Looking Good (for a mom)

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Evolution of a healthy body

Continuing my one-year lookback, I thought I'd take a moment to share some of the ways my body has physically changed over the past year. Now, I don't have baseline measurements for everything, and that's because when I started my journey I didn't have any idea that this was going to be a life-changing experience. I figured I'd drop a few pounds, look better, and that would be that.

So let's talk about the different things that have changed about my body over the past year.

Obvious, this one. I started off weighing 135, and now weigh between 110-115. My weight loss graph on Dailyburn shows that it took me until mid-July to lose the first 5 pounds, and then another month to get to 10 total pounds of loss, and a weight of around 125. At this point, my weight started to creep back up a bit. I started getting more careless about my diet, and wasn't exercising as frequently.

My weight peaked at 128 in September, and then, after starting Turbulence Training and cleaning up my nutrition even more, I saw it fall steeply and steadily to 116.5 at the beginning of December. Now I had hit my goal of 117 pounds, and was feeling great. But as it turns out, I wasn't done!

Starting in January, I picked up with my Turbulence Training workouts again, and this time I saw my weight drop steadily down to 110, which was what I weighed in high school! I now average around 112-113 on a daily basis.

Body Fat
I do have a scale that measures body fat using electrical impedance, but I've found it highly unreliable. So I only have a few body fat measurements I can share with you. In order to get a good baseline, I actually have to go back to the summer of 2007. I weighed 122 pounds back then, thanks to the weight loss stimulated by nursing my son many times each day. At that time, my body fat was 26.9%. So if you assume that my lean body mass stayed the same and adjust for the increase in total body weight, my body fat would have been around 34% in June 2008.

The next measurement I have is October 15, 2008. My weight was 122.5, and my body fat was measured as 21.3%. That's a huge amount of body fat lost in a short period of time!

I had my body fat measured yet again on December 12, 2008. My weight was 117, and my body fat was measured as 15.5%. The trainer who took my measurements (both times) couldn't believe that I had dropped so much body fat in just two months! She was absolutely blown away!
Finally, I had my body fat measured one last time on March 29, 2009. My weight was 111, and my body fat remained at 15.5%. That actually told me that I lost a little bit too much weight, since it indicated that I had lost one pound of fat, and five pounds of muscle. (That's why I've been trying to add some muscle back to my body, and am comfortable with a slightly higher weight range.)

To come from an estimated 34% body fat to 15.5% body fat in one year was amazing. But the health benefits are even better - lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other ailments!

Body Measurements
Again, I don't have measurements from the very beginning of my journey, but I can tell you that I was squeezing into a size 8, and my upper body was enormous, relative to the rest of me. It was very difficult for me to find appropriately-fitting clothing, and I usually had to pay a premium to find something that I could wear. It was not uncommon for me to be unable to button a jacket, and I had to pay $50-$80 for a well-fitting bra (at 34DDD, most stores didn't even carry my size).

By September, three months into my journey, I was fitting comfortably into my size 8 suits, and could even wear some of the larger size 6 items in the back of my closet. I finally some measurements on September 30, 2008:

Chest - 36"
Waist - 30"
Hips - 38"
Thigh - 19.5"
Calf - 12.75"
Arm (unflexed) - 10"
Arm (flexed) - 10"
Clothing size - 8
Bra size - 34DD

I took them again on December 14, 2008:
Chest - 34"
Waist - 28"
Hips - 36"
Thigh - 18"
Calf - 12"
Arm (unflexed) - 9.75"
Arm (flexed) - 10.5"
Clothing size - 4
Bra size - 34D

And one last time on March 29, 2009:
Chest 34"
Waist 26.5"
Belly button 29.5"
Hip 35"
Thigh 17.25"
Calf 12.25"
Clothing size - 2 or 4
Bra size 34C

As you can see, some of the skinnier parts of my body actually started to increase as I put on muscle, like my calves and my arms (and I was not complaining).

This is one area where I really wish I had a baseline measurement for June 2008. But even without it, I saw some really interesting changes.

September 28, 2008:
Total Cholesterol - 141
HDL (good) - 49
LDL (bad) - 76
Triglycerides - 77
TC/HDL ratio: 2.8

January 2009:
Total Cholesterol - 129
HDL (good) - 50
(Full panel results were not supplied)
TC/HDL ratio: 2.6

March 29, 2009:
Total Cholesterol - 133
HDL (good) - 61
LDL (bad) - 61
Triglycerides (bad) - 55
TC/HDL ratio: 2.2

Although my levels were healthy when first measured, they are now even better, putting me at a very decreased risk of coronary artery disease.

Other factors
I mentioned earlier that when I was heavier, I had an enormous chest. It had actually gotten progressively larger with each pregnancy, growing from 34D to a 34DD and finally a 34DDD. I had planned to get breast reduction surgery, like one of my older sisters, because their size caused me significant back strain, and it was very frustrating trying to find clothing that was attractive and fit well.

After my body fat started falling, I realized that losing this weight was going to help me avoid MAJOR SURGERY! Now, as a 34C, I can actually wear shirts designed for someone of my petite frame. I feel like I gained all of the benefits of the surgery, without any of the risks, costs, or recovery.

It is amazing to look back at all of these statistics and see how my body has evolved from one that was clearly unhealthy, to one that is much healthier than the average woman! I've likely extended my life, and the years I have will be more enjoyable because I am so healthy and happy.

Of course, there are some fitness-based indicators that show the improved health of my body, but I will cover those in another post, later this week. I hope you are enjoying this series. Stay tuned!

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