After my last post and several weeks of feeling tired and having not-so-encouraging workouts, I came to a conclusion. Either one of two things was happening: 1) I was not working hard enough and my slow times was a reflection of not sticking to my training plan or 2) I was overtrained and needed some rest. I felt the former was the likely culprit, KM and my husband felt it was the latter. But how do you tell?
Sidebar: I avoid bathroom scales like the plague. I used to weigh myself religiously every morning, sometimes twice a day, obsessed with even a 0.5lb gain. Eventually I realized that was not healthy or productive and I have since adopted the "how does my clothes fit" or "how many hours is my long workout" as gauge for my fitness. When I started losing weight several years ago, I set my target weight at 135. When I couldn't reach that number, I decided I would settle for 140, but still push for 135 during racing season. Even that never happened. The only time I weighed 135 after puberty, was after my first jaw surgery and I lost 15 pounds in a month while on a liquid diet. Not good. The hardest part for me is that at 5'4" and 140 lb, my BMI is 24.8, which is just barely in the healthy range.
That's right. Hi, my name is Sam and I'm 5' 4" and 140 lb.
By all social standards, I am on the very heavy side of healthy, just one PMS day from being clinically overweight. Basically, my weight is not a good way for me to evaluate the shape I'm in, unless I'm actively looking for a way to crap in my own coffee.
So I made a deal with my husband. I would go for body fat testing, and if I was less than 19%, I'd take some rest. If I was over 19% then (in my crazy-girl brain) I was tired for reasons other than overtraining and needed to stick with my training plan. The last time I had my body fat tested was in grad school, right as I was training for my first triathlon. I don't remember the specifics, but I think it was 21 or 23 percent, in the acceptable range, but higher than I wanted. As a reference, for women between the ages of 20 and 29 (taken from the sheet given to me by the personal trainer), >29.9% is considered obese, 24.6-29.9% is overweight, 19.9-24.5% is normal, 15.8-19.8% is athletic, <15.8% is elite, and I belive somewhere below 10-12% is underfat and not healthy.
On Friday I went to a local personal training gym and the owner got out the calipers. Flashbacks to Phys. Ed, freshmen year of high school where body fat testing was mandatory and everyone got pinched in front of the class. Good thing we're in a private room. Anyway, the bottom line was this: my body fat is around 15%, which means I need to give myself a break and take some rest. Hubby-dearest was right. From a body composition standpoint, I have nothing to gain by working harder and everything to gain by taking some rest. It also means that if I ever want the numbers on the scale to be any lower, I'm going to lose muscle mass so I should stop trying to break into the 130-digits and be happy with what I have. Easier said than done.
I'm not trying to recommend body fat testing for just anyone. It can be downright traumatic. But for someone who is "dense" like me, and frustrated with weight loss and sports performance, it is a good number to know. Maybe the next time I renew my driver's license, I'll use my real weight and be proud of it.
10 hours ago