Yesterday, I had my body fat checked. It’s never a fun event. As I stand on the machine watching the numbers go up and down, I can’t help but feel it’s a little like the slot machine at a casino (come on low numbers….)
But, I really like knowing where I stand. A little background – I have a degree in finance. So, I like graphing and trending. It helps me see where I’ve been, where I am now and where I am in comparison to my goals. You can understand why I like to track my body fat percentage.
Yesterday, my body fat was 16.9%. Not my lowest (13%) but certainly not my highest (19.5%.) Now, before you start cussing at the screen – I’m sure I’ve been WELL over 19.5% body fat, just not since I started tracking it.
The first question you’re probably asking (or currently Googling now) is – what is a normal Body Fat percentage? It depends on which site you check, but most people agree a normal BF% for women is somewhere between 25-31%. Check out this Built Lean link Built Lean Body Fat Charts
It shows a few different ideal body fat charts and breaks down the differences.
I really like checking my body fat for one main reason – my weight may only fluctuate three/four pounds, but it can change my body fat percentage significantly. So, for all those women that are seeing their pants get looser, their bench press go up but the scales sit still – it might be a change in body fat. By losing body fat and gaining muscle, your weight can remain the same, but you’re still slimming down. Here’s an example: between my highest BF% (19.5%) and my lowest BF% (13%) there was a difference of only 5.8lbs.
My current body fat percentage puts me in the “Athletic” or “Lean” categories. But there are some important things to consider with BF%. Ones that, from experience, I highly advise you consider:
You need to know what works for your body: I can tell you, my body hated being at 13% body fat. I was tired, cranky and my body didn’t function at the level I wanted it to in the gym. My athletic performance suffered. So, listening to my body (I can’t stress that enough) I now know that body fat percent is just too low for me. My body functions best when I’m closer to the 16-19% range. It’s happier there. My energy is higher, my food choices more varied and it fits into my social life perfectly. Another biggie – it lets me lift and workout at the level I want. Moving a 200# Atlas Stone at 16% body fat is much easier for me.
You need to decide what you’re willing to do: This is one of my favorite articles I’ve ever read. Seriously. It talks about “The Cost of Getting Lean: Is it Really Worth the Trade Off?” Cost of Being Lean I made decisions in the past choosing to skip parties/dinners to forgo high calorie drinks and foods. I also chose to cut socialization to add in additional exercise. You have to make the decision – is that worth it to you? What are you willing to do to get lean? And how lean do you really want to be? Read the article. Really read it. Then bookmark it.
One other BIG thing I want to make sure you know: there are a lot of ways to check your body fat percentage. And their accuracy is all across the board. I had my body fat checked today using an InBody machine (which provides 98% accuracy.) But there are lots of ways to check your body fat: Body Fat Scales, Handheld BIA Devices, Calipers, etc. Here’s a link that outlines the most common ones and their accuracy. Ways to Check Body Fat The InBody is pretty darn accurate. However, if I step on my scale at home – which touts a body fat calculator – it shows I’m sitting at 23% body fat. So, when you’re getting your body fat measured, be sure it’s a way that is accurate.
If you’re local in Cynthiana, our awesome hospital gym has a great body fat analysis machine. They’ve agreed to allow non-gym members to swing by the gym and have your body fat tested. How awesome is that? Just swing by the gym at Harrison Memorial Hospital. Tell them you read about this on the Cynthiana Strong blog and they’ll let you check your body fat twice a month for $5. Really. Go do it. You may not like where you’re at now, but it gives you a place to start and a comparison point as you move forward with your fitness.
Before I sign off – I wanted to make sure I top this post off with one very important thing: I read a quote the other day that said, “My weight is the least interesting thing about me.” I couldn’t agree more. Don’t let the scale and your body fat define you. It’s just one of the many things that make you you. But, it is your life to control. If you want to change it – do it. If you don’t – don’t. Either way, keep yourself interesting, fun and even a little weird. It’s more fun that way.
Stay Strong, Lift Big and Eat Well!
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