Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Get With It: Know Your Body Fat Percentage!

The other day at the gym, I took the ever-dreaded boy fat test. I mean, honestly, what is even somewhat delightful about lifting up your shirt, getting your fat clamped with calibers and exposing parts of your body not even you want to look at in the mirror?
Well, I have to say, while that does sound quite frightening, it really wasn't as bad as it's made out to be. I thought of it more like a scientific experiment, and found myself quite fascinated by the whole process, especially the end results. 
And I have to say, I highly recommend each and every one of you scheduling an appointment at your local gym to do the same. 
So many of us rely on the number on the scale to judge our progress, ultimately making us feel really good about ourselves (yay, I lost a pound!) or otherwise really shitty about ourselves (ugh, I'm gaining weight again after all that!) 
But really that one little number is only a part of our progress, and sometimes can be quite deceiving. How can you tell if that weight gain or loss was due to fat or muscle?
That's where the body fat percentage test comes in handy, telling you exactly how much fat you have on your body. No lies. No BS. Just plain truth. 
Most trainers will test your body fat at 7 different measurement sites (including your abdomen and thighs, two "trouble spots" for women) using the calibers, and will then put the numbers into a common formula to determine the percentage, making the test super accurate! 
And once you know that number, you can really see how your fitness goals are progressing, and adjust your regime accordingly.
For example, while I am no where near the low end of the scale, my body fat percentage read 26%, a fairly healthy number for women in their 20s. 
On the other hand, another woman the same age may look skinny and weigh even 110 pounds, yet have a body fat of 32%, which isn't very healthy. One of the personal trainers at my gym refers to this type person as "skinny fat." They may look "skinny" in theory, yet much of their weight is made of of pure fat, which isn't what we aim for. 
The lesson I've learned from this all, and that I want you to understand as well is that looks (and the number on the scale) can be highly deceiving at times. That's why it's so important not to rely on that one number, and to look at your progress in a full spectrum of things, including the way you look in the mirror, the way your clothes fit and how much body fat you have. 
So go go ahead and suck it up: brave the body fat test. Trust me, it's worth it. 

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