Saturday, March 7, 2015

The devil is in the details

How many times a day do you find yourself thinking, "I wish I was as skinny as that person" or maybe "I wish I was as fast or as strong." The risks of comparing yourself without the full details is that you don't know how often that person trains to be that fast, how many years it took them of 5am work outs, you don't know if that skinny person feels terribly about themselves or if they struggle to put on weight. 

A few weeks ago I did metabolic testing to give myself some valuable knowledge as I forge ahead with Ironman training. I wanted to find out my exact heart rate zones so I could heart rate train properly as well as find out my body fat percentage and my metabolic rate just for extra information. I wasn't very shocked to learn my body fat percentage but when I shared the information with some friends they seemed very surprised to learn the number and the response was always "but you are so skinny."  

Let's start with what is your body fat percentage? Your body fat percentage is your total mass of fat divided by your total mass. There is a certain level of essential fat in your body that is necessary for life functions and that percentage is different in men and women.  For men they must have 3-5% for life functions, women must have 8-12% for normal life functions. Please note I am not a doctor, I did not stay at a holiday inn express last night and nothing I am talking about is intended to be medical advice!

My number is....drumroll...27.5%.  This puts me in the average range for women and I would ideally like to be in the fitness range and I believe I can make the necessary changes to get there before Chattanooga. This is not my BMI, personally I don't think BMI is every really accurate because it only uses your height and weight not actual information about your body fat. Let's explore a little bit about why my body fat percentage is 27.5% and what it means.  Where your body fat is stored is more important than the number of how much you have. Of course we have all heard "a moment on the lips forever on the hips" some people carry their body fat on the thighs, hips and butt, some carry it around the middle and some have visceral fat which is stored around the organs.  Unfortunately for me I have the later so I'm what you might call skinny fat and now I need to make some changes. 

Every day your body burns calories just to exist and that is your metabolism at work, I learned that my metabolism is 12% faster than the average person my age, height and weight.  Essentially I burn 12% more calories just to exist and then add in all my work outs and I need to ensure I am taking in enough calories to sustain life. That my friends is how someone gets skinny fat, they don't eat enough calories so their body thinks it is in a famine and begins to store fat for when the food runs out. My focus in the coming weeks will be on ensuring I get to at least 2100 good calories per day, proper fueling before work outs and proper refueling with protein after work outs.  

My avoidance of nutrition has gone on long enough and I need to take it seriously to make sure I get the results that I want from Chattanooga.  Nutrition can make or break race day, the devil will be in those details and I want to make sure I set myself up for success. 

January Totals:
Swim: 9,801 meters
Bike: 43.46 miles
Run (AlterG): 7.16 miles
Total Miles: 56.71 (if my math is correct)

February Totals
Swim :18,756 yards
Bike: 123.5 miles
Run (Alter G) 13.5 Miles
Total Miles: 147.6 (now I just need to do most of that distance in one day :-P)

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