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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Journey to First Powerlifting Meet!

Hello!

If this is your first visit, welcome to my blog! I have been writing it since 2011, which is crazy!  A lot has changed since my first post. Although the blog has been called “Legally Fit Girl” since day 1, I am definitely not a lawyer (law school was fun though!).  I am a nutrition coach for the most amazing company ever, Working Against Gravity (WAG) and I love it!

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My training and nutrition have changed so much since 2011.  Originally my goal was to compete in bikini & figure competitions, and I achieved that. I reached nationally-qualified status.  Then, when it started to feel repetitive and my body wasn’t responding very well, I decided it was time to find the “fun” in fitness again.  With my husband’s help, I discovered CrossFit and learned a million new things – Olympic lifting, gymnastics, powerlifting, aerobic capacity, and more!

Then, a few months ago, upon noticing that the only things I wanted to do in CrossFit involved lifting heavy things (and knowing that my strength numbers need to go up, to be competitive in CrossFit), I am now specialized in powerlifting.  For my friends who aren’t familiar with powerlifting, it composes three lifts: bench press, deadlift, and squat.  So I need to get super-strong with these lifts! 🙂

I just hired my first powerlifting coach, named Ben Pollack. He was recommended to me by a fellow WAG coach Kate Hart (who is like Wonder Woman and you must follow her on Instagram!).  Ben has given me a very structured strength program with the aim of competing in my first powerlifting meet in February 2018. I am so excited!  For the last decade I have been obsessed with being strong and looking strong, but I don’t feel that my training or nutrition have permitted me to expand to my full potential until now!

Speaking of nutrition, that has changed a lot for me too in the last few years. When I began training for bodybuilding competitions, I followed strict, structured meal plans. I learned how to weigh and measure my food with a food scale, but I had no knowledge of how many calories or macronutrients I was consuming. Now, I subscribe to a flexible dieting philosophy (which is how we coach at WAG). This has been life changing for me, and I still check in every week with my own coach at WAG. Coaches need coaches too! You can read more about flexible dieting and counting macros at this blog from WAG.

So currently, I am consuming around 130 grams protein / 240 grams carbs / 56 grams fat (plus fiber of course) and working very, very hard on gaining strength and muscle size.  Eating this amount of food is

a huge accomplishment for me because, less than two years ago when preparing for a figure competition, I was consuming about half that amount!  I had horribly low energy, did excessive cardio, and was obsessed with the scale.  Now I comfortably maintain a body weight of around 145-148 lbs and I feel awesome, with plenty of energy to lift heavy and enjoy life!

So follow along with my journey to my first powerlifting meet in a few months!  Thanks for reading! I post often on Instagram so follow me if want to see my day-to-day stuff!   #SkinnyToStrong 

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Here is me now…
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Here is where I need to be. Lol 🙂

Where to Begin…

Law School Exams, I Loathe You & Will Kick Your Butt

Well, it’s 6AM on Saturday and I am awake due to habit. The gym doesn’t open until 8, so it’s a perfect time to blog.

Since I last posted, I’ve completed two of my three law school final exams. It’s been an emotional roller coaster for me during the last couple of weeks as finals approached. I’ve had moments of utter fear and hopelessness (“I can’t do this. Why am I in law school at all?”) but also moments of calm acceptance that I’ve prepared the best I could, and that everything truly will be alright.

During this time, I did not slack off from the gym because training is what kept me sane. It’s a scary feeling to know that you can’t control what is on your Civil Procedure exam, and you can’t control the grading curve, etc. But you can control whether you go to the gym and stick to a healthy diet. I continued hitting the weights at 5AM and doing cardio afterwards. I followed the diet almost 100 percent. (Except for a Cheesecake Factory birthday dinner with my dear friend Caitlin, but that was important!).

My friend and law school classmate Karen told me that she continued attending ballet classes during finals because it allowed her to focus only on ballet, leaving thoughts of law school exams at the door. I hope that everyone is able to find something in life that allows them to quiet that constant stream of thoughts running through our heads, whether it’s dance, weight training, basketball, meditation, running, or something else. What is that thing for you?

Where Do I Begin?

I got a couple really wonderful Facebook messages this week. One of them asked about where to find meal plans to correspond with workouts. I recommended a couple of good places to start:

If you’re a female, pick up a copy of Muscle & Fitness HERS magazine at the grocery store/Target. It’s an awesome resource for both training and meal plans. Usually there’s a meal plan designed for if you want to build muscle, and one for if you want to maintain or lose fat.

For guys or girls, check out this website, part of Bodybuilding.com:
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fitness-360.html

There are pictures of 6 male and 6 female fitness models with different levels of muscle and leanness. Pick the body that you are aiming for, and check out his/her exact diet and training programs. I love this website!

The other message I got completely made my day (I might have even felt tears welling up, but don’t tell anyone). It was from a classmate from undergrad who said he’s been following my posts, and since I’ve seen him, has made huge improvements in his health. Reading made me realize that I love to help people learn about fitness/health stuff, because there’s so much confusing, inaccurate information out there — I want to help people sort through it so they can reach their goals like he did.

Figure Competition Progress Update

It’s the “off-season” right now for most competitors, because nobody can keep their body in “competition shape” all year round (… think about that the next time you admire a lean, ripped fitness model on the cover of a magazine. Prior to the photo shoot, they probably hardcore dieted, did countless hours of cardio, and depleted their body of water. They do not look like that all the time.)

My training team calls this time “improvement season”, because it’s a time to allow your body to rest, recover, eat higher calories, and build quality muscle. So that’s what I’ve been working on. As I’ve complained about before, my body adds muscle very slowly and it’s frustrating. But I try to remain patient and accept my body for what it is.

My goal is still to compete in my first figure competition in March of 2012, but as the competition gets closer I’ll listen to my coaches’ advice regarding whether I should wait a bit longer. I don’t want to get onstage looking like a fool, ha ha. I want to make everybody proud.

See how my back has SOME muscle, but not enough! Need to drop body fat of course.