Sunday, September 03, 2006

Weight and Body Fat

As I’ve done since the beginning of last year I ‘officially’ weighed myself at the start of each month. My weight … drum roll please… 86.5 kg.(191 lbs.), no change from last month but still, down from a high of 98 kg.(215 lbs.) in early 2005. Not that I place much stock in what I weigh, since I know it’s much more important for a body to look good – exercise’s goal being the body’s overall conditioning, which means muscle in the right places as well as the absence of fat in the wrong places. Unfortunately looking in the mirror both are clearly problems for me. I see a flabby body, and it’s not just that I’m shapeless; it’s just I’m doughy all over. Other relevant adjectives to describe myself would be dumpy, soft, and pudgy (I’m just beating myself up now). Since I’m going to be a competitive athlete again (at least in my mind) I need a better measure of my conditioning, and obtaining my body fat measurement immediately springs to mind. For those who might not be familiar with body fat measurement (BFM) this measurement estimates the percentage of body fat the individual in question carries. So if you’re aiming to lose weight, but your BFM says you’re also losing muscle you’re not just slimming down – you’re either anorexic or exercising too hard without a proper diet. If, on the other hand, you’re seeking to put on weight you’ll be trying, unless you’re into sumo wrestling, to put on muscle rather than fat. BFM is the tool you’ll use to guide your workouts and diet to limit the amount of fat you add. The gold standard of body fat measurement is the hydrostatic test, where you’re lowered into a vat of water, asked to expel all air from your lungs and to hold your breath (?) for several seconds while they take measurements. Obviously all this costs money and consequently, so if you’re not at least a national caliber athlete, this uncomfortable experience (though I’m told this isn’t nearly as unpleasant as having your VO2 max determined) isn’t something you’re likely to experience. Instead, at least when I was running, we’d go to a coach or physio and have our fat measurements determined by calipers (when I restarted exercising after my back injury, and finding myself without a team physio to go to, I discovered they could be had down at the local YMCA for a nominal fee). Several phone calls today, however, established few places have even heard of a BFM. The closest gym which had wanted nearly $75 for it! That wasn’t happening so, after a quick trip to the internet I came up with a site with a body fat test giving a reasonable estimate of body fat using a tape measure. Not perfect, but adequate for my purposes. Entering the requested information such as age (47), height (192 cm. or 6’3”), weight, and sex the site came up with an estimate of 21% body fat for me, or over 18 kg. fat! Ideally I should be half that, which means my true ‘fit’ weight is only around 77.6 kg.(170 lbs.). That is almost down to my running weight over twenty years ago, but with about four kg.(ten lbs.) less muscle! Trust me ladies, that’s not where I want to go! Really, ick comes to mind. I desperately want to put on more muscle and swimming would be a good way to go.


Tony Austin said...

I figure this post should be burried deep enough!

I got hammered on and off the blog over Dara Torres. Torres has close affiliations with SCAQ.

I am astonished how political swimming is. You would think that we were talking politics or religion. I have no regrets though just so you know, however, I now almost want her test positive now to alleviate the heat.

If she is talking something, which I am not convinced, it would have to be something that increased reaction time for a fast start, turnover and neuro-firing, some muscle enhancement of some kind. All of this could be found on a blood test or urine test I bet.

Scott said...

I'll admit Tony that I too was surprised by the animosity shown by people about discussing the possibility Torres is doping. I didn't anticipate the strong reaction by so many when it seems evident (to my mind at least) there must be a distinct possibility of doping given her age, time spent training, and history. As to what she's taking I don't believe its likely she'll be caught by existing dope detection techniques - she's been pretty blatant with her performances - and FINA and WADA must be tearing out their hair trying to figure out how she's doing it. I'm leaning strongly towards another BALCO designer steriod which is virtually undectable unless they have a sample signature (such as that mysterious syringe sent in to USADA anonymously which exposed BALCO). I'm not surprised about the politics though, as appointments to key positions in USA Swimming are done on a purely subjective basis and thus very political in nature. When you throw in one of the few substantive measures used to evaluate a coach is the number of swimmers he or she has worked with who have gone on to the Olympics, or even better, medalled in them, there are a lot of people with a vested interest in protecting Torres' reputation. Especially when you consider the negative ramifications for a coach of Torres if she's found guilty of doping! From glory to dogmeat in one go!

Tony Austin said...

Your post went global. Even G@ry H@11 made an anemic attempt to invalidate it but it was so transparent and obvious. I think he found religion and it i called swim politics.

I believe W-M-G represents her too so, Ironically enough, there is seemingly an economic interest for USA swimming there as well.

She use to talk up how hard she trains but changed her story to how "smart" she trains. This leads to me to think her so called "smart training" technique is up for auction for an informercial product. Perhaps even her own product and brand for an imformercial. (She married well and has lots of money.)

I think whatever she is taking, it has nothing to do with steroids or testosterone. Her body, facial structure and such have not changed whatsoever.

Erik Hochstein swims every day; (Olympian, SCAQ coach, Cannuck Swim mer flame writer and such), and he told me he is seeing his swim times degrade ever so slowly year-after-year but Torres is getting faster and faster and faster than that.

I hope WADA stores her urine and blood for later sampling. I think she is on something beyond comprehension. She is even flaunting how she will do extra tests.

Scott said...

There is a long established myth the use of steroids and testosterone by women will result in noticeable physical changes. This was true in the '70s and '80s when the abuse began, but increased sophistication in doping has minimized those effects to the point where any changes aren't really noticeable to the uneducated eye and perhaps even a trained one (at least sufficient to reach a conclusive opinion). I've read her recent 'smart' training claims. I have several draft posts going which provide further analytical evidence she must be cheating, but they are complex to write, and I've written so much about her recently there's a obviously a little fatigue involved. I'll be trickling them out one by one all the way to Beijing. And thanks for the bit on Erik's comments. I and a few others were puzzled why he put up such a vehement defence of Torres. I do believe he sincerely thinks that as a non-Olympian it wasn't my place to question her, but it's nice to know he's thinking along the very same lines my argument poses.

Tony Austin said...

There was an accusation on T1med F1ina1s by a poster who said her "team is keeping her levels just right" which would suggst testosterone if the poster is credible.

In a video I posted to my blog today of her. Her neck seems muscular yet her frame does not, I see this in individuals who have asthma. (Asthmatics take steroids.)

In the two videos I posted, she is off the blocks faster than any of the younger swimmers. It is almost freakish.

Tony Austin said...

Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Weir, and Dara Torres will be battling it out for the 100 free at Nationals. Amanda Weir will be robbed. What is she taking to be so fast?!

Tony Austin said...

Amanda Beard is having trouble getting back up to speed. She is only in her 20's. Dara has had n trouble. I doubt it is "good genes"