Have you ever wondered about your body fat percentage? My first experience with body fat percentage was in my last year of college, when my awesome dietitian busted out the electric scale. It was eye-opening, to say the least – let’s just say that I was almost more fat than anything else! A healthy body fat percentage for a female like me is around 20%.
I was at the gym last weekend when I noticed a flyer for hydrostatic body composition testing. Basically, this means that you are submerged in a tank of water and your body fat percentage is measured in volume, minus air, which is breath. I was instantly intrigued by the little call-out saying, “Find out how many calories you need a day!”. I have a constant struggle with my calorie intake – MyFitnessPal estimates me at 1,500, on Weight Watchers I was around 1,200 – 1,300, so on and so forth. It depends on various factors, but in a nut shell, I have been eating around 1600 calories per day. I thought, “How awesome would it be to have science tell me exactly what I need per day?” I’m a big fan of learning and knowledge, and in regards to my attempts to lose body fat, I’ve explored almost every territory – thyroid levels, diabetes testing, food allergies, medications – you name it. Needless to say, I signed up, and the next day, nervously put on my swimsuit in 55 degree weather to be dunked under water.
Going in, I had a pretty wild level of anxiety. I had thoughts of being 98% body fat running through my head (impossible – I know this, but my brain likes to imagine the worst). I imagined I’d leave the session in tears, fed up and depressed, and resort to eating Peeps on my couch for eternity. Thankfully, my fears were quickly abated when I met Linda, the owner of Body Fat Test, who was very nice and gave detailed explanations.
I got in the tank, pulled a weighted belt over my legs, took a deep breath, exhaled almost everything – and DUNK! I slid underwater. Once underwater, you hold onto a railing to keep yourself from floating up, and you’re really only underwater for about four seconds. Linda knocked on the side of the tank and I popped up like a happy little duck. We did this three times, and then just like that, I was drying off with my towel and anxiously awaiting my results.
The good news is – my body fat percentage has come down over 6% in the past few years. I knew that while my weight might not be much less, I have been consistently exercising and being active, so I was really hoping I would see some change.
The bad news is, my body fat percentage is still in the “very poor” range, so I know I need to improve that, but that was really no big surprise. However, my lean mass is great, so if I continue what I’m doing, exercise wise, I should see more improvement. The best news though…. is that my resting metabolic rate says I need 1,898 calories per day JUST LAYING ON MY BACK. Basically, what that means is I have been undereating a little bit – which might explain why I’ll lose weight one week then rise like I’ve been feasting on lard the next. I’m still researching the science of it all as I don’t want to put any incorrect information on to the internet, but this information has lead me to my newest change in eating…. the PALEO diet! Stay tuned for my next post to find out why eating like a caveman just might work for me.