Monday, January 01, 2007

Starting the New Year

Not only is this the first day of 2007 it’s the first day of the month, which means today is my monthly weigh-in. Better yet, it’s been three months since I settled on my body fat measurement system so this becomes my first quarterly progress assessment. My very own triple witching day. Very big and very important to me, as my future plans for swimming will be in large part based on my progress to date, and it all hinges on how much muscle I’m putting on. If less than 400 grams a month I’ll drop my extra practices and effectively withdraw from masters competition (and this blog); if between 400 to 600 grams a month I’ll likely limit myself to my current mileage and then cut back to just the three weekly Hyack practices during the busy March to June tax season, which would mean my ‘racing’ season would be from September to early February, effectively missing all the major competitions. Averaging over 600 grams of new muscle a month … well, that would mean making some more decisions after this year’s Provincials in April.

Before moving on to weighing myself and doing the requisite measurements I should reveal I realized a couple of weeks ago my body fat percentage calculations were in error. It seems I took to heart a little too much the premise one’s neck circumference provides an excellent reference point for body type and so didn’t remeasure my neck when doing my monthly calculations. Actually I’ve achieved the loss of a full inch off my neck from the time I first started tracking my body fat. So rather than my having only 15% body fat as stated last month I really had 17% (my thinner neck showing I have a more ectomorphic body than originally calculated). For a moment I thought it meant in November I had actually lost muscle mass (a disaster!) which can happen if you over train, obviously a very real possibility for me, but then realized the error was included in my very first calculations. So for the record my November body fat percentage was 17% not the 15% previously stated, and consequently it will be a little longer before I’ll see my handles disappear.

Now for the weighing. My weight comes in at 82.3 kilograms (181 lbs.), a gain of some three pounds from last month. I find only a slight change in my waist and no change in my neck measurements, and consequently both together are insufficient to change my estimated body fat percentage. At 17% body fat and weighing 82.3 kilograms I now carry an estimated 14.0 kilos (31 lbs) fat. Since on October 1st I weighed 85.0 kilos with 23% body fat, or 19.5 kilos (43 lbs) fat, this means I’ve lost 5½ kilos fat while losing only 2.7 kilos overall – a gain of 2,800 grams of muscle over the last three months. Over 900 grams a month! Nearly twice my expectations! A huge relief to me I’m glad to say. Of course this quarter’s estimate is still just that, it’ll take another three months to more fully mitigate the measurement error inherent in this method of estimating body fat percentage, but regardless I'm confident I’ll be over my 600 gram threshold. Now my problem is figuring out how to not only to maintain my current swimming levels but to actually increase them. It’s not going to be easy.

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