Saturday, April 02, 2011
First in the series of where I began...
Where I started (335.6 lbs, BMI = 52.6) May 2007 - Apr 2009
Where I started Apr 2009 - Jun 2009
Where I started Jun 2009 - Sept 2009
Long before I discovered Spark People I started trying to lose weight. From my old very defunct blog here is the first post about it. I've cut and pasted other selected entries from the beginning until I started actually posting to my blog at Spark People.
It's kind of interesting to see how my thoughts evolved and to revisit the experimentation I did in nutrition and exercise that led to where I am now. You'll notice I never mentioned my actual weight because I was so embarrassed about it, but rather reported everything in terms of BMI.
My first encounter with SP is in here. I wasn't at all interested in the "social networking" aspect of it. LOL. I think the first mention of Physics Diet is, too.
The PT I'm going to now for my shoulder is first mentioned here, when he treated my arthritic knee when I was over 300 lbs.
Although the weight graph corresponding to this period shows only one false start, there were many many of them leading up to this point.
[May 26 2007]
Ok, that's it. I'm done.
I don't want to be in the Extra-Super-Scarey BMI category I'm currently in (52.6). According to some websites:
"Patients with this condition incur much greater weight-related health risks, including an increased risk of dying - estimated at 5-10 times greater than that of people of normal weight - as well as arthritis, breathing problems, cancer, depression, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux, heart disease, hypertension, infertility, loss of bowel/urinary control, menstrual problems, obstructive sleep apnea, swollen legs, and venous disorders."
So I've pulled out all my old WW materials and started using the journals again to keep track and limit the intake. And I'm walking 1.5 miles every day after work. And I'm starting an 8-week Tai Chi class at work next Thursday. I'm weighing myself once a week at my doctor's office near work. I set up a computer to email me a motivational quote on persistence every day. I pulled out my copy of Make the Connection and started re-reading it. I'm re-reading The Mastery of Love. And I'm relying on several others at work for moral support who are dealing with similar challenges. And I'll post my progress here.
[July 06 2007]
New BMI: 49.96, dropped from class IV to class III
This means I'm officially no longer in the extra super scarey category, but in the just plain old morbidly obese category:
"Morbid obesity is a significant risk factor for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, diabetes, respiratory problems and musculoskeletal disorders."
I'll be in this category until the BMI goes under 40, so it'll be a while. Still, it's something.
The walking and staying under points have suffered this past week. A lot of contributing factors are involved. I'm keeping on keeping on, though.
Here's the kind of Tai Chi I've been learning. But 2 degrees of separation from the guy in the video (my teacher learned from a woman who learned from him).
[August 20 2007]
New BMI: 47.36 (5% net removed 2x)
The BMI was 47.74 this morning, and I figured I might have found that plateau I was expecting. But I was pretty happy that I'd been mostly doing everything I am supposed to this past week, including walking 4 miles on Wednesday.
Walked 2 miles today at lunch and 3 more when I got home from work - that's 5 total today. Rose, eat my dust! Hehe. Just kidding. I guess that made the difference, though.
I actually enjoyed the evening 3 miles, rain and all, wearing my new twisty rain hat and listening to J.A. figure out how to sail the pushme-pullyou Polycrest. That O'Brian was a pretty funny guy. I'm glad no one else was out in the state park, to hear me laughing out loud all by myself!
I've removed 5% of my mass twice, now. In order to get to a normal BMI I need to do that 12 more times. (95% of 95% of 95%... you get the idea) It's a war won in small increments, so I've parceled out the milestones in manageable chunks. In my past experience (having done this before, *sigh*) it's about as difficult to lose 5% of your weight, no matter what your actual weight is. Based on the time it took to remove the first 5%, I'd projected getting here next week.
I'm less than half a pound from having removed 10% total of my starting mass. Unless something untoward happens, I should get there next week...
[October 11 2007]
Well, the verdict is in. At the tender age of 41 I have "pretty bad" arthritis in my right knee, according to the bone and joint doctor I was referred to today.
Based on the X-rays, I'm pretty much grinding bone-on-bone in there, and there are lovely little bone spurs beginning on the side. The left knee apparently doesn't look very good either in that the joint is opening, but at least there's some cartilage in there still, keeping the bones apart. It hardly ever bothers me.
So the PA shot my knee full of cortisone, and they prescribed physical therapy. This shot is no joke. Damn, it hurt when he did it. And all I could do was sit there and try not to flinch while the needle was in there. Now, 3 hours later, it is really swollen and stiff and throbbing. So I took two Tramadol, and am waiting for it to stop. It better stop. Right now it feels just about as bad as it ever has, after being jammed.
The Celebrex my primary care physician prescribed has been borderline bothering my stomach, so I'm going to stop taking it and see what happens. Maybe he can come up with an alternative.
The first PT appointment is tomorrow morning, so I hope the swelling has gone down by then. If not I suppose I can go back around to the other side and complain (they're in the same building).
A moderately annoying thing about this is that I'd been keeping off my knee (not walking for exercise), so it really wasn't bothering me that much today, UNTIL the shot.
A more annoying thing about this is that the reason my cartilage is missing is because my father did not believe in doctors. I injured the knee when 17 and he refused to take me to get it looked at, so I kept reinjuring it, until several months later when I matriculated at college and friends dragged me to the health center.
I was fairly sure my dad would not approve of my having talked to doctors, and I was right. The diagnosis was torn cartilage, and arthroscopic surgery suggested. My dad yelled at me for injuring the knee in the first place, and then yelled at me for the $2000 the operation cost (keep in mind I was still covered on his comprehensive BC/BS health plan, so he only had to pay the deductible). If my mother had been alive at the time, it would have been taken care of when it first happened. She had Leverage with him.
(He was so adamant about doctors, that I recall one morning waking up with a bad fever, taking my temperature, finding it to be 102, and having him tell me to just go to school. He refused to take me to the doctor, and said he was busy - gardening - I'd had to go out to the backyard in the cold rain to ask him, because he wasn't going to be bothered to come in. I ended up asking a neighbor to take me, which she did.)
The surgeon who did the arthroscopy was also the official orthopedic guy for the football team. According to him, by the time he got to my knee, it had turned into "one of the worst knee injuries" he'd ever seen. And that includes college football. He removed most of the cartilage on the inside, and half of it on the outside, and told me things would never be the same again.
He was right. And now my knee has degenerated to the point that the doctors looked back and forth between me and the X-ray and asked, "HOW old did you say you are, again?" And looked surprised when I told them.
So now it's a race. Can I lose the weight before I lose the joint?
I suppose it would be a good idea to investigate other forms of exercise besides walking, that do not involve using my knee under pressure. My eyes hate the chlorine fumes at indoor pools, but the Y near work has H2O aerobics 3x/week from 6:30am - 7:30am...
[October 16 2007]
New BMI: 45.55, and a New Goal
OK, I've been thinking about my knee some, and I've been coming to the conclusion that the less weight on it, the better.
My original goal when I started this was to get to the upper limit of "normal" in terms of BMI (24.9). In fact, "normal" BMI goes from 18.5 to 24.9. I think now it would be better to aim for the middle of the "normal" range (21.7), and when I get there, see if I can drop even more, or not. The less weight on this poor joint, the better. The less damage, the more I'll be able to continue using it without requiring a replacement.
My first H2O aerobics class was tonight. It was a bit chaotic and a short (45 min). I couldn't hear very well what we were supposed to be doing (the room echoes), and the women leading it were in the pool with us, so there wasn't much visual guidance, either.
I asked the people next to me, and did my best to push myself hard. I was often told, "technique doesn't matter, just make sure you keep moving." Compared to a class I used to take at a health club near my apartment in Las Vegas, this is frustrating. There I paid an arm and a leg, but the instructor stood on the side of the pool and pushed us and showed us what muscles we were supposed to be using, and did generally what you expect an exercise instructor to do. This was more like facilitation.
It didn't look like the other people were pushing themselves. A lot of them kind-of hung out and paddled around less than earnestly. Maybe that's what happens when you get to be in your 60's and 70's? I hope that doesn't happen to me; if it does, I don't think I'll be able to maintain a healthy weight, because it's a lot of effort now, and I can't imagine it'll get easier as I get older.
I couldn't help thinking that I'd get a better cardiovascular workout if I'd just spent the 45 minutes swimming. On the other hand, I'm feeling it now, so I know it used new muscles, which is good.
Dropped the bike off at the shop today for its overhaul in preparation for putting it on the rollers for the winter. I guess I'll just have to rely on the Nordic Trak and the bike for the cardio aspects of my program. My basement is turning into a little gym. I even put the ankle and wrist weights down there. It's where the router is, so I can stream music and podcasts down there to keep myself entertained, without even bothering with wireless.
Tomorrow I have PT again. Maybe he'll let me go more than 5 minutes on the elliptical machine; I liked it; it felt a lot like running, in a nice way, but without any of the impact. Maybe that's the point.
[November 25 2007]
Current BMI: 46.58
Thank God for setpoints. Despite a month of travelling and laziness, I have only gone up 1.16 in the BMI (7.4 pounds). I have not been exercising regularly, especially this past week, when the PT prescription ran out, I didn't go to Geneva Th or F, and the H2O aerobics pool was closed on Tu. Even worse, I have not been tracking my intake. Which, if you've read the past few entries, has been considerable, lately. And having tasty leftovers in the fridge tempting one late at night doesn't help.
Well, I know what to do and how to do it, so here we go, back to the Program. As PQ has pointed out, when you do the work, you get the results.
January 28, 2009
Back to the BMI chasing. Today=47.08
After a really bad lapse where last fall I gained back up to almost the same weight where I started, Iíve pushed it back down again. Mostly through the help of the pre-gastric ulcer which acts up when 1) I overfill and 2) I eat at night.
The most recent bout on the evening of December 11 / morning of December 12 was so very painful and unpleasant that something clicked in my head and I realized that I would rather be hungry than feel like that ever again. EVER again. Even though this has been going on sporadically for years, the most recent memory of the pain and the vomiting has stuck with me long enough that I have maintained a healthy fear of overeating for over 6 weeks, and as a result am finding out what it feels like to be hungry, how to manage my blood sugar, what being full feels like, how long I need to wait in order to even know if Iím full, etc. In effect, Iíve got the same symptoms as a friend at work who had her stomach stapled, but without the cost and associated issues of elective surgery.
People have asked why I donít go to the doctor about this. I have two reasons, and I think theyíre sound. First, the problem only happens when I overeat at night (i.e. it hasnít happened since 12/11), and second, this is the first thing ever that has worked that hasnít involved obsessive calorie-counting (i.e. using WW points, etc.). And Iím sorry, but while obsessive calorie-counting does in the short term help with managing my eating, it does NOT work in the long term because it presents significant quality of life issues. There is an inherent psychological problem with focusing on NOT doing something that Iíve never been able to overcome. So Iíll take the ulcer memory and use it. Consider it my disulfiram.
All the years of calorie-counting have given me the tools to eat in a healthy way, and Iím doing that, but just without counting anything. Oatmeal for breakfast, homemade soup for lunch, etc. Just less of it and not overfilling. And not eating at night. If Iím bored I can clean the bathroom or organize the garage, for Peteís sake.
Also Iím back with the H2O aerobics, and will hopefully start working out in the basement soon as well. (As soon as the rest of the bamboo planks have been distributed to the rest of the house for acclimation.)
March 10, 2009
Current BMI = 45.67
Looks like Iím finally locked into a Bowflex routine along with the previous water aerobics and the additional elliptical work in the cracks.
Although I was on vacation last week with all kinds of unhealthy food options available (such as Lebanon bologna rollups, ham and cheese pannini, several slices of Key lime pie, etc.), I managed to be the same weight today as I was 2 weeks ago. I suppose it helped that I did manage to fit in 3 water aerobics sessions, a long walk on the beach, a moderate walk in freezing cold Savannah, and a harrowing bike ride TO one of the water aerobics sessions. Also two uncomfortable refluxy episodes after having the aforementioned bologna rollups. And for the last 3 days had chicken or salmon on salad for breakfast. Mmm.
Theyíre doing a 4-week nutrition workshop at work that Iíve joined, which turned me onto sparkpeople.com (Although Iíd heard of it before, Iíd been avoiding it, because I really donít like social networking sites. They just donít do it for me.) Itís a pretty convenient place to log food and exercise for free, though, so Iíll give it a run for a while and see how it goes.
March 11, 2009
Current BMI = 45.42
Holy cow, progress!
Now Iím at the exact same minimum I reached once before recently, on Oct 22, 2007. Back then Iíd just been diagnosed with arthritis, had gone to PT 5 whole times, and just started doing water walking on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Beyond this will be New Territory since the Project started on May 24, 2007.
Things have changed a lot since then.
Oct 2007 is when I originally set up a fitness center in my basement (I used it 3 times and then started hanging clothes on the Nordic Track). Now thereís an elliptical machine and a pimped-out Bowflex (410 lbs of resistance and all the fun extras: tricep rope, lat bar, curl bar, T-bar, foot straps, etc.) in addition to the existing NT and bicycle. I just ordered an acrylic mirror panel from Lowes to help with spotting my technique on the weight machine.
My knee hasnít hurt since the Long Walk on the Beach last week (and recovered quickly). I havenít been to PT for 3 months. Yesterday I was just thinking that the Tuesday/Thursday water walking is becoming too easy to really push me aerobically, and wondering if Iíd be better off just using the elliptical.
I am starting to feel a whole lot better physically. More alert, stronger, more balanced, and my pants are starting to slide off. With my most recent foray back into Healthy Eating, I donít think Iíve had it this much together since my mid-20s.
March 13, 2009
Current BMI = 45.26
Tags: difficulty eating out, slow metabolism, sparkpeople, tim hortons
(Yesterday the BMI was 45.17, but I had waaaaay too much sodium last night, so this morningís number reflects that.)
Iíve noticed that if I go out to eat for a meal, I tend to eat twice as much on average that day (about 900 calories more). Itís just really hard to make good food choices when there are either tempting unhealthy choices available and/or very limited choices.
Seriously. I met ďBobĒ at Tim Hortons yesterday morning before work to go over the books, and the only things I saw that I felt comfortable eating were a hot tea with nothing in it and an apple. There wasnít any yoghurt, hot cereal, or anything available that wasnít full of empty white flour carb and fat calories.
Thereís No Way I can eat within the range of calories theyíve set for me (1,810 Ė 2,160) and lose weight. My metabolism doesnít work that fast. At the moment, if I donít stay between 800 and 1000 calories per day I will maintain or gain. Even with the cardio and weights.
This was the case even back in my 20s when I went to an actual nutritionist to get advice about why I couldnít lose weight despite being (at the time) extremely active*. We tracked my food and to humor her I ate 1200 Kcal/day for a week. I gained. We started dropping the calories and at 800 I started losing. She said sheíd never encountered anyone with such a slow metabolism.
Given that the metabolism is supposed to slow down 5% at the age of 40, I imagine that when I finish removing this extra baggage, I can expect to be eating on average 600-750 calories/day. And thatís WITH lots of exercise. At least the food bills will be low.
Still, Iím going to keep soldiering on, because the extra baggage has to come off, despite any difficulties. And with almost 50 lbs removed since May 2007, my knee and the rest of me definitely feel a LOT better. So itís worth it.
*By ďextremely activeĒ I mean that I was swimming a Km 3x/week, playing softball 2x/week, riding horses 2x/week, doing martial arts 3x/week, and doing 20 mi bike rides and 4 mile runs on the weekends. I was also working on my PhD research and raising Miaumoto. I used to come home from bike rides, pick him up, and wipe my sweaty face on his sides like a towel. He loved it.
March 16, 2009
New BMI = 44.73
Tags: 50 pounds gone, BMI below 45, bowflex, flaky workout partners, lost 5% net, strength training
A bunch of milestones today:
Iíve lost 5% net since 8/19/07 (14.9% since I started)
The BMI dropped below 45
Iíve removed a total of 50 lbs since I started.
The next milestone will be in 0.34 pounds, when I will have removed exactly 15% of my total body weight.
This was a Good Way to start the week, even though my workout buddy flaked out yesterday and never called to cancel, or return my call asking if it was off. The result was that I missed a lifting session because I didnít know what exercises we were supposed to do that day. (This other person is in charge of that part.)
During a conversation about something else today I asked what happened, and got the response ďOh, Iím sorry Ė I wanted to do other things yesterday and left my phone at home so it wouldnít disturb me.Ē The response did not sound sorry.
I refuse to let my fitness depend on someone who does not show up or communicate. It was an appealing idea when it was suggested, but this arrangement is clearly not going to work. So I went on Amazon and ordered two books to help me figure out on my own what to do and how to do it on the Bowflex.
(Can you tell Iím pissed off? Thought so.)
P.S. These are the books:
The Bowflex Body Plan
The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess
P.P.S. Besides the books I ordered, thereís a nice website here with lots of suggestions. http://www.strength-training-woman.com
March 17, 2009
New BMI = 44.64
Tags: 15% removed
Reached the 15% removed milestone this morning. Itís a drop in the bucket given that I need to remove 53% of my starting weight in order to get into the ďnormalĒ BMI range, but itís something.
Itís more than Iíve had before, and itís an improvement. Iím wearing clothes I havenít fit into in years, and some I bought online that Iíve never been able to wear before. My knee hardly ever hurts anymore, I feel stronger, and itís nice to know I have made positive progress in at least one aspect of my life.
March 21, 2009
Tags: carbs, fat, protein, sodium, strength training
According to the strength training article at Wikipedia, I should probably be getting between 90 and 225 grams of protein per day. I am having trouble getting that much. Generally I manage around 60-80 grams.
The strength training book I got from Amazon recommends a macronutrient ratio of
30% calories from protein
30% calories from fat
40% calories from carbs
15% calories from protein (real range 10%-35%)
30% calories from fat (real range 20%-35%)
55% calories from carbs (real range 45%-65%)
Iím usually somewhere around 30% protein, 20% fat, and 50% carbs. Which I guess is somewhere in the middle. Itís hard to adjust and arrange foods to get a particular ratio. Generally, as long as the protein is between 25% and 30% Iím happy. I need to increase the grams, though.
Hereís what 3/22 looked like, after a sashimi dinner:
Iím also still not eating as many calories as SparkPeople says I need (1,910 - 2,260). Today was the first time I felt any kind of fatigue, or anything like that. I just couldnít keep up with the tempo of the music (around 64 bpm). Today SparkPeople also complained because Iíve done more cardio for the week than they anticipated, and so had to enter ď3629Ē under ďcalories burnedĒ so that they could increase the calories they want me to eat. This is ridiculous. (Wednesday and Thursday I did some Nordic Track and weight training after getting home from water aerobics.)
Anyway, Iím excited for the whey to come that I ordered, so it will help me get in more protein. The Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu helps, too. Both seem to be convenient ways to get protein without getting a lot of fat and/or sodium with it.
I also ordered fish oil capsules for the omega-3 fatty acids that I know Iím not getting.
P.S. Raw fish seems to work as a lean source of protein, too. Itís unfortunate I canít afford a sashimi diet.
Calories Carbs Fat Protein
Edamame, frozen, prepared, 1.5 Cup 285 0 12 26
sashimi, yellowtail, 3 oz 124 0 4 20
tuna, bluefin sashimi, 6 oz 244 0 8 40
sashimi, snapper, 3 oz 85 0 1 17
salmon, atlantic, sashimi, 3 oz 121 0 5 17
March 30, 2009
War on Sodium
OK, thatís IT. Iíve had it with the sodium. In fact, I think itís more of a threat in my food than fat. Really.
Take, for example, Schwans Chicken Tortilla Soup.
One cup has:
Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Until you get to the part that says ď1040mg sodium.Ē What?! Are you kidding me? Thatís more than half the sodium Iím supposed to get, per day. The soup *tastes* salty, too.
Then we come to luncheon meat. In order to minimize fat, weíre just comparing turkey. I spent at least 20 minutes in the dairy section of Wegmans this morning looking at the backs of the packages to figure out whatís going on. Whatís going on is that the ďUltra ThinĒ sliced varieties have almost DOUBLE the salt.
There was a clear winner in terms of sodium, but itís rawther expensive (75 cents per oz): Empire Kosher has less than half the sodium of most of the other kinds. The best mainstream type was Hillshire Select Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Hearty Slices (44 cents per oz). I also looked at Oscar Meyer, Hormel, and Wegmanís own brand, and they were comparable to the high sodium Hillshire.
Brand Calories Fat Carbs Protein Sodium
Empire Kosher Turkey Breast (3 slices = 57g), 57 gram(s) 50 0.0 1 11 300 30 4
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Hearty Slices (2 slices = 56g), 56 gram(s) 50 0 2 10 540 30 4
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Mesquite Smoked Turkey Breast (4 slices = 57g), 57 gram 50 1.0 3 8 620 25 4
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Honey Roasted Turkey Breast, Ultra Thin (6 slices = 57g), 57 gram(s) 60 1.0 5 8 650 25 2
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Ultra Thin (6 slices = 57g), 57 gram 50 1.0 3 9 730 25 2
Now, onto salad dressings. In general, when you give up fat, they replace it with either sugar (carbs) or salt (sodium). Iíve found that the spritzers actually deliver the most flavor with the least caloric, fat, or sodium impact. Hereís a breakdown on them:
Brand Calories Fat Carbs Sodium
Kenís Lite Accents Raspberry Walnut Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 2 35
Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers, Ranch (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 0 70
Kenís Lite Accents Asian Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 2 80
Kenís Lite Accents Balsamic Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 10 0.5 1 95
Kenís Lite Accents Honey Mustard Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 2 95
Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers, Italian (10 sprays), 1 serving 10 1 1 100
Wish-Bone makes an Asian-themed one I like that is no longer on the shelf at Wegmans, so I was pleased to see that Kenís is branching into that market and Wegmans is stocking it. Anything that makes my salads more interesting while providing a minimal macronutrient / sodium impact is good by me. I havenít tried the Kenís dressings yet. I can say that the Wishbone Italian goes better with tofu than the Ranch.
Iím having to order more of the Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu today from Urban Sun, in order to get it on Friday. I seem to be going through about 6 lbs of tofu every 2 weeks. Itís not cheap, but as a protein delivery method (while avoiding fats and sodium), itís fantastic. Plus itís got all those nice plant estrogens and the calcium from the coagulant.
The Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein is helpful too, but tastes a lot better in milk than water, and milk has carbs in it. And some sodium.
April 13, 2009
Tags: f6, heart rate monitor, polar
Since I sometimes use the ski machine which does not have a heart rate monitor, I splurged and got myself one from Amazon.
Itís got this handy feature that you can upload the data by sound from the wrist unit to your computer and from there to the vendorís website and keep it available for tracking.
Here are the results from tonightís session on the Elliptical, as summarized on the training website:
Pretty nifty, eh? I had chosen the ďmoderateĒ zone and was below it for about 4 minutes while warming up, and above it for about 4 minutes in the middle of the workout. (Thatís how my Max HR ended up above the ďUpper HR Limit.Ē) I had to turn off the beeping because it annoys me, so when Iím out of the selected zone the wrist unit just flashes at me.
For the record, the ellipticalís heart rate monitor must be pretty accurate, because it usually reads within +/- 1 bpm of what the chest strap does. The elliptical itself is taking quite a pounding, unfortunately, and Iím not sure how long it is going to last. This is particularly unfortunate, since I tried every machine in both Sears and Dickís before settling on this one as most comfortable for my knee.
Thereís supposedly some way to also download customized graphics and settings for the wrist unit, but Iíll save that for another day.
On the BMI front, yesterday I was 0.6 pounds away from having lost 60 total. Iíve got almost 18% of my original body weight off.
Update: as of 4/14 Iím 0.4 pounds away from having lost 60 total.
Friday, April 01, 2011
My own personal philosophy is to
1) get the BMI below 30, and then
2) focus on dropping body fat.
The problem is, how do you actually *measure* body fat? It's elusive.
Here's a nice synopsis on Wikipedia:
Here's an interactive web tutorial on some methods:
(Calipers aren't mentioned in this one.)
Leigh Peele wrote a very nice post about the topic:
The pictures in there are especially helpful.
James Krieger wrote a really really in-depth series of 7 columns about the relative pros and cons of different methods for figuring out % body fat:
The Pitfalls of Body Fat MeasurementĚ: Part 1
The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement: Part 2
"The bottom line is that underwater weighing can give good results when looking at group averages, but not so good results when looking at individuals. The sad thing is that underwater weighing is actually the best method out of the 2-compartment models. Other methods, including the Bod Pod, BIA, and skinfolds, are significantly worse."
The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement, Part 3: Bod Pod
"The Bod Pod does OK when looking at group averages, with some studies showing error rates of around 2%; however, other studies have indicated average error rates of over 5%. The individual error rate for the Bod Pod can be unacceptably high in some individuals, and the Bod Pod is horrible for tracking change over time. For these reasons I would recommend against using the Bod Pod as a body composition assessment tool. Hydrostatic weighing, despite some of its problems, is much more reliable."
BIOELECTRICAL IMPEDANCE (BIA)
The Pitfalls of Bodyfat Measurement, Part 4: Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA)
"BIA can be problematic because it‚Äôs a prediction based off of a prediction, so the error gets compounded. When you look at group averages for BIA measurements, there tends to be bias, with BIA often underpredicting how much fat you have. As with other techniques, the individual error rates can get high, with some research showing error rates of around 8-9%. In fact, BIA doesn‚Äôt do much better than BMI at predicting body fat in some cases. When it comes to measuring change over time, BIA can often underpredict the amount of fat loss, and the estimated change can be off by up to 8%.
For all of these reasons, I am not a fan of BIA for measuring body composition in individuals. If you are going to use BIA for tracking body composition over time, I recommend very long time intervals between measurements (at least 3 months, but 6 months is probably better), as the error rate for BIA can be larger than the changes in body fat in you see. Whatever numbers you do get using BIA, always remember they are very rough predictions‚Ä¶.and I emphasize very rough."
The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement, Part 5: Skinfolds
"Like BIA, skinfolds can be way off when it comes to determining body fat percentage in individuals. When it comes to tracking change over time in groups, then skinfolds do pretty well. However, errors for tracking change in individuals over time can be up to 3-5%. Thus, if you are going to use skinfolds for tracking a single person over time, I recommend very long time intervals between measurements (minimum of 3 months but 6 months is better); otherwise, the error rate is higher than the change that you can see. In fact, I recommend against even calculating a body fat percentage. If skinfold thicknesses are going down, then you are likely losing fat."
DUAL-ENERGY X-RAY ABSORBANCE (DXA / DEXA)
The Pitfalls of Body Fat ‚ÄúMeasurementĚ, Part 6: Dual-Energy X-Ray
"Despite the fact that DEXA represents a 3-compartment model, its error rates are no better than hydrostatic weighing, and in some cases is worse. Like other techniques, DEXA does well when looking at group averages, but not so well when looking at individuals. Individual error rates tend to hover around 5%, although some studies have shown error rates as high as 10%. When looking at change over time in individuals, error rates have hovered around 5% in some research, although other research has indicated DEXA to perform much more poorly. For these reasons, I do not recommend DEXA for tracking change over time in individuals. If you do use DEXA for tracking change over time, I recommend very long time periods between measurements (a minimum of 3-6 months), as you will need a minimum of a 5% change in body fat to reliably detect a true change in body fat in most people."
The Pitfalls of Body Fat Measurement, The Final Chapter
"Body fat testing isn‚Äôt useless, but you do need to be careful in how you interpret the results." "For extremely obese people, I recommend simple body weight and circumference measurements."
According to him, hydrostatic weighing (NOT Bod Pod) and DXA are the most accurate. For following trends in % body fat he recommends calipers or if you're extremely obese, a plain old measuring tape.
For those of us who have weighed over 300 lbs, our bones are likely to be extremely dense (we're weight-lifting all the time just by walking around), so DXA is probably a better bet than hydrostatic weighing if you want to go either of those routes. I had a DXA scan done Jan '10 and at that point they said my bones were 25% denser than average.
I checked my Tanita BIA scale against the DXA % body fat measurement and discovered that if the scale was set to "athlete" mode the readings matched exactly.
So for now I'm just going with what my scale says, although BIA is not supposed to be very accurate. I'm averaging the daily measurements over at physicsdiet.com.
Although DXA is the technology used on the Biggest Loser to assess % body fat, many people still do not know about it. Here is a nice PDF article by Mary Oates summarizing its use, with pictures:
So, where can you get a DXA scan done?
If you live west of the Continental Divide you can probably find a sports medicine or wellness center that will do it, if you just use Google Maps and search for "DXA" and "DEXA."
If you live in the East, it seems to generally be a bit trickier. You'll need to contact the radiology or imaging departments at a few local hospitals to find out if they 1) have the right machines (GE Lunar or Hologic) and 2) if they will even do a whole body scan (many places just use DXA for bone density testing and either don't know they can or don't choose to provide whole body composition analyses).
Once you've found a place that knows what you are talking about, you can bring the above Oats PDF article to your physician and ask for an order for the scan.
There aren't any lists anywhere of facilities that provide DXA body composition analysis, so I've started compiling one. The list of places that have responded so far is here:
If you know of a place that does it, or any lists where people collect that kind of information, please have them fill out this form here, so we can find more places:
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The one really important joint for kayaking is the shoulder. The one thing you don't want to mess up is your rotator cuff.
Guess what I hurt when I fell snowboarding on Sunday? Yeah.
^%$#@!! off-season sports.
Doc says to stay off it 8-10 days and if it's not better by then to get an MRI.
Which means I won't be going to West Virginia to paddle this weekend as I'd planned.
So now I get to satisfy myself with indoor cycling. Weight lifting is going to be kind of out, until the shoulder is better. Except for stuff I can do with my left hand I suppose. I'll ask my PT when I see him tomorrow.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
So I joined a study as a research subject. It's kind of cool.
They lent me an Android phone for a month and I'm supposed to take a photograph whenever I make a health-related decision, rate it on a scale of -3 to +3, associate an emotion with it, and share it with the other people in the study who are also doing the same thing.
Then we can look at each other's photos and comment on them and have conversations.
Here's the page where the research study is described:
Look at the list of projects on the lower left and click "Vera."
If you don't feel like following the link, here's the blurb about the study:
"A key to behavior change is the ability to intervene at the point of decision. In health behavior, this could be the moment one must decide between taking the elevator or the stairs or whether or not to eat a piece of cake. These are also the moments where it is most difficult to reach people--they occur throughout the day, often randomly, in any location. Fortunately, the ubiquity and awareness of today's mobile phones provides us with a solution. The goal of this project is to explore the use of the mobile phone as a behavioral interrupt: how, at the point of health-related decisions, can we encourage people to take a moment to think about the ramifications of their decision, reflect on past decisions, and ultimately make healthier choices?"
So far I've only had one conversation with someone who posted a picture of her dog (I commented that I thought it looked cute and she said thanks).
It kind of reminds me of the blogs WOLFKITTY was doing for a while where she logged all her food by photograph.
I'm interested to see if it'll help me stay on track, because it often is at the moment of decision that I waver and sometimes end up making choices I regret - especially when it comes to binge eating. I'll let you know how it goes.
It's also kind of neat to have access to a smart phone. My cheapo Tracfone can't do these things. I think I prefer the iPod interface to Android overall, but I could get used to the swipe text entry feature...
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