Saturday, June 04, 2005

It is about the numbers, actually

I've been back home since Sunday.

The trouble about coming home on a Sunday evening is that it gives you no time whatsoever to get used to the idea of going back to work. Still, I was determined to get back in the routine, fitness-wise. Especially since I was conscious that my eating habits over the past week had been extremely dodgy. I plead in mitigation that my out-laws, who are otherwise lovely, eat ice cream rather a lot while being thin.

So I packed up my gym kit and headed out of the house on Monday morning. It took until mid-morning to remember that I'd actually booked a fitness assessment for that day after work. Still, at least I had my gym clothes with me.

If I'd been able to choose, I wouldn't have taken the test that day. I'd come back from holiday with a serious cold, and frankly had not got enough exercise over the week or eaten properly (see above). OK, I did go running twice but the second day was very hot and muggy and although I did do 20 minutes, it felt a bit half-hearted (I was on my own that time). I knew I wasn't making the usual amount of effort.

However, I couldn't change it now, so along I went. I was met in the foyer of my gym by the assessor and a young man. She asked if I would mind if a student observed and I said no (I was anticipating that some of this would be embarrassing, but hey, two people isn't much more embarrassing than one). He was taller than me, a first for this blog!

I hadn't got a very clear idea what the assessment would involve. I have never read a description of one on anyone else's blog, so here it is (do skip if boring).

First, there was a brief questionnaire about any health problems (none). Then they asked me how long I'd been exercising, and what I do. I told them: since February; ideally, 20 minutes' cardio on the treadmill, then Nautilus, then 20 minutes' interval training on stationary bike. Sometimes a bit less cardio the second time if I'm pushed for time (I have a ten-minute brisk walk to get to work, which I count as part of cooldown!) This is apparently OK for a start.

Then came the fun bits. First, I had to blow into a lung-function meter. You get the best of 2, as it's supposed to be easier the second time, but for some reason I managed to do a really weedy blow on my second attempt. There's a little fan inside that moves round with your breath, and it measures the speed of rotation - very clever. Apparently my lung function is just short of excellent - which ain't bad for someone who's technically asthmatic and who has gunk in her lungs from the cold!

Next up was the weight/bodyfat measurement, otherwise known as "scary biscuits".

"Don't worry," said the assessor. "We don't do skin-fold tests any more. They're a faff anyway." I was obscurely disappointed by this (I must be a closet masochist) but interested to see that the instrument of doom was a Tanita scale, only previously encountered by me through Erin's journal. This is the kind that measures body composition by sending an electromagnetic impulse through your bare feet. I usually weigh myself with my trainers on, but had a distinct idea that I wouldn't have lost anything last week, so was totally in the dark about the likely number.

192.3. Oh dear. Although I haven't made very rapid progress, I have not had a gain like that since I started. (I do wonder, retrospectively, if some of it was water, as I had been drinking tea like a mad thing - a mad thing with a cold - all day).

The body composition report was... interesting. According to the scale, I have 41% bodyfat, which is frankly rather more than I was expecting. That means nearly eighty pounds of me is just fat, to 112 pounds of other stuff. Although I have an amazing capacity not to know what I look like, if my reaction to photos of me is any indicator, I didn't reckon I had many illusions left. I know I have a big bottom and thighs (yes, and breasts) and that they are composed of fat. But that came as a shock.

Don't get me wrong - I know that doesn't mean I need to lose eighty pounds. There seems to be some variation in the recommended level of bodyfat, but Krista, who I trust, says it should be about 20 - 25% for most women (a bit lower for athletes). That sounds about right - if I had 20% bodyfat, I think I would weigh around 140lbs. Which would be absolutely fine.

Ever since the test I've been haunted by the idea of there being a 112-pound waif in me somehow. Even though I know this is on many levels Not True, my mind can't seem to let the concept go. Probably this is unhealthy in some way.

I will post more on the fitness assessment and the rest of the week tomorrow (no, I really will). Now, however, I'm going to bed.

One last thing - I imagine that anyone who comes here already knows Dietgirl, antipodean blog-heroine and all-round wonder, but if not - she's doing the Race for Life on Sunday. Sponsor her - it's a really good cause. Tune in tomorrow to find out why I won't be running on Sunday (a sad tale, but I've stopped grinding my teeth over it now).

To bed! Night night.

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