Feeling hopeless about body fat (37.5%)

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Anusha235
Anusha235 Posts: 6 Member
edited January 2017 in Motivation and Support
A bit of background on me: I was a severely obese child who grew into an obese teenager (poor diet and little exercise). At 15 years old I decided to make changes to my life and started counting calories and doing cardio. By the time I was 18 I was a normal weight (around 140lb at 5'6).

I'm 29 years old now and my weight is usually between 140-147lbs, but I am still conscious of my diet and exercise. I've never been completely happy with me body, even at my smallest, with a healthy BMI, I still knew I had weight to lose with excess flab. I've recently started lifting heavy weights to tone up.

I joined a new gym and for the first time in my life measured my body fat %. I knew I wouldn't be in the healthy range, even though I look small (UK size 10). I assumed it would be overweight. I was so shocked that it was 37.5, even the guy who works at the gym couldn't hide his shock.

After reading up on the numbers I feel devastated. Even though I don't look it, I'm still obese and feel like the last 14 years were for nothing. I'm still high risk for all sorts of health problems.

Sorry to moan, I am usually much more positive but this is the lowest I've felt in so long and after being in control of the situation for long :(

Any success stories, advice or motivation would be much appreciated. Also any tips on how to get my BF down. Thanks

Replies

  • Spliner1969
    Spliner1969 Posts: 3,233 Member
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    Getting body fat down is as simple as eating at a caloric deficit. Log and weigh everything that passes your lips other than water. Keep your protein levels high (up to 1g/lb of your target body weight) and keep up the gym/weight training. Cardio will speed up the process (in my opinion anyway) so maybe a mixture of cardio and weight training. Other than keeping your protein levels high, distribute the rest of the calories you eat in whatever way you see fit. I try to do about .4 to .5g/lb of my target weight in fat, and the rest in carbs. It takes time, patience, and persistence. Set yourself at a goal of say 1lb/wk loss and stick with it. You'll get there. You can then increase that loss rate by adding extra cardio/exercise and not eating back all of those calories.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
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    Your body fat is what it is. No use bemoaning it. Many of us started far higher than that, I was prob about 60%. The guy at the gym (1) was rude and unprofessional if he gave you that kind of reaction (2) might not have measured you accurately. Did he use calipers? It requires specific training and practice to get accurate results. If he used bioimpedience (a handheld device or scales), they are notoriously inaccurate.
    It sounds like your weight is in a healthy range. Do a strength training/lifting program and that will help you lose fat and gain muscle. Read the "recomposition" thread in the Maintenance forum for more info. I'm sure lots of people will be along to share details.
    Take a look through the Success Stories forum for lots of inspiration!
  • JenHuedy
    JenHuedy Posts: 611 Member
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    My first question would be how did they measure your body fat percentage? Those bioimpedence-based electronic devices and scales are notoriously inaccurate, calipers need someone who is skilled and even the expensive bod pods and medical DEXA scans have as much as a 5% margin of error.
  • courtneyfabulous
    courtneyfabulous Posts: 1,863 Member
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    The test might be wrong you know- those machines can be way off. The one at my gym put me at like 34 or 35 % I think but one I bought for home use said 29%. (I'm now down to 26%)

    Also no matter what the number you can make certain changes to recomp your body (meaning recomposition- increase muscle, decrease body fat)

    It's actually pretty easy but does take time....

    The number 1 key is to consume adequate protein- which is between 0.8 and 1 gram per pound of lean body weight or goal weight depending how active you are and assuming you lift weights. For me 100 grams a day is good but I'm a couple inches shorter than you and sedentary other than exercise. You might want as many as 120 or 140 grams per day, depending- but if you aren't getting much protein right now start with at least 100 grams. You can check this under "nutrition" -> "nutrients" in your food diary and you can adjust your nutrient goals manually if you want too.

    The second key you're already doing- lifting weights. When you do strength exercises this means your body prioritizes using body fat for energy and builds muscle, or at least preserves muscle when in a caloric deficit.

    The third key to reducing body fat is to be in a MILD caloric deficit- so not going too limited on calories. Too few calories will mean muscle loss and will slow down the metabolism- that's not what you want. You may even be able to stay at maintenance calories if you just want to stay the same weight but just tone/recomp. If you do want to lose some weight then try a calorie deficit of between 250 to 500 calories less than maintenance calories. Or if using myfitnesspal to figure out your calories then set your weight loss rate to between 0.5 to 1 pounds loss per week. Or set it to maintenance/0 pounds loss for pure recomp.

    Honestly don't let the number bother you- it could be off by a lot. It also depends how hydrated you are and if you measure before or after a workout. I highly doubt you are obese with your height and weight.

    You say you are "aware" of your diet, but to really make change you're going to have to really measure log and track your food. Use myfitnesspal as it is intended- as a calorie counter and a macros/nutrients tracker. Get a digital food scale to help with accuracy.

    You can do this!
  • Anusha235
    Anusha235 Posts: 6 Member
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    @Spliner1969 Thank you for the advice. I will keep on with cardio and being mindful of my calories. You are right about patience and persistence, I will not let this defeat me :)

    @lorrpb I will definitely check out that thread and success stories - thank you! You're right that lots of people (including me) have come down from much higher so I know it can be done.

    @JenHuedy @lorrpb It was a hand-held biompedience, no calipers. It's reassuring to think it might be inaccurate but I know I need to work to get myself in the healthy range.

    Thank you for taking time to answer, I'm still trying to pick myself up but feel a bit more confident that I will do it now :)
  • courtneyfabulous
    courtneyfabulous Posts: 1,863 Member
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    Here's a visual for guesstimating body fat percentage. Even if you are 37.5% it's not that bad, and you can change it. There's plenty of people here that have farther to go than you or have already gone from a higher BF% than that down to a healthy range- there's no reason to feel hopeless.

    rc3fb9yz6oic.jpg
  • Zendrick
    Zendrick Posts: 83 Member
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    If I go by these pictures I'm between 30-39% body fat, my weight gurus scale states I'm 28.5%

    I am 5'2, SW 145 CW 135 GW 115. I LIFT weights, I use elliptical, I go on walks, I count calories. It's a slow process but do-able
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
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    shooney05 wrote: »
    It was a hand-held biompedience, no calipers. It's reassuring to think it might be inaccurate but I know I need to work to get myself in the healthy range.
    I've got some BIA scales that tell me that I'm 34% - please don't make decisions based on crappy data or let crappy data bring you down.
  • Anusha235
    Anusha235 Posts: 6 Member
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    @courtneyfabulous @Zendrick @sijomial thank you for the advice - those pictures are really helpful and all your comments have given me the perspective I needed. I think I was triggered a bit by being catogerised as 'obese' after struggling for so many years, but I am definitely feel more positive thanks to your comments.
  • kelleyk515
    kelleyk515 Posts: 1 Member
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    The last time I used a handheld bioimpedence device, it spit out a number that was about 13% higher than my skinfold measurement.

    Every body composition test is subject to errors, and bioimpedence is the worst of them all. Your results can change depending on how well hydrated you are, or if you have exercised in the previous 12 hours. I wouldn't put a lot of faith in the 37%. If you really want a better idea of where you are at, get a skinfold caliper (they only run about $10-$15) and learn how to use it. Remember that even those results could be off by several percent. The important thing is to monitor your progress. If the caliper measurements are getting smaller over time, then you are losing body fat.
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
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    I wouldn't put much stock in those machines. Take measurements and good job on the hard work you've done so far!
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
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    @shooney05 Where did this label "obese" come from? In OP you state your are 5'6" and weigh in the 140s. That is a perfectly healthy weight by every criteria.
  • middlehaitch
    middlehaitch Posts: 8,483 Member
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    @lorrpb. A person with low muscle mass but within the 'ideal' BMI range for their height can be Normal Weight Obese.

    This is not saying you are obese or NWO, @shooney05, I never trust those impedance things. Where do you visually feel you are looking at those pics?

    I was a good example of NWO. Bone idle at 5'1 and about 130lbs meant I was at the top end of idea weight BMI, but looked heavier because it was all fat- mostly abdominal.
    At the low end of BMI now with a better muscle to fat ratio. Going by eyeballing and those pics above probably 24ish, but my scale says 19.6-hahaha.

    Cheers, h.
  • Anusha235
    Anusha235 Posts: 6 Member
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    @middlehaitch @lorrpb I just looked up normal weight obese and I think I do fall into this category. To be honest, I've always known that I have a high fat, even when the scale was showing low numbers. Especially looking at the pictures, I can see how I could be 35+. This was just the shock to the system I needed to make bigger lifestyle changes like lifting heavy weights and properly cleaning up my diet.

    Thanks everyone for your advice - feeling much more positive today
  • courtneyfabulous
    courtneyfabulous Posts: 1,863 Member
    edited January 2017
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    shooney05 wrote: »
    @middlehaitch @lorrpb I just looked up normal weight obese and I think I do fall into this category. To be honest, I've always known that I have a high fat, even when the scale was showing low numbers. Especially looking at the pictures, I can see how I could be 35+. This was just the shock to the system I needed to make bigger lifestyle changes like lifting heavy weights and properly cleaning up my diet.

    Thanks everyone for your advice - feeling much more positive today

    Cleaning up diet helps but more importantly consuming enough protein and not too many carbs. Not LOW carb though, just not excessive. But most importantly get in that protein to help build muscle and prioritize fat loss.

    I just get alarm bells when I hear "clean up my diet" because I ate a "clean" "healthy" diet for years and ended up gaining a lot of fat and was protein defficient because I thought all I needed to do was eat whole real foods and my diet would be healthy... but I ate lots of oatmeal and fruit and potatoes and rice and veggies and greens, but I totally skimped on my protein or ate very small portions. I had low muscle tone, high body fat, and a very poor immune system as a result. A "clean" diet is not necessarily a well balanced diet.

    I still eat mostly clean but now try to hit my 100 grams or more of protein per day. To do this I often need to supplement with protein shakes or bars, since I still don't like eating meat very much.

    Just FYI. I want you to get results quickly and not be wondering why you're not seeing results despite eating "healthy" like I did.
  • Anusha235
    Anusha235 Posts: 6 Member
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    @courtneyfabulous thanks for the advice Courtney. I'll make sure I keep tabs on my protein, the last thing I want is to lose weight and but have the same level of body fat. I'll look into ways to get the right amounts of protein - thanks again! I'm learning so much from this thread :)