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Old 05-14-2004, 01:17 PM   #1
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ammom1 HB User
Body Fat

Hi all,

Have tackled a longstanding weight problem with great success and in the past six months I have gone from 185 pounds to 141 pounds and have 9 more pounds to go for my weight watchers goal. I am a 48 year old woman, medium build, 5 foot 2". I am exercising 4 days a week at Curves and the other days I either walk 4 miles or ride my bike for 45 minutes. This week I had my % body fat checked at Curves and I was disappointed--it was 34%. All I could think is, I am sure glad I didn't check it when I was 185 pounds. I thought this was awful high and am wondering how tough it is to bring it down and what factors could be making it so high?

Thanks in advance for advice

 
Old 05-14-2004, 01:32 PM   #2
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Evl316 HB User
Re: Body Fat

Quote:
Originally Posted by ammom1
Hi all,

Have tackled a longstanding weight problem with great success and in the past six months I have gone from 185 pounds to 141 pounds and have 9 more pounds to go for my weight watchers goal. I am a 48 year old woman, medium build, 5 foot 2". I am exercising 4 days a week at Curves and the other days I either walk 4 miles or ride my bike for 45 minutes. This week I had my % body fat checked at Curves and I was disappointed--it was 34%. All I could think is, I am sure glad I didn't check it when I was 185 pounds. I thought this was awful high and am wondering how tough it is to bring it down and what factors could be making it so high?

Thanks in advance for advice
Make sure you are eating enough. If you eat too little your body will eat up it's own muscle during exercise and you'll lose weight but maintain or add body fat. Make sure your diet is clean. Limit your carb intake to only what you need as well as your calorie intake, again making sure you still eat enough. Eating enough and the right foods is key in losing fat but maintaining muscle.

34% body fat for a woman aged 48 is considered average. 36% would be in the overfat range and 29% would be in the ideal range. Also a woman's body fat percentage is going to be larger than a man's on average. A man at your age being in the same shape and body fat % catagory would have to be at 27 to 28% body fat.

Also take into consideration how your body fat % was checked. All methods except being weighed under water are notoriously inaccurate. Body fat scales that use electricity will vary greatly depending on how much the body is hydrated when the measurment is taken and depending on the formula used to calculate the percentage can be over estimated in muscular people and under estimated in elderly people with little muscle mass. Fat calipers are pretty good but some people store more or less fat in that region of the body than others.
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:35 PM   #3
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ammom1 HB User
Re: Body Fat

Evl,

Thank you for your prompt and informative answer. My diet is incredibly healthy, and I do eat plenty, being cautious of the "starvation" mode problem. I get a certain amount of "points" per day on Weight Watchers, and I think maybe some days I might spend too many points on carbs, so I need to watch that.

It's interesting that you have my 34% body fat as average. One of the reasons I was so disappointed is that the chart at Curve's has this percent as being "truly poor," one step above "incredibly pathetic." (I can't remember the exact category names, but you get my drift.) I believe the chart they are using wouldn't rate me as healthy until I am at 22% body fat, which seems awful far away.

Could be they are using an unrealistic chart? What do you think?

Thanks again.

 
Old 05-14-2004, 04:15 PM   #4
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never2L8 HB User
Re: Body Fat

For a female your age I agree that 34% is not a terrible figure, the chart at Curves is unrealistic and may not take age into consideration. 22% body fat would be very healthy for a 20yo female but the figures do increase as we age. An acceptable range for young women is about 20-30% and these change to 25-35% after age 39 - note that these figure vary depending on the 'experts' you ask.

Also the method they use test may be dodgy. If they use body fat scales of hand held devices, these can be affected by your hydration level. As they calculate your BF% using electrical impulses effectively working on the theory that water weight is healthy weight, if you are dehydrated you can get a high BF%. You can test this easily by taking a reading, drinking a couple of glasses of water and retesting 5 minutes later - you reading can change by several percent.

IMHO you have done exceptionally well and ought to be congratulated, not told 'good, but you have a long way to go'. Don't be so caught up in their target either, 44lbs is a huge effort and I would hate to see you feel a failure because of a lousy 9lbs. If you can keep off the weight you have lost already, you will have definitely won as far as I am concerned.

If you want to improve the BF% figure, look into doing some weight training to work on increasing your muscle mass. Some simple exercises with a pair of dumbells can really help.

 
Old 05-14-2004, 05:27 PM   #5
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Re: Body Fat

Yes, I agree with never2l8. Depending on what BF scale you look at the numbers will vary but 34% isn't bad at all. Certainly there is room for improvement but you should be giving yourself a huge pat on the back for all your accomplishments thus far. One thing to remember is not to get too caught up in numbers. This is where people get discouraged because they want to hit some magic number devised by some yahoo that is supposed to be a catch all for all people and it simply doesn't work that way. There's not a guy in the world that is going to look at a woman and ask her what her BF % is or how much she weights, she either looks good or she doesn't, who cares what the numbers are. I also agree that some weight lifting would be helpful for you. More muscle mass means more ability to burn calories and fat. Also there are some things you can take in pill form that can be helpful in fat loss. Caffiene can help as can L-Carnitine which is an amino acid which helps mobolize fat to be burned in the body's cells. But taking things to help with weight loss is probably only going to have a very small effect and aren't free.

Each individual is different and there are a lot of charts out there and each chart is different. Look up body fat percentage charts online and you may find many of them and many of them have different numbers. You also may consider that "Curves" wants to keep clients so by putting up numbers that will take forever to reach they may keep clients longer. Just a thought. 22% body fat for a woman in her 40's is closer to being a star athlete rather than simply healthy.
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Old 05-15-2004, 04:46 AM   #6
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ammom1 HB User
Re: Body Fat

Never and evl,

I am overwhelmed by your support and kind words, a million thank you's to the both of you.

My state of mind is so very healthy right now that I have not allowed this silly number to get in my way. I have gone from a size 18W to a 12P and that's what works for me. When I hit a 10P, which will be in probably 5-8 more pounds, I will have reached my goal and then I will maintain it, regardless of what any charts are telling me.

I appreciate the advice about building muscle and I will follow it. I have already seen a piece of what difference exercise will make in my life--I know I would have never gotten this far without exercise and that I will never maintain my weight goal without it, either. So, I have made it a part of my life and it comes first in my daily planning. And, I feel that it is time to step it up a bit. When I first started, a 15 minute walk around the block was all I could do and now I can walk 4 miles. It's time to start some serious weight training to build that calorie-burning muscle that will keep me thin and healthy.

Thank you for your tips and I hope you have a healthy, active day.

 
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