YALL. grab a seat and a cup of coffee cause i have a feeling this is going to be a long one.
i’ll be talking numbers a little bit in this post, so if that is a sensitive topic for ya, feel free to skip this one. do what’s best for you! xo
if you’ve been reading for awhile, you may remember that way back in February of last year (so about a year ago), i had to have my body fat tested as a part of my physiology of nutrition class at UCLA. it was this ancient little bioelectrical impedence machine, and i had eaten a huge meal before i went to get tested. and i distinctly remember the moment that i was handed a little piece of paper telling me that i had 30% body fat. we had learned in class that 30% was the start of the obese category.
i remember walking home in tears and calling my mom wondering how in the world i could be considered “obese”. half of me wanted to say that the test was wrong, but the other half of me was like, well this is science, and i probably shouldn’t make excuses for myself. and then i had to write an entire PAPER on the fact that i was borderline obese all the while wondering how the hell that was even possible.
long story short, i spent quite a bit of time battling my mind in the time period after that. yes, i had gained about 20 pounds since high school, but i still fit in the same size clothes, so i really truly had no idea how it was even possible for that number to be correct. if you know the story of my past, you know that in high school and a year or so into college i was fighting a body image battle, hard. in high school i ate as little as 1200 calories a day trying to lose weight because i wanted to look better and wondered why i wasn’t skinny enough. i used to weigh myself every day and let that scale dictate my happiness.
(a photo from a 2011 trip to maui, in which i spent far too much time wondering how i looked in my bikini instead of enjoying vacation)
weightlifting was part of what got me out of that mindset, as i started to eat more food and enjoy it, and realized that i needed to fuel my body if i wanted to improve my fitness. along the way, i gained about 20 pounds in the last 4 years (which was a very good thing, NOT a bad thing). and then i had my body fat tested and had a seed of doubt planted in my mind that in listening to my body and fueling it well, somehow that had failed.
a few weeks ago, i got my body fat tested again with a far more accurate method- hydrostatic body fat testing. i wanted to get it tested again because i had been haunted for almost a year by that 30% number. most of the time, i did a good job of taking actionable steps to love my body, but every time i had a bad body image day, that 30% came into my mind.
would like to note that your body fat percentage DOES NOT dictate your worth in the slightest. (easier said that believed, i know, but it’s true). no one cares how much body fat you have. when you die no one’s going to talk about how much you weighed. and you only get one body in this lifetime. treating it with love and focusing on other aspects of yourself are FAR more important.
(a photo from maui in 2015, when i had a much better relationship with my body)
i went into the test knowing full well that the number could be high again and i was just ready to accept that. i also wanted the knowledge about my body to see how i could improve my performance in crossfit and to make sure i was fueling my body appropriately.
when i saw the results, i was shocked. my body fat percentage was 21.4%. almost a full 10% different than what i had been told the year prior. of the 162 pounds that i weigh- which is about the same as last year-, 128 of that is total body weight (muscle, connective tissue, bones, organs, etc). literally with zero fat on me i would weigh 128 pounds. and of the fat that i do have, most of that is essential for body functioning and my happiness. could i be leaner? yeah, probably. is that something that i really want to spend my time and energy on? not really.
to see those numbers really put things into perspective for me. i was shocked that in high school, 125 pounds was my weight “goal”, and to know that now, i have more than that amount of body mass not including fat. and to see that my basal metabolic rate- aka the energy i need to just exist and lay in bed all day- was 1800 calories.
i know this is a lot of numbers talk and for the most part, i stay away from talking numbers on my blog. but i felt like i needed to share this because in the last year, those bad body image days that i had i struggled through silently.
but to know that the fat on my stomach and my inner thighs does not make me unhealthy, does not make me obese, and is necessary for my body functioning, reinforces everything i believe about health. to know that my intuition was RIGHT and that i was not doing anything wrong or gaining a ton of unhealthy fat over the years. to know that at the end of the day, i really do know my body best. to know that the weight i have is a shit ton of muscle that carries me through the days and allows me to lift and run and do all the things that i love.
i hope that, if you gain anything from this post, it is to not go through what i did in the last year. to not let a number dictate your body image, whether it be a weight or a body fat % or whatever. to know that you truly do know your body best, and feeding it well, moving it enough, and listening to it is the most important thing at the end of the day.
it is insane to me that i let a false number dictate my happiness on bad days throughout this past year. i never would have even had my body fat tested if i didn’t have to for class, and to think that i let some machine from the 80s get the better of me makes me want to scream and punch something.
but it also makes me incredibly proud that during the last year, i was strong enough to not let that number affect my treatment of my body.
i still ate enough, i still moved when i wanted to and because it made me feel good, i allowed myself to be happy and enjoy food. and i know that i would not have been capable of that 4 years ago. which shows just how far i’ve come.
a long time ago, a number like that would have made me restrict my food and workout a lot more. i had days where i wanted to do that, but i did not. i didn’t let that little voice win. and that is something i am proud of. i’m not proud of a little number that does not define me. i am proud of my actions and how i treat myself.
and with that, i will continue to eat well, listen to my body, eat donuts when i want them, and ignore the scale. because who gives a f? instead of focusing on how i look i’m going to focus on what positivity i can put out into this world and how i can make a difference.