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TOPIC: Big boned/Small boned

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December 4, 2011 6:20 AM
I have always considered myself to be "small boned." I have 35 inch hips, a 5 inch wrist, and wear a size 4 ring. Recently, two different people have told me that bone size doesn't really matter as to what you should weigh, that bones are bones and we're all pretty much the same in that area. One person said that many people say they are "big boned" when they're really average and are just looking for an excuse to weigh more. I have been accused by several people of using being "small boned" as an excuse to only weigh 122 pounds, when they think that's just too darned low of a weight for anyone my height (5' 4 3/4") and age (42). My mom thinks I must be anorexic to have a weight that low. What do you think of this argument?
December 4, 2011 6:26 AM
To figure out your bone size, you need to measure the diameter of your elbow with a caliper. I know there is definitely a big boned, small boned difference. For the most part, bones are bones, but some people have bigger bones. My wrist bones are very prominent, and my wrist is still 6.75". Additionally, my elbow is 3" in diameter, 3/8" bigger than average for a woman of my size.

I do agree that some people use big bone vs small bone as an excuse to justify their weight. However, if you are within a healthy range, then people with small bones should weigh less than large bones - that's why there is a weight range. I don't know what the weight range is for your height (I'm much taller), so someone else will need to comment on that area.
December 4, 2011 6:28 AM
I've only heard people blame their size on their bones, but I've never taken it seriously. Either, you put on weight easier than others or you lose weight easier than others, ending in different sizes. I believe it has a lot to do with muscles, fat and metabolism rather than bones :)
December 4, 2011 6:29 AM
There are most certainly different bone structures, and your wrist and ring size sounds teeny! I think I have small wrists, mine are at 6 inches!

If you wanted to weigh 102#, I'd say you were overstretching, but 122 sounds perfectly reasonable at your height, well within the normal range.
December 4, 2011 6:29 AM
I think if you're healthy, active, and feel good about yourself, it doesn't matter what they think. However, if you find yourself getting sick a lot, then it might be due to being too small, though even that is iffy, because it could be due to a number of factors. One of my sisters is 5'6" and weighs around 115; like you, she's small boned, and people make comments to her all the time about her being too small (as if it is any of their business!), but she's healthy, active, and feels good about herself, so she's not changing anything.
December 4, 2011 6:29 AM
Nonsense. You have a 5 inch wrist, I have a 7 1/2. I have always had a 7 1/2, even before I got heavy. It is not so much the bones themselves as the way that our frames are set up that make the difference in frame size, or atleast that is the assumption I am under from my limited knowledge of anatomy.
If you search these forums, there are alot of posts about this topic. Here are a couple off the bat:

Don't let them get to you. Jillian Michaels from Biggest Loser weighs 115. Heard her say that once on the show :)
December 4, 2011 6:29 AM
I think frame size matters. I agree that people use the "big boned" bs....I'd look more at your bmi and body fat than bone size. Your bmi is in the middle of the healthy range, so I'd say no worries there.

If you are eating a healthy diet (and not purging), and happy with yourself, I'd let the comments go. Your mother may be used to you at a much higher weight, give her time to get used to the new you.
December 4, 2011 6:31 AM
If your weight is within the healthy range for your height (which I beleive it is) then it isn't too low and that can be your answer to any comments you receive. It seems to me that there is something to the 'big boned/small boned' thing but I've never researched it.
December 4, 2011 6:32 AM
122 lbs and 5'4 and 3/4 is slim but it doesn't sould like you are anorexic. I wouldn't lose anymore weight if I were you, you sound fine and slim. Talk to your doctor, show him/her your diet log and take his/her advice. Ignore your Mom, she might just be overly worried.

I think generally following the recommended weight for age/gender/height is a good plan. If you are active and eat well you should be okay.
December 4, 2011 6:33 AM
I'm not so sure about 'big boned' and 'small boned' but there ARE different frame sizes. I've read various articles explaining ways to measure your frame, but I don't want to explain it in case I'm remember it wrong (maybe someone else can chime in here).

Honestly, weight in general can be somewhat of a lousy measure. I say use the mirror :)

To illustrate this:

This girl (crossfit athlete Lauren Pryor) is 5' 9" and weighs 160lbs
Image not displayed

This girl (Lauren Plumey) is 5' 8" and weighs 129lbs
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(Weights and heights taken from here: )
Edited by thecrossfitter On December 4, 2011 6:34 AM
December 4, 2011 6:36 AM
I always heard of the standard measuring wrist with your thumb and index finger wrapped your wrist. If your thumb can't touch your index finger, "big bone." If your thumb touches your index finger, "medium." If your thumb over laps your index finger, "small bone." My Dad is small boned like me.

As far as weight, I think there is something to it. That is why we shouldn't make a big deal over what the scales says. We are all unique in our bodies.

I am 42 also. Because I am small boned, I worry about osteoprosis, osteopenia and osteoarthrits. My Dad has all of those but for other reasons than having small bone.....hyperparathyroid tumor that drains calcium from your bones. I do have severe chondromalica in my knees. But that doesn't stop me from exercising. So drink that milk and keep lifting those weights!!!!!
December 4, 2011 6:37 AM
more info here - might be the same as posted above.
December 4, 2011 6:40 AM
I'm small boned. I didn't weigh 100lbs until high-school. Now in my 30's I try and stay around 120. Take that calcium... we "small boned" need it!
Edited by Salvaje26 On December 4, 2011 6:41 AM
December 4, 2011 6:41 AM
I think it has to make some difference, I have almost the same stats as you (same height, wrists 5.5, ring 5) but I'm 140lbs. Knowing another girl who is large boned and the same weight, she looks thinner than I do.

I always assumed it was because I was carrying x amount of pounds of fat for her extra x amount of bone weight...just a guess?
December 4, 2011 6:42 AM
i believe there is a difference! my best friend has always weighed 140 and she wears a size 5/6 pants... when i was at my smallest, 150lbs, i wore a size 12/13 pants... i was only ten lbs heavier than her but pretty much 6 sizes bigger. funny how that works out! sucks to be me! lol =)
December 4, 2011 6:49 AM
Different people come in different shapes and sizes. I have a friend whose wrist is larger than my ankles even though we are both almost the same height! Clearly there are some basic differences in our skeletal build and, therefore, some allowances for differences in weight should be made. That said, there are many other differences that are much more significant, such as the percentage of body weight made up by fat and lean muscle mass.

Perhaps you should focus less on what others say (unless it's your doctor!) and focus more on finding out some facts about how your body is built. If you don't already have one and budget permits, you could get a scale that measures body fat and water content as well as your weight; they go for about $30-$40 and most major retailers (Walmart, Target, Sears) carry them. If your body fat percentage comes back within the average range for a person your age and gender, then you are probably Ok - and you will have evidence to tell others to mind their own business :-)

Then, you could also look at some well-established data. Insurance companies know a lot about this kind of stuff; they have to if they are going to issue life policies and not get killed (pun intended) by people dying too soon. So ask Google what is the average weight for a 5' 4" woman, and the very first link that comes up is:

Met Life publised 'desirable weight' tables (which indicated the lowest mortality rates) back in the 1950's and revised them in the late 80's. Tables discuss weights for small, medium and large-framed individuals and provide guidelines for determining to which category you belong. You can find a copy of the tables here:

These tables are not perfect but are a better guideline that the random drivel you'll hear from well intentioned but thoroughly ignorant friends and family. By the way, per those tables the ideal weight for a 5' 4", small frame adult woman is 114-127.

You look great in your picture. If you feel well and if your body fat is normal, you should be just fine ignoring those who criticize you.
Edited by fvincentelli On December 4, 2011 6:50 AM
December 4, 2011 6:56 AM
I completely agree with you about bone size. I too, am a large boned woman at only 5'4 3/4" I wear extra large gloves and wear a size 11 shoe! I look Very skinny at 130 lbs and people are always surprised by how much I weigh now (almost 180). It's true that some people use bone structure as an "excuse" to weigh more, but I know a very realistic weight for me at 50+ is in that 140-150 lb. range - which is the very top of where I should weigh. I believe these bone structure charts are accurate also because my hands and feet are the size of my husbands, who is 6'3" but "small boned". I don't feel that I can compare my weight to the average woman my height for this very issue.
December 4, 2011 6:57 AM
I'm small boned too. I am 54 years old and 5'4" now, but used to be 5'6". My wedding ring was a 4 1/4 to get over my knuckle, but it would always roll as it was too big for my finger. Since I've started working as a welder and work with my hands doing some heavy stuff my fingers have gotten a bit bigger and I now wear a 6 ring. At 5'6" I couldn't get my weight above 105# no matter what I ate and I could out eat men 2x+ my size. I worked hard doing a lot of heavy work so I guess I just burned it off as fast as I ate it.

At 5'4" my healthy weight is somewhere between 107-147#. That is quite a range, I think 107# would make me look sickly so I'm shooting for 125-135#.

As is said above, if you are eating healthy and getting in some good excercise I wouldn't worry about it. If your doctor doesn't think you are too small, you're golden.
December 4, 2011 7:09 AM
there are different guidelines for 'large frame' vs 'small frame' ppl - our skeletons ARE pretty much all the same size but our basic FRAME can be LARGE, medium or petite & anything in between. That's why u see very little women with tiny little bones are at higher risk for osteoporosis as they age.
I am LARGE frame. I will NEVER be petite & it would take a sledgehammer to break my bones. I don't use it as an excuse to be overweight but I know I will never be 110 lbs. I will never be a size 0 - even after death.
so what?
December 4, 2011 7:10 AM
Probably even more critical that frame sense is bone density. African Americans have bones that are much more dense than Asians, the group with the least dense bones. That's why BMI is only a ROUGH estimate--it doesn't take this sort of genetic factor into account. I'm 5' 6" and weight125, but I have a well-defined musculature, and no one is calling me anorexic. Your size sounds completely normal.
December 4, 2011 7:12 AM

This girl (crossfit athlete Lauren Pryor) is 5' 9" and weighs 160lbs
Image not displayed

aha! I'm not too fat, I'm too short! I just need to stretch ... LOL
December 4, 2011 7:13 AM
Your frame/bone size and height are the most important factors in determining your weight range.

this is the calculator that I used

this is the weight chart that I used to correspond with height and frame size.
December 4, 2011 7:14 AM
being a 5in wrist vs a 7in isn't going to change your weight or make your BMI higher, and THAT is the part that I hate. People say," Oh, I am big boned so I should weigh more" and that is BS. Find a weight that is in your considered healthy range (which is why it is so wide) and shoot for that. I say as long as you feel good, do what works for you.

And coming from a jewelers perspective, that really is a tiny wrist!
December 4, 2011 7:15 AM

This girl (crossfit athlete Lauren Pryor) is 5' 9" and weighs 160lbs
Image not displayed

Damn! I am 2 inches taller and about 5 pounds lighter (and I am a large frame with 6.75" wrist measurement) but she looks a helluva lot thinner/toned than me!! :/
December 4, 2011 7:21 AM
Totally agree with what I'm seeing on here. Some people do use these things as an "excuse" but bodies are SO different, what's right for one is never going to be the same for others. I have a friend, for instance, with very narrow shoulders and bird-like arms (she's 5'5" or 5'6") but with broad hips (compared to her torso - she's always been slim and pretty fit - so the point is that you can see her actual bone structure in her lower body is NOT willowy, where her upper body is). I dunno - I think pooh-poohing this is silly. If you can figure out your fat percentage and it's in the healthy range - probably above 20% if you're not an athlete, and not below about 17%, you're not too skinny, even if people think you don't weight enough. Just feed yourself right, keep your muscles in shape, don't be hungry and ignore anyone with an opinion about your body who's not yourself or your doctor...

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