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.