Posted by: oceannah | August 6, 2012

composition, fat & muscle update

Well I’m two months into the summer burn and things are moving along well enough.  I’ve never been one who easily drops weight.  However the added emphasis on body composition has been very enlightening.  In the beginning of June my body fat percentage was 38.7%.  Today my body fat percentage has dropped to 33.9%.  While that is a nice tidy drop of 4.8%, trust me, at 5’4″ I still have a ways to go.  At 149.6 pounds, I am teetering ever closer to the 50 pounds lost mark.  Even though I’ve *mostly* dropped my dependence of the scale, I’ll certainly do a jig when I reach that scale goal.

One reason I became interested in the composition of my body is because the scale was so infuriating to me (and many other women too).  I went through a period back in the winter where I was doing a running average instead of the daily, sometimes wild, fluctuations on the scale.  To maintain some semblance of sanity around the whole thing I created some cartoons to keep it light called Jane Average

What I’ve come to realize is that weighing X is not the same as having X body fat.  Although my overall scale weight has changed modestly, (down 5.6 pounds total since June), the way my body has changed is pretty interesting.  I have decreased my overall fat mass (how many pounds of me is actual fat) by 9.35 pounds!  That’s pretty awesome!  At the same time, I’ve increased my lean body mass (how much of me is muscle) by 3.09 pounds.  So my clothes fit better, my body is firmer.  My goal is not necessarily to weigh any particular number.  My goal is to continue to increase my lean body mass and have my body fat percentage fall to 20% or less.  I am not sure what lean body mass that would equate with.

The primary reason for me to continue to lose body fat and increase muscle is that muscle has many wonderful attributes.  First and foremost, it looks better than the same mass of fat.  A pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh a mere pound…but the mass of each is astonishingly different.  A pound of muscle takes up about THREE TIMES LESS mass on the body than a pound of fat.  So by trading fat for muscle, overall size of the body will decrease, but the scale may not move much or may even increase.  Muscle is also a better regulator of the hormone insulin, is more capable of managing blood sugars efficiently, and muscle requires more calories to maintain, so the  more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolic rate…which determines how many calories you can consume daily.  That is very good news indeed.

I’ve been doing a variety of different things to change my body.  For firming up I have been lifting weights.  Recently I bought a kettlebell and have been using that also.  I do all manner of cardio from HIIT, to biking, swimming, running, hiking, you name it.  I’m simultaneously training for a triathlon which is a year away yet, but I’m learning A LOT about the sport of tri!

I’ve got another 5 weeks of the summer burn, and I’ll maximize what I can of those weeks to shave off more fat and build up some more muscle.  I’ve been getting good remarks and  compliments from friends and family alike that I look…a) awesome   b) great!! wow.   c) freakin’ a.  I’ll take the compliments, they help when there’s nothing left in me but I still need to do my cardio or lift or take a swim.  They are a fine fuel to keep me moving forward.

So that’s the update.  What say you?  Do you want to lose some weight, change your shape increase your endurance?  What helps you stay motivated?  I’d love to hear about your updates too.  Drop me a line why don’t you.  I hope your week is off to a great start!


5 August 2012 (2 months) stats

         Start/current (plus weekly loss)/total loss

Weight: 155.2/  149.6/  -.2#    -5.6

Body Fat% – 38.7/  33.9%  .-7%  -4.8%

Fat mass-   60.06# / 50.71 # /  -.1.25# /  -9.35#

LBM-  95.14#/ 98.23# / -.65#  /  +3.09#

Bust 39/ same/ same

Hips 38.5”/ 37./ same/  -1.5”

Waist (at narrowest) 36.75”/  34/ -.5”/   -2.75”

Belly button (at biggest) 39”/ 36.50/ -.50 /  -2.5”

Thigh 23.5”/ 22.25/ -.25/  -1.25

Upper arm 13/same  (! Really, still??)

Neck 12/same




  1. What say me? I say I don’t know how you have time to do all that, manage a very large garden, make pottery and baskets, manage a family, cook delectable meals and write a blog! Wow! Great! Awesome! Freakin’ a!!

    • haha! Kaye, you are so great! I ‘manage’ to do it in many ways because I have an awesome hubbie who helps out a lot, supports my wild and sometimes hair brained schemes (ie: cold thermogenesis) and I gave up that annoying time sucker called ‘working outside the home’ 🙂 I appreciate your cheering me on Kaye! Thanks, truly.

  2. I’m going to do these measurements in the morning and see where im at. You’re doing amazingly well!

    • Dontcha kind of wish that you had them from a year out?? Those would be massive changes. But truthfully, now that you are under your original goal weight, the composition makes even more sense to pay attention to. Let me know how your numbers work out Sandi.

      • I do have them from last year 🙂 Somewhere in this blog, will have to try to find them. I wish I had paid more attention to them and had done more body parts! Thanks for the reminder… Going to measure now!

      • wahooo…I’m so happy for you that you have those numbers! You’re going to be blown away!

      • Now I need to figure out how to do the body comp calcs. Although we do have a fancy machine at the hospital.

      • Sandi, I can help you with the comp if you want…it’s not so hard really, just a bunch of numbers plugged into programs…BUT if you have a hydrostatic body fat pool at your hospital USE IT!!! it cost a bundle to get it done here…if you can get it done there on the cheap or free, it would be an excellent thing to have. Hydrostatic weight is the sine qua non of ALL time!! The calculator I use is notoriously high (the navy formula) but I started w/ it and it is consistent…if not wholly accurate at least I know that I’m probably a bit less rather than a bit more.

  3. You are doing such a great job! I was just looking in the mirror this morning (which never seems to be a satisfactory thing to do) and decided to do something about the 15 lbs that have crept back up on me – and perhaps a few more. Thanks for posting your success – it helps my motivation.

    • That’s great Heidi. It’s never too late to get moving and change your body!

  4. Great job!! I think life will settle out a bit after this next race and I will be more concentrated…eating has been all over the place…poor planning on my part! Every time one of us mentions the tri next year I get excited to meet you all and have us some FUN!

    • Super! I think it’s hard during summer to reign in the food stuffs….so many fun events. I’m sure you are in a pretty good place with all the training you do! I’m excited about our tri also!! Can someone be sure to let me know when they open enrollment??! Thanks.

  5. Congrats on breaking the 50lb mark!! Always seems to be the invisible-unbreakable psych line (for me, at least): AND still maintaining your bust (not the usual result here) while getting rid of belly fat? Yahoo! Guessing that your healthier, balanced approach is why it’s working FOR your body, not against it like a straightup calorie reduction (starvation): diet does.
    On using kettle bells and then commenting on no upper arm loss… C’mon, really? Remember those fat v muscle stats you were just quoting?
    Anyway, your successes are inspiring – no matter how large or small; )
    After reading you and Kaye: supportive Awesome hubbie – yup, that’s “freakin’ A”!! Oh, and trading a “job” for everything you accomplish at home – well, to steal a certain credit card’s tag line – “Priceless!!”

    • Deb, I’m not actually there at 50 yet…a bit over half a pound to go. The upper arm loss IS an issue, yes, kb’s are going to build, not a problem…the issue at hand here is the bat wings. I’ve made significant improvement on the triceps and biceps, which is great sure, but the flab that hangs off my upper arms has had no real/measurable decrease 😦 Starvation diets don’t work, as you know…I eat great food! Could not do the exercise I do on say a ‘grapefruit diet…or cabbage soup or any other whacky mono-food/starvation plan. Thanks for your great comments Deb!

      • SO might this loose skin benefit from extra doses of Vit C? It helps tighten/tone cell walls of the veinous system – why not the outer parts of us as well? BTW, in about 15 seconds of looking at google (didn’t even need to open a page; ) they all said that’s the last/worst thing to go.

      • It is Deb…On the upside my triceps are getting some nice cuts, just drat that flabby skin….I’ll look into the Vit C! Thanks for the tip!

  6. Way to go! I have learned to use the scale but more importantly, to rely on the pants. When the pants are feeling tight it is time to adjust the calories in and calories out. Can’t wait to hear more about your summer burn.

    • You are right on! The pants are more telling than the scale…especially as we age. I was reading Susun Weeds book about menopause and she says that the waist of a menopausal woman can grow throughout the day by many inches!! Always measure in the morning 😉

  7. Great job – especially on the body fat percentage!
    Aren’t those upper arms a pain??? I haven’t found anything that really helps, besides creative application of self-tanner 🙂

    • Thanks Moonday! The back of the arm is SUCH a toughie…

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