To begin the ActivTrax 30-day challenge, I decided to start with some basic measurements that are commonly used in the fitness world when people are looking to make body modifications. Weight can fluctuate greatly from day to day or week to week, making it a somewhat inaccurate depiction of what is going on with your body. Don’t get me wrong, weight definitely tells us something, and it is a starting measurement we all want to know, but it can also cause crippling worry and self-doubt. For example, if someone who was previously uninterested in fitness started lifting heavy weights and working out regularly, they might actually notice an increase in weight due to increased muscle mass. However, they might be leaner and better looking than before because of their larger muscles. So while weight has its place in the world, it is not a measurement that should be taken as the be-all, end-all when it comes to health and fitness.
So what should we measure if not weight? One of the things that is often measured is body fat percentage. The most accurate way to measure body fat is by a process of submersion. This process is usually not widely available and may also cost a substantial amount. While less accurate, there are scales and biometric systems we can use to measure our body fat in the fitness industry. I met with a personal trainer at the Ankeny YMCA and had him hook me up to the biometric machine to get a base indicator of how much of my body was fat. While this system carries about a 3-4% error margin, I will be re-testing with the same system at the end of the program, so it will have the same percentage of accuracy.
While meeting with the personal trainer, I also had him take some basic body measurements with a tape measure. The most common sights to get these measurements done are the chest, waist, and hip, but I also had him measure the bicep, shoulder, neck, thigh, and calf. As part of the biometric fat measurement system, you can enter certain tape measurements and the system will re-assess your fat percentage. The measurements that were entered in the system were neck, shoulders, waist, hips, thigh, and stomach.
While I’m not happy with my fat percentage, my measurements, or my overall body progress thus far in life, I am sharing all of this information in hopes that I will see some positive changes after this program. I also hope sharing these ugly facts will help others to realize it’s ok not to be happy with where you are, but to still keep trying your best and not let that obliterate your fitness journey. Stay tuned for more background into my history with fitness and nutrition and how I got to where I am today.
**Side note- if you are a member of the Des Moines YMCAs, you can schedule a free appointment with a wellness coach to get your body fat or tape measurements assessed at any time. Contact your nearest branch to learn more. **