Daily Archives: June 11, 2012

Body Composition Testing and Losing the Goal Weight Mentality (Part One)

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Do you know why I make lists? Because the second I write something down it immediately becomes something that nags at me. Of course sometimes I am good at ignoring the nagging (ahem, home improvement projects) but other times just the act of listing will light a fire under my ass to complete something I have been meaning to “get around to” for a while.

Moments after I published my Summer Bucket List on Friday I thought to myself “I wonder if I could test my body composition today?” Sure there are better ways to spend a lunch break on a Friday afternoon, but I had written it down, it had already begun to nag at me, and most importantly (since I was hoping it would improver over summer) I figured it would stack the odds in my favor to get the initial measuring over sooner rather than later.

And so the googling began.

Moments later I had found Spring Medical Clinic where for $25 and with no appointment I could have my body composition analyzed without taking off my clothes, getting dunked in a tank, or pinched with calipers. Totally lunch break friendly! Of course I had to listen to some sort of weight loss clinic nutritionist discuss “My Obesity” and my high-risk BMI and how they could offer me services that would help me lose 8-10 lbs per month if I wanted to “get the ball rolling.” But I held my tongue, smiled and nodded and then went on my merry way. It only took about 20 minutes and even despite the all the “You are undermining your life expectancy” scare-tactics it has given me a completely new appreciation for my body. More importantly though, it has given me a whole new perspective on this weight loss journey.

Let me just back up for a second though.

The Catalyst

You see I have hit another seemingly never-ending plateau with the scale. These are always shitty, but what’s worse is that it started back when I was being super strict and eating everything within super calculated Zone portions. By the way, that was…oh, all the way back in February/March. Is there anything more irritating than really working hard at something and not seeing the results you are looking for? As you know, I had to ditch the scale finally to get some perspective. I know that the number on the scale doesn’t define success but in the back of my mind I still felt like I was far away from my “healthy weight range.”

Here’s a recent picture. And I’m super happy with my progress, but it’s easy to see that I have some excess body fat still, so obviously I still have some weight to lose.

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I had tried to change how I was eating back in March with no luck (well, at least no luck on the scale) so my next thought was to change how I was working out. We have two different workout tracks at my gym – an A and a B program. “A” involves more days of programmed lifting than “B” so I thought that I would switch to the A Programming in hopes that more strength training would improve my lean mass which would make my body more efficient which would YIELD SOME GOD DAMN RESULTS ON THE SCALE.

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So for the last two months that’s been awesome. I’ve seen some great improvements in my lifting technique and also gotten stronger. I crossed my fingers that my body was doing it’s best to get a little leaner. Of course because I’m a numbers person and a list person and obsessed with comparisons I decided it was time to get back to taking some regular measurements and perhaps see some progress on the scale.

I busted out my measuring tape and found that since March I had lost 6 1/2 inches! I was so freaking happy to see that. I had an idea since I was wearing a new pants size, but it was nice to see it confirmed. Hard work, paying off! Then, of course, I happily jumped right on the scale to finish my own personal standing ovation for myself. Only to find that I had GAINED SEVEN POUNDS.

SEVEN, you guys. FUCKING SEVEN POUNDS.

I am smart enough to understand that I am trending in the right direction when it comes to the big picture, but you guys a 7 pound gain at the scale was super hard to swallow, even if it came with a smaller pair of pants and a loss of 6 inches. I knew it was time to change the way I was measuring and get the facts to help me understand my body’s composition. I wanted the good, the bad and the ugly: the lean body mass as well as the fat.

Ghosts of Weight Loss Past and The Goal Weight Mentality

Finding out that exact information helped me realize that the problem is not with my diet or my exercise routine or my obsession with the scale or whatever. The actual problem, I have realized, is that I haven’t quite let go of the “Goal Weight” Mentality. Let me see if I can explain this without sounding crazy.

My trials and tribulations with the scale are pretty well documented on this website, but for the sake of context let me just remind you that I hit up my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was 9 and joined on and off until I was about 30 with varying degrees of success. I have a good 20 years of history with Weight Watchers and even though I some people swear by it, I think Weight Watchers can suck a fat one. (Mel does a great job of summing up my major objections with WW here.) Within Weight Watchers the only way you can become a lifetime member is if you reach a pre-determined “Goal Weight.” I still know what my Weight Watchers goal weight range is for my height:

But listen, I’m not a nut job. I actually have a pretty large frame (hello, daughter of an NFL Lineman, remember?) and I do have a lot of muscle so I made a compromise in my mind a while ago that I would be okay if I never made it into that goal weight range. Instead I made a new (shockingly heavy sounding to most!) Goal Weight of 175lbs. Remember how I told you about the night I made Garrett wear women’s clothes? Ah yes, that was a good night.

You should go back and re-read that story if you haven’t. Then come back tomorrow because I’m going to tell you how ridiculous my goal weight actually is, and how enlightening having my body fat measured was. Plus I’ll give you the dirty details in case you want to do it yourself!

(Psssssst: Here’s Part Two)

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