Why Body Composition is More Important Than Weight
With the holidays behind us, many of us (me for sure!) might be thinking about dropping a few pounds. Before beginning any fitness program, It is always recommended you talk to you doctor. Once you have the all-clear, the next step is understanding why body composition is more important than weight when it comes to your health.
What is body composition, you ask? It’s taking certain measurements of your body to determine how much water, fat, bone mass and muscle and lean tissue mass you have. This makes up the majority of your body weight.
Understanding your body composition numbers is more important than just the total weight on the scale. Why? Because you want to be sure you are gaining or losing in the right areas. The scale won’t tell you that.
For example, you may have been surprised when you first get started on an exercise program that you actually GAINED a few pounds. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Those pounds are probably due to an increase in muscle mass, which is what we want! Therefore, if you monitor your body composition, you will see that you, in fact, ARE losing fat!
Acknowledge Where You’re At
The first step in any transformation is to get real with where you are at right now and acknowledge it. Don’t beat yourself up over it, but be honest with yourself.
This may be difficult at first. Up to this point, I have been telling myself “I’m not that bad, I’ve only gained 10 pounds”,
“My fiancé still says I’m attractive, so I’m ok”,
“At least I’m not as bad as _____”,
On the really stressful days, telling myself “I don’t care, I deserve a treat today!”, as I grab a handful of chocolates at work,
or beg my fiancé to meet me for several glasses of wine after work! LOL!
The Best Excuses Are Still Excuses….
The problem with these dismissals and excuses is that if you have been telling yourself softeners like this over the span of 2, 3, 5 years… those 10 pounds each year may have now added up to being overweight and/ or out of shape.
It seems to have snuck up on us, but if we are honest with ourselves, it’s been a cumulative effect as a result of ignoring our health for far too long.
Even if you aren’t overweight, but you don’t eat healthy or exercise, don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need to make some changes. It’s not just about how your body looks on the outside. It’s the health of your INSIDES that matters most.
So you ready to do this? Good, keep reading….
Body Composition Methods
There are several ways out there to help you in understanding your body composition. The most popular are:
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body Mass Index is widely used in the medical field used to gauge healthy body composition. It takes the ratio of your weight to height and what your BMI should be based on your age. However, I am not a fan of this measurement for several reasons.
First of all, it does not take into account your gender. Generally, males tend to carry more lean body mass than women. Secondly, If you are fairly athletic and carry a lot of muscle, it can put you in the overweight range on the charts. Finally, BMI can also be a poor indicator of good health.
How? Because an individual can still be within the “healthy” range for BMI, but still be carrying an unhealthy amount of body fat and very little lean muscle.
BMI (Body Mass Index) Calculation
Weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703
Here’s what http://www.bmi-calculator.net/ says about my stats:
BMI is between 25 and 29.9 (Overweight)
People falling in this BMI range are considered overweight and would benefit from finding healthy ways to lower their weight, such as diet and exercise. Individuals who fall in this range are at increased risk for a variety of illnesses. If your BMI is 27-29.99 your risk of health problems becomes higher. In a recent study an increased rate of blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease was recorded at 27.3 for women and 27.8 for men. It may be a good idea to check your Waist Circumference and compare it with the recommended limits.
WOW!!! So basically I am less than 2% away from being considered obese. That’s a very sobering thought. 🙁
Body Fat Scale or Handheld Body Fat Analyzer
A more accurate method of measuring body fat is by using a body fat scale or a handheld body fat analyzer. Both use bio-metric electrical impedance to determine the amount of body fat.
I have a Tanita UM-0812 body fat and water percent scale, which you can get for around $50. It can store 2 individual profiles at a time.
You simply enter your gender, height, and age and save the profile. Then you just select your profile number before you step on the scale and it does all the calculations for you. Pretty sweet!
The downside of the handheld analyzer is that it does not give your body weight and the impedance gets weaker traveling down the lower body. This is where people tend to carry the most fat. As a result, the reading is not as accurate, but it’s more convenient.
Body Fat Caliper Skin-fold Test
This method is probably the most accurate of the 3 methods I mention here.
If you want a more accurate assessment, your best bet is to get a body fat caliper test. Most local gyms have trainers that will do this for you for free or a small fee.
Until recently, I have been blessed most of my life with a fairly efficient metabolism, so I guess I took it for granted that I would never get to this point. I used to be a fitness trainer and competed in a figure competition, for God’s sake!! Therefore, I have a lot of empathy for those of you who have had a life-long struggle with weight, it is not an easy battle at all.
Taking action is where many of us fall short. I know I have! I’ve read all kinds of fitness related articles and books. Additionally, I’ve tried a slew of different apps and programs in the past. But something I’ve learned from my multiple attempts at achieving a particular goal also applies to getting fit:
You can try every app, system, diet, gym, trainer, gym, yoga pants… whatever. However, it all boils down to the two “C’s”:
COMMITMENT and CONSISTENCY!!
These are the cornerstone of every goal we want to achieve. Sadly most of us lack the commitment. Therefore, it’s hard to maintain the consistent actions that getting fit requires. It requires being committed to plan your workouts and your meals. Ultimately, consistency requires planning.
Now that I’ve shared with you the benefits of understanding your body composition, we can focus on setting our fitness goals.
Bear in mind, this is not a quick weight loss plan or a temporary way of life only until you reach your goal.
This will also require a bit of a mindset change. We may even have to dig down into some dark places within ourselves to find the mental obstacles that may be preventing us from reaching our fitness goals.
Are you ready to do the work?
Then let’s get started!
P.S. The next step to any healthy lifestyle is to plan and prep for healthy eating. Here’s the basic plan I used to reduce my bodyfat by 10% in 12 weeks without doing a hardcore fad diet.