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