Friday, July 8, 2011

Just for fun - figuring out body fat percentage and another nonscale victory!

Before I start, let me say I know that figuring out body fat percentage is nearly impossible. Even the most touted method for accuracy isn't overly accurate. It is all just estimates, but really, estimates are all that really matter.

So, with that cleared up that we are talking about estimates only, this whole thought process about body fat percentages started with an email from my husband. He sent a link to this: body fat chart.

He was surprised with what was considered OK for his age and gender and well, so was I for my age and gender. While I've looked at such things before, I didn't pay much attention. But, it is interesting what is considered acceptable body fat percentage as healthy. Take a peek:

My husband, at age 44, male of course, according to our body fat monitoring scale is green zone for fit. And well, I would have to agree with that. Again, I know our scale is not the end all be all for monitoring fat, but it usually gives him a range of 13-17 percent body fat and when you look at him (and yes I do see him naked),  you can see he is lean. He's 6'1" and 171 pounds.

For me, the range it has given me on the scale recently is 28-33 percent body fat. When I look at my body, I still see a lot of fat, but my husband points out that a lot of it is loose skin and he's right...I've lost more than I realize (and skin takes longer to shrink up). According to that, I am in the yellow zone for age meaning I have a healthy body fat level. What???? I weigh just under 200 pounds! That can't be healthy!

Then today I did an online test (Ok, yes, I know... don't believe everything you read on the internet, but every tool is a tool and  has some merit). Anyway, I used this site. It's UK based, so I just put I lived in greater London metro (can't be too different than DC metro area). Here's the link:

That test uses my height, weight, age, gender and body measurements (hips, waist, wrist, forearm) to calculate body fat percentage and it came up with 27% body fat for me and said it was a healthy body fat.

I see that and I'm a bit floored. I weigh 198 pounds. I'm a female and I'm average height (OK, a smidge taller than average). How is this a healthy body fat?

Yet, I can see muscle definition in my legs, arms and shoulders (not yet in my stomach). I can feel all my ribs through my clothes (but you can't see them even when I'm nude) and I'm definitely still heavy, but I'm in the healthy range of fat by almost any measure I read/find/test.

Which means that all my life as a teen and college aged student when I thought I was so fat by the number I saw on the scale was bogus. Now yes, I need to lose more. This is not a "Oh, I'm at a healthy body fat percentage so I can stop losing weight now". But my 175 is probably a very realistic end goal for me especially since I workout cardio and with weights. I'm extremely curious now as to what 175 will look like with fitness added (I was not fit when I weighed this in high school) and I wonder how i will feel. That is 28 pounds less than what I weigh now. I bet I will look fantastic!

And that takes me to another link. Someone posted this on a weight loss forum and I found it interesting. Now, it's a paleo diet site, but I don't think it's the paleo diet that got this woman to this shape. I'm not even saying I want to have this woman's physique. It just proves a point about numbers on the scale - they don't tell the whole story!  So, my 175 at high school and my 175 now should look quite different. In high school I wasn't very active. Now I am.

More about body size and weights. My mother in law and I are the same height. Well, now we are with her osteoporosis. She used to be about 5'8" tall. She weighs 170 pounds and has a pear shaped body. Her arms  and chest are super thin/small, then she has big hips/gut and then smaller thighs and legs. Basically all her weight is in her hips. And she isn't 'heavy', but for her, who has  always been thin her entire life, this is big. The irony is that I was doing laundry yesterday and was folding a pair of her jeans. They are a size 12 (she also has a couple size 14s in her wardrobe). She tends to wear her pants really tight, so I was curious. Would they fit me? And, I tried them on. They fit me perfectly! I'm sure I got an evil grin.... I wear the same size pant as my mother in law who weighs nearly 30 pounds less than me.

I say 'evil grin' because she has been pretty vocal about her dislike of my weight. More so in the beginning before she gained weight. She said I was fat when I got married to Sven. Said I was fat in a wedding I was in the summer before I got married. Basically, she's always been vocal about my size. So, to be able to wear the same size as my mother in law is a huge mental victory. Yes, she is almost 76 and it's an unfair comparison, but it's a mental victory to feel that I will finally wear a smaller size than my mother in law. Oh that will be huge! I'll probably always weigh more than she does, but I'm coming to terms with the number on the scale is not the best information to be looking at! I'm a big girl!

I used to say I was built like a linebacker - trying to explain a large build. But that isn't true. I have a very womanly figure (still too fat, but womanly). I don't have a linebacker build. I just have a very large frame of a hour glass figure. And as a fat person saying  "large frame", I can almost see the eyes roll. Don't most fat people think they are just built big? Well, guess what - some of us are! Plus my younger son had to get his big body build from somewhere! It wasn't his dad! It's from me. Measure your wrists everyone - with a tape measure. What do you get? Mine is 7 1/8 inches. Very few women have bones of this size. Man men don't have bones of that size (neither my husband or older son do). So... I will always weigh more - period. And I'm trying to get it in my head that I can be fit and healthy at 175 where most women would feel fat and unhealthy at that weight.

Not saying I can't or won't lose more, but I'm starting to realize that this number might be a perfect number for me.

Stats for 7/8/11:

Beginning weight: 255.6  Now: 198.2
Exercise total hours in 2011: 212
Total number of miles walked/biked in 2011: 576/1000

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