Monthly Archives: August 2010

Body Fat. What I see; what I think.

I feel a series of posts coming about body fat- which to me is the real measure of healthy size (or weight).  This today is just the first.  What else would you like to know?

When I talk about weight loss, weight goals,  or anything about body size/composition in my head I always mean body fat composition.  Weight in and of itself is a rather meaningless number to me.  Clothing size?  Even less with today’s vanity sizing. What is important when deciding what is a healthy body is how much fat is a person carrying around daily.

There are two trends today that seem opposed to anything akin to a rational look at this.  The celebrities with their obsessive drive to be too skinny for words and an apparent reaction among many other young women to reject that “celebrity skinny” and swing too far in the other direction.  Accepting weights/behaviors that in reality have the firmly ensconced in “body fat too high land” and choosing to define it as healthy.

I am NOT leaning far over on the body fat scale.  I have no problem with women with no health concerns falling right around 25% body fat – a number that falls into an ‘healthy’ range in the body fat chart above.

Yet I find women who want to say they are healthy when they fall into a body fat range somewhere in the 30s.  (A quick and not too accurate way to measure this:  pinch the skin just above the top crest of your pelvis.  Is that pinch thicker than one inch?  You probably fall into the 30% range).

What does 30% body fat look like?  To my eye, this person will usually have:

  • a soft chin line -the jaw bone is not clearly defined and the skin below the jaw is soft and slightly sagging, slight jowls or the beginning of a double chin shows.
  • a lack of definition of the muscles on the arm.  The upper arm has a somewhat round appearance instead of being able to sense distinct muscle groups.
  • a convex shape to the abdominal cavity and trouble determining where the ribcage ends or the pelvic begins.
  • with a woman, there is almost always “back boobage”- excess fat and skin and protrudes around the back of the bra.  There may also be a crease in the back near the waist.
  • some muscle definition of the legs.  Our legs can’t help but to get some exercise- and the muscles here usually can be seen with noticeable muscle definition.  When the lower legs become rounded and soft in appearance, the person usually ends up falling into the truly obese range.

So even before consulting a physician, nutritionist, or personal trainer you can look into your mirror and come up a general, very loose assessment of where you fall on the ‘healthy’ or ‘not so much’ range of body fat.  This page from BBL offers the chance to take a couple simple measurements and determine a body fat percentage using the US Navy calculating method. No calipers or special equipment needed.

I have found that by lower that number only 5% or so women often lose that “soft” chin line, much of the convex abdomen, and gain much more definition in their arms.  Presenting a healthier appearance to the world.

Complaint Free Monday

There was an “experiment” run on Twitter today – maybe you knew about it?  It is called #ComplaintFreeMonday and the concept is to only speak (tweet) positive things throughout the day.  Instead, we were encouraged to seek out the positive and share it, leaving the negative out of our environment for the day.

This is a mini-example of the Complaint-Free Life though I’m not sure that CFL inspired CFM.

While I was working -and busy – most of the day, I did take time to notice positive things in my day:

  • one client showed up in fabulous fitting skin-tight stretch shorts  And BRAGGED about how thrilled she was to feel good wearing them.  (btw- no, she’s not in her mid-20s.  She’s in her late 60s.  And so thrilled to be showing off her body again).
  • one person I left a message for actually called me back.
  • it was comfortable in the gym, where we’re having a heatwave outside.
  • traffic wasn’t too bad.

You know, I think I felt more positive today because of that perspective.

Are you on Twitter?  If so, may I encourage you to join me NEXT WEEK for #ComplaintFreeMonday?  (and leave your handle in the comments so I can be sure I’m following you.  Me?  Not too surprising I’m #debroby).

A “Fun” Workout Plan for clients

Often I have a client who has purchased a set of 3 workout sessions.  These are designed to give the client an idea of what it would be like to work with a trainer; the clients often believe we should use these 3 sessions to teach them “everything they want to know” about working out.

Ignore the fact that in 3 sessions they cannot learn how to feel if they are in a neutral posture -if their shoulders are down and back, their abs engaged, their chins level, their glutes engaged, their feet straight, their knees in line with their shoulders, hips and feet.   They believe they can learn this AND how to perform a exercise AND how to decide reps and sets to get the most done.

Anyway, I always try to “give them what they want” in the first 2 sessions – instruction using the machines, the cables, a couple free weights.  How to foam roll, stretch, do some core work, use different cardio equipment than the treadmill.

But the third and final workout I give a “trainer special”: a supersetted workout using stretchy bands, the BOSU, medicine balls – not a look at one of the machines.  I still put them through a full body workout and get them so damn sweaty and winded that I KNOW they can feel the difference in the workout.

Then I promise more like that if they sign up for more sessions.  It’s like showing them how to drive a subcompact car -then giving them a taste of driving a race car.  If I could take economics out of the picture, I’m sure I’d have most of the clients signing on the dotted line before the sweat dried on their foreheads.

An example:

  • Chest pass with a 4-6# Medicine Ball
  • Burpees
  • BOSU lateral jump-squats
  • Stretchy Band lateral tube walking -with bicep curls
  • MB ball slams

New York Frame of Mind

Roni, Sahar and I - image by Fitarella

If you didn’t know, I spent a extra long weekend in NYC attending BlogHer10.  Well, kind of a weekend- I flew out all day Wednesday, was there for Thursday through Sunday afternoon, then flew home.  Got home about 9:30 pm. Sunday night.

I liked NYC more than I expected.  It reminded me of Chicago, which is one of my favorite cities.  The food was great (except hotel food -which is after all hotel food: too many simple carbs and grains).  The conference had more attendees than last year, but the facility was spacious enough that we never felt cramped.  My roomie, Heather from ClizBiz,  was the tops.

I got sick again (so far every BlogHer has had me coming home ill). This time, it appears to only be a head cold not the infamous BlogHerBola of past years (usually whatever the current form of influenza is).

For those who were not in NYC for BlogHer 10, the live blog is up here. I spoke on a panel with Roni Noone from Roni’s Weigh and Sahar Aker from about using our blogs to motivate and instruct ourselves and others.

What Are American’s Eating?

"pie chart: what Americans Eat"

Interesting to look at this pie chart of what the “normal” American eats.  It explains to me why we are an obese nation.

I don’t think my personal diet looks like this.  I’m returning to my “success” way of eating: LOTS of vegetables; protein when I work out; fruit; and limited grains (for me, oatmeal, brown rice, and smaller whole grains.  No wheat.)  I don’t do cow’s milk.

Does this chart represent YOUR diet?  Your families?

Healthy Eating: Apple-Pom Turkey Thigh

Yes, FDA, I was given the POM wonderful juice which served as inspiration for altering this recipe. But, just as the food going into my mouth was my own, these words comin’ out are mine, too.

After FitBloggin last spring, I had an opportunity to receive some small bottles of Pom Wonderful juice. While at the conference, they handed out samples of the juice and a recipe book, but I was disappointed in the recipes including. I had thought that POM was a natural for some kind of sauces for chicken or turkey- and found none.  I was given several bottles to use them in developing some healthy recipes using the juice the way I wanted.

Uhm, yeah, it was also two weeks after I started working as a personal trainer at a gym 25 miles from my home.  Between time spent at the gym and commute time, I was limited in my creative cooking time.  But last week I was inspired.

Turkey thighs are healthy and one of the few fairly inexpensive cuts of meat.  My local supermarket had a special on packages – so I went searching the internet for a recipe to use them.  Ideally, a recipe that I could adapt to use the POM juice.

I found it at Martha Stewart:  Apple-Braised Turkey Thighs.

Now I suspect that POM may lose a lot of its anti-oxidant properties if it’s cooked too long, so my plan was to add the juice after the thighs were cooked, as I was warming and thickening the sauce.

I followed the recipe fairly closely (for me)- only substituting onions for shallots.  But when I lifted the lid for the last 1/2 hour of cooking, the pan looked a bit dry.  I decided to add the POM at that point and let it cook blend more with the pan juices.

The results?  A wonderful dish.  Tender, flavorful turkey -moist and appealling.  A pan sauce of apples and onions and wonderfully complimentary pan sauce.  Served it -like the photo in the article- with green beans.  It would wonderful with chunky-ish garlic mashed red potatoes- but I didn’t have time to fix those.  So we had brown rice instead.

I STILL have a couple bottles of POM.  Suggest a recipe for me to try -or adapt- to use these.