Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You're Not as Fat as You Think.

I've been working out HARD since the latter part of 2011. It's kind of an addiction. So why am I not a size 0?

Muscle weighs more than fat, right?

Wrong. I'll explain.

My man and I recently got our body fat percentage read, and wow, that was a wake-up call. We thought we were doing pretty darn good with our mostly meat-free & clean diet and regular workouts. Even our prior body fat reading suggested we were in the clear (average for men: 18-25%; women: 25-31%). But this particular trainer judged us by athlete standards (men: 6-13%; women: 14-20%), and this is where I clocked in.

22% body fat (down from my original reading of 25%, but my glee was shortlived. Here's why:)

The trainer said 30% is considered obese. He said I should be aiming for 14%.

I felt pretty devastated, and sunk into this funk. I really devote so much of my life to being healthy, and I feel like I work out so hard, that it was a shock to think I wasn't in "athletic" shape. Sure, I'm no Olympian, but I should at least be closure to THEIR body fat than an OBESE person's body fat.

I started analyzing my diet. I realize I eat too much whole grain (my love and I can kill a Costco-sized bag of "healthy" chips in two days). And I might be eating too many calories, too often (I eat every 2 hours or so, and I aim to keep these snacks around 200 calories, but I admit they can sometimes climb higher on an emotional day).

Then, regarding my workouts, I need to be doing consistent cross-training. Not yoga here, a run there. More like CrossFit four times a week, and yoga twice on top of that.

Depression at an all-time high, I finally thought of something that snapped me out of it.

Muscle does not weight more than fat, but it takes up less space. Example:

In 2009, before I made my first lifestyle change, I was 150 pounds and a size 9-11. Today, I'm 148 pounds, and a size 4-6.

So, I guess I'm doing alright.

Thanks to my man for helping to talk me out of my funk. He helped me realize that knowing our true statistics erases the guesswork. It helps us mark a starting point on the path to real change. And it shakes us out of the habit of rationalizing our diet choices ("but they're whole grain chips..."), and workout routines.

The lesson I'm beginning to learn: Fitness is a journey, not a destination. It's a choice to LIVE, rather than let life happen. So though there are indeed lows just as there are highs, we are choosing to better ourselves and add better energy to the world.

So quit stressing about fat, and start LIVING.


  1. Good for you! You are perfectly healthy at that body fat %, 14% bf is HARD for a girl to maintain. Once I built up enough muscle mass after several years of HEAVY lifting, I have been able to maintain it, if I am consistent. However, my goal is to be a professional athlete, for most women 15% is a good goal for a bikini body but most of my clients aim for 17-18% bf if health is the goal. To get that lean and look good you need more muscle (without muscle at that body fat % you can look too skinny), I'd recommend you analyze your diet with a nutritionist. I did it without one, but my husband & I are obsessed with fitness and are personal trainers and it took a lot longer because of a lot of trial and error & research. Keep living the fit life! -Kathryn P.

  2. Really cool stuff, Kathryn. Thank you for the inspiration and advice! I like that - "the fit life!" Cheers!

  3. People often have misconceptions about body fat. Most of them are unaware how much calories they have in their body. It’d be best to have your body fat analyzed regularly to see how much progress you are doing after every workout. Good thing you have your man with you, Amanda! ;)

    Grace Read