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Old 10-22-2004, 03:52 PM   #1  
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Default Thinking out loud and assessing

Ok. Over the past 3 or 4 weeks, I've frittered down 3 or 4 pounds. Now the last one is probably dehydration from working nights. So I figured about two pounds of actual fat loss. On fitday (which can be tricky about expenditures) I can account for an average of less than 1600 cals eaten and around 1980 used. That's not an average of the whole time because I flubbed some exercise in the middle there. But it's a good assessment of the last week or ten days.
Technically, that makes sense, a 300 cal deficit over most of two weeks would be more than a pound even if my fitday stats were flawed. Actually it didn't make sense until I wrote it here
So, all things being equal, I should try harder to eat closer to 2000 cals a day to maintain.
While it would be incredibly exciting to see 119 on the scale, I think 12? is probably healthy. However, I'm not to hanky about 126!
Does that make sense to anybody else who looks at it?
Please feel free to comment. Thanks.
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Old 10-22-2004, 05:15 PM   #2  
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Think away, m'dear -- sometimes it helps clarify things just to type them out, you know?

I've never used the Fitday activity calculators so I don't know how accurate they are. But if you're still losing at 1600 calories (or less) and you think you're where you want to be, then definitely add in those extra calories - still keeping track - and see what happens over a week or two.

About the scale and ideal weight -- have you ever had your body fat % checked? I think that body fat can be a better measure of overall health and fitness than scale weight. I think -- feel free to correct me anyone -- that a BF% in the 20s is considered to be very good for women over 40. Your BF% might give you a better idea of whether you're at your goal weight, below your goal weight, or if you still have a little fat left to lose (I would doubt that though). Just using scale weight can be deceptive since two people of the same height and weight can have very different body compositions (and look very different as a result). Just a thought.
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Old 10-22-2004, 07:42 PM   #3  
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I don't even bother with those FitDay activity calculators. Or the calorie count on cardio machines at the gym.

I'm 5'4" and a size 4/6 (or Small) at 146 pounds. If I weighed 120, my husband would probably check me into the hospital...like Meg said, everyone's different.

I just go by 'look and feel' now.
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Old 10-22-2004, 08:37 PM   #4  
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Depending on which of the several methods I've tried to use to measure body fat ... I'm somewhere between 21 and 26 %. I'm happy with everything altho' I'd like to be firmer. That's what the weights are for.
Actually I'm only 5'4" on a puffy hair day. It just sounds too goofy to keep saying I'm 5' 3 1/4". The lastest clothing I've gotten is 3/4's.
Thanks to both of you for your insights. I guess I'm still struggling with not having any goal. I'll figure it out. And I most certainly will get it right with you folks helping me and cheering me on. Thanks again.
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Old 10-22-2004, 08:56 PM   #5  
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MrsJim, you sound like me! I never bother w/ trying to figure out how many calories I burn ---I just concentratre on putting in the sweat to burn them!! Also, I'm 5 ft 3 1/2, weigh 140 and wear a size 6 (most of the time ). I haven't measured my body fat recently, but I've always tended to have a high body fat percentage (the only reason I wear a small size is because my hip bones are narrow). Anyway, like you, if I lost another 20 lbs. I'd look too skinny. I've gotten down that low before and the bones show through my chest and my face looks skeletal.
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Old 10-22-2004, 11:43 PM   #6  
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I too would get water weighed. I am also 5'4". According to the old height/weight charts I kept trying to get into the 120's and could never make it. Turns out when I was water weighed, I was 125 pounds of muscle and bone. Turns out I really do have big bones, and am well-muscled. This was such a relief to me to stop trying to get to a weight I would be unable to sustain. At 20% fat, that would be 150 pounds for me. When I was at that weight years ago it was relatively easy to maintain.

Jan
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Old 10-23-2004, 10:51 PM   #7  
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Jan, that's so cool! Where would one go to get "water weighed"?
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Old 10-24-2004, 03:30 AM   #8  
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I think by "water weighed" Jan means underwater bodyfat testing. It's still considered the 'gold standard' of bodyfat measuring. However, it's pretty darn hard to find a place that does it!

Here's an article from the November 2002 issue of Shape:

Quote:
Shape rates the body-fat tests: a body-fat assessment can help you set realistic weight goals.

I've never been fond of taking tests you can't study for. Nevertheless, I recently submitted my body for several of them to determine just how much of me is fat. And since a number of new body-fat testing methods have entered the market, I was curious to see how much the results might vary. (See "Rating the Body-Fat Testing Methods" on the next page.) Plus, I'll admit, I wanted to know: How did my body fat rate?

Your body-fat percentage, experts say, is a much more useful piece of information than your weight, which is simply the grand total of your muscle, fat, bones, organs, body fluids and connective tissue. Because muscle is denser than fat, a lean, muscular athlete may weigh more than a zaftig woman of the same height who doesn't work out. A body-fat test distinguishes your fat from everything else, aka "lean tissue."

So what's a good score? That depends on whom you ask. At one health club, a tester told me that the "recommended" number for women is 22 percent. On his test, I scored 23 percent, which put me in the "average" category. "But if you lose 10 pounds of fat," he said, "you'll be in the athlete range!" I mentioned that I cycled more than 200 miles a week and competed in about 20 bike races a year. Did I really need to lose body fat in order to be "in the athletic range"?

Absolutely not, say the leading body-fat researchers. A range of 20-35 percent is considered healthy for physically active women, and although knowing your body composition is very helpful when trying to lose weight, your body-fat percentage has little bearing on whether or not you are fit or "athletic."

"At many [health] clubs, they don't have a clue about standards set by the scientific community," says body-fat researcher David Fields, Ph.D., a postdoctoral trainee in internal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. "They're very quick to tell people they need to lose weight." The average body fat for women ages 20-34 is 28 percent, research shows. (For men, the healthy range is 8-22 percent, and the average is 15 percent.)

Sure, with a body-fat percentage in the low 30s, a woman will appear considerably less slim and defined than she does in the low 20s. But that doesn't mean she's less healthy than women at the lower end of the range, as long as she exercises regularly and eats nutritiously. It is only when body-fat levels surpass about 35 percent that women -- even those who exercise and eat healthfully -- are at increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. "We're overfocused on fatness," says Timothy Lohman, Ph.D., director of the body-composition lab at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Department of Physiology in Tucson. "As a result, many women have self-image problems that get in the way of being healthy."

In fact, being too lean can be unhealthy, as well. Women with low body-fat percentages are more likely to stop menstruating, a serious condition (called amenorrhea) that can cause premature bone loss due to insufficient estrogen production. Lohman says that the point of amenorrhea is different for every woman. "Some become amenorrheia at 18 percent, others at 16 or 14 percent," Lohman says.

Body composition isn't the only important indicator of your health status. Just because your body fat is in the healthy range, it doesn't mean that your heart and lungs are fit, your muscles and bones are strong or your cholesterol levels are in check. Good health has many barometers. Still, getting tested can be quite useful. For anyone trying to slim down, a body-fat test is a better way to monitor progress than the scale is. If you're lifting weights, your weight may stay the same, or even nudge upward, while you lose inches. "People may step on the scale and get discouraged even though, in reality, they're becoming leaner," says St. Louis nutritionist and trainer Dale Huff, M.S., R.D., a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise. "A body-fat test is proof of their progress."

A body-fat test also can help you set realistic weight goals, Huff says. "People pick numbers out of thin air -- numbers that make no sense given how much lean tissue they have." Consider: At 5-foot-7, I weigh 1 53 pounds. For years, I've heard the adage that you should weigh 100 pounds plus 5 pounds for every inch of height over 5 feet; in my case, 135 pounds. But my body-fat testing spree showed that, given the amount of muscle I have, 135 pounds is unrealistic for me.

My body fat is about 22 percent (the average of all the testing methods I tried). That means 78 percent of my weight, 119 pounds, is lean tissue. If I were to maintain the amount of lean tissue I currently have and drop 18 pounds of fat, I'd weigh 135 pounds, but my body would be only 12 percent fat!

RELATED ARTICLE: Rating THE BODY-FAT ESTING METHODS

The most precise body-fat testing methods -- DEXA, underwater weighing and an egg-shaped chamber called the Bod Pod -- are the least accessible to the public, whereas the most convenient methods, skin-fold calipers and bioelectrical impedance gadgets, have a greater margin of error. Whichever method you choose, don't get tested more often than every two months, as body-fat tests -- unlike the scale -- aren't sensitive to small changes.

Keep the conditions consistent for future tests. "It's critical to get measured by the same person and the same instrument," says the University of Arizona's Timothy Lohman, Ph.D. Otherwise, you're comparing apples and oranges. Here's how drastically the results of different methods can vary: I was tested using five different methods and seven different gizmos over the course of a week, and my scores ranged from 19-26 percent. The bottom line: The error range for even the most accurate methods is 2-3 percentage points.

DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry)

How this method works

You lie on a platform for five to 20 minutes while a very low dose of two different X-ray energies scans your body. Originally developed to measure bone density, DEXA determines not just your body-fat percentage but also the location of your fat (abdominal fat poses a greater health risk than does fat in the hips and thighs).

Accuracy

The margin of error is 2-3 percentage points. DEXA is useful for people with below- or above-average bone density because it's the only method that calculates bone mass and soft-tissue mass separately. The other methods lump both types of lean mass together, so a person with denser bones may appear leaner than she actually is and vice versa.

Cost

About $100

Where you can get tested

At hospitals and some doctors' offices, although many facilities don't have the software to use the DEXA machine for body-fat testing.

My score 22 percent

underwater weighing

How this method works

Sitting on a scale in a tank of water, you blow out as much air as possible, dunk underwater, then expel even more air. Your weight underwater is used to calculate your body density. Fat is less dense than water, whereas muscle is denser; the more fat you have, the more your body wants to float when dunked under water.

Cost $40-$50

Accuracy: Like DEXA, underwater weighing has a margin of error of 2-3 percent, although it may slightly underestimate the fat content of people who have dense bones or are dehydrated. Also, this cumbersome method will overestimate your fat if you fail to blow out all your air.

Where you can get tested: At some universities - call the exercise physiology department. If you live in California, Arizona or Nevada, you can get tested by Fitness Wave, a mobile tank that travels to health clubs. (See getdunked.com for locations.)

My score 23 percent

bod pod

How this method works: Wearing a swimsuit and swim cap, you stand on a scale and then sit in a sealed, windowed, 5-foot-tall chamber. Pressure sensors determine your body volume by measuring the amount of air your body displaces. (This is similar to underwater weighing, which measures how much water your body displaces, but the process is quicker and more comfortable.)

Accuracy: Although the method is relatively new, some two dozen published studies suggest the Bod Pod is as accurate as underwater weighing and DEXA are. However, it's crucial to cover your hair with a swim cap and to wear nothing but a swimsuit because hair and clothing can trap air, causing the machine to underestimate your body fat. Body and facial hair in men have been shown to skew the results by 1/2-1 percent (beyond the normal 2-3 percent margin of error).

Cost: About $40-$75

Where you can get tested: With a price tag ranging from $20,000-$32,000, the Bod Pod is available primarily at universities and hospitals, although some gyms have made the investment. Check out bodpod.com to find the closest location.

My score 21 percent

skin-fold calipers

How this method works: A caliper looks like a gun with salad tongs at the end of the barrel. The tongs pinch your skin and a gauge measures the hunk of flesh in millimeters. The tester pinches three to five spots on your body (the fewer the pinches, the more room for error) and then plugs the results (along with your age and gender) into a formula to calculate your body-fat percentage. (The formulas used are based on the results of testing thousands of subjects.)

Accuracy: Under ideal conditions, the margin of error can be 3-4 percentage points, but much can go wrong. The tester must be skilled at separating fat from muscle and pinch precisely the right spots. Even experienced testers can have difficulty testing subjects who have taut skin, considerable excess fat or highly developed muscles. Also, accuracy may depend on the formula used, as different racial groups tend to carry fat in different places. Results on nonwhites may be skewed by an additional 1-3 percent because, the formulas most commonly used in health clubs are derived from research performed primarily on white subjects. Also, it's important that the tester use a formula that takes your age into consideration. Fat tends to move inward with age, so the amount of subcutaneous fat pinched by the caliper in an older person might not accurately reflect the person's total body fat.

Cost: $25-$50

Where you can get tested: At a health club, university or nutritionist's office. You can purchase calipers from Web sites such as bodytrends.com. But if you're not trained to use them, experts say, the results may be wildly inaccurate.

My score: 26 percent when measured by a nutritionist; 24 percent when I measured myself with calipers purchased online

bioelectrical impedance

How this method works: This quick, painless method comes in three varieties: full body, lower body (the Tanita scale) and upper body (hand-held devices such as the Omron Body Logic or American Weights). With full-body impedance, you lie on your back while a signal travels from an electrode on your foot to an electrode on your hand. The faster the signal, the more muscular you are. This is because water conducts electricity, and muscle is 70 percent water; fat contains virtually no water, so it impedes the signal. When you step on a Tanita scale, a signal travels through your lower body from one foot to the other. When you hold the Omron, the signal shoots through your upper body from hand to hand.

Accuracy: Under optimal conditions, the margin of error for full-body impedance is about 4 percent and perhaps 1 percentage point more for the others. However, all impedance gadgets are sensitive to hydration status. If you are dehydrated, the test will overestimate your body fat by as much as 3 percentage points. This method is also sensitive to food intake, skin temperature and menstrual-cycle stage. For best results, get tested first thing in the morning, before you've eaten or exercised but after you've normalized your hydration with a glass of water. Also, avoid testing during menstruation because some women retain water during that time.

Cost: $50-$75 for professional testing

Where you can get tested: At health clubs and hospital health fairs. The Tanita scale ($50-$250, depending on the model) is available online at tanita.com. The Omron ($60-$75) is sold through bodytrends.com.

My score: Slightly dehydrated, I scored 23 percent on the Tanita scale. Two hours later, after downing a liter of water, I had gained 2 pounds but "lost" 1 percent body fat. Well-hydrated, I scored 24 percent on the Omron.
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Old 10-24-2004, 11:54 AM   #9  
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I can't believe how anal I've been this week. Must be sleep deprivation
I did a detailed seven day study (no eye rolling please) I averaged about 1700 cals in and 1900 cals out. I've rediscovered the coupla night pounds I lost. My intake has been better since I'm off night shift.
Yesterday I ate pretty much what I wanted, keeping fats in mind and had 2100 cals.
I'm going to stop keeping track of exercise calories.
Cardio one day and weights the next.
I'm not going to weigh myself until the weekend.

MrsJim? I have no idea where I'd get any of those tests done around here. Must investigate that.
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