Monday, February 7, 2011

Body fat

Our weight scale is wonky. Unreliable. And usually makes me 3 to 4 pounds heavier than the scale at the gym. Which means that the gym scale is ALWAYS good news. Well, today I put an end to the wonky and invested in a body fat scale. So cool. And so scary. It's like looking in the far end of your closet under the pile of stuff that's been tucked away there for a very long time.

So now I know my stats, what percentage of me is body fat, what percentage of me is water (55%!) and what I weigh down to the ounce, sort of. Still, this new-fangled scale can't tell me certain things: like that all my excess body fat is in my front pouch. Seriously, it's like my body thinks another kangaroo is coming someday. Not happening. But this new found knowledge led me to investigate body fat generally and here's what I found in a nutshell: We are all fat, ladies. and we all should be, bare minimum 14%!

A certain amount of fat is essential to bodily functions. Fat regulates body temperature, cushions and insulates organs and tissues and is the main form of the body's energy storage. The following table describes body fat ranges and their associated categories:

*General Body Fat Percentage Categories

Women (% fat)
Essential Fat: 10-12%
Athletes: 14-20%
Fitness: 21-24%
Acceptable: 25-31%
Obese: 32% plus

*American Council on Exercise

The pamphlet that came with my scale defined an athlete as someone who exercises 10 or more hours a week, which puts me squarely in the fitness category with an occasional athletic week in the spring and summer.

Hoping to hop around a bit today...finally, after 5 long days of sick lethargy!


  1. The only time I fit into the fitness area was when I was dancing in college. We had our body fat tested every semester.

    Thanks for this great post. So many people get hung up on "fat" but it's hard to remember that it serves a special function in our body...AND it's IMPORTANT TO EAT FAT IN OUR DIET FOR THESE SAME REASONS!

    Glad you're feeling better.

  2. I just bought one too, and it's been so much fun to use! I read this book called "Racing Weight" and it's all about having a healthy body composition instead of focusing just on weight. He explains that loosing the wrong kind of weight can hinder your exercise performance. Every four weeks he advises to do a weigh in, body fat percentage and a fitness test to show your progress. In fact, I've been following this blog about a girl who is running 12 marathons in 12 months. She just decided she needed to loose weight to race faster so she started some kind of crazy diet, and got really sick. I couldn't help but think of our blog and how she would benefit from making a lifestyle change instead of trying to loose weight quickly, especially while running marathons. Her body needs lots of carbs and fat, and she had cut all of those out.

    I agree with Audrey, thanks for this post

  3. Marci, my husband commented on the twelve month blogger: she needs a job.

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  5. My scales put me in the obese category, too, on the body fat. But at 186, that's not a surprise. I wonder what it will say, if I can ever make it down past 160...

  6. 12 marathons in 12 months, I agree with Apis's hubby, she needs to get a life beyond running. I'd say that is a bit OCD.

    Believe it or not, I'm in the obese category on my fat measurement. I've decided not to worry about it. My weight is where it should be and I'm exercising.

    I don't think I would like that scale.

  7. I am curious how I would stack up on a fat scale. Although I think I would agree with Queen V. and not like it very much;)

    Oh and I almost forgot, Melissa I got the bracelet this weekend in the mail. I LOVE it! Thanks again:)