Welcome to Body and Weight Wednesday. My body is ready for some change. How about yours? Is there anything you would like different? What is really possible for our bodies? Are we stuck in a rut or limited by old ideas?
Two weeks ago I had a body composition scan at DexaFit. I had been thinking about the need to get more real data about my body for a while. A number of insights over the past few years suggested my old way of evaluating my body weight was not accurate and perhaps becoming meaningless. For instance, during a 40 day retreat in 2012 my weight dropped to 126 pounds, which was about 5 pounds less than when I started, despite the fact that every time I looked at my body I saw the same bulging belly. More recently, at 132 pounds I looked in the mirror and saw fat in places where I’d never seen it before. What was that extra lip on my usually firm buttocks? I think the final straw came a month ago when I stepped on the scale and saw that my weight had dropped a pound. The fact that that number made me happy when I knew it was meaningless disturbed me and lead me to want better data.
I am a scientist, so I have always had the desire for detailed and meaningful data. When I taught physiology at a community college over a decade ago, I had the opportunity to use a water displacement tank to determine my fat content. I was at my personally defined ideal weight at the time and was surprised to find my body fat was 24%. Certainly in the normal range, but seemingly a little on the high side base on my weight. What I didn’t realize, until I did my DexaFit Scan two weeks ago, was that I need to lose fat and gain muscle, not just lose weight.
The body composition scan put me at 28% body fat, with close to forty pounds of fat on my body. Oh, how I wish I had a scan like this 20 years ago. I have a feeling that at the same weight I had a smaller percent body fat.
I looked at all the different numbers. My bone density was excellent, which didn’t surprise me. Osteoporosis runs in my family, but I do chi gung each day which builds bones. I was actually surprised to learn that despite my bulging belly it was only carrying 3.1 pounds of fat and only a half a pound surrounding the organs. The visceral fat that surrounds the organs is the type of fat that correlates to diabetes. The consultant at Dexafit told me my numbers were in the ideal range, but she also admitted not everyone agreed with their chart. I also thought her chart was too generous. Kind of like clothes manufacturers. Despite being the same weight my whole adult life, I now wear clothes that are two sizes less than what I used to wear. It seems like as our nation trends towards obesity, the charts and clothes sizes are just shifted to reflect the norm and not actual health. As a physiologist, I also know that according to our charts people that are called underweight live the longest and are healthiest. It is nice to know that DexaFit thinks I am ideal, but I am looking for true health.
I started to go a little deeper with the numbers to see what I would need to do to achieve a healthier body composition. At the moment I started calculating how much I would need to lose to get to 20% body fat, I realized that it was a balancing act. If I wanted to get to be 20% body fat and at my ideal weight of 125 pounds I would need to gain 8 pounds muscle and lose 15 pounds fat. If I wanted to stay at my current weight, I would still need to lose 13.5 pounds in fat at the same time gaining muscle.
There is a tendency to want to impose numbers on our body, and I am careful not to do that. It is possible that my body is healthiest at my current weight and 28% body fat, regardless of what my mind thinks. This is where I work directly with my body. I ask it questions like:
What would you like to look like?
How do you want to feel?
What do you want to eat?
What makes you feel good?
Last Tuesday I did an interview with Ellin Chess, a mentor of mine. She mentioned her method for determining success and if action is needed. If you look at your life and it looks how you want it to, you are a success, if it doesn’t then more action is needed.
When I look at my body and health I see a lot of success. No longer do I look at my body and hate it. I can appreciate a bulging belly. I don’t need it to look difference. In fact, I imagine it is rubenesque and can appreciate its beauty. I used to be more obsessed about it. Always wanting it gone since if first appeared when I reached puberty. At one time about a decade ago I started doing sit-ups to give it more tone. Then I realized as I developed muscle my belly began to bulge more. Yikes, I was trying to get it tone and flat and instead it was getting bigger. I stopped the sit-ups. Now I have come to the place where I am okay with a fat looking belly if it means I have more core strength. Overall, I have a lot of success. I wouldn’t trade my current body and health for the body and health I had when I was 20. Much better now.
There are some areas that I want to improve though. The last couple years I have noticed that I am more tired with less stamina. Part of this is linked to food choices I could improve. Mainly, I tend to overeat. I think the other part is that I have less muscle mass and more fat than I used to have. This is only a theory, but this is the theory I am considering testing. I feel better when I eat less and when I am leaner.
So what is my plan? First, I know that I am motivated by external measurements. I have my next DexaFit Scan scheduled for February. I’ll want to see the fat number move down and the lean mass number move up. This is my goal. How will I achieve it? So far I’ve added a half-hour walk to my day several times a week and I’ve started doing planks to increase my core strength. I am not much for “exercise” as I am for lifestyle changes. So right now the focus is on hauling compost and retaining wall blocks for construction of raised beds in my garden. My husband is following the The 4 Hour Body and he suggested The Happy Body plan for me. I haven’t found time to read either book, but I am happy to know that if I get stuck there is some inspiration for me.
Usually in Positive Change with Dorena we talk about subconscious blocks and methods for change that focus on shifting the subconscious. Today, I’ve talked mostly about the physical body and physical means for changing it. If you go to make a change and get stuck, the next step is to uncover the subconscious blocks.
As for me, I have that tendency to over eat. For decades I have eaten compulsively when I feel uncomfortable. Much of the compulsion was driven by repressed memories. And stress and dieting can actually change the brain to create a food dependency or addiction. All of this is reversible. I am still a work in progress. I have done a lot of work on my subconscious. Part of my plan is to slowly eliminate and eradicate all my autoresponder systems to compulsively overeat. I conjunction with that I increasing my ability to be comfortable with the level of awareness I have. I desire to keep the sensitivity I have developed while increasing my ability to cope with how that feels.
When it comes to body change it is possible to change the body without using physical means. I know people that have dropped dress sizes and lost weight immediately after a change session. Our bodies are amazingly resilient and elastic. Here are some questions to ask yourself especially if you are stuck and not able to change your body or health:
- Can I change this?
- What would it take to change this?
- What is holding this in place?
- What am I denying or pretending not to know that is creating this body?
- What can I choose right now that will create the body I desire?
- What does my body require of me?
If you are thinking you need to answer the questions, pick up a copy of my book, Developing Awareness where I explain how to be in the question. It is not about figuring things out, it is about going with your own knowing. That is the ultimate plan for total change.
A human is supple and yielding;
hard and stiff.
All creatures and plants,
Are supple and pliant,
Are withered and brittle.
To be hard and stiff is the way of death;
To be supple and yielding is the way of life
– Lao Tzu
If you have enjoyed this podcast take a moment to give it five stars and write me a review. If you are feeling stuck and would like to have a session with me visit my website at changeanythingnow.com to find out more. I teach how to change the subconscious in a weekend workshop. There is one coming up soon. Visit ChangeAnythingNow.com If you mention this podcast you will get a discount.
Cheery Monday by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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