Throwing out the Scale

17 Mar

This past weekend, I had one of the most informative weekends of my entire fitness-junkie career! I got a Hydrostatic Body Composition test, a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test and VO2Max test. Some of you may be wondering what in the world these are, so before I get into my results and how they will impact my training (and eating) I’m going to explain a little about each of the tests and why they’re important. If you’re familiar with these tests, skip over this next section and get to reading at the end.

Hydrostatic Body Composition Test
This is a fat test. Without going into too much complex detail, the way that this works is you get weighed on an underwater scale. You go into a tub and submerge your entire body onto this underwater scale, while underwater you blow out as much air as you possibly can from your lungs. This technique is more accurate than a fat scale, body pincher or hand-held body composition scanners at the gym.

It’s actually more important to know your body fat composition than your weight. Say what?!? The reason for this is because someone can be very thin and in the normal range of weight while having a high body fat percentage and on the flip side someone can be on the higher end of the scale and have a low body fat percentage. Also, the fastest and most efficient way to change the way your body looks is to lower body fat and build lean muscle. Read more about body fat tests.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) Test
This test determines how many calories you burn while at rest. The way the test works is you sit in a comfortable chair for 12 minutes while breathing into a tube.

The importance of this test is to determine how many calories someone needs to lose, gain or maintain weight. It can explain why despite eating a low-calorie diet you’re not losing weight. Believe it or not if you’re not getting enough calories that can hinder weight loss and muscle-building. Our bodies are very complex systems and there is more to meeting fitness goals than just exercising more and eating less.

VO2Max
The VO2max test measures your maximum level of exertion, in other words it measures how intensely you can possibly work-out before you can’t workout any more. It distinguishes if you are burning body fat, muscle & fat or purely muscle as you exercise. This test is performed on a treadmill while wearing a mask and breathing into a tube.

Since I am someone who is interested in burning fat it’s important for me to know my fat-burning zone, so that I can train in the fat burning zone. Since I want to build muscle and keep it on, I don’t want to be in the muscle-burning zone.

These are all very generic explanations of each of the tests, but hopefully you can get the idea of what they are and why they’re important. If you want any further explanation, leave a comment saying so and I’ll have Armando answer your questions.
The Results
I am very happy to have taken the above tests, because now I have an actual baseline to track my results. My body fat percentage is 16.4%, for a 30-year-old female 20-25% body fat is considered good. Naturally I am very happy to have a low body fat percentage. I see this as a testament to the healthy lifestyle changes I have made over the past years and all that my trainer has taught me.
The Changes
As of Sunday I am no longer going to try to hit a number on a scale. Armando has been trying to beat into my head that the number on the scale doesn’t matter, he’s been saying “it’s all about how your clothes fit, the way you look in the mirror and the number on the scale can remain the same but your body and it’s shape will change dramatically” (muscle to body fat ratio). My stubborn-self (what can I say I’m a Taurus) wanted to base things on the scale, so I would weigh myself and allow my moods to be affected by the little digits on the blue screen of the scale. I am finished with that. I am also going to be eating more which will result in having more energy throughout the day. Additionally the trainer is changing up my workouts for me to maximize the amount of muscle I keep on my body.
Well, that’s not entirely true, he’s been telling me to do some of these things all along. There are some habits that die hard, I would do certain things my way and not listen to his instructions. I’ve been able to get very fit and produce some amazing results despite my stubborn Taurian ways. I think I’ll let the expert do his job now and I’ll follow his instructions. I’ll be getting the tests again in the next six months so I’ll have plenty of time to track progress.
Have you gotten any of these tests? If so, how did it impact your training?
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7 Responses to “Throwing out the Scale”

  1. Katie March 17, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Joanna,
    Sounds pretty cool – I’d like to know my information, too. Do you know of any places where you can have those tests done? Places that might be in a lot of cities, I mean – I’m sure there are several in Chicago.

    • 40daykedge March 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

      Hi Katie! Honestly I don’t know how common testing facilities are big city or otherwise. The place we went with is in Indiana called http://ultimatetestlab.com. We had a big group so they came out to us. Higher-end gyms have them, around here LifeTime Fitness. Also Universities, I know that UIC (University of Illinois in Chicago) has a lab where you can take the tests. I’d say Google it for your area and ask around. It might take a little work, but it’s totally worth it. I am already feeling more energy from eating more calories.

  2. Katie March 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Cool, I’ll check with the U of A to start – thanks!

  3. simplyshaka March 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I’ve never done any of these but I’ve always been interested in the underwater body composition test. I have a scale and will hop on it from time to time but not as often as I used to (once a wk). I don’t measure b/c I will be good with it for a few weeks then slack off so I go by how my clothes fit.

  4. Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun March 18, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    That is a GREAT body fat % and done the most accurate way too so you know it’s good. How awesome. And yes on throwing out the scale. It certainly doesn’t show everything. :)

    • 40daykedge March 18, 2011 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks for the acknowledgment Tina.

  5. Garth Delikan May 26, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    Sounds like an absolutely awesome test! I think it’s awesome the way it actually did a little number in your head and changed your mindset about how you look, feel and now relate to your own body and fitness levels.

    Nice article thank you.

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