Yesterday was my birthday, so I thought it would be a good idea to really begin this two-year commitment to being my fittest ever by the time I’m fifty with some hard data. I agree with Samantha that weight alone is not a good measure of where things stand with a person health-wise. Neither is BMI, for reasons Samantha has also explained really well. Body composition is a more important thing to know about. That’s the amount of lean body mass and the amount of fat the body is composed of. So with that in mind, I decided to go get the straight goods at the bod pod. It works by air displacement, so you need to change into a speedo-type of swimsuit or a some similarly tight spandex clothing. Then, after having the science explained in lay terms (quite clearly, but I still can’t convey it to you here. You can check it on the link), you climb into this pod-like thing and sit down. Then they close the door (there is a window, so that might help you if you are claustrophobic like I am — I had to close my eyes and practice deep breathing) and the test takes about 45 seconds. Partway through there is a knocking sound that you are told about in advance and asked to ignore. Then they open the door for a few seconds so you can get some fresh air.By this time, I really did need the door to open. There is a panic button, but I honestly feel that if you need the button you will not remember that it’s there. They then close the door and repeat the test. In total, I sat through it three times. Then the results were in. I am officially in the “excess fat” category, meaning that my body fat percentage is between 31-40% (okay, it’s 34.5), with a margin of error of 1% possible.
This was kind of demoralizing, especially on my birthday. But they are not judgmental about it at all. And I am trying not to be. It’s just that I really do a lot of training type things. I weight train, run, cycle, do yoga, tai chi, even the elliptical machine. Every day I include anywhere from 60-120 minutes of activity. I’ve been active like this for at least 6 months and though I do not know whether I started out with an even higher body composition reading, but I would have thought that by now it would at least be in the “moderately lean” category (that’s the next one down from mine, 23-30%). So I have a new goal, which is to get down into the moderately lean category, to 25% body fat. Having just established this goal today, it’s not clear to me whether this type of goal is just weight loss in disguise (disguised as “fat loss”) and so therefore comes with all the trappings and pitfalls and oppressive features of the regular old weight loss game. I hope not but will monitor that as I go along.
I followed my body composition test with an appointment today with sports nutritionist, Jennifer Broxterman (same one Samantha has mentioned a few times). To prepare for this visit, I tracked my food for three days (two weekdays and a weekend day). As some of you may know, I am not a big fan of tracking. What I learned is that I do not in fact eat too much. I eat the right amount over a day but I just need to spread it out a bit more with shorter periods of not eating. We also had a bit of a chat about protein, which is always helpful for me as a vegan. I’m going to work with Jennifer’s suggestions over the next three weeks and see I do. They’re quite reasonable even though they involve less chocolate cake and fewer clif bars. If you have not seen a sports nutritionist and have concerns about eating enough of the right kinds of foods to support your training needs, I recommend it. If you’re local (London, Ontario), Jennifer is very good.
I figure it’s realistic to think that by my next birthday I can get down to 25% body fat without losing any lean mass.