I’m feeling very frustrated and not sure what to do about it, so I figured I would ask you after combing through the website and listening to your podcasts religiously.
When I started the exercise portion of my journey, I did a fitness assessment at a weight of 141 lbs and 22.4% body fat (height is 5’6″). At this point I set a goal to reach 20% body fat in the next 3 months. (Side note – the body fat percentage test is the 5 points calipers).
I worked my butt off, did two different boot camps, joined the Jillian Michaels website, rocked the workouts (5 circuits, 2 sets, 5 exercises each), and I trained consistently. But went I back for my 2nd fitness assessment, my original trainer/tester was not available. So I used another with the same testing equipment. This time I had dropped another 3 pounds, my VO2 max increased, my aerobic fitness increased, my hip to waist ratio decreased and in summary, all numbers went the direction they should. Except my body fat percentage! Which tested at 24%!!
Other than this one number, I feel pretty darn good. I fit better into my clothes, and have even needed to buy some new clothes in a smaller size. This 24% has thrown me off my body-image game, and now I look at the mirror and see someone bigger than I used to.
So my question is – why would something like this happen? What is the margin of error and would that account for the difference? How else can I measure my progress? Is there a better metric that is more accurate or telling of my true fitness level? Also, aside from body fat percentage, would 130 lbs even be a do-able weight now that I am working out and building muscle?
I look forward to your help! I just can’t seem to cast off this dark 24% rain cloud.
First of all I want to say congratulations on all of your success thus far. The question that you ask is exactly the reason that I detest using any type of body-fat testing. I can’t tell you how terribly inaccurate they are, and the disappointment that people feel when they don’t hit their “numbers”.
Truthfully you’ve answered your own question. You said you feel good and fit in your clothes better. What else could you want? Why let an inaccurate test screw with your accomplishments? I know they used the body fat calipers, but another popular method is the electro bioelectrical impedance. You’ve no doubt seen them; that’s where you hold the handles or step on a scale and it sends a small signal through your body. The caliper method can be great – if the same person does it and your diet is very consistent. If you’re holding water, pre menstrual, or had a high carb day, your skin fold measurements may come back thicker, and give you a result that your body fat is higher than it actually is. And truthfully, a 5 site test is not representative of your entire body.
The bio impedance method is also inaccurate, and once again depending on what you eat, and your level of hydration, can affect the results. In both cases, in my experience these can both be off by as much as 7%! That’s a fairly large margin of error. I always suggest you just judge for yourself; look in the mirror, pinch an inch, see how your clothes fit, are you on a different belt loop, etc. Those are indicators that don’t have margins. Any body fat test should be viewed as just a general number or guide, and not an exact measurement.
Also Lia, body fat is not an indicator of a person’s fitness level – not by a long shot. Just because a person has low body fat, don’t be misled into thinking that person is fit, and vice versa. I know plenty of people with six packs that can’t even run a mile. If you want an indication of your fitness level, take my fitness test. I can’t say whether or not 130 pounds is a realistic weight for you, but what I can tell you is that most people have distorted associations with numbers. You may look incredible at 135 pounds, or perhaps you’ll get to 127. The point is if you eat healthy, and exercise regularly, you’ll end up right where you’re suppose to be. Instead of making a number your goal, make your health and performance priority. Perhaps you can try running longer, taking less rest periods, increasing your cardiovascular endurance etc.
When you train for true fitness and health, everything else falls into place.
Let me know how it goes and if any of you out there would like to book a more in-depth consultation with me – just drop me a line via the How To Book button in the sidebar.
And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
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