Drumroll, please…

Categories: food, me
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Published on: January 7, 2011

I know everyone has been anxiously awaiting hearing about the results of my body fat test (don’t deny it – you’ve been doing nothing but watching your RSS Feeds and Facebook for evidence of a new post about this).  It’s long overdue and I know I’ve owed putting it out here, but….

I have to admit – I’ve been less than ready to publicize those results all over The Interwebz.

First, let me remind you of what my baseline is:  according to my hydrostatic weighing a mere 16 months ago, I was at 21.1% body fat.  Going into this bod pod session, I really wasn’t sure what to expect — hoping for lower (duh), but wouldn’t have been surprised with something either in the same range or a touch higher, even.

So, when the results came back, I was flabbergasted (note: I love that word).  After picking my jaw up from the floor, I immediately started arguing with the technician that this could not possibly be correct.

Any guesses?  No?  Okay – I’ll tell you:  27.7%.

I’m not kidding when I say that I raised a little hell after getting the results — I was seriously confused as to how that could even be in the realm of possibility.  And yes – I understand that the actual number is just an estimation (no matter how you come by it – the only sure-fire accurate method of finding out your body fat percentage is during autopsy.  Which hasn’t yet made it to my option list yet.).  But still.  Right?

Regardless, I put up enough of a stink that I had two athletic trainers in there talking me down.  Even though I didn’t specifically pay for any kind of analysis (psychological, bod pod or otherwise), they were patient and spent a lot of time talking it out with me.  And what conclusion did we come to?

Well, I told them I had been trying to drop weight.  And after months of basically staying at the same place, I decided to drastically cut calories.  See – being a runner, every pound means something.  Actually, it’s been theorized that this “something” actually equates to about 2 seconds a mile.  So – weighing less?  As a runner?  Good thing.

Of course, having a huge calorie deficit everyday (I had been essentially not eating dinner and not even refueling after afternoon workouts) will have some impact:  yes, you will lose weight.  But – the weight you lose?  Probably muscle, not fat.  As the very nice, patient trainers told me, it’s easy to lose weight but hard to lose body fat.

So, what I had been accomplishing with the weeks of only dreaming about pot roast and ice cream for dessert was that my body was using muscle to fuel my body rather than fat stores or food that I was taking in. Which, as it turns out?  Is a bad thing.  The scale might have had kind things to say to me over those weeks, but in fact, I was doing myself more harm than good.  All my training was being undermined by a lack of fuel to rebuild and grow stronger.

And – I know, I know.  How many times have I told someone, “You’re not eating enough!”  I should know better.  Ironically, I wanted a quick fix for losing weight and ultimately it ended up being a way to lose muscle instead (and that was muscle I was working hard to gain!).

Because the nice bod pod people (that has a very alien ring to it, doesn’t it?) were so impressed with my concern about my health (or just were doing anything they could to get me out the door…), they told me that they would go over my test results, plug some numbers into some spreadsheets they had created, and send me a report that would tell me how many calories per day I should be eating and the macro breakdown of those calories.

When I got this piece of information, it was eye-opening:  I was supposed to be eating AT LEAST 1800 calories a day as a baseline, meaning that was my resting metabolic rate (calories I would burn a day doing no training).  And on days when I trained particularly hard, I should compensate with more calories.  During my little adventure to try and lose weight?  I was probably only eating 1000-1200 calories a day.  Tops.  Which also means that on days I trained, I was netting somewhere around 800 calories a day.  SO not healthy. I approached the 1800 kcal mandate with some skepticism, but decided that it couldn’t hurt to try it.

I’ve been following their dietary suggestions now for a two months.  And? Amazingly?  Slowly but surely I’m still dropping weight.  I haven’t been back to take another body fat test, but I’m going to assume that I’m probably headed in a better direction than I was before.

So, while this was a pretty awful experience (“there’s no crying in body fat testing!”), I re-learned a lesson the hard way:  starving yourself isn’t a quick way to anything good.  As an athlete, especially, the body needs fuel and to deny it that nutrition, is asking for bad things to happen.

Just so you know.

Now, go have a cookie!

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