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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Fat Test
The director at our office fitness center recently asked me if I got the results for my fat test.

"Can we NOT call it a fat test, please? I prefer to call it a lean test," I told her.

Well, I know this makes me a huge dork, but I just found out that tomorrow it's time for another body composition test at our fitness center at work, and I'm so excited!! This test occurs every six to eight weeks, and I've made it a point to get these regular check-ups so I can track progress and be made aware of any backsliding.

I will never forget the day I made a decision to change. It was May of 2000, and I was watching my ex-boyfriend try on clothes at Banana Republic. I couldn't fit into anything in the store. Not even an extra-large shirt. So, I sat dejected in a chair and watched him and a parade of other slender guys walking in and out of the dressing room. All I could think about was how jealous I was, and how I had spent my entire life wishing I weren't fat. At the age of 33, I was still fat and never worked out for more than a week or two at a time before giving up completely. I thought getting in shape was an unattainable goal.

That day in Banana Republic, I made a decision that I was going to work out for an entire year. I promised myself that I would NOT step on a scale for a year, and that I would quit expecting short-term results. I think the unrealistic goals I had previously set were part of the reason I consistently failed to get fit. I would work out for two weeks and not see significant results. I would get discouraged, and I would quit working out.

So, I promised myself that I would work out for 12 months and that I would be back at that store buying clothes in a year if all went well. The other promise I made to myself was that I would never work out again if I didn't see results after a year of trying.

In less than three months I went back to Banana Republic and bought a shirt that fit. Everything seemed to be going well, but I was about to find out some sobering news.

A few months after I so proudly bought that shirt, I met a man named Dave. Dave tested my body composition and became my advisor. Over the past 3 years, he has encouraged me so much. He also helps me keep things in perspective by pointing out times I'm being too hard on myself. Once I actually got upset because I lost .2 pounds of muscle mass in six weeks (can you say "neurotic"?), but I've learned to be realistic since that time.

After Dave showed me my body composition results in November of 2000, I wanted to die. I discovered that my body fat percentage was 43%. Almost half of my body was fat, and that was after working out for six months! I was mortified, and I can only imagine how grim the results would have been a few months earlier.

Dave helped me understand that, although I was overweight, my body was in starvation mode. He showed me that because I am a vegetarian, it is easy for me to starve my body of protein if I'm not careful to supplement my diet. And when your body is starving for protein, it aggressively stores fat.

So, I kept working out and began eating protein bars and drinking at least one or two protein shakes a day. The results were astounding to me. My lean body mass (muscle, tissue, bone - the good stuff) increased and my body fat decreased at an incredible rate.

For the past four years I've consistently lost body fat and gained muscle. I had a couple setbacks, of course. The two months after my break-up with CT, I gained about five pounds of fat and actually lost muscle for the first time since I had started the program. But I got back on track, and sometimes I feel so proud that I haven't quit trying.

I hit my plateau several months ago...(note to self: write an Open Letter to My Plateau. I hate that bastard). However, I am learning to jump that hurdle by increasing the intensity of my workouts and making minor adjustments to my eating. (Sorry, I'm not willing to give up Happy Hour at this point, otherwise I'm sure things would be going better).

Last time I was checked, my body fat was below 15%, which means if I want to get to 10%, I still need to lose about 15 pounds of fat. But I know I can do it. I've already proven to myself that I can.

I'm looking forward to finding out my results. Last summer I wore a tank top for the first time ever. It was a pretty great day. My friend (with his stupid little 28 inch waist) did hand stands for me to celebrate.

Oh, and that is probably a vodka drink in my hand, so just ignore that. Hey, I'm not dead! I'm just trying to get in better shape.

So, maybe all this excitement over a fat lean test makes me a dork. But I'd rather be a dork than sitting in that chair at Banana Republic feeling sorry for myself.

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