Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bio-Impedance Test

What is a bio-impedance test?

The long name is bioelectrical impedance analysis or BIA. The medical and fitness professions use it to test body composition. You know, how much fat versus lean body mass you carry on your person in addition to body water content.

Your gym may have a simple version that is a hand-held device which runs an electrical current through your body and gives you a percentage of body fat when it has completed it's process. I also have a simple version in my scale at home.

My personal trainer used a fancier system for which I had to adequately prepare myself.
Rule 1: No food for 4 hours prior to test
Rule 2: No coffee for 12 hours prior to test
Rule 3: Drink lots of water

For my first appointment with him, I had to follow the above rules then lay down on the table with my right foot and hand naked and exposed. Then, out came the machine.

It was at about this point that I started feeling like Frankenstein's monster....especially after my trainer hooked me up and stepped back a few feet. But there was nothing to fear, no pain, no discomfort, no embarrassing pinching of any inches (which is another way to test body composition).

I have a fat caliper at home that I can use in the privacy of my own bathroom with the door locked, the lights out, and the mirrors covered. Why? Because I have more than a little inch to pinch and no one needs to see that. That's why.

So anyway, the bio-impedance test only took a minute. After it read my body composition, it displayed a simple number on the screen which my trainer then took and plugged into a nifty software program that spit out a report which looks like this:

That was my results from August 15th which was my starting date.

Six weeks later (after skipping 3 weeks because I had to take a fabulous French vacation) on October 28th, I took another BIA test. I was nervous for this one around because my clothes haven't started feeling any different, the scale hasn't moved much at all, and did I mention that I was in France eating foie gras and baguette pretty much every day....

For as nervous as I was before the test, I felt equally as relieved after getting the results. So, the scale hasn't moved much. I've lost 1 whole pound in 6 weeks. But in reality, my body has started moving about 7 lbs in the right direction (4lbs of fat gone and 3lbs of new muscle here to stay). That's something to celebrate.

The results also surprised me. I wasn't expecting to have gained any muscle at all but rather just toned the current muscle tissue I have. To see that I was able to build muscle while also burning fat at the same time made me question some previous reading I've done. Have you ever heard of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle? Well I have, and I've read it. Although I think it's mostly a sound book chalked full of good info, it misses on one small piece of information. It states that it is impossible to build muscle while burning fat at the same time as they are two opposing actions. Apparently that's not entirely true because I have just seen my body do both simultaneously. Interesting.....

Also, because I'm in the mood to give full disclosure, feast your eyes on these numbers.

Those are my measurements over the past couple years. Pay closer attention to the difference between August 15th and October 28th of this year. Oh ya baby! I'm shrinking. Love it.

Thankfully, there are more than a couple ways to measure success. I'm a numbers girl all the way but that doesn't mean I ignore the touchy-feely methods at all. I do pay attention to how my clothes are fitting and how flabby or tight my frame feels before and after working out. It seems that a hybrid method works best for me. If the scale is a lie (which is usually the truth) then I can rely on my measurements and the bio-impedance analysis with my trainer as well as the simple body awareness.

How do you like to read and track your success?

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