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


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.


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.


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.


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

  • AndreAnna
    June 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I wish I could find a place around here that did the body comp stuff. I hate the scale but I also need to see some progress towards the Final Resting Place of my body, ya know?

  • Tiffany Precissi
    June 11, 2012 at 8:49 am

    I think you and I are body twins. I’m 5’9″ or 5’10” depending on who measures me and my goal weight is currently 175lbs. I remember when I was only about 15lbs away from that and I thought I was SO FAT OMG and now I look at those pictures and wonder wtf I was thinking.

    I see a lot of similarity in our thinking too. Especially seeking out new things when something isn’t working how we feel it should.

    • Holly
      June 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Oh seriously. I remember thinking in high school how awful my thighs were and now…what I wouldn’t give to have those thighs! Ack! :)

      If we are in fact body twins, you will find tomorrow’s post especially intriguing I think. Especially since I know you are a fellow CrossFit enthusiast. Muscle vs. Fat instead of the scale is really where it is at!

      • Tiffany Precissi
        June 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

        I definitely need to get my mind on the right track. It’s my biggest downfall. When something doesn’t happen the way I expect it to I lose motivation. I should try hypnosis! ha.

        I’m looking forward to your next post for sure!

      • bethanyrx
        June 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

        I was thinking the same thing… you must be 5’9″ish, because that was my WW goal weight too. I got there once… when my college boyfriend broke up with me and I basically stopped eating. :-/

  • Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie
    June 11, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for sharing all of this Holly, I know it isn’t the easiest subject to discuss publicly even though it’s something virtually all of us go through. Good luck!!!

    • Holly
      June 11, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Thanks Caity! Yeah every once in a while I’m like “Why am I talking about how much I weight and my body fat and my struggls and OHMYGOD SOME OF MY COWORKERS READ THIS.” But you know, sometimes it helps me just own it and feel comfortable and confident in the journey. Plus I LOVE when other people write openly and honestly, so I just always cross my fingers that if I come at it from that perspective, I’ll only get support in return. I have yet to come across any jerk-wads yet 😛

  • AllieNic @ Frisky Lemon
    June 11, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I hate, hate, HATE the scale. I don’t weigh myself anymore, and I don’t encourage my clients to weigh themselves.

    I used to have days where I’d wake up feeling awesome– my clothes would be fitting nicely and I’d just feel light and springy. So, of course I was all “Maybe I’ve lost some weight! Let’s check it out.” and I’d step on the scale, the number would not be what it was “supposed to be” and my morning would be ruined. I’ve learned my lesson and not matter how curious I am, I don’t weigh myself…it’s not worth that inner turmoil.

    Instead of thinking about a goal weight, I focus on how my clothes fit and body fat % (to some extent). I realized that my “goal weight” was totally unrealistic. I focus on a “Natural Healthy Weight,” which is based on your highest adult weight, lowest adult weight, and how you got to those points.

    Thanks for sharing this, Holly! I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post…

    • Holly
      June 11, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Oh I totally agree. Scales are just such a crazy mindf*ck! I want to just throw mine out forever. I feel like I will eventually. I want my fitness goals to be more performance based, I want my health goals to be more experienced based, and I think I will get there….eventually. In the meantime when trying to get my body into it’s healthiest state, I feel the need to measure SOMEHOW (maybe that kind of OCD is the real problem…haha!) The body comp was enlightening, so that may be the ticket for me for a little bit! We’ll see.

      • AllieNic @ Frisky Lemon
        June 11, 2012 at 9:24 am

        I was actually listening to the Paleo Solution Podcast from last week and there was a question about how to keep people from going back to their old eating habits/falling off the wagon after Paleo Challenges.

        Robb had some really great advice– that you should try to get people to focus more on performance based goals than weight loss goals. Once you make that shift to performance based goals, the good food habits tend to stick around longer. I personally think it’s because you’re working for something more positive, nurturing and personal growth promoting than weight loss.

        That’s something I’ve been trying to do as well– because when I’m working toward a performance goal, I feel like I’m actually DOING something…something more important than trying to lose weight.

        Sorry to jam up your comments, I just think this is a really great topic… 😉

  • Lesley
    June 11, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Major cliffhanger! Can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post :) You are so gracious and honest in your weight loss discussions; I’m sure everyone here finds them as encouraging as I do! BEAUTIFUL!

    True scale story: Four months after having my second baby, I am 4 pounds away from my Goal Weight (and my lowest ever adult weight) which I last achieved in September 2010, right after I did an Olympic-distance triathlon. But my body today barely resembles the September 2010 body, and it’s only a 4-pound difference. I use the scale for information only (although now that I’m below a certain number, I’d like to stay there forever). I try to go 99% on how strong I’m feeling and how the clothes are fitting…which means not so hot these days. Maybe in a year or so the full-time mom + full-time employee schedule will shake out a few hours a week for dedicated workouts 😛

  • Tahitian Moon
    June 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Thank you for posting this. Becoming primal has really helped me ditch my scale obsession. I still have it, but it isn’t as bad. When I was doing Jenny Craig (they got ALL of my money for years) and had a bad weigh in it would set off a binge of epic proportions. Right now, I am trying to focus on how my clothes fit. The numbers are stupid anyway. I am a shorty and according to site Jenny my goal weight is 110. I haven’t weighed that since I was about 6 years old. I want to be a size 8-10 so that no matter what store I go into the clothes fit.

    You are a serious athlete (reading about your Murph made me exhausted), who cares about some stupid scale? I see your old pictures and you don’t even look like the same person. Thanks for posting and I can’t wait for part 2.

  • Mary
    June 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Ohhhh I LOVE this. I too went on ww as a 9-year-old with a normal, pre-puberty body weight (still harboring only slightly stabby feelings towards that pediatrician who told me to.) whch triggered years of disordered eating that I am only now starting to reverse– and I agree that WW can suck a fat one. And I can’t wait to read the rest of this series! Thanks for sharing, Holly!

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    June 12, 2012 at 6:15 am

    […] Page where I post fun things I come across and general daily updates. Thanks for stopping by!So where did we leave off — ah yes, Weight Watchers thinks I should weigh between 135 and 169 […]

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