Goal-Setting: My Ideal Body in Pictures and Numbers

In his book “Thinner, Leaner, Stronger,” Michael Matthews recommends setting tangible goals before you even pick up a weight, drop a calorie, or hop on a treadmill. I wholly agree.

I did not do this in the first few weeks because I was extremely motivated to get started and I didn’t want to plan myself out of execution, which is consistent with my rather cerebral tendencies.  But goal-setting is just as important as knowing your baseline, and now that I’ve had a few weeks to really reflect, I’m ready to articulate those goals.

In setting up your goals, Matthews recommends assessing (1) what your ideal body looks like; (2) what your ideal state of health would be like; and (3) why you’re doing this in the first place. Today, I will focus on my ideal body.

A Picture of my Ideal Body

Matthews recommends not just using mere words to describe your ideal body, but pictures. So I found a few. Here is my favorite:
Fit Chick 1What a fox! She embodies a lot of qualities I am looking for: Strong, good lines, lean… but NOT “skinny fat.” I’ve been around this size before, so I’m confident this is an attainable goal (with time and effort). I want a body indicative of a healthy, happy lifestyle, in which I’m not engaging in negativity or self-punishment.

And most importantly, I want my thighs to still touch:

Fit Chick ThighsThe Thigh Gap is not welcome in this house.*

My Ideal Body in Numbers

I finally got my body fat percentage tested at 24-Hour Fitness, by Corey, my new trainer. Sadly, it’s at a whopping 35%. With a body weight of 150 lbs, this translates into 97.5 lbs of muscle, and 52.5 lbs of fat!

I’m carrying a spry tween’s worth of weight on my thighs, hips, ass, arms, and belly. YUCK. No wonder I’ve been feeling like crap.

My ultimate goal is to weigh approximately 135 lbs and have 20% body fat, which means I need to lose 25.5 lbs of fat and gain 10.5 lbs of muscle. I’m not ignorant to the fact that this is a fairly significant “body recomp,” so I set a first milestone to weigh approximately 140 lbs and have 25% body fat. Corey estimated that at a healthy rate of losing 2% of body fat each month, I can reach this goal in five months.

((whimper)) …wish me luck!

*I have A LOT of opinions on this Thigh Gap and Thinspo garbage circulating the internet and infiltrating the minds of young women out there. Stay tuned for more information on this dubious subject, and the all-out war to follow. It’s on, bitches.  

Assessment: The Body Mass Index Revisited

In my inaugural post detailing my general health statistics, I made a short mention that the Body Mass Index is widely criticized as a flawed measurement and that it should not be the sole determinant of whether you are overweight.  For my own education and others, I’ve decided the explore the issue a little further. 

What is BMI?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines the Body Mass Index, or BMI, as a “measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.”  The Index was derived in the 1830’s from a math formula conceived by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer, statistician, and sociologist.  Not a physiologist, nor kinesthetics guru… nope, a stars and numbers guy.

The formula is:  BMI = mass(lbs)/height(inches)2 x 703.  This formula yields a number that corresponds to the following categories: Underweight (Below 18.5), Normal (18.5 – 24.9), Overweight (25.0 – 29.9), and Obesity (30+).

Limitations of BMI

Nick Trefethen of Oxford University states that because the human body doesn’t scale equally as it grows, the current BMI formula only leads to confusion and misinformation. The height of short people is divided by the weight too much, and is divided by too little for tall people.  The result is that short people are being told they are thinner than they actually are, and tall people are fatter than they actually are.  Is this a boon for us miniature folks?  I don’t think so, there’s more…

NIH identifies two further limitations of the BMI:  First, it overestimates body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build, and second, it underestimates body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle. In other words, it does not consider the dimension and tissue composition of the individual.  Furthermore, many critics point out that BMI does not differentiate between gender, which is of note because women generally carry more body fat.

One size fits all. 

Based on the conventional BMI formula, two individuals of the same height, but with different dimensions and body density, could have comparable BMIs.  This sends the message that if you are X feet tall, you must be Y weight, no exceptions.  Yet, muscle weighs more than fatty tissue, and studies have shown that a greater proportion of muscle tissue to fat tissue improves your quality of life.

At-Home Alternatives to the BMI

Body Adiposity Index (BAI).  
This measure, created by Richard Bergman of the University of Southern California, calculates body fat using hip circumference and height, without the disadvantage of requiring a scale.  However, studies have concluded that this measurement no more accurate than the BMI, particularly among clinically severe obese women.

Waist Circumference Measurement.
NIH regards waist circumference as a particularly useful measurement for individuals who are categorized as normal or overweight on the BMI scale.  Furthermore, it is an independent prediction of health risks, such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.  It should be noted that while waist circumference is optimal for predicting risk with the elderly, there are variations in predictability between ethnic and age groups. Generally, you are at high risk if your true waist is measured over 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio.
Similar to Waist Circumference, this measure is also great for predicting health risks, in addition to body fat. To calculate your ratio, use a tape measure to take a reading from both your natural waist line and the widest part of your hips, then divide the diameter of your waist by your hip measurement. If you measure below 0.95 for men, and 0.80 for women, you are considered low risk.

Body Fat Measuring.
If you have access to calipers, this measure is calculated by taking measurements from the waist, shoulder blade, biceps, and triceps.  Those measurements are added up to a single figure, plotted against a chart that takes your sex, age, and measurement into consideration to calculate a percentage.

The New BMI.
To account for the three-dimensional aspects of humans (errr, everything…), Trefethen came up with a “New BMI.”  A colleague came up with a simple New BMI Calculator here.

Et tu, Little Furr? 

As previously mentioned, I am almost 5 feet 4 inches tall, weigh approximately 150 lbs, with a waist and hips of 32 inches and 42 inches, respectively. So am I actually overweight as my BMI suggests, or a victim of bad math?

BAI:  33.3% – slightly overweight, similar to my BMI.
Waist Circumference:  32 inches > 35 inches – not overweight and not at risk.
Waist-to-Hip:  0.76 – regarded to be within a healthy range.
Body Fat %:  No calipers yet. Will update when they are in my possession and I’ve pinched myself.
New BMI:  This calculator compares my traditional BMI of 25.75 with a New BMI of 26.25.  Slightly more fat (harrumph).  It then states that my appropriate weight range is between 105.7 and 142.8 lbs.

My Take-away:  As you can see, my respective measurements plot me as normal to slightly overweight, but with low health risk.  While these calculators are good for getting a rough idea of where I stand, I recognize their limitations, particularly as I am on the cusp of many of the categories.  My goal moving forward will be to re-measure in three months, with a desire to get off the cusp.  I believe I sit squarely in the weight-loss goal category of most Americans – trying to lose that last chunk of weight.  As I previously stated, my specific goal is peak performance, even as a type-1 diabetic.   

And to try not to “lose that butt”: 

Sir Mix Alot

Assessment: Establishing My Baseline

“You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been….”  ~ Someone Marginally Intelligent 

Thus, I commence my journey back into being an athlete.

But, before I set my fitness and health goals, I think it’s important to establish a baseline for both health and fitness. This is the health portion of that assessment.  As I learn more about what it means to truly self-assess (read: not beat up on myself), I will incorporate more information (for example, a postural assessment).

Without further ado and in my science-y style, I give you my deplorable health stats:

General Physical Stats:
Overall Weight: ~150 lbs. ((sigh))
Height: 5 feet 3.75 inches
Body Mass Index: 25.7*

*Thoughts: Many people believe that BMI is a flawed measurement.  For example it does not account for the relative density of individuals with differing percentages of fat and lean tissue. I tend to agree. According to the BMI, I am technically overweight. I am not – I am a short woman with dense, muscular legs (for the record, I am a size 6, considered to be pretty average).  That being said, Furr.is.out.of.shape.  But Furr will win. 

Measurements:
Bust:  35.5 inches
Waist:  32 inches
Hips:  42 inches
Thighs:  25 inches ((thunder clap))
Arms:  12 inches

Thoughts: Nothing to see here, folks, move along ((thunder clap)).  I will be taking a “before” picture of myself – this is essentially that “before” on paper, so that I may track my progress in terms of shrinkage, of which I don’t plan on doing much of.  However, I will not be posting such a picture until I have made some visible progress, for insecurity’s sake. 

Aerobic Stats:
Resting Heart Rate (RHR):  84 bpm (beats per minute)
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR):  (220-age) 190 bpm
Lower Range of HR (50%):  0.50(MHR – RHR) + RHR = 137 bpm
Upper Range of HR (85%):  0.85(MHR – RHR) + RHR = 174.1 bpm

Thoughts: I don’t know much about the meaning of these numbers quite yet.  It does appear that my RHR is higher than most.  I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing. 

Diabetic, Metabolic, and other Medical Stats:
Hemoglobin a1c:  9.3
Average Blood Glucose (BG) This Week:  196 
Highest BG:  432
Lowest Recorded BG:  68

Thoughts:  Plain and simple, these numbers SUCK.  

Thyroid:  3.12
Cholesterol:  207
HDL Cholesterol:  65
LDL Cholesterol:  144
Triglycerides:  85

Thoughts:  One of the few happy revelations that came out of my [first] endocrinologist appointment [in four years] is that it appears I do not need to be on thyroid medication.  Good times!  Otherwise, all of these levels are normal, but on the higher end of the range.  My goal will be to reduce them generally.  Interestingly enough, my triglycerides are closely connected with BG levels, so I hope to see a quick reduction there. 

There you have it.  My health on paper.  These should be updated quarterly, and I’m excited to see what my new lifestyle will do change these numbers for the positive.

Namaste, suckas.