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Saturday, August 31, 2013

I am not fat!

And it's completely official!  I am "average."  I am "moderately lean."  I am "acceptable."

How do I know this?  Well, because I had my body fat hydrostatically tested this morning.  Hydrostatic testing is the most accurate method of testing body fat percentage, short of cutting off all your fat and weighing it.

I recently decided that I wanted to know where I really was physically so that I could figure out where I need to go from here.  My home scale measures body fat using bioelectric impedence and it's not known as a very accurate method.  What it has shown me though, is a downward trend overall.  I know I haven't really discussed how much I weighed yet, but I'll go ahead and do that now because I actually told my husband my actual weight a few days ago when he asked.

It was a big step for me.  I never told him my weight before.  I felt kind of icky telling him and immediately thought I'd made a mistake, but I realized he was simply curious.  It doesn't seem to have affected how he feels about me.  I am the only one who seems to place a high value on what the scale says from day to day.  I realize that the number that shows up there determines how I feel about myself.  I decided to find out what the number meant, really.  Not what I thought it meant.

Of course, usually, when I look at the scale, I feel fat.  I look at the number (today it happened to be 182 pounds and 37.6% body fat) and I think, "Oh God, I'm so huge!"  (It should be noted that that number is 5 pounds heavier than last week because I am retaining an insane amount of water for some reason, I even woke up with puffy eyes and I never have puffy eyes, but whatever.)  Even though that number is great considering where I was in April (198 pounds and 44% body fat) I still think of it as too much.  Women aren't supposed to weigh the same as their husbands.

So I googled hydrostatic testing in my area and found out that The School of Exercise Science at Florida Atlantic University does this for a small fee.  I called and scheduled an appointment and, this morning, drove to Boca Raton to find out my "number."  I'll admit I was nervous.  I have been thinking, based on what I see in the mirror lately, that the 37% bodyfat number seemed a little high to me.  I had set my goal to be 165 and 30% body fat because coming from 44%, that was a huge improvement, even though I would still be considered barely in the "acceptable" range.

I was told to bring the smallest bathing suit I was comfortable in (uh, what?) and a change of clothes to my appointment.  When I picked out the suit, I dutifully picked out one (actually pieces from two different suits) that were small, however, there was nothing "comfortable" about how I would feel in said suit.  I decided that wasn't important.  I wanted the least amount of fabric possible so  that I would find out what my fat weighed, not what the bubbles hiding in my suit weighed.

When I arrived, just to add to my feelings of vulnerability (remember the extra 5 pounds, puffy eyes and too-small swimsuit in my bag?) the guys waiting to measure me were adorable young college boys.  Nuff said.  So we went through all the preliminary paperwork and questions and came to the moment of horror.  Change into your bathing suit and let us know when you're ready.  Ok.  Mind over matter...I was so self conscious, but I needed this information.  So I did as I was told. 

When the guys were back in the room with me, we all walked over to the huge, metal tank and I climbed up a short flight of stairs to get to the top of the tank.  I climbed inside and was happy to find the water very warm.  There was a swingset-type swing dangling into the tank.  I was told to sit on the swing holding a 10 pound weight on my lap.  I then had to blow all the air out of my lungs and submerge my head completely while continuing to expel as much air from my lungs as possible.  Once I stopped exhaling, a few seconds passed and then I was instructed to raise my head and breathe.  This process was repeated another 4 times and then I got out of the tank and changed back in to dry clothes.

After plugging in all the numbers, the guys told me I could come over and they would show me the results.  You know what they told me?  They told me I am not fat.  They gave me a number that I had just given them earlier as an "ultimate" goal for myself after a lot more hard work.  They gave me a number that changed the way I looked later when I looked in the mirror.  They gave me a number that immediately made me "acceptable" and "moderately lean."

They told me that my body fat is 25%.

Did you hear that?  I said my body fat is 25%.  That is "normal" and "average."  That is NOT "obese" or "fat."

In an instant I went from "huge, fat, and gross" (in my mind) to "moderately lean."  Wow.

So now, I have a new goal.  Having found out that my lean body mass is 137 pounds right now, I decided that I am going to shoot for 20% body fat.  That gives me a new goal of 170 pounds.  Before,I thought 165 pounds sounded like a good starting point for a goal to reach.  I was going to try to get there and then reassess, thinking that maybe I would land somewhere around 150.  Now I know that 150 wouldn't be healthy for me, but 170 will be.

So, I'm excited that I have real number to work with in my goal to be healthy and strong.  I feel great in spite of the 5 pound gain this week.  I know the 5 pounds isn't due to anything I overate, it's probably just all the exercise (I've been VERY sore this week) causing my body to retain water.  I'm not going to worry about it.  I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing which is working hard and eating a healthy, clean diet.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I'm really starting to get it

As I feel more like I've made a lifestyle change rather than being "on a diet," I realize it doesn't really matter how quickly I get to my "goal weight."  This seems like a strange thing to say considering that I am trying to lose weight, but I have been educating myself and I am realizing that it's not the number on the scale that I am concerned about, it's the size and fitness of my body.

I read something today that really helped crystallize this concept in my head.  I have been confused about how to calculate the appropriate number of calories to take in during the day in order to facilitate weight loss.  As I have added workouts, specifically running and lifting weights, into my daily routine, I have been more concerned about protecting the good stuff in my body (muscle) and losing the bad (excess fat.)

As I've stated before, I do not want to be skinny.  Not even a little skinny.  I like the look of a healthy, robust, muscular yet feminine body.  I LIKE big, powerful looking thighs!  I've read a lot of the forum threads on the site I use for tracking my food, myfitnesspal.com, and I have read a lot about a mysterious thing called "TDEE" and "BMR."  I'm not going to get into the specifics about each way of calculating caloric intake vs. caloric expenditure, but I am starting to understand that it is very important to eat enough calories to support building or maintaining lean muscle and to create a small daily deficit in order to allow for 1 pound of fat being lost each week. 

1 pound a week sounds slow, but more than that, on the scale, could mean you are losing lean body mass and not fat.  Lean muscle is what raises metabolism.  Lean muscle looks, well, lean.  It's what I want and it's what I am thinking I need to nurture and protect.

So, with all this in mind, I think I am going to try this TDEE method as opposed to trying to eat 1200 calories a day (as is my current setting on myfitnesspal.com).  This will mean that I will probably be eating more like 1800 to 2100 calories a day.  I'll still be working out very hard (this is key) and eating healthy foods.  The difference this will make is that I will not be losing lean body mass while losing "weight."  I'll be slowly losing the fat.

I am getting ready to schedule an appointment to have my body composition (body fat testing) done (in a water tank!) in order to find out what my real numbers are.  Right now, I am using a fitbit scale that uses electrostatic measurements for body fat.  I think my number on this scale is very high.  I am thinking my actual body fat percentage is lower than the scale shows.  Either way, I'll find out for sure and get a better idea of what my new "goal weight" might realistically be.

I'll post my composition results when I find out.  Also, I didn't take a photo when I started this project, but here's a photo from a couple of years ago that looks about right (except for the hair color, LOL!)


Saturday, August 17, 2013

I've hit a new low

How can I possibly describe how good it feels to be in control of my body?  I feel so good.  I feel amazing and light.  Holy crap!  I feel SKINNY! 

I am by no means skinny...but I am feeling so slim!  So far, I've lost 18.5 pounds.  I am more than half way to my goal of 33 pounds.  I have hit a landmark on the scale.  A new decade.  I feel like I have my life back.

It's more than the number on the scale, it's how my body feels at this new low.  I am running and working out with weights.  I feel strong.  I feel healthy.  I am eating a vegetarian diet and using vegan protein powder from Arbonne to supplement two of my meals during the day.  I consider those to be snacks.  My other meals consist of fruits and vegetables and some (a few) whole grains and nuts.

I am well on my way and I feel great about it.  I can't see going back.  I have a new attitude about all of it.  I am thinking long term.  I am thinking about how I'll look in a year instead of trying to lose it all by next month.  I am thinking in terms of being healthy and fit and able for the rest of my life.  I am not trying to starve myself or make myself into anyone anybody else thinks I should be.  I am honestly doing this for me.  For a change.