Monday, January 28, 2008

Body Fat Percentage - Not as Bad as I Thought

I'm such an idiot.

Last spring, I got a cheap set of body fat calipers and the information to calculate lean body mass and body fat percentage by taking 7 different measures on my body. I was surprised when the calipers told me that my BF% was about 25%, with 50 pounds of body fat on my frame.

The main reason I was surprised was because my lean body mass was in the 143 pound range according to the calipers. A few years ago, when I was not in great shape, I'd had my BF% tested by hydrostatic weighing. My LBM at the time was in the 153 range. So, how had I lost 10 pounds of LBM in a few years of consistently training hard and racing reasonably well?

Since I got the calipers, I have made progress with them. My weight is close to where it was when I started, but the calipers said I'd added a bit over 10 pounds of lean body mass. Thanks to NROL for the workouts that gave me that extra muscle.

But, according to everything I was measuring, I had barely dipped below 20% body fat, and I was still carrying almost 40 pounds of fat on my body. I look a lot leaner than a year ago, but there's still a lot of fat to lose, and the calipers said I was carrying 40 pounds of unneeded blubber.

Friday night, I got out the calipers again. My wife wanted me to measure her BF and I wanted to check mine again. As I was using the calipers, for the first time ever, I noticed a little sliding piece of plastic on the calipers that can be re-set and then moves for each measurement. It suddenly hit me that I've been using the calipers wrong the entire time, reading an inflated value at the wrong place on the device. I re-measured every site and found that my 7-site sum was way lower than than I'd thought it was.

I plugged everything into the calculations, and came up with 15.4% body fat with 29.9 pounds of body fat. My lean body mass was was 164 pounds. This all makes perfect sense and is consistent with old LBM numbers and my workouts for the past year. I'm still far away from being lean, but I'm not as fat as I thought I was.

This does mean that I need to re-think my weight loss goals for my Western States in June. I had set a goal of 175 pounds, thinking that my LBM was in the 154 range. Now, I think that getting to the 180-182 pound range would be a great accomplishment, and suddenly, the amount of weight I need to lose is much smaller.

The calipers I have are not fancy state-of-the-art calipers, which can cost hundreds of dollars. I'm also not an expert in their use, but I get fairly consistent readings. So, while I may be off a few pounds of fat or LBM, I think I'm pretty close, and it was good news. So, I guess I need to adjust my weight loss ticker at the bottom of the page.

My wife was quite happy as well. Within the past 8 months or so, she's gone from 128 pounds to 111 pounds. She's not quite 5 feet tall. She's been lifting some and running some and she's made great progress. Her BF% came in at just under 16%, with about 18 pounds of body fat. This has helped her to decide on a goal weight, which had eluded her before. She's decided that losing 6 more pounds of fat is all she wants or needs to do. So, she'd like to get her fat down to 12 pounds or so, and her weight to 105 plus any new muscle gains that she makes in the gym. She's going to start using workouts from NROL for Women tonight at the gym.

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