It's Fat Tuesday today. On a whim, I had my body composition tested today. Body composition tells you, with varying degrees of accuracy, how much body fat you have versus how much lean mass you have. This is important for me because it tells me exactly how much weight I can lose safely. For example, if I weigh 185 pounds and have 15 percent body fat, that means that my lean body mass - everything about me that isn't fat - is 157.25 pounds (185 x (1.00-.15). Since I need some fat to survive - at least 4% for the human male - 164 is about as low as I should go with those numbers. The real trick behind weight management is losing the fat while keeping the lean body mass the same.
And since body fat is nothing but dead weight when I am running, less is better as long as I am healthy.
There are several ways to measure body fat. Skinfold calipers are the most common and are supposedly 98% accurate. Devices that send small electric currents to measure density and stuff are less accurate but more convenient - I have one of these. But the gold standard is hydrostatic testing, and that's what I had done today.
The process is simple and quick. I walked into the doctor's office (a specialized sports medicine facility, likely not available in all cities) and changed into my swimsuit. They weighed me dry and then I went into a pool and sat in a sling thing (while still in the water) that weighed me. I blew out all of the air in my lungs, curled up into a little ball and completely submerged myself (and repeated twice). They then compared my weight with the water displacement, ran some numbers, and gave me the results.
That did not make me happy on some levels (my electric current device had me as low as 14%) but on others it is good news. It means that I can safely drop down to the mid 160s, which will make me that much faster. I'm not overweight or obese at all - 19% isn't a bad number, per se - but for performance I want to drop some weight and this tells me I can. It's going to take a couple of months though....
In other news....
I applied to be a wear tester with several of the major running shoe manufacturers last fall. I finally got picked for a test. I'm not allowed to reveal which company or which shoe, but Brand X is sending me Model Y shoe in the mail and I'm going to be wearing it for about the next month. And then I send it back. In the meantime, I submit my reviews on the shoe along the way. I'm quite excited for this.