My Run-In With the Body Fat Machine

Yesterday, I walked into Uplift for my fat-measuring as part of their Strengthen Up(Lift) Challenge. 

I weigh myself fairly regularly, and my scale measures body fat.

It typically tells me I’m around 20% body fat. Prior to last night, I didn’t really know where that stood, but when I first started losing weight I was at 42%…so, that was all I really needed to know.

I know scales aren’t the best way to measure body fat percentage, but a few years ago, when I embarked on what I called Theodora 2.5, my trainer, Joel, measured my body fat percentage and it was around a 19.5. I’ve gained 5-8 pounds since then, but I’ve also been doing more strength training, so I thought that Official Measurements would have me fairly close to there.

I walked in to Uplift, all happy to see all of my favorite people, and I walked up to sweet tiny Helena, who NBD, was on the Today Show yesterday. 

She asked me how tall I was, how much I weighed and how old I was. I wish I could say I didn’t let numbers define me, but I sheepishly told her I weighed 145ish pounds, and I was 30. (I’m totally cool with my height, for the record.)

Omron Fat Loss Monitor

She had me squeeze one of these bad boys.

The top number read out 29 and the bottom read out 24.

I thought maybe she gave me an extra year or something, and the 29 reflected my “age” and the 24 reflected my body fat.

“What do those numbers mean?”

 She told me the 29 was my body fat percentage, and the 24 was my BMI.


I walked over to Chelsea to have measurements done. They are all relatively similar to the last round of measurements I had done a few years ago, which was a relief.

I’m not thin by any means. I consider body relatively “average” with a little extra pudge around the middle from my love of wine and carbs. 













They handed out this chart, and I was actually surprised to see that 29, for my age, fell squarely in the middle of “average” range. However, my BMI (I know, I know, BMI isn’t the most accurate measure, but still…) is on the higher end of healthy.

Five years ago, I would have been thrilled to have been in these healthy ranges at all. I don’t know if I’ve even ever talked about this on the blog, but I tried Wii Fit for a little bit before getting my act together. All I remember is that mean little Mii telling me I was obese. And with a BMI of 31.4, yeah, I was. Overweight is 25-29.9, so I was on the lower range, I told myself. I was just overweight, I wasn’t obese.

I try not to rationalize like that with myself any more and short change myself with excuses. 

Again, I’m not lean by any means, and I’m doing this challenge to challenge myself, but this number came as a huge surprise and was disappointing, since I thought it would be much closer to what my scale said.

I was texting with Jen, who talked me down from my ledge. I had a bowl of ice cream on Sunday night, you know, so that my body fat percentage would be up, and I could lose a ton. In all seriousness, I doubt that made much of a difference, but maybe being sick and not working out Tuesday – Saturday had some sort of effect…or maybe the machine was off a bit.

I can run marathons. I can push through a tough year. I work out often. I know this number doesn’t define me, but it was still hard not to be disappointed. 

Especially because I work out often. I think that’s why it stung the most. It was a harsh reminder that so much of your health and weight/fat loss is diet. And that my diet isn’t stellar. I don’t think I eat particularly poorly, but I could certainly stand to have more vegetables and less wine.

So…I have my work cut out for me in these two months. 

You guys know I’m obsessed with everyone at Uplift, but I’m really glad my team’s coach for this challenge is Michelle. She lost 40+ pounds a few years ago, maintaining it until having her cute little muffin late last year. She gets it. 

Michelle mason katy widrick

























And just because I’m the creepiest, doesn’t she look just like Katy?? They’re both new moms, and so nice and so real…so they’re basically twins.

I can’t wait to hear what kind of wisdom and fun Michelle has for us.

Let the games begin. 

What’s easier for you: diet or exercise? It flip flops for me, but given that I work for a fitness company and love running races, it’s definitely fitness currently.

22 comments on “My Run-In With the Body Fat Machine

  1. Jen

    I can totally relate. Had the same thing happen to me! I am hopeful for 2014 to strike the balance of fitness and nutrition. The working out part is easier for me. I am not a terrible eater but I need to make more improvements as my body fat is what I need to lower for sure. Can’t wait to hear more. Love the new blog!

  2. Kristine

    Love this honest post. The working out part is 100x easier for me – I LOVE it! Running, Barre, Pilates, SoulCycle, yoga, a mixture… even walking. But then you know I get really hungry and want to eat all of the food. And chase it with red wine. I’m doing a 30-day clean thing – no sugar, dairy, wheat (I’m GF anyway so that’s easy), caffeine, alcohol or soy – my hope is not to drop any lbs (although I really wouldn’t complain), but more so to start the year off on the right foot in hopes that I’ll be more mindful of my food choices. Now I’m really curious as to what my BMI/body fat % is… time to get it checked out!

  3. Lauri

    Isn’t it awful how that number can turn a good day into a crappy day! I can be feeling totally fine, feeling great in my clothes, had a great workout, but if I step on the scale and see a “bad” number, I all of a sudden feel weak and fat (yes, I said the f word). Whereas if I never stepped on that scale i may have continued feeling great! It goes the opposite way too, some days I see a fine nunber but it’s decieivng because I know I havw work to do. A neverending battle I guess. Good for you for looking at the numbers, sharing them, and challenging yourself.
    For me, exercise is easier. it’s just a part of my day now, and non negotiable. The day to day eating is fine, but parties and social events are where the wheels fall off the bus completely. My goal this year is to treat myself at those events with letting myself go on an all out binge….Good Luck to you in your challenge!

  4. Abi@AbsofSteel

    I’ve always wanted to try one of those body fat calculator things. I’m definitely build a bit more sturdy than your average 5’4 human being but I like to think I’m decently lean. It would be interesting to see how that actually converts body fat wise. Exercise definitely comes more easily to me, but I do love to experiment with healthy baking and cooking.

  5. Diane

    I can definitely relate, though I have have not gotten down to the healthly BMI range yet (BF is in the average range). I often get frustrated because I exercise regularly eat relatively healthy. Diet is definitely harder for me. I love food, including fruits, veggis, and protein, but portion control and sweets are my weakness along with stress eating. Hang in there and good luck with you challenge!

  6. Melissa

    I totally understand this frustration. By default, I have a very muscular body. I could do no exercise and still have quads of steel. I eat relatively healthy but could eat better, like many of us. I went to the OB-GYN a few months ago and when she weighed me my BMI was in the “overweight” range. While I can stand to lose a few pounds, the BMI doesn’t take into account muscle. Although I knew this, I was so upset by this “overweight” label. It is extremely frustrating when you are working out consistently and trying to eat right yet you still have labels like that, that create another hurdle to jump over. I completely get why it was frustrating for you to see those numbers. I love reading your blog though for these reasons, you are real and write about your successes and hardships, its not all pearls and roses and for that reason is why I consistently come back to read. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Meghan

    I’ve been having my body fat measured for years at my gym, and that scale and the machine you used both have “athlete” modes for people who work out some amount of time each week.

    At first, the scale wasn’t on athlete mode, and it was telling me I had 26%+ body fat. Once I told the trainer measuring me that I run 5x/week, she switched it to athlete mode, and it fell to less than 20%.

    Moral of the story: If yours wasn’t on “athlete mode,” it’s probably not accurate.

  8. Jessica

    Ugh. I held the same doo-dad at the chiropractor last month and had 26% body fat. All I was given was a square 26% = overweight. Well shit. I’m 5’4″, 150 and wear a size 6. (Your chart of Body Fat % measurement for women is a helpful resource.)

    I try to consider a variety of “feedback” for my weight and health. An annual physical, blood pressure regularly tested, cholesterol tests. Plus things like strength and flexibility…and that in October, I ran Ragnar (17 miles over 24 hours) on very little training. That counts for something, right? Basically, I can justify ANYTHING. Yes, I’d like to lose 5-10 pounds and tone a bit more. The bottom line is that I can be healthier…and I’m working on it.

    Thanks for your honesty.

  9. Becky @ Olives n Wine

    Fitness is so much easier for me! I always find time to run or hit up a class but when it comes to eating, I love shoving processed carbs down my trap. I’m working on getting better with this (especially now that I’m doing the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge) but need to find a balance between an extremely strict diet and a healthy but flexible diet that I can maintain.

  10. Ashley

    It amazes me how much a little number can seriously ruin our day. Machines only tell one story, that’s the bottom line. They’re all calibrated differently and won’t read exactly the same. I try and keep my head on straight and use them for consistency purposes only (like using your scale). For me, that’s a model showing progress or digression!

  11. Brittney @ Sweets 'N' Greens

    Love your honesty – and it’s crazy how much a number (or two) can affect you! I could work out every day and not mind, but giving up carbs, wine, dinners out and happy hours is the tough part for me.

    I’m actually considering getting a Dexa scan sometime soon. My dad got one, and it tells you your body composition, how fat is dispersed on your body, and bone density. I think it sounds pretty cool, and even if the numbers may throw me off, I’m curious! Here’s a link about it if you’re curious –

    1. Suz

      Highly recommend the DXA body scan. I just had it done and it turns out I have way more muscle than I expected – scales would never tell you that.

  12. Elisabeth

    I totally thought that was a picture of Katy!

    Don’t let those numbers ruin your week! You are most definitely in a completely healthier place than several years ago & I’m not sure how accurate I believe that type of body fat measuring device is… I would be curious to see what a real body composition measurement showed 😉

  13. Ashley @ Broc Blog

    Exercise is definitely easier for me. I have no problem working out 5-6 days a week (though I should maybe start upping the intensity of a few of those days) but controlling myself around crappy food is a whole different story.

  14. Cheri

    For me, diet and exercise kind of go hand in hand for me. If I eat crappy, I feel crappy, and I don’t want to work out. But when I eat fresh, whole foods (which is most of the time), I feel energetic and totally ready to go.

    That said, I’m really contemplating giving up drinking for a little while at least. I had a large glass of wine last night, and I woke up with a pounding headache, and I gotta tell you, I’m absolutely done with waking up feeling icky all because of alcohol, and I bet it couldn’t hurt my training to chill on the alcohol for a while, right?

  15. Michelle

    Love the supportive conversation going on here. What it hopefully shows you is that we can all relate in some way! I am so looking forward to working with you 🙂

  16. Amanda

    I love that you say, “more vegetables, less wine”! That’s what I’m trying to do, too. I think I am pretty decent with the workouts (especially now that I’m starting to train for my second marathon!) but I’ve definitely increased my wine consumption over the last month with the holidays. Oops! Time to cut back.

  17. Katrina

    I agree with pretty much everything everyone said. I had the exact same experience this morning with that BF machine and measurements that just weren’t exactly what I wanted them to be. But, I know I indulged a lot over the holidays, and I’m starting a 2 week no sugar/no fruit/no grains/no dairy nutrition challenge as a “reset”. It’s not for weight loss, but I’m certainly expecting to lose a few of those holidays pounds. Prior to the holidays, I stopped weighing myself and went on how I thought I looked/felt/clothes fit, and I was so much happier with myself and my body. It’s ridiculous that we let numbers define us so mucH! Good for showing progress, but definitely have to keep in mind that they are numbers, and numbers never tell the whole story!

  18. Sharon Hamlin

    Hi! I love to do exercise at the same time love to eat food. Being foodie can’t let me do proper diet. It just overpower me. Give me some advice what technique can really help me to control it? Please help me…..


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