Fitness & Health

Why You Should Care About Your Body Fat – Healthiest Selves Series

When you think about your body, do you think about the fat and muscle on your body? Do you consider what these ratios mean?

Body fat is something that I have thought about more and more these last few years.

I remember the seminars in school, where they brought in the representations of fat and muscle and explained to you how bad the fat was… blah blah blah.

I didn’t care about that back then! I was thin and never dreamed I would one day be “fat.”

Now that I have gotten older, I have a new appreciation for what they were trying to warn us about!

To be honest, the biggest reason James’ and I started this journey is due to the fact that we want to look good. We are tired of looking at ourselves in the mirror and not being happy with what we see. We are tired of our bodies having too much fat on them.

Then, as we have gotten farther into this journey, we have started to learn so much more about our bodies. While it started with wanting to feel good about ourselves, it has turned into so much more with understanding our bodies and trying to truly be healthy. Sure, we still want to be happy with our looks, but now we want to be healthy just to be healthy as well!

When it comes to fat, we have found that looking good and being healthy go hand in hand.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s scale, a healthy BMI for an adult is between 19 and 24. For body fat percentage, a woman is “acceptable” between 25% and 31% and a man is “acceptable” between 18% and 25%, according to bodybuilding.com.

BMI Scale from the Mayo Clinic:

Body Fat Percentage Scale from Bodybuilding.com:

WOMEN MEN
Obese: > 31% Obese: > 25%
Acceptable: 25-31% Acceptable: 18-25%
Fit: 21-24% Fit: 14-17%
Athletic: 14-20% Athletic: 6-13%
Essential fat levels: < 13% Essential fat levels: < 2-5%

 

While BMI is used in many settings, including the health and fitness world, it is a highly debated topic on whether or not it accurately measures a person’s body fat. Many argue that it is not extremely accurate to measure obesity/body fat. Other’s say that it works. From what I have read about it, it seems to work well if you are not a muscular person, but it does not give a good representation of your body fat if you have a lot of muscle. BMI only takes into account your height and weight, so muscle and anything else on your body can be mistaken for fat.

For example, according to the obesity chart, I am overweight. I am about 5’ 7” and I currently weigh more than 159 lbs. I’m not going to tell you the exact amount though! James is also in the overweight to obese range. If you are curious about your BMI, you can use the Mayo Clinic’s calculator here.

Then there’s the body fat percentage, which is more accurate.

Measuring your body fat percentage is so much more accurate because it takes into account muscle, bones, water, etc. But it does take a bit more work! You will need a body fat measurer called a Caliper. They look like this:

You use the Caliper to measure your skin folds on different parts of your body, then you can input them into this calculator on bodybuilding.com and find out where you land on the scale. This is a more accurate method due to the fact that you are not going to be able to pinch much of the skin over muscle, but you will be able to pinch your fat! The more you are pinching, the more fat on your body…

We haven’t done this recently, but I have a feeling we would land in some unsavory portions of the scale!

On the other end of the scale, another thing to watch out for today is what experts are calling “skinny fat.”

As described in this Time’s article, you can be thin and look “healthy”, but on the inside be very unhealthy. Thus the term, skinny fat.

In the Time’s article, Dr. Mark Hyman tells us, “When you’re eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods, it causes visceral fat storage, and that can lead to all sorts of risk factors of being overweight.”

Visceral fat storage is fat that is within your abdomen and surrounds your important internal organs. Higher levels of visceral fat have been linked to higher risks of type 2 diabetes, which is why the “skinny fat” phenomenon is becoming so huge and scary.

This skinny fat term is another reason why measuring your body fat percentage over your BMI is so important. Say you are thin and don’t have a lot of muscle, your BMI could be lower even though you have a lot more fat on your body than you would ever guess.

According to the Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults found on the CDC Website, if you are overweight or obese you are more likely to suffer from: High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, certain cancers, low quality of life, mental illness, and body pain.

These are the things we must fight against! Don’t leave this world sooner than you need to, or make your existence in this world harder than it needs to be, just because you have too much fat on your body. Find your reason to lose it, and let that motivate you! Maybe you are like James and me, and you are starting your journey by just wanting to look good for yourself. Great! Start there. Or, maybe you just read the consequences and you are ready to fight against those. Well, You’ve got this.

Whatever your reason, start today! Don’t let another minute pass you by!

Thanks for joining us for this week’s installment of our Healthiest Self Series,

Stay tuned next week for different ways you can start working to lose your body fat, and idea’s on how to find what’s best for you!

-Megan and James

 

 

 

 

 

 

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