I was really glad to see that Kim and Kathy proposed a “Spring into Summer” contest as motivation for getting into shape, because I need all the help I can get. Some of you are probably thinking “Yeah, right.”
I may LOOK fairly thin, but the truth is, I’m Skinny Fat. I’m one of those people who has a normal body mass index (BMI), but a high body fat percent. I’ve always suspected that I probably carried fat around my internal organs, because even at my slimmest, my body fat percent was on the high side. The people doing the tests over the years were always quite surprised, since I didn’t look like I carried that much fat. I even qualified for weight-loss rebates from my health insurance for a couple of years because my body fat was so high.
I used to be a good bit heavier than I am now. I was eating a low-fat diet and I exercised a lot, but still, I seemed to just keep gaining a few pounds every year. I finally came to the understanding that in my quest to eat a low-fat diet, I was eating very little protein – and what I was eating was a lot of bread, pasta, rice, and white potatoes. And I was always, always hungry. I couldn’t go without a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. I’d have lunch, and by 3:00 I’d be so hungry I’d have a piece of rye toast or some dry, nonfat breadsticks. By 5:00 I was starving again. And I was always tired.
I changed my diet to include more good fats, more lean protein, and less refined carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, and white potatoes became occasional treats instead of daily fare. The added protein and fat kept me satisfied to the point where I rarely snacked. I dropped weight and my energy increased tremendously. I looked and felt better than I had in many years. I finally settled into a weight that I was happy with, and I maintained that weight for several years with virtually no effort. My body fat, though still high, was at least within the recommended range.
Then came the cruises.
My first 2-week cruise packed on 5 pounds. I figured it wouldn’t be hard to lose it, but I’d fallen off the wagon, and just couldn’t climb back on. I knew I wasn’t eating the way I should, but I didn’t have the willpower to stop. Then came another 2-week cruise, and another 5 pounds. And even worse, that was when I retired, so I stopped doing my normal 1-hour lunch walks, and my weight-lifting at the office gym. Although I did finally start eating better, the lack of exercise was a big problem. And more pounds were added, and my butt got flabbier. But still, I totally lacked motivation to make the changes I needed to do.
Last October I was tested again for the first time in a few years, and the results were pretty disturbing.
The term Normal Weight Obese is used for people with a normal BMI, but whose body fat percent is greater than 30% for women (20% for men). Fortunately, I’m not quite there. My BMI is 21, which is good. My body fat percent though, is 29% – uncomfortably close to that obesity level. My doctor wants it to be under 26%.
The only way to do that is exercise. I hate going to a gym, and although I love to walk, it was so hard to get myself to go out during the cold wintry days now that I don’t have people to walk with on a regular basis. But the weather is changing, and I’ve really been trying hard to do better. On the last vacation, I ate well on the cruise and used the gym, and did a lot of physical exercise during my days in Florida. Since coming back, I’ve tried to walk at least 30-60 minutes most days. If the weather is bad, I’ve been walking around the house and up and down the stairs. I need to get back to using my Wii Fit, which I stopped using because I felt so guilty about how bad I’d been over the holidays, and I didn’t want to see my Mii expand. Maybe one of these days I’ll even motivate myself to dust off those free weights in the basement.
So I took my weight and measurements last weekend, and will be playing along – even though my goal isn’t really a matter of losing weight, but changing my body composition.
By the way, I’m not maligning low-fat diets, or promoting low-carb diets. I think you can eat wisely or poorly on virtually any diet, and I was simply making bad choices when I was trying to eat a low-fat diet. I personally find that I eat less overall if I have a moderate amount of fat, but that may not be true for everyone. If I were to choose a low-fat diet again, I think I would do much better now simply by making better choices of the foods I would eat – such as having whole grains instead of the white bread, rice and pasta, and eating more lean protein.