Written By: Leigh Gardner, The Four Body Types Research Participant
I’ve stood in front of the mirror quite often, staring at my body, my shape, and figure, asking myself, “What body type am I?” I’ve tried looking for an apple shape or a pear shape, or how hormones apply, anything that really makes sense. How can I improve my physique when I don’t know where to start? Sometimes finding the real answer requires looking from a different perspective. I chose to look at my back — my vertebrae, muscle, and posture — to give me a new angle to find out what body type I really am.
What Body Type Am I? Weak Body Type Three or a Body Type Four
After chewing over all the information there is on the four body types, including reading the very interesting Over Privileged White Guy (OPWG) book, the answer has been pretty clear cut for me. Denial and willful ignorance are only detrimental at this point and I have to start being more honest with myself. So, what body type am I – I am a weak Body Type Three, maybe a Body Type Four. Especially in my earlier years, I watched my weight yo-yo and bounce back and forth from fat & really fat in most of my body, back to skinny fat in many areas, then back to fat & really fat again — all of which only causes me to lose focus and faith. And, even when I have been able to consistently work on and successfully improve all my problem areas, I still remain mostly skinny fat with minimal muscle mass.
A few years back I hit the heaviest weight I have been in my life at 260 pounds. I admit it does not help that I went too many years without being active with exercise, having poor posture (spinal extension), eating a very unhealthy diet, and living an unhealthy lifestyle. But all my efforts in my earlier years to improve my body type failed, so it was hard to stay motivated. Not to mention a plethora of other issues in my personal life adding to the difficulty. Because of my short stature standing at 5’3, when I hit 260 lbs my body did look very similar to a Body Type Four as shown here. The weight that I continue to hold onto and carry negatively affects my posture, mobility, and metabolism to this day. I still greatly lack muscle mass and battle with chronic aches and pains throughout my body as well.
What Body Type Am I? Underdeveloped and Unextended Spine/Spinal Thoracic Vertebrae
Looking closely at the pictures of my back and observing where I am obviously missing muscle mass and carry the most fat, starting from about the T4 vertebra (just below my shoulder blades and a few inches above my bra strap) through T12, it shows obvious underdevelopment. It’s fair to say that there is no muscle mass around this area of my back. I have no real definition in my shoulder blades, which are soft and flabby. My shoulders are rounded and hunched. The excess fat has exacerbated my poor posture. It is a given that I’ve had issues with back pain, particularly in this area. I feel the aches after sitting at my desk too long and I have to continue getting up every so often to stretch out so that I can be comfortable once more (and this is fleeting). I feel quite weak after performing any strenuous physical activity for a long period of time.
Even still, if I do work on improving myself through weight loss and exercise, the skinny fat would still be there. Moreover, in my experience, it is unlikely that muscle mass would increase whatsoever without help from serious, proper resistance training (What does this even mean? Weighlifting? Isometrics? Both?). Yet, I am positive that the fat would increase exponentially with no effort at all.
Underdeveloped and Unextended Spine/Spinal Lumbar Vertebrae
The lumbar vertebrae L1 through L5 (basically where that lower fold of fat rests and just above my waistband) also seem to be unextended or at least underdeveloped. This area of my spine also makes movement and sitting for long periods of time quite difficult. I can’t stress enough the impact that all of this has had on my poor posture. These unbalances are a breeding ground for excess fat to reside throughout my back. As mentioned, I’ve suffered from significant and chronic back pain for quite a few years now due to weak core muscles (lacking muscle mass). There is no arch in my mid-to-lower back. Very little if any muscle definition in relation to my thoracic or lumbar vertebrae in general. Certainly no “dimples” as seen here. Fat is all there really is. I would love to learn how to add proper muscle mass to improve my posture.
What Body Type Am I? Where Do We Go From Here?
Thanks to Walter Hego’s OPWG book, I now have a more clear answer to the question “what body type am I?” My lack of muscle mass (throughout my body, really), along with poor posture in my back leaves a lot to be desired. I am happy to at least finally know that I am either a weak Body Type Three or a Body Type Four. From here, I can start correcting the problems mentioned. I would have never thought to look at myself in the mirror to review my back as a means to better understand my fat, obesity, and body type. Now that I have, it has given me the weight loss and skinny fat answers I have been seeking for so long.
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For the record, until the funding is achieved to acquired the proper research equipment and facility, really knowing which vertebrae and what muscle mass are actually lacking or undeveloped is difficult to ascertain. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Leigh is a Body Type Three, and if so probably a weaker BT3.