Bailey Schneider’s diary – Day 1
I had my first assessment done on the 20th February 2012. It was horrid… That torture device (known as calipers) used to squeeze fat to work out a % of body fat was embarrassing. Especially with bright TV lights filming it all.
We all carry some body fat, some more than others. Some a lot more! A certain amount of fat is essential to bodily functions. Fat regulates body temperature, cushions and insulates organs and tissues and is the main form of the body's energy storage.
Your body fat percentage is simply the percentage of fat your body contains. If you weigh 70kgs and have 20% fat, it means that your body consists of 14kgs fat and 56kgs lean body mass (bone, muscle, organ tissue, blood etc).
It’s more difficult to measure body fat percentage than it is measuring overall body weight, which is probably why most of use weight as our guide in terms of success. However, when we start on a journey to a better body, such as the USN 12-Week Body & Lifestyle Challenge, body fat percentage changes MUST be measured to gauge actual progress.
Bailey Schneider’s diary – Day 8
I am going to be weighed today. I am so excited but as soon as I arrived, I am suddenly nervous. I have been eating right, exercising and taking the right supplements and today was my first measurement taking/weigh-in.
I was excited to get there and then I suddenly felt nervous with these thoughts. What if I hadn't lost any weight or body fat?
What if I am one of those "weird" people and this doesn't work for me?
I had to get into my bikini and stand there vulnerably, while Trevor from USN took the "pincher", otherwise known as my torture device to my tummy, my arms, my legs and so on to measure my body fat.
From there I had to stand on the scale and then had to wait for my results.
I had gained weight – 1.2kg, much to my horror BUT I was assured it's muscle gain and muscle weighs more than anything. The true result is in the body fat measurement.
Drum roll please... I am down 3.8% body fat in ONE week!
The amount of body fat you carry, your body fat percentage, makes a difference to your body shape and your health.
Your shape is affected by body fat percentage because muscle tissue is more compact than fat – a balloon containing 1kg of muscle tissue would be smaller than a balloon containing 1kg of fat.
So a woman, 1.65m tall weighing 65kg who does regular muscle enhancing exercise, will have a lower body fat percentage, and look slimmer, than a woman of the same height and weight who doesn't exercise and therefore has a higher ratio of body fat.
Bailey Schneider’s diary – Day 23
I am being weighed today and again the nerves set in. Especially since I only lost 0.8% body fat and no body weight last week.
I arrive at the USN offices, Midrand and get measured and weighed. I’m down 1kg again, but I cannot get past the 71kg mark.
I have to ask Gareth and Trevor to tell me again… Down 6% body fat this week, which means in 3 weeks, I’ve lost 10%. I’ve gone from 33% -23% AMAZING!!
Measuring changes in body fat percentage, rather than just measuring changes in weight, can be very motivational when you're dieting – especially if you are exercising as part of your weight-loss regime.
Buy how do you measure body fat? The two most practical ways to measure body fat are Bioelectrical Impedance and Skinfold Measurement.
Bioelectrical Impedance technology means that body fat monitors are now easy to operate and available for home use – similar to a bathroom scale, only more costly.
A very low level electrical signal is sent through the body – normally by standing on sensors on a body fat monitor. The signal travels quickly through lean tissue, which has a high percentage of water and is therefore a good conductor of electricity, and more slowly through fat, as fat has a lower percentage of water and is therefore a poor conductor of electricity. Bioelectrical Impedance devices use the information from this signal to work out body fat percentage.
Skinfold Measurement involves a skinfold caliper to pinch predetermined sites on the body. The tongs pinch the skin, pulling the fat away from the muscles and bones. A gauge on the calipers measures the thickness of that pinch.
It is recommended that this test is carried out by a professional and should be repeated to verify measurements. To make the test reliable you should not exercise beforehand. Exercise makes your blood travel to your skin to help you cool down and this causes the skin to swell, making your test inaccurate.
These images show the sites where skinfold measurement needs to be taken from on men and women. Note than women naturally have a higher percentage of body fat compared to men.
Healthy body-fat percentage ranges:
FEMALE 20-39 YEARS OLD – healthy range: 21-33%
FEMALE 40-59 YEARS OLD – healthy range: 23-34%
FEMALE 60 + YEARS OLD – healthy range: 24-36%
MALE 20-39 YEARS OLD – healthy range: 8-20%
MALE 40-59 YEARS OLD – healthy range: 11-22%
MALE 60 + YEARS OLD – healthy range: 13-25%