Monday, June 17, 2013

Embracing your body type...

Alternate titles include "a lesson 44 years in the making..." and "why I don't need weight when I scuba dive (I sink like a rock)"

As I walked up the stairs to the truck, I was thankful it was no longer lightening outside.  Having yourself weighed and body fat tested is mentally painful enough without dying of electrocution in the pool of water in the truck too. I got down to my swimsuit and stepped on the scale.  Higher than I thought it would be but it is the middle of the day so I figured some of that was food and water. (always justifying the number...)  "Now we are going to take pictures", he says.  I tried to decide if I should give sort of a sad "before" look or just look natural.  I opted for natural.  Luckily there were only two, one from the front and one from the side.  I would do this again in six weeks so I suppose they want to be able to show progress.



The pool of water in the truck was maybe seven feet long and three feet wide.  I stepped in and got into a pushup position as instructed.  A weight belt was placed on my back.  I then submerged myself underwater and expelled all the air out of my lungs.  The guy knocked on the side to indicate when I could come up.  We did that three times.  As I was drying off, he asked me if I was a runner.  I had my hat from the Flying Pig Marathon with me, I thought maybe he had seen it.  I told him I did triathlons.

"That explains it", he said.  "We usually only see body fat this low with serious athletes or people who compete in bodybuilding.  You are under optimal body fat".  It took me a minute to process what I had just heard.  He showed me the chart.  "You are 8.3%.  Optimal body fat for your age group is 11.6%, you actually need a certain amount of fat to function so you probably don't want to go much lower".  Uh, I'm sorry what?  I am pretty sure there were other things said but I just couldn't believe what I was hearing.    Does he not see these big legs?  Surely something must be wrong with the machine.  I had weighed myself on the scale at home.  I know those things aren't accurate but was sure I was at least be in the teens or low twenties percentage-wise.


As I was driving home, I started to process the information I was given.  The big legs that have bothered me ever since I was young are just who I am.  Apparently what I thought was "fat" were actually just some big ole quad muscles. Huh.  I had been chasing a certain standard for how I wanted to look and how much I wanted to weigh for YEARS now only to find out that it really seems to be physically impossible.  Not to be overly dramatic but I really and truly thought that somewhere underneath there were thinner thighs and all I had to do was work hard enough to see them.  I was always a little bit bigger than the other kids in school.  I mean, I quit gymnastics because a fellow gymnast at the ripe old age of 6 told me I had fat toes.  There was that birthday party where someone called me porky pig.  I was never seriously overweight but just always felt larger than everyone else and those feelings carried with me through life.

Let's face it, I started running back in the day because I wanted to get in shape.  I am so thankful I did because it led me down the path I am on now.  I have never been healthier, to be sure...  Six months ago, I started listening to Vinnie Tortorich's podcasts.  I finally cleaned up my eating habits and dropped all the junk food out of my life (which helped me lose 8 pounds and some of the fat as well).  The funny thing is, I have been at the same number on the scale for 3-4 months now.  I was sure I had just plateaued and would eventually start losing again.  I thought that maybe if I cut some of the dairy out this time that would do it...  Even today as I stepped into that testing truck I was feeling like I still had work to do in order to reach my goal. - you know to see those thinner thighs and all.

Vinnie is forever telling people on his podcast to ignore the scale.  There is so much truth to that.  Here I was thinking I was stuck and the reality is my body was pretty much done losing weight and was trying to tell me to get a clue.  Time for me to accept myself for who I am and embrace the big quads that the good Lord gave me. I feel kind of stupid about the whole thing.  You see the magazines and people on TV and you want to look like they do without considering for even a second that maybe your body just isn't built that way.  A lifetime of chasing after some kind of ideal that just isn't possible.  In a way it is kind of freeing.  It only took me 44 years to get to this point but better late then never!      

    

13 comments:

Jo said...

Karen, I love your honesty and transparency. Us ladies are so hard on ourselves, hey? When I started running/exercising, I used to freak out because the scale was going UP & I thought I was doing something 'wrong'! But I agree, it's important to measure our success based on how we feel & focus on inspiring wellness in others, not what the # on the scale says, and not how loose/tight our running shorts are. :)

Mike said...

Wow, that is an awesome low body fat. I think some bacon is in order :-).

That Pink Girl said...

I love everything about this post. Wow. Your body does SO MUCH for you - really incredible things! Just love that you had that "a ha!" moment!
Great post, great truths. We should all be striving to be the healthiest we can - not to meet some arbitrary standard. Well said!

(And fat toes? Sigh, kids!)

Matthew Smith said...

First of all, you look great! Secondly, your fat percentage is crazy! That's much lower than mine! Thirdly, big legs just mean a strong bike at Louisville! You're perfect! :) Everyone works on that Body Image thing, but it always helps when a "test" gives you a self-esteem boost.

Jessica B. said...

Great post! You look great. I am glad this test gave you some assistance in accepting your body. I want to get one of these test now.

ltlindian said...

You rock! You're a skinny bitch and you didn't even know it! ;) Now go eat a cookie.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

What great test results! Sounds like you don't need to change anything you're doing after all and don't even need to go back in 6 weeks!

ajh said...

Laughing at Mike's comment. Definitely time for bacon or Ben and Jerry's.

Karen said...

Hilarious - yes cookies, bacon and ice cream for everyone! :)

Kate Geisen said...

Isn't it funny that it takes something so objective for us to accept what we look like as ok? And your thighs have never looked big to me in your pictures. :)

lindsay said...

umm. i have never thought you were "fat"! remotely!!! you are crazy... ;) strong legs - woot woot! better for cycling and running (and now squatting) :)

train-n-tri said...

I did body fat testing a year ago. I was happy that as a 52-year-old woman I had body fat of 16 percent. I don't worry too much about not seeing my abs anymore. My body gets me through triathlons and is strong. We all need to stop focusing on the numbers and focus on our body's ability be athletic. Enjoyed your blog.

Meggan Johnson said...

So sorry I missed this buy so glad I read it. Thanks for sharing!!