There are many different ways that people gauge their overall fitness. The less knowledgeable strictly base this on a number they see on a scale, or even worse, on the number that appears on a BMI calculator. While weight and BMI are decent ways to measure fitness, they essentially lack vital information that are key in determining one’s overall health and fitness level –which is, body composition. Sure, one may have low body weight and a low BMI, but it may not show that the person also has an abundance of internal, visceral fat and a weak muscular system. On the contrary, a person may weight more than 200 pounds and rank on the “obese” side of the BMI chart…but be a professional body builder.
A more accurate way to decipher one’s fitness is to look at body fat percentage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_fat_percentage). Back last year when I began training for my first marathon, my body fat percentage hoverer around 21.something percent. This placed me in the “fitness” category. While I was happy with the number, I wanted to be able to train and watch my diet so that I could slowly bring it down to less than 20 percent. At the peak of my training for L.A. in the beginning of this year, I had managed to bring my body fat percentage down to 20.something percent. While I was happy with my progress, I still ranked in the “fitness” category in the American Council of Exercise’s chart. I wanted to be classified as an athlete. As silly as it may sound, I wanted to be in that category.
After finishing the L.A. Marathon, I took a month off to fully recover and I began training again in the beginning of April. Unlike my previous training, I added consistent speed work (HIIT) and a full-body weight routine to my workouts and maintained this regimen consistently since April. The modifications to my running must have greatly helped because I recently had my body fat percentage measured and I surpassed my goal. Today, my body fat percentage was measured at 18.6 percent which places me squarely in the “athlete” category.