Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How to Gain (and Lose) Bodyfat

I have one of those horrible, horrible Tanita scales. For the un-initiated, with the Tanita scale you pre-program it with your age, height, zodiac sign and favorite pet's name. Then when you step on the scale, it sends a small electrical current through your body and generates a random number as your bodyfat percentage. You would think that with a random number sometimes it would be good, sometimes it would be bad. Yet with the Tanita, somehow - defying all laws of mathematics and logic - it is always bad news.

Now I don't delude myself to thinking that the Tanita gives an accurate absolute reading of your bodyfat. (An anonymous friend recently did the full submergence test and it was WAY off from her Tanita reading.) But I HAVE deluded myself into believing that it can show relative progress: ie losing fat or gaining fat overall.

I had not used the scale in maybe a week and thought I'd check up on myself. I haven't gotten down to my race-day goal but I've been hovering in that area for a while so I haven't been worried about it. I turned 42 in July and never re-programmed the Tanita so I finally updated it. I was excited to check my bodyfat, because I assumed that the older you got, the more forgiving it would be. Sort of like going up in age-group for races. I stepped on the scale and Tanita told me I was seven percentage points HIGHER than I was last week. SEVEN POINTS?! That's just crazy.

I waited a few minutes, went back to the scale and tried again. It HAD to be a false reading, right? Nope. Same result. Fortunately I don't trust voodoo magic (Tanita) and I went back and re-reprogrammed the scale. I stepped back on, and this time I was pretty much right where I was last week. I'm not sure what I did the first time, maybe I told it I was 4 feet tall and that's why it thought I was so much fatter.

So my advice to all you Tanita owners: the machine CAN be beat. You just have to figure out how to program it correctly. I think I'm going to try telling it that I'm 8 feet tall and see if I can get it to tell me I have a negative bodyfat percentage.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Tanita tells me that my metabolic age is 52 and I am as old as you. Either doing Ironman is terrible for you or I partied way to hard in the 90's.

3:15 PM  
Blogger monica said...

hi wedgie!!! thought i'd stop by and say hi. i too have a tanita and constantly marvel at the body fat percentage feature. but does your tanita have an athlete profile that you can program? it's crucial for all that we (well not so much me at the moment) do training wise. it takes into account for more muscle mass due to our frequent training. if a couch potato programmed their tanita with the athlete profile it would give them way better news every time!!! and i've never heard of a metabolic age feature that anonymous speaks of, but OH HELL NO!!! that is definitely one feature i will be skipping unless tanita commits to replacing scales that get thrown out the window...

i do have to say that the dunk tests are THE BEST. there's a mobile unit that travels to various socal gyms and you don't have to be a member to sign up for a test. check out the site here and click on the calendar to find out where they'll be.

say hi to everyone at team disney and hopefully i'll see you out in griffith park soon!!!

9:46 AM  

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