When my husband does something, he does it full throttle, balls to the wall, do or die, 100%. There is no half way, it's all or nothing.
So when we joined our local gym to get our sorry asses back in shape, he suggested we get our percentage of body fat measured.
Oooooh, that sounds like so much fun! I really want to know how fat I am in excruciating detail, understand the exact amount of fat piled up in my body, especially around my middle. Yes, everyone should learn how much of their body is made up of gelatinous fat. Sign me up!
My husband thought it would be somehow romantic to do the dunk tank together: a bonding experience. He made our appointments at the Physical Therapy office for a beautiful Friday afternoon. I dug out my old bathing suit and winced at how tight it felt on my hips. This is going to be so much fun!
Queen Teen and I watched as Rick got in the pool. The water came up to his chin as he bobbed gently on the submerged chair. The very friendly therapist explained how to blow out all your air as you dunk your head under the water. Rick followed her instructions and Queen Teen started to giggle; she'd never seen anyone swim like that. After three times, Rick got out of the tub and dried off while the therapist computed his body fat.
Not bad. Rick only needed to lose two pounds of body fat to be at an optimum percentage for health. All those years of working out had paid off and he probably went over the healthy line just in the last few months because he'd been working so much he couldn't exercise regularly. He grinned with pride, relieved by the findings.
Then it was my turn.
The water was warm and didn't reek of chlorine. I gripped the handles of the chair and pulled myself under while blowing out all my air. It was surprisingly hard to do. My body's survival mechanism kicked in and wondered what the he'll I was doing. Trying to drown? I had to concentrate on forcing out my breath and holding it while staying under long enough for the therapist to get a measurement, and after the fourth time (one for practice) my body was going into full on panic mode. At last we were done and I happily climbed out of the pool and retrieved my towel which Queen Teen was holding for me.
"You're silly," she said. Yes I am. Only a crazy person would want to know exactly how fat they are.
How fat am I? The therapist did the formula twice to make sure, surprised by what it said. I am over 30% fat, considered unhealthy for someone my gender and age. To reach a healthy percentage, I need to lose 7 pounds of fat, probably the exact amount clinging to my belly like a flabby, white, oversized hand bag.
If only I could keep my car keys there.
Rick was thrilled, and more invigorated to get back into the gym. I on the other hand felt as if I'd aged by ten years in ten minutes. For a former anorexic teen, the idea of being fat felt horrifying. and yes, I know, I'm not really "fat." I'm getting older, so of course I don't weigh 115 pounds any more. But as I walked across the parking lot to my car with Queen Teen still chatting about how silly Rick and I are, I heard the voice of that 60 year old, fat woman who had confronted me many years ago.
"I used to look just like you!"
Did she curse me?
After I'd had a few days to think about it, I decided that finding out how much fat I'm carrying around is a good thing. It is too easy to blow off that flabby feeling and suck in my gut while ordering another mocha. I can hide my belly rolls with high waisted jeans and loose t-shirts. Disguise and avoid, and in so doing slowly get fatter until I start to have health problems. Knowing that I'm already unhealthy is a wake up call. If I want to be health at 50, if I don't want to turn into that spiteful woman at 60, I need to change my exercise and eating habits now. Why wait until I get diabetes?
I went out and bought new running shoes.
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