Saturday, January 31, 2009

Selective Hearing

I had a frustrating week this week on many fronts. Large number of former-colleagues were laid off and left work, had some major road blocks thrown up for my application to nursing school and it seemed the scale was just not going to move. In the end the weight thing turned out to be a hormonal issue and yesterday's weigh-in came in at 156.8, over a pound lost since last Friday- good week after all on the weight front.
The weight issue has come up with a few people lately for different reasons and it surprised me how often we delude ourselves to think that we are the exception. People rail against BMI charts and call them crazy because people that consider themselves to be non-overweight are classified as such, sometimes even to the point of obese. When I had my initial assessment with the trainer, my BMI according to an on-line chart was just under 24.9 (it only does whole pounds, so it's not exact), then Chris did the measurements with calipers and my body fat percentage was 24.5, pretty close. Now, I think I'm a relatively strong woman and my muscle mass is maybe a little higher than average, at least in the circle of women that I know and speak with. Another woman mentioned to me that according to those BMI charts (said with a look of disdain), she's overweight, but those are clearly wrong because she has a lot of muscle mass so she's not really overweight. I think that some extreme athletes may have enough muscle mass that the BMI charts are inaccurate, but I think for most of us average people, they're a decent measure, even if we don't like the result.
Then this week I was talking with another woman about being a little frustrated that the scale hadn't moved even though my clothes were fitting a bit better. She says- well, you're building up muscles and muscles weigh more than fat. People always spout that gem as well. No, a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same amount. But yes, a pound of muscle will take up less space than a pound of fat. However, I think people really overestimate how easy it is to build up a pound of muscle. Just lifting weights a little more often isn't likely to build up my muscle mass that quickly, at least I don't think so. At this point I would doubt I've put on any actual muscle weight, although I'm glad to be reducing my body fat weight.
My mother talks about the days when she was a size 8, she's about 5'7" and she weighed 125 pounds. These days I'm sure that would be a size 2 at the most. I'm not delusional enough to believe that at almost 157 pounds I'm really a size 8, but that's what the clothing manufacturers want me to believe, and I'll readily admit I'm sucked in. But I don't have the health benefits of being a size 8 from 30 years ago when that was about 30 pounds less. I'll likely never get close to that and I think I can still be happy and healthy, a weight of 140 would get me to a BMI of 21.9, I think that's quite reasonable. I'll admit that sometimes I'm the one that hears just what I want to hear, but I think that as a society we want to think that we're good the way we are, eating what we want, living as we want, and justifying our weights and our lifestyles. I don't know whether that's bad or not, it's just the way we are.

On the training front it was a great week. Three strong runs and two tough strength sessions with some light cardio on weights days. Finished 11 miles total running, including 2 miles of treadmill hill work that had inclines up to 7%. Monday is my first 5-miler of this training season, I'm looking forward to it. I've got new songs on my iPod all ready to go, love my shuffle.

1 comment:

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Interesting post. I bought a scale that supposedly measures my body fat and my skeletal muscle. It measures my fat higher than the BMI charts, but I think that's okay because I truly am small boned and think there's no way those charts can be very accurate because it doesn't take into consideration anything about your skeletal structure. Anyway...my scale isn't budging either but my new goal is to try to get my skeletal muscle number higher than my body fat number. For the record, it measures my fat at 29.5% (approx) and my muscle at 28.7% so I'm getting close. But you are right, the muscle doesn't just shoot up because of working out. It movest slowly too.