Picture this: you wake up every day and let the number on a scale determine your mood, the amount of energy you have, and even your motivation for the rest of the day. You let that number be the sole determining factor as to whether or not you are a step closer to achieving your goal. Millions live with that torment every day. Imagine living for a goal without any real plan, understanding, or direction regarding how to get there—being attached to an outcome that you have little control over. This is how most people set their health goals, and it can lead to an overwhelming feeling of failure when they fall short of that goal.
Now think about how you set your health goals in the past. Did you say something like, “I am going to lose X pounds”? At the time, did you know your starting point (speed of metabolism)? Did you set multiple short-term goals, or only one big goal? Was your weight your only measurement? Did you have any real plan for how you were going to achieve your goal? Did you feel like you were making permanent internal and external body changes on your way to your goal, or were the changes simply temporary?
The reality is that we have been trained for years to focus solely on our weight and to let that number determine every adjustment we make. Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain it, your weight, wherever you wish it to be, is only part of your goal equation. Your actual focus should be your body composition. The accurate way to set your goals is through knowing your body composition.
Body Composition: Your Body’s Makeup in Percentages
Body composition is divided into two main categories: body fat (all the fat in your body) and lean body mass (everything minus the fat in your body—primarily muscle, bone, and water). The easiest way to find out your body composition is to measure your body-fat percentage.
For example, if Jane weighs 150 pounds and has 20 percent body fat, she would have 30 pounds of body fat (150 × 0.2 = 30). Then, by simply subtracting Jane’s 30 pounds of body fat from her overall weight of 150 pounds, we find out that Jane has 120 pounds of lean body mass (150 – 30 = 120). These calculations show that Jane’s body composition is 30 pounds of body fat and 120 pounds of lean body mass.
Your Two Types of Body Fat
One type of body fat is between your skin and muscle (subcutaneous), and the other type is found underneath the muscle that surrounds your organs (visceral). All body-fat tests will estimate both types of fat in your body, so all you really need to know is the overall estimated percentage of your body fat. There are multiple ways to have your body composition measured, a few being, skin caliper, body fat scale, Inbody, hydrostatic (underwater) body pod (air chamber), dex scan (x-ray), etc… The key is to choose a method that you can consistently use.
Your Level of Health
Now once you know your body fat percentage it’s important to evaluate what that percentage actually means. Here is a chart with 4 levels of health; your first goal is to be at least a moderate level of health, which puts you in a healthy body fat range. As you continue rocking your health you can progress towards a fit or performance level depending on your goals.
There you have it, an immediate shift from the nonsense of BMI, to a powerful movement to numbers that actually provide you with a detailed picture of your overall health. My suggestion is to get your body fat measured this week and get clear on your body composition; it will become your starting point.
Get Your Tools to Win
For more info about the speed of your metabolism and body composition dive into Chapter 3 in our NY Times Best Seller, Body Confidence and for a complete plug and play plan to maximize your results read our new bestselling book Why Kids Make You Fat …and How To Get Your Body Back and Make Your 8 Week Run.