15,000-19,999 SparkPoints 18,404

Where Would I Be Now?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Digging through my old fitness data is eye opening. I don't have a ton of data from the early years (particularly regarding bodyfat levels and measurements), but I can make estimates.

When I weighed 160lbs, I wore size 14 pants.

~ 7/2003
Starting Weight: 160lbs
Waist: ~34"
Hips: ~44"
Bodyfat: 42%
Lean Mass: ~93lbs

A personal trainer at the gym took my caliper readings in 2009:

Starting Weight: 131lbs
Bodyfat: 33%
Lean Mass: 88lbs
Size: 8

I lost weight, however, I also lost about 5lbs of lean mass. I engaged in plenty of exercise, riding my bike 1 hour every day after work. Exercise was not able to prevent lean mass wasting.

I started more closely watching lean mass and bodyfat last year. One reason is because low-carb diets were a big unknown to me at that time. I read that the drops in weight were purely due to water loss, and not really fat. The only way for me to be sure was to start tracking the data.

Gym caliper readings so I had a start point:

Weight: 134.4
Bodyfat: 35.72%
Lean Mass: 86.4lbs

Very bad news. Since my reading in 2009, I was getting fatter, and still losing precious lean mass. My blood pressure was also getting worse. Diet and exercise were failing me.

Was it age related slowing metabolism? I was 29 in 2003, and 37 in 2011. No matter how many calories I counted or calories I burned, was I doomed to lose mass and gain fat?

After 2 months of cutting carbs to 60-80g and making sure I always ate at least 90g protein per day, here's what happened:

Weight: 126lbs
Bodyfat: 28%
Lean Mass: ~90lbs

Couldn't gain that fast, right? Ok, what about 6 months later? Caliper readings from the gym:

By 11/2011
Weight: 126lbs
Bodyfat: 26%
Lean Mass: 93lbs

What happened here? Did I start hitting heavy weight lifting?

Actually, I didn't. My exercise was almost exclusively moderate cardio with high resistance (elliptical and treadmill with low cadence/high incline), planking, a few resistance band stretches, swimming, cycling, and hiking. Basically, what I have always done. My gains came primarily from changing my diet composition.

I lost lean mass from 2003-2011, but gained from 2011-2012. If it was simply age related genetics, then this shouldn't have happened. If carb=fat=protein in terms of energy usage, then changing my composition shouldn't have changed anything. I held my activity level and calorie total static. The only variable that changed was my diet.

I'm only one person. My experience is anecdotal. I'm not a controlled science study. I didn't have a team of scientists recording my progress. I made changes, recorded my progress, and made my own conclusion.

If I just accepted that I was doomed to get fatter and fatter no matter what, where would I be now? Probably not sitting in a size 4 pair of capris while writing this. I read recently an article from a doctor 'debunking' that low-carb diets cause fat loss. He said it is only water loss, and there's no change in lean mass.

There was some water retention loss, for sure. But going from a size 8 to a size 4 is enough water to bathe my cat in.
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great information. Thanks so much.
    2139 days ago
    To bad we don't have a control group on our lives!

    I must say, pretty compelling data! May I ask how you measured Body Fat vs. Lean mass? I'd love a reliable "at home" method to do it.

    2139 days ago
    Nice way to review all that info you've been tracking, looks like you have found a system that works for you!
    2139 days ago
    I just did my body fat percentage testing today! No one i know personally knows their body fat Percentage, but mine is 31 %, but good news is my lean body mass is 111 pounds. I will post a blog about. I definitely want to keep my muscle mass for sure!!!
    2140 days ago
    Do you have a goal to get to in terms of % body fat or are you happy at your current level? I must admit that I never really tested my body fat percentage because I do all my working out at home and I don't have the tools to measure it. I don't like the idea of BMI because that doesn't take into account muscle mass, I play a fair bit of sport and do plenty of pretty hard exercise so I've got a pretty hefty frame and I don't think I could get down into the "healthy weight" range according to BMI. Just to give you an idea. If you google images of Dan Carter Rugby Player you'll see he's in pretty good shape. He's the same height as me and weighs 90 kilos, according to his BMI he's bordering on obese.
    2140 days ago
    I think it's fascinating to see your data over time! I really admire the way you never gave up looking for a solution that made sense.

    Naypooie is right about promoting our successes to nay-sayers, even if it's a pain. Sure, we may come across as zealous, but I'd rather be zealous in a positive, productive, helpful way than be politically correct and useless.
    2140 days ago
    BM Bill, I did not mean they literally say "kill". I have heard them say LC will raise your cholesterol and cause a heart attack, it will destroy your kidneys, your brain will starve because you have to feed it carbs. All things that would seriously impede, if not end your life.

    If they were true.
    2140 days ago
    CAREN_BLUEJEANS: Yes, I do have current stats. :) I've posted some of them in previous blogs, but I'll share more details in a couple weeks.
    2140 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/11/2012 10:57:10 PM
    Wow, that's a long stretch of fitness data. If nothing else, I appreciate your careful approach to all of this.
    2140 days ago
    Jesus NAYPOOIE, you make it sound like a cult. I've never heard anyone say it will kill you. Studies show it's just no more effective than anything else. *shrug*.
    2140 days ago
    And this is why we need to go out there and refute the low-carb naysayers. Yeah, it can be a pain, but otherwise how will people ever hear about low carb success? All they'll hear is that it will kill you.
    2140 days ago
    I read the title to your blog, and was delighted that you looked at your data and analyzed it to see what works for you. Have you done your stats lately?
    2140 days ago
  • CATH63
    Love it...especially the last sentence!

    I've been upping my incline on the treadmill lately...hope it works as well for me!
    2140 days ago
  • NWFL59
    emoticon emoticon What you're doing is obviously working well for you! emoticon
    2140 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

More Blogs by VHALKYRIE