Body Composition Analysis

That is how the header reads of the 4-page report that was generated today at the conclusion of my hydrostatic testing by Body Fat Test. This was touted as “the Gold Standard” as it relates to testing. What is hydrostatic or hydrodensitometry.

Hydrostatic weighing is the most accurate way to measure body fat and is the method by which all other means of measurement compare their degree of error (source).

While I had heard of this sort of analysis before, I had never undergone such testing. Thankfully our sports club advertised this last month and I figured I would sign up and pay my $49 to see just where my body fat percentage is. Unfortunately, the only “baseline” (and I use that loosely) I had was the Body Mass Index (BMI). While not all that accurate it gave me a rough estimate, it does not computer the percentage of body fat.

I weighed in at 179 pounds on their Healthometer beam scale. This was 2 pounds more than what my home scale reflected this morning at 4am this morning. Based on their calculation I am still short of my 175 pounds weight by 4 pounds. More on that shortly.

I walked up the stairs and into the mobile lab and filled out my release form and was asked my height (72″). I then change into my bathing suit and walked up the two steps leading to the stainless steel tub, which is actually a scale you are laying on. I was told the test would be administered 3 times. Each time I would take a normal breath and exhale, followed by a second breath and fully exhale before I submerged myself underwater. Once under the water I had to continue to expel air until I heard the technician bang on the side of the tank. Not as easy as it sounds. The actual submersion lasted approximately 30 seconds as you are trying to get all the air out of the lungs to get an accurate reading.

After I had finished the last test I got out the tub and dried off while the 4-page report generated. The first page contains the immediate results based off your personal data including height, weight, as well as your wet weight (6.49 lbs. in my case). The body fat percentage was 15.6% or 27.9 lbs. Based on their chart, which was provided by Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s Institute for Aerobic Research the “healthy range” for my age bracket (40-49) is 15.1%, putting me just above the average (85th percentile).

The other number the calculated is the lean body mass, which is what is remaining when you remove the fat, including bone, muscle and internal organs. My lean body mass percentage was 84.4% or 151.1 pounds. I did ask the technician if I could work backwards with the numbers from my original weight of 216 pounds, unfortunately the unknown variable is how much fat/muscle has been lost since I changed my diet and started exercising.

The last 2 pages of the report are tailored to each individual. Thankfully I come in below the 30% of body fat, which is considered to be obese, but I could retest (at a cost of $39) in 4 months to see if I have achieved the goal the technician set. For me that would be decreasing my body fat to 13% or 5.3 lbs. of fat. That would put my target weight at approximately 173.7 pounds. I was told the weight could fluctuate depending on adding muscle, while losing fat.

They also add in a nutritional component to assist in making your goal (while seeing your return visit). I have only skimmed the nutritional program, but some of it seems to echo what many McDougaller’s already know. Step 1 talks about ridding the pantry of “cookies, cakes, ice cream, salad dressing, butter, margarine, sugar, white bread, and everything that “God did not create in its natural form” (source). It also mentions removing cheese from the diet, although they do allow for cottage cheese. No thanks.

As an option for milk, they say to switch to 1% or non-fat, but also recommend soy milks, no mention made of nut milks though. They still allow for “lean” cuts of meat and chick (4 to 6 oz.) as well as fish. The final piece of advice, “You must cut out fried foods completely. They are not allowed, and soon you will not miss them. No fried food whatsoever, at all! They generally have little nutritional value and are extremely high in fat” (source).

Since I have my diet under control eating plant-based, whole grain foods I am already two steps ahead. Not being tempted by the fried foods or cheating once a month on foods I know are not good for me has me on the path to health. The resting metabolic rate accounts for approximately 70% of daily energy expenditure. My resting metabolic rate is 1985 calories a day. This is down about 200 calories from my an estimation I calculated using a software program called Fit Day.

The final page of the report is on exercise. Again, like the previous pages it is tailored to me and my body. It lists about 30 exercises accomplished at different paces and the number of calories my body will burn. For example, I use an elliptical machine for 45 minutes for my cardio workout and based on their numbers I burn 244 calories in 30 minutes. If I run at a pace of 5 mph (12 min/mile) I will burn 325 calories.

While I did find the numbers interesting and might consider going back for a retest in 4 months, a simpler way of analysis is to stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself, “Do I like what I see?” If the answer is no, then make the necessary changes. If you do like what you see then you just saved yourself $49. I do believe this testing reaffirms the positive changes I have made in the last 8 months to get me to where I am at today. Following the McDougall way is simple, eat what you want, stop when you are full and exercise. Can it get any easier? No counting calories, no need to weigh in or count points. He provides the guidelines, the discussion provides the support. You can make a change and get healthy.

Cougar Gets Attention

The past two days afforded me the opportunity to move the boxes and clean off the top surfaces of the Cougar, roll the cat halfway out of the garage and work on it. It’s been longer than I can remember since I last put any time or more importantly, money into the Cougar. Yesterday I spent about $21 on a piece of steel and two cans of rust inhibitor. Conversely I put in approximately 15 hours work, with the help of a neighbor and made good progress.

Goals for the past few days were simple. First make progress on the Cougar, second spend as little money as possible. Both objectives were achieved. While not immediately on the list, the battery ledge was cut out and replaced. Much of the work was cleaning and grinding surfaces to get the loose surface rust off before cleaning the surface and spraying the rust inhibitor. None of the rust (like the battery ledge) is so bad that it will require removal and replacement, so I am lucky in that respect.

A goal for this summer is to completely prep the engine compartment, which is about 95% stripped and cleaned, ready to be painted. It’s my hope to drop the engine, transmission and headers into the car in the next few months. Before that can happen I need to replace a few more parts, including the steering column and necessary stainless steel lines. Yesterday allowed to get the rest of the sanding/grinding done, with the exception of one corner that has a wiring harness and hoses coming through the firewall.

From there I moved on to the front windshield, pulling the rubber weatherstripping off and removing the glass. Unfortunately the window cracked from bottom to top. I believe it was cracked under the rubber and when I pried it up, the crack lengthen. Add another $225 to the total cost of the Cougar. Once the glass was out, I cleaned the remaining waxy substance around the window opening. I already had the back glass out, removed months ago. Much like the front window opening, I cleaned up the rear window opening. I did find one minor spot of rust, but I come bondo will easily fill that hole. I assume it’s from water, since it’s the lower corner of the rear window.

I started looking at the interior again and wanted to get the dashboard removed. I had all the interior panels removed previously, as well as the dash pad that covered the top of the dashboard. The dash pad was sun damaged and pulled years ago. I did clean up the bracket and removed the dashboard, along with the heating/cooling vents. While I will probably never use the AC system, but I do need to replace the heater core and possibly the wiring harness.

Much of the work was purely cosmetic. I was able to strip the remaining rust on the floor of the interior, as well as the walls over the wheel wells and the back deck above the seat. These areas were then sprayed with the rust inhibitor. Thankfully I had done a majority of the truck interior already. I did spray the areas I had already done, but still have some surface rust I need to know down. Lots of work and some good progress was made. I might

New battery ledge, welded and sprayed.

The most progress was made on the battery ledge, this was an area that was completely corroded due to water and battery acid. The battery tray that came with the car was not salvageable. What was worse was the ledge that tray was attached to was eaten though. Thanks to my neighbor, who is currently restoring a ’54 Chevy, he stopped over and offered his help. This turned into a 3 hour project, as he cut out the area, bent a new piece of 16 GA metal welding it to the car and then ground down some of the welds to blend it into the existing frame.

I was very pleased with the outcome, it’s strong and once the battery tray is in place you won’t notice the welded plate. I was surprised he took so much time and effort into helping me with this project. He has already offered to come back over and help me with a few other projects on the car, including a few dents on the passenger’s side of the Cougar and showing me how to use bondo to start filling in low spots on the roof.

It might be a bit too ambitious to say there will be time every week to work on the Cougar, but now that some work has been done I have been bitten…again! I will update with some pictures from the work accomplished.