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The Comment that Changed My Life

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

So a couple of weeks back I posted my first blog for Phase 2 of my plan. My focus now on body fat, rather than weight. When I was obese and started on SP, my body fat was 25%. When I was healthiest, working out regularly a year out of college, I was 15%.

At 21% it was obvious which number I was closer to.


###THE COMMENT
So, having solicited advice on how to get there, a dear SparkFriend (all of whom I give much love) left a comment.

Basically it said (a) 21% was a reasonably good body fat percentage and (b) 15% was a percentage was more for body building competition.

At first I was like "Really? when I was 15%, I did not look like a body builder." I shrugged shoulder at first, but then realized that I hadn't really looked into what a healthy body fat percentage was.


###THE CHARTS SPOKE
So I did an image search for body fat percentage charts and found plenty of age based ones. All of them pretty much said the same things.
- 15% for someone fresh out of college is low end of average
- 21% for someone fresh out of college is at the high end of average teetering on above average
(this being why the number was so frustrating)

Turns out 21% for where I am now is not teetering on above average.

So then what should I be shooting for?


###WHAT 21% LOOKS LIKE
Along with the numeric color coded charts appeared several images of people (male and female) with body fat numbers identifying them.

"OK," I thought, "This is good; a visual. Let's see what 15% looks like". Of course the guy at 15% was a lot more cut than I ever was at 15%.

Then I looked at the person at 21%. Of course slightly bigger, still in really good shape with solid muscle definition. I was like, "Pfft. What is this?"

Then I realized, "Oh, this is a fitness magazine site." Of course they're putting idealized images. Not sure how you can BS body fat percentage images, but that's *obviously* what this is.

Then I saw it in the lower percentage pictures. They were all in full flex.

Of course "Mr. 21-Percent" was as well.

"Lol" I thought to myself, rolling my eyes, "Well, if that's what I'm supposed to look like, I better check myself out.


###THEN THE MIRROR SPOKE
I walked over to the mirror, whipped my t-shirt off, cocked back my shoulders, tightened my abs and flexed the arms exactly as the buff guy in the magazine was doing.

Then yeah.

To my complete surprise, my body looked pretty much *exactly* like Mr. 21-Percent's. Two weeks later, I am still kind of processing.


###PERSPECTIVE
When one has struggled with being overweight all of ones life, one's self-image compass doesn't necessarily always point north. It was never "These are my numbers, are they healthy?" It was, "These are my numbers, they're not healthy." With weight, it was never about hitting a healthy weight to be happy and healthy. It was a numeric goal to strive for even if it wasn't going to make me happy.

When friends would tell me I was looking good, I figured they were trying to encourage me because they knew I was always trying to lose weight. When the cute girl working at the store in the mall would flirt, I assumed it was to be polite and/or make a sale. Same with waitresses and tips.

Turns out those might not always entirely be the case.

My SparkFriend was right. 21% is not a number to be sneezed at.

It was weird seeing myself in the mirror for the first time, if that makes sense.


###CONCLUSION
I am eternally grateful to those who spoke the truth that 21% is a good percentage. I encourage you to do likewise with friends, both online and IRL. Even if they will likely not hear, receive and/or accept the encouragement (especially if that be the case). Give them the chance to.


###CHALLENGE
Sometimes in the turbulent sea of life where doctor's charts are deemed unreasonable and the mirror seems an enemy, they (and unbiased internet friends) are the only honest voices in the room.

Make sure your compass is pointing north.

Food for thought,

- TD Out!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • PICKIE98
    As you tone certain areas of your body, those air-brushed pics will be a laughable thing.

    You reached "A" goal.
    The Trent I know, always has a goal, be it research online or in print, to find out what to do, how to do it, or how others are reaching their goals. It is a never-ending thing. Whatever your next goal may be, you are sensible enough to make sure it is right for you.

    That percentage is still just a number if you are toned and feel good. If you maintain that healthier diet, keep your head focused on staying the healthiest man you can, continue to change up your workout routine, you are making new goals.

    The head game should always beat out the "mind games".

    Your body may have shrunk in the past decade, but you hav e grown immensely. I am proud of you.

    emoticon
    119 days ago
  • LORI-K
    emoticon I’m smiling and feeling warm and fuzzy!!

    I’m so proud of you!
    119 days ago
  • _CYNDY55_
    emoticon compass POINTING North!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    119 days ago
  • POLSKARENIA
    That’s great. Keep that compass pointing north!
    120 days ago
  • MEADSBAY
    Wooo-hooo!
    You are good enough.
    Live your life fully!
    emoticon
    120 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.