Monday, February 27, 2012


Color me kerflummoxed.

Outside of scale weight, I've been using the "Navy formula" -- a circumference-based method -- to determine my body fat percentage. And according to the Navy formula, I've been right around 27% for the past six months or so. It's not awesome, but it's within the range of healthy. It gives me room to try to improve my fitness level, certainly, but it's not a terrible number all things considered.

Out of rank curiosity (and apparently no small amount of masochism), I thought I'd go for a different type of body fat percentage analysis, so I booked an appointment to have my body composition tested in a "Bod Pod". The Bod Pod deals with air displacement rather than water displacement, but is considered to be fairly accurate.

Since my numbers have been consistent with the Navy formula, I figured I'd probably hit around what I'd been calculating. Nope. According to the Bod Pod, I'm at 33.6% body fat, which means I'm officially "skinny obese".

At least I am by that measurement.

After sleeping on it and fretting far more than I would have thought, I can't see how this is accurate because honestly there is nowhere on me for 46 pounds of fat to be lurking. My waist is right at 30 inches, well below the 35" threshold for abdominal measurements that indicate "skinny obesity". I exercise, including resistance training as well as cardio. I'm not one of those people who is just genetically gifted and never has to pay attention to food or activity level... so the results are really counter-intuitive to me and contrary to much of the reading I've done on the subject (most of which, admittedly, took place last night -- nothing inspires like hearing you're still out of shape, apparently).

After reading more about the Bod Pod I did see that the system operator is a factor in testing as well as is the clothing worn. It's possible the readings were artificially inflated because my ginormous hair (humidity is not my friend) refused to compress itself neatly in the "swim cap" which was really more of a flexible nylon cloth cap and ended up holding my hair more in the style of a shower cap than a tight swim cap, and the non-underwire sports bra I was wearing certainly wasn't as compressive as I'd have liked (no other option at that time). So it's possible if I go back with a real swim cap purchased on my own as opposed to the one supplied with the testing and work to find a sports bra without underwires that does a better job with compression (unfortunately very challenging due to my specific shape), that I will get a different result.

Or maybe not. I don't know. I did get a two-analysis package so I'll likely go back again in a few months, making the corrections I've mentioned. But since time will have passed, it will be difficult to determine what specifically will account for any improvement.

Skinny obese my happy ass...


Heidi said...

This seems EXTREMELY unlikely to me. A year ago, when I was 5'4" and 140 pounds, I was told I had a 27% body fat percentage by a gym trainer which put me in the "skinny obese" category.

You weigh less than I did and are taller. AND you do resistance training, which I'm entirely inconsistent in. I just don't see you being skinny obese at all.

Amanda said...

Thanks Heidi -- I hope you're right, LOL. Oh well, regardless I wanted to drop my body fat a few percentage points. I just didn't want the drop to be from dire necessity, you know? Yipes.

But ultimately I guess it doesn't really change anything, since I was planning to up my resistance training anyway. I'm just ticked off..

Lyn said...

I would kill for a 30" waist. And I think this whole "skinny obese" thing is just another way to make women think they're fat when they aren't. My opinion: "skinny obese" is, in fact, SKINNY!

Being healthy and feeling good about yourself is what really matters.

Norma said...

There is NO way that is accurate. I was telling Josh about what happened to you last night and I was getting all pissed off just talking about it. You know damned well there is no way you have 46 lbs of fat on a 139 lb body and it pisses me off that they promote BodPod as so state-of-the-art and charge an arm & a leg for a measurement and then little things like a bra or hairstyle throws it off? Fuck that. Go get a caliper test. I think something that physically touches/measures you will make more sense. You know there is NO WAY in hell you are even close to "skinny fat" and I can't believe how misleading that test is.

The Ninja said...

something about that doesn't wash, I'd take Norma's advice and do the Caliper test, it makes more sense to me as well.

Mine showed far less fat than the circumference measurement one did and those number were lower than the online body fat measurement calculator came up with, stupid body fat tests.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I have seen the bod pod thing before, but never tried it. Prolly cause I am not supposed to weigh myself or anything like that :( !
However, I think it could very well be off!

Amanda said...

Everyone, thank you. I think I'm calmed down about it now. And whether it's off or not, I'm not going to stress over it. I plan to keep exercising and increase my resistance training regardless, so if there were an issue it would resolve.

As for methods of testing, I think I'm going to take a little break from that. I'll stick with my circumference measurements for now, and then in the fall when I think I might be able to join a gym (Elder ages out of daycare, so that's like a $200/month raise!) I'll deal with it there.