Sunday, January 25, 2009

+27.5 (∆ -5.5)

Not so surprisingly, I've lost over 5 pounds in as many days. I say "not so surprisingly" because rapid weight loss (nicknamed, "water weight") is a common occurrence at the start of any dieting regime. While I always welcome the good news, I don't attribute too much to it. I might go another five days and lose only 1/2 of a pound, or none at all, so I'm clenching my teeth in preparation for that. The next few weeks are going to be about endurance and diligence, about establishing new eating habits. The next few weeks will be the hardest for me.

Another factor in losing weight is the one most people overlook: the body fat measurement. It's always gratifying to see the scale trend downward, but weight loss on its own is a deceptive marker of progress because you could lose five pounds of fat while also gaining five pounds of muscle. In that event, your net result is zero weight loss and if you're only staring at a scale, you might feel like all your hard work has been for naught, when in fact, you're making huge progress.

Thus, I decided to do a body fat measurement. The usual method of body fat measurement is done by immersing oneself underwater and using a body fat caliper (pictured at left). I could at least do a caliper test at the gym, but in the interests of immediacy, I felt a measurement via a simple web site would be good enough for now. I chose this one. The range of body fat for a healthy non-athletic male Caucasian is 15% and my body fat measurement was 20.7%. Doesn't sound like such a big deal, right? I mean, I'm stressing out over a simple 5.7%? For real? [NB: According to my new scale, my body fat percentage back then was actually 28.9%, a good deal higher than 20.7%. And 17% is a healthy percentage of body fat for a a fit male in my age range.]

Yes, for real. Though it sounds harmless, 5.7% of body fat could have massive health implications for me if I were diagnosed with diabetes. If I had a heart attack tomorrow, I'd have to take at least five pills every day... for the rest of my life. So it's not an exaggeration to say 5.7% is huge deal. In point of fact, that 5.7% threatens to shorten my life and is thus deserving of all my willpower.

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