, but if you incorporate HIIT exercises, you will be able to burn just as many calories in a span of 20 minutes as compared to 1 hour of strenuous low-intensity activity. Remember: strength is health and health is wealth.

Here's another thing I observed throughout my fitness journey, and my friends spoke of too; the portions that exist in restaurants and diners are catered for slightly above average height people. We cannot eat the same portions that our 5’6+ friends and peers can. More likely than not they will be able to eat more and not have those pounds show up immediately. Keep in mind, everyone’s journey is different and needs are different so everyone has different requirements, use discernment. The important thing is that your weight loss and fitness journey is more so about developing lifelong habits, a good relationship with food, as well as your physical and mental health. Counting calories is a method many use and I promise you will abandon that method less than 2 weeks after you try it because it's simply not sustainable. 

I cannot emphasize this enough, but do not cut out any food group — whether that's carbs or sweets; they are needed! Carbs bring us energy, desserts serve as a good pick-me-up or once-in-a-while treat. Developing a healthy relationship with food is not about excessive restrictions or completely cutting out things that make you happy — it is about portion control and intuitively eating. Side note — if you overeat in your fitness journey for 1-3 days, don’t panic! You won’t gain kilograms, and if you feel that you have, it’s probably just water weight. You have to be in a caloric deficit BUT too much can stunt your weight loss. You also must make sure to eat enough otherwise your body will lack essential nutrients, resulting in effects such as hair shedding! You deserve to eat— you wouldn't tell your friends that they don't— so extend the same kindness and empathy for yourself. 

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels Another piece of advice I would highly suggest is to use a measurement tool/goal that makes you feel good, not stresses you out. It’s more than likely that if you are checking the scale every week, you’ll feel discouraged to not see the numbers go down. Instead, try to put off looking at scales for 3 weeks to a month before starting to look at jeans or any article of clothing that is tight on you. It’ll likely be at least 4 weeks before you start to notice a difference. When you do check-in, make it something to celebrate, not dread. Pick out some clothes you would like to wear when you feel the confidence boost as a treat to yourself. Buy new sportswear to keep you excited and motivated as well.

Ultimately, the goal is to develop habits that you can carry with you long term and hopefully, you have a few helpful tips to help you along the way!