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Hydrostatic Body Fat Testing…it’s a thing

July 11, 2013

Remember back in high school during PE those random days of the year when your Coach would think it was fun to pinch the holy heck out of the back of your arm? I hated that day. I believe calipers, those pinchy things your coach armed himself with to measure your body fat, were developed by evil minions determined to inflict pain upon an already fragile and awkward populous.

It was only later, as an adult, that I learned these torture devices are a valid tool in your health and fitness journey. Who knew? Apparently, Coach did. Measuring your body fat helps determine your body composition, and it is a much better measure of health and fitness than those silly numbers on the scale. Calipers, however, are as accurate as the person taking the measurement, which, if you are me, is inconsistent at best. They are not without their merit, and for the average person walking around, they are a great way to measure your progress across a fitness plan.

However, I decided I wanted just a bit more accuracy, and what better way to get that than to dunk myself in a tank of water and pretend I am drowning. If I thought the calipers were torture, I really had to wrap my head around Hydrostatic Body Fat Testing. That’s a real thing, I am totally not making this up.


This is the exact truck where I nearly voluntarily drowned.


I am going to be honest, I did not put a lot of research into this process. My friend Becky is a figure competitor, and fellow AdvoCare distributor, here in St. Louis, and suggested this form of testing to me when we were discussing figure competitions. I still have not decided whether competing is my ultimate goal (not until I see a show or two to see first hand what it is all about), but I am definitely training as if I will compete. Combined with studying for my personal training certification, coaching people through the 24 Day Challenge, I figured going through this process accomplished two things: 1. educating myself on the importance of body composition and 2. giving myself a set goal to work towards in my own personal plan.

The process is pretty simple, really. Body Fat Test is an actual company, and there are franchises in cities around the country. There is one lady, Laura, here in St. Louis that provides this service. Summertime is not a popular time to get tested, and I suspect she put a testing day together because I told her I specifically wanted/needed to get tested by this week, as this is the week I started my Cleanse and my new workout program. She said that normally she sets up at gyms, but on Tuesday, she had this truck parked outside of her house.

Upon arrival, I changed into a swimsuit while she took my basic information. I think it helps to understand that I am not a swimmer type at all, so the thought of going underwater and blowing out ever ounce of air I have scared the living daylights out of me. But Laura is clearly a professional, and eased me through the process. I got in the tank and put a weight belt across my lap. I held my nose and laid down in the water, blowing out all the air I could. As no one is great the first time they go under, I repeated this a few times. The bottom line is air equals fat on the scale, and since this entire process is to measure your lean tissue – bone, muscle, internal organs – versus your adipose tissue, or fat, you really want to exhale every bit of air you can to get an accurate reading.

Just when I thought I might be dying, she knocked on the take to let me know to come up. I did much better than I expected, in all honesty. Here’s a little video that shows the process:

I am sad to say the catchy cabana music is not part of the experience.

In the end, the results are completely worth it. For all of those who have joked that I need to go eat a cheeseburger, well, you are partially right. (Let us all remember that eating cheese may literally kill me, as that dairy allergy is no joke!) I have mentioned on Facebook and here on the blog in the past week or so that May and June were not good, and I was not eating enough. My results confirmed my muscle loss. Even though my pants have been fitting tighter, I actually lost weight (Body Composition changed!). Bum-mer. No doubt about it, I am under weight, and it is solely because I do not have enough muscle mass. My body fat percentage is actually pretty good, very healthy for a woman my age. But given my tiny frame, being a caucasian female, and family history, I am at high risk of osteoporosis, so muscle strength and bone strength are essential to my well being.

I love Laura the Body Fat Tester on multiple levels, the least of which being her blunt honesty. I weigh too little, and must put on muscle. How much? She wants to see 15 pounds of muscle. That is a lot for a wee girl like me, but another reason I love Laura, she told me she has no doubt I can do it (she’s the perfect coach, tough yet encouraging, helpful and reassuring). I am looking at a solid six months of work, at least, to get there. The body test results not only broke down my weight, lean tissue and fat tissue, but also calculated my resting metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy needed to sustain the body at a minimal resting level. I now know exactly how many calories I need just to Be. She upped that by 30% to reflect my life as a busy mom. Then she provided a list of calories burned when doing various types of exercise.

Now, I am going to be honest, I am not a calorie counter, and do not generally recommend it as a weight loss tool. I find that people will choose lower calorie, nutrient poor foods over higher calorie, nutrient dense foods. However, I now have a better understanding of my body’s needs. It also confirmed what I tell my Challengers – you need to eat way more calories than you think if you want effective weight loss and muscle gain!

In addition to a calorie goal, she provided me with protein and water goal. The water goal is no problem. The protein goal is not really a problem, I just have to be more creative than some since I cannot have eggs or whey protein. I have a number of grams to shoot for every single day, so I will be learning a bit more about the protein sources I choose.

In general, this entire process was pretty darn cool. No only did Laura help define my goal, my time frame, and give me specifics on how to get there, I have information that translates to my entire family. Every member of my family will benefit from this testing, and while I am sure my kids wish I was a Kool-Aid and Pop Tarts kind of mom, I hope that I am providing them with information now that will help them build healthy bodies for their entire life. Anything I can do to prevent them from growing into an unhealthy adult that has to unlearn a lifetime of bad habits!

Big HUGS to all out there today!

Amy first name only signature


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