Best Method for Testing Your Bodyfat!

Hi guys!

Yesterday I did an experiment! You see, I work with a lot of clients who want to know what their body composition is (i.e. the makeup of their body – how much bodyfat they have vs. muscle). And I wanted to know, for myself, too, during this current “lean bulking” phase of my nutrition/training plan!

Measuring body composition is a tricky area because it’s very difficult to ACCURATELY test your body composition. There are many methods, but none of them are 100 percent accurate (unless you’re cutting open a cadaver, which is NOT what we want to do, hah!).

Method #1: InBody (Bioelectrical Impedance)

One of the most popular measures of body composition is called bioelectrical impedance. This method determines the electrical impedance (or opposition to the flow of an electric current) through body tissues which can then be used to estimate total body water, which can be used to estimate fat-free body mass and, by difference with body weight, body fat.

Let’s cut to the chase: it’s not super accurate.  There are so many variables that can skew the accuracy. If you want to learn more about this and other methods of bodyfat testing, check out this video.

Method #2: DEXA Scan

If you watch that video you will learn that DEXA is one of the MOST accurate tests for body composition testing. DEXA stands for Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry. This scan uses two X-ray beams to scan the body. Two beams run through your body and measure your bone density and body composition. It took me only 6 minutes.

I wanted to find out my own body composition, primarily because right now I am on a muscle-building journey.  I signed up with my first powerlifting coach in November, and I have been interested to see how much muscle I can put on during this phase in my life.  I have always been a person with long, lean limbs, so adding muscle for me is hard. But I am determined to do it!

How I Conducted This Experiment

Here was my plan: I took BOTH of these body composition tests on the same day, under the same conditions (about 2 hours apart).  I took both tests fasted, and I had not worked out for about 24 hours beforehand.  I wanted to know, once and for all, (a) what my body composition is, and (b) how inaccurate is the InBody?

Here is what I look like right now, for reference:

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I have an InBody at the gym where I work out, and gym members can use it anytime. I have used it about once per month to check on my progress (always under the same conditions for testing accuracy). On this machine, my results on January 18 were:

  • Weight: 146.1 lbs
  • Body fat percentage: 17.7%
  • Lean body mass: 120.4 lbs

My height is a little over 5’7”.

 

Part 2 of the experiment: I found a sports medicine institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, that does DEXA scans.  The process was simple and easy.  I just laid on a table while the technician did the scan, and then he explained the results to me afterwards. I’m going to be honest – initially, I did not love the DEXA results!

  • Weight: 146.6 lbs
  • Body fat percentage: 23.7%
  • Lean body mass: 105.3 lbs

What the heck?!  Why were the results SO dramatically different?

Upon talking to the technician, I found out that since DEXA is an actual x-ray of your body’s fat, it is usually 5-7% points higher than the estimating (i.e. InBody) technologies.

This means that DEXA is the least forgiving of all body fat tests! 

So I chilled out after that.

Plus there was good news from the scan:  visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is the dangerous/unhealthy fat in the abdomen.  We want this number to be as LOW as possible.  Mine was ZERO! The tech said he’d never seen someone who was zero before, so I was proud :).  He said it was so low for me because VAT responds very well to a healthy diet and exercise (and lord knows I do plenty of both, hah!).

Another cool thing: DEXA can measure your bone mineral content (BMC) which tells you how much your skeleton weighs! My skeleton weighs 5.6 lbs. An average woman’s skeleton weighs between 3.3 – 5.5 lbs.  So even though I am a smaller-framed person, my skeleton is strong, due to all the resistance training I do! Neat 🙂

So in conclusion, InBody is not super accurate, so be careful when relying on the results. You can use it to watch trends, but try not to get attached to its results. 

And the conclusion for ME, personally: I am dying to see my lean mass number (105.3 lbs according to DEXA) go up during these coming months as I work hard to get stronger!  So I will likely begin taking this test every 3-4 months to check on my progress, and I will update it here!

Powerlifting Meet: March 10

Oh and speaking of progress – I haven’t updated you guys with my powerlifting meet progress lately!  So my official meet date is March 10, 2018!  I am super excited AND nervous!

I have been training really hard, lifting really heavy, and continuing to follow my lifting plan from my coach Ben Pollack.  I am noticeably stronger but I don’t know what my new 1-rep-max numbers are yet because we haven’t tested them.  When I first started with Ben, here were my maxes:

  • Squat: 200 lbs
  • Bench press: 115 lbs
  • Deadlift: 265 lbs

I have a feeling each lift is a lot higher already, but we’ll find out soon!

Thanks for reading guys! 🙂

 

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26 Days Out: Forcing Things to Happen vs. Letting Them Happen

Today is Sunday, my rest day.  26 days until the NPC Natural Western USA Figure competition.  My body—my nervous system—is very tired.  I am spending the day studying for school …. in bed. Ha. I am so sore, and my bed is the most comfortable place.  But I am also at peace.  Admittedly, I woke up this morning in a state of anxiety (like I do pretty much every morning) thinking, “Maybe I should go do extra cardio?!”  But then I stopped and recognized that the idea of doing extra cardio did not feel good in my body.  In the past, I might have forced myself to go do it anyway. And then it would have been a pathetic cardio session with me feeling frustrated the whole time.  But I told myself at the beginning of this competition prep that I would not force things to happen—I would let them happen.  Let me explain using an analogy:

One of my life role models is named Martha Beck (she’s a Harvard-educated sociologist, life coach and best-selling author).  One of her methods of teaching people to be happier and calmer is to have them work with horses: usually when a horse is behaving badly and violently, humans will attempt to “break” them using physical means—ropes, whips, etc… basically forms of torture.  Sometimes that will work. But in her seminars, Martha teaches people that if you stand in a pen with the horse—just stand there—and offer the horse kindness and compassion, and show it that you’re not going to hurt it, it will eventually calm down and “join up” with you.  (Here’s a video of Martha Beck’s friend, Koelle Simpson, explaining this in more detail in a TED Talk).

So here’s where the analogy comes in: the horse is like your own human body.  You can certainly torture it via starvation diets and excessive exercise, and you can get some results.  This is what I had done for a long time, and it sort of worked—and I also suffered miserably internally (one time in high school I actually ended up in the hospital with severe dehydration because I kept exercising when I was sick with the flu… brilliant, huh?).

There is, I believe, a better way.  I have adopted the approach of being kind and compassionate to my body, and recognizing its limits.  At my gym, the people who work there are so sweet—they call me “The Machine”… but in reality our human bodies are not machines.  They are animals that require sufficient food and physical movement and rest.  All of my ideas in this blog may sound a little strange to many Figure & Bikini competitors who enjoy the (so-called) inspirational/motivational “Fitspo” posts on Facebook and Instagram  (e.g. “push yourself to the limit!” and my least favorite of all time: “do it for the thigh gap!” etc.)  Those concepts no longer resonate with me.  I started training to become a Figure competitor because I love it, and it’s that love that will carry me through these next 26 days until showtime.  Let’s see how it goes … 🙂

Thank you for reading!

2013: Big Changes & Plans

Hi guys!

Happy 2013! I am so excited for this year. I think it’s going to bring a lot of positive new things into my life.  I actually spent New Year’s Eve sitting in bed happily reading (yes, I’m a nerd) a book by one of my favorite people in the world, a life coach named Martha Beck.  In the book, Beck describes how to identify what you’re meant to do with your life, and how to get there.  This is not an easy process for anyone, especially if admitting what your heart wants to do is different from what society (or your parents, or your peers, etc.) wants you to do.

This process helped me realize a few important things:

1. Although I do want to try living in Washington, DC at some point in my life, now is not the right time.  So instead of doing the internship in DC this semester as I had planned, I am back at law school.  With regard to law school…

2. I signed up for mainly business law classes, realizing that I don’t like the traditional law school courses.  I don’t want to be in a courtroom, I don’t want to write briefs–I don’t even know that I necessarily want to be a lawyer.  This was extremely scary for me to admit to myself, and even scarier to admit to others, but I can’t change what my heart knows.  I’m grateful that a J.D. is a useful, versatile degree that allows people to do all sorts of things.

I signed up for the business classes with the idea that I may start my own business post-law school. I love doing personal training, but I feel that my “calling” in life may be more involved than just physical fitness.  I want to get my life coach certification (via Martha Beck’s online program) and help people “find their way out of hell”, as Beck describes it.  I would like to specialize in helping people sort out their body image issues, especially since I struggled with anorexia for many years.

3.  I am a “Figure girl” at heart.  Although I had a wonderful year competing in the bikini division of the NPC, for 2013, I am following my original dream and training for the Figure division.

My wonderful coaches at Team Bombshell are always honest with me, and they let me know that my body is better suited for bikini (I’m tall with long limbs).  But deep down, I knew I had to switch.  I’ve dreamed about competing in figure for years.  …And I am LOVING the training plan for it!  It involves higher calories (eating 7 times a day!) with less cardio, and my favorite part–heavy weights!  I love the rush I get from lifting as heavy as possible.

The posing onstage is different for Figure.  I’m trying to figure it out!  Here’s a picture of me attempting to flex my back and shoulders for the “front” pose:

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The inevitable question: “Katie, are you going to get HUGE?”  … NO!!!  It drives me nuts when people (usually guys) ask me this.  To prove this to you, below is a picture of 4 professional competitors.  Guess who competes in Bikini and who does Figure? …

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…The furthest left woman (the beautiful Natalie Waples, who is one of the nicest people in the world) is a Figure competitor.  So is the furthest right woman (Candice Lewis).  The two middle women (Yeshaira Robles and Yarelis Gonzales) compete in bikini.  The point is, they ALL look fantastic, and the Figure girls are not “huge”.  Figure is not the same as Bodybuilding.  I will probably step onstage at about 126 lbs (I’m 5 foot 7).  So everybody can RELAX! 🙂

My first Figure show will (hopefully) be in June 2013 in New York City.  I am already counting down the weeks (19, if you were wondering…).  I am so grateful to my incredible coach IFBB Figure Pro Gen Strobo for answering all 8 million of my questions and encouraging me to work my butt off.  She is a huge inspiration for me.

I also want to give a shout-out to two new Team Bombshell members:

  • Vanessa L. has been a friend of mine since high school.  I’ve been telling her for months that she’d be a great bikini competitor (she’s a former dancer, so she already has that ever-important stage presence!).  She is going to do amazing this year!
  • Jennifer B. is a law classmate of mine, and she’s been with the team since November.  She’s extremely smart and an incredibly hard worker.  She’s been following her plan 100% and looks amazing.  She is going to rock her first competition in March!

That’s all for now.  Most importantly, send me a Facebook message or comment on this post and tell me about your goals for 2013 (fitness-related or otherwise).  I absolutely love to hear about them, and help you if I can!

8 Weeks Out Update

Hi guys,

Just wanted to give an update about what’s going on.  I’m currently taking a quick break from studying for final exams.  I am terrified about finals (as usual), but making a conscious effort to breathe and remember that they are not, in fact, the end of the world.

8 Weeks Out 

8 weeks until I fly to Chicago and compete in the Junior Nationals! I can’t believe I will be competing on the national level. It’s a big deal! And I’m scared! But I will not get caught up in thoughts about my placing.

My goal instead: to look better than my March competitions, and improve my stage presence.

I have been working hard in the gym and sticking to my diet because I’ve realized that if you want to succeed in this sport, it must become your lifestyle.  You can’t train & diet for 12 weeks and slack off the rest of the time.  This is fine with me, because I feel much happier and healthier living this way than I used to.

My current ‘project’ in the gym: build muscle & roundness in my glutes!  If you’ve ever been to a bikini competition or seen photos online, you’ll know that they are frequently won or lost based on the ‘back pose’.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with many ‘curves’, so I work VERY hard in the gym to create some!

Giving Myself a Break

I realized recently that I never stop to recognize my achievements.  I rarely feel ‘proud’ of myself.   I was listening to a podcast by former ‘Bigger Loser’ trainer Jillian Michaels who made me realize this.  She’s currently on a huge billboard in Times Square, but upon being told about this accomplishment, she brushed it off and said “Whatever, fine. What’s the next project?”

I do the same thing.  I celebrated my win at the NPC bikini show in March for about 30 seconds before wondering when my next competition would be and what I could improve.  This means I’m frequently in a state of dissatisfaction, which isn’t a healthy way to live.

So my new goal is to write 3 things I’m grateful for, proud of or excited about in my journal every day. Here’s today’s entry:

1. Proud of today’s glutes workout – I was dripping in sweat and gave it my all.

2. Excited to start working on my Master’s degree in Public Health in concurrence with my J.D.

3. Proud of myself for getting my butt to the library to study on a beautiful Saturday

…That was actually kind of difficult, which is evidence that I definitely DO need to start doing this regularly.

Proud of my fit friends!

Last thing – I want to give some recognition to friends of mine who have been working on their own fitness goals and doing great.  Andrea has been running consistently & increasing her distance;  Jillian has truly amazed me and I couldn’t be more proud;  Callie has set a big goal this summer and is going to do great;  Emilie has been working hard to implement healthy habits;  Menden (fellow blogger!) will be competing very soon and I can’t wait to hear about it;  Vanessa has not let obstacles like a lack of motivation prevent her from kicking butt!