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Help! Desperately Need Some Answers, I'm Perplexed

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Old 10-30-2006, 01:01 PM   #1
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Default Help! Desperately Need Some Answers, I'm Perplexed

Hi everyone. I just got back from seeing my nutritionist. All is well, I'm down another 7 1/2 lbs from 13 days ago.

My problem is this: I've been going to her for about 7 weeks now. She's always tried to measure my body fat (oh joy) with some hand held thingy and it always shows up ERROR. Yeah that always made me feel good. Well today it didn't - it showed up fat slob, no just kidding - are you ready cause I promised for this journey I was gonna be 150% honest - it said I'm 49% fat (ucch) and 121lbs worth of fat. Now I weigh as of today 244 1/2 lbs, 5 feet 0 inches tall. My goal weight was in the one twenties, given my short height and some would even say that that is not low enough. But that will be impossible if I "only" have 121 pounds of fat on me. She says the machine is VERY accurate and even if it's not, it's within a couple of pounds. She says that I can never lose all of my fat (121 lbs worth), well duh. She says we all need at least 20 lbs of fat on us, unless perhaps we're super athletes. But that means I can never get into the 120's. She says the best I can hope for is the 140's. How can this possibly be if I am only 5 feet tall. I just don't get it. How can anybody my height be at their optimal health when they weigh in the 140's? So am I truly meant to always be overweight? Does anybody have any answers for me? Thanks.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:04 PM   #2
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That seems baffling to me, too. Were you ever in the 120's as an adult? That might give you an idea.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:11 PM   #3
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Well first of all she is saying that you have 120 lbs of lean tissue mass on your body which I suppose means you have a bit of muscle on you for your height and/or you aren't small boned. For one thing, as you lose weight, you'll also lose some muscle. Which means if you do a body fat measurement a year from now and you have lost 80 lbs, your lean body mass could be 110 lbs which means your goal weight would be around 130.

I've had body fat measurements taken before and they put me at about 165-170 lbs of lean body mass which means around 190/200 lbs, I'd be at my ideal body weight. I know I'll lose some muscle, although I'm trying to minimize it but my opinion is basically "we'll see" once I get to that point. I think you also have to take a similar approach.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:12 PM   #4
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I was in the low 130's but I was overweight, not terribly but I definitely was. I was wearing size 11 jeans, that's just too much. I really am puzzled and disappointed. It certainly makes sense that I can't lose ALL of my body fat if I've only got 121 pounds worth, I just don't know. Where's Meg??
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:12 PM   #5
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I can't seem to understand right now, but we're composed of fat, water (more water than anything else, many say), muscle and bone. Presumably thinner people have less water weight than fatter people, right? And what about muscle???

I dunno, but I think at this point I wouldn't worry about something that far down the road! You have made great progress so far and can't let that worry you, right??? (yeah, I really don't know but want to be supportive!)
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:13 PM   #6
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Yeah, that's weird. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about it too much right now. When you get down to the 140s you will see for yourself if you are clearly lean and healthy or if you still need to lose more.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:14 PM   #7
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Feel free to ignore me, but here is my personal opinion:

You can't force your body to burn ONLY fat. You can do things to help to not burn too much muscle (eating protein, weight training, not starving yourself, etc.), but I'm pretty sure that no matter how much you weigh, you will lose SOME muscle as you lose weight. That doesn't mean your body fat percentage can't go down--as long as you are losing more fat than muscle, your percentages will improve. And losing some muscle is not the end of the world--your lighter body won't need as much muscle to move it around. I mean, of course you've got a lot of muscle right now--you need it in order to move around all your extra pounds!

I face a similar situation. When I last had my body fat/lean mass tested, I was something like 165 pounds of lean body mass. I'm only 5'5"...even 165 would still be overweight for me and then add to that a normal percentage of body fat--not happening
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:15 PM   #8
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I won't claim to understand the science here. But for now, why worry about how low you can go? Maybe you'll find that you're pleased with how you look and feel at 130-140. It sounds like you're doing really well right now -- congrats on your loss so far!
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:17 PM   #9
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WOW...how was that for a lot of responses in only about 5 minutes time?

And that's another good point brought up--a smaller body will also have less water and such, which could also decrease the "lean body mass" amount.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:19 PM   #10
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I was rather perplexed about my body fat reading too. When I started having it measured it was 46%. After losing a significant amount of weight, it has only come down to 43.5%. I asked Meg about it since she is a personal trainer, and she was kind enough to fill me in on some info I wasn't aware of. (Thanks, Meg!) So I'll paraphrase some of the things she said:

--The electrical impedance body fat monitors tend to read high.
--It is almost impossible to get an accurate body fat measurement on an obese person, and personal trainers are advised to wait until a person is closer to "normal" weight before they start to take the body fat measurement seriously.
--If the body fat monitor is a handheld model, the electrical current travels through your upper body to get the reading. If your upper body is disproportionately fat, it will assume that your whole body has the same composition and the reading will be high.

I definitely wouldn't assume that you won't be able to get into the 120's, and I hope it makes you feel better to know your body fat percentage isn't much different than mine.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:22 PM   #11
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You have all have made good points and made me feel better as usual - you guys are such a smart bunch, that's why I love it here. Anyway, if it were true with the losing some muscle and water, why the heck didn't SHE mention it. She's the one with all the degrees, isn't that what she's supposed to do. Another thing she said that really pissed me off, she said she thinks the best that I can do is the 180's, I mean the 180's is she crazy.
I told her she really shouldn't tell that to her patients and she says she must be 100% honest. I'll show her, the skinny *#*%*$* (just kidding).
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:23 PM   #12
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Keep in mind that for every 10 lbs you lose, you'll also carry a pint less blood - so for every 20 lb of fat, just on blood alone, you'd have to lose 22 lbs on the scale.

There are SO many things that lose volume as you lose weight - less water, less blood, less muscle to carry yourself around...so you can't plan to -just- lose fat.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:24 PM   #13
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Actually, Fiddler my lower half is larger (tree trunks for legs)
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:41 PM   #14
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Don't worry- even if that is an accurate reading, you will lose some muscle with the fat. It's very hard to lose only fat. If you aren't doing strength training, about 40-50% of your scale loss may well be muscle. This is why we try to stress the importance of strength training so much. You really don't want to lose very much muscle. Some muscle loss will occurr, but you can be at or close to your goal of 120 and still be muscular and not fat. Or you can be "skinny fat" at the same scale weight. Fat carries a lot of water, you have more blood in your body now, more hydrated surface area (skin)...all things mentioned above.

Keep at it. Are you exercising?

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Old 10-30-2006, 01:43 PM   #15
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Did I hear my name mentioned?

Fiddler pretty much covered everything I was going to say (thanks! ): And Wyllen and Jill are right that lean body mass is more than muscle - it's everything in your body that ISN'T fat, so it's water, bone, hair, etc as well as muscle. People tend to talk about muscle pounds vs. fat pounds but that's really not accurate.

In my opinion, what your BF% is now (even if you had an accurate reading) doesn't have anything to do with what your final goal weight should be. It's significance is only to determine what's happening with your body composition as the pounds come off. When you get down much closer to a normal BMI, then you’ll be able to assess a what a healthy and sustainable goal weight is for you.

The reason it's important to track your BF% as you're losing to be sure that you're minimizing the amount of muscle lost through dieting. Studies show that if you're dieting and not lifting weights to maintain your muscle mass, up to 40% of what you lose will be LBM (and I think we all know how bad that is). The reason why we strength train during weight loss is to minimize the loss of LBM as much as possible - but you're going to lose some.

No one will lose 100% fat and 0% lean body mass. That's what we strive for, of course, but it's impossible to lose 100% fat no matter how much protein you eat and how much weight you lift. And the closer you get to your goal, the more LBM you'll lose along with the fat. Of my last ten pounds, I think that I lost about 50% fat and 50% LBM. You're fighting for every pound of lost fat at that point.

Those handheld BF monitors are notoriously inaccurate, but easy to use (they can be off as much as 6% - much more than 'a couple of pounds'). So use the numbers it gives you to indicate a relative trend over time, not an absolute number. So if it goes down 2% in a month (for example), that's a good thing regardless of what it says the numbers are.

I know it's hard to do, but try not to worry about where you're going to end up weight-wise and just concentrate on keeping up the fabulous job that you're doing so far.

Edited to add: Mel beat me to it!
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