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.