Body for Life, the Universe, and Everything

Being a description of the author's thoughts on the experience of participating in the "Body for Life" Challenge, questions of great philosophical import, and randomly selected topics of no significance whatsoever

My Photo
Location: Missouri, United States

In no particular order, I'm a professional lettering artist, a yoga practitioner, a cat lover, a vegetarian, a reader of everything from books to cereal boxes, married to a very attractive guy named Tom (nope, no kids), an exercise enthusiast, and a lot of other things I don't care to admit in a public forum. I have a BS in applied math that I haven't used in over 10 years, and I can put both feet behind my head. What else would you like to know?

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Fitness goddess (and stellar comic writer) Skwigg posted an entry in her blog yesterday about ordering a Tanita scale. It inspired me to post a comment to her--my first one after nearly a year of laughing myself into oxygen depletion at her latest adventures and pithy, wry observations. Here, see what she said for yourself; I'll wait....

You're back?'s what I said in response (very slightly modified):

Oh boy, the Tanita scale...I think it might be the work of the devil. Tom (hubby) bought one for us when we started BFL a year ago, and I'm really glad he bought calipers, too, because if I only had the Tanita body fat percentages to go by, I would have put my head in the oven by now. Initially my BF% from the calipers and the Tanita scale were in the same range, but over time they have started drifting apart, and now they're not even on speaking terms. I use both calipers and scale every day, and today was typical: calipers-19.7% BF; Tanita scale-30.4% BF!!

I do not believe that my body is 30% fat. (You can see for yourself; there are pix of me on our home page, although I'm not fond of them.) Most people don't understand why I feel a need to lose fat, because I have pretty much always looked thin in street clothes. I am 5'2" and today I weigh 132--I have gained around 10 pounds of muscle on BFL, and I'm on my 5th Challenge (I just keep going), hoping to lose some fat this time by improving my diet (mainly eating more often), instead of just building muscle by working out. I just love those life insurance weight tables that say that a woman my height should weigh between 105 and 118 pounds. Uh, dudes? My current LEAN weight is somewhere around 106 pounds. How much muscle do you want me to lose to fit into your guidelines?

I will also say that I take my weight and BF% measurements first thing in the morning, and occasionally I'll get on the scale again later in the day, and the BF% is ALWAYS lower--usually by 1-2%, sometimes up to 3%. It would really mess with my head if I didn't know how squirrelly it is! I mostly just check it for amusement. (It just occurred to me that that is a rather unusual form of amusement--checking variances in body fat readings....) I'll also mention that although the change over the course of the day seems to be across the board, Tom doesn't have nearly as much of a discrepancy between BF% from the Tanita and from the calipers. the Tanita/caliper discrepancy issue just me? I will be very interested to hear your comments, Skwigg. Please keep us posted!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Erin Go Bleah

Well, the "mindful eating" thing has crashed and burned. It was a good idea, and I think I will keep practicing being mindful of my eating whenever I think of it, but it has not worked out very well in terms of making a habit of it. I think it is partly because I read so much that the complication I mentioned before kept throwing a spanner into the works.

In other news, Tom and I went to Florida in mid-March for a week, for the wedding of his niece, near Fort Lauderdale, followed by a few days of vacation in the Keys. The traffic in Miami was frightening--I think my blood pressure went up twenty points every time I got in a car, and I wasn't even driving--but the weather was fabulous--sunny and warm every day except when we were driving from Miami to the Keys, when we got a few showers (complete with a double rainbow!)--and it wasn't hurricane season, which was a refreshing change from our last trip to Florida, in August (when we had a sort-of-close encounter with Hurricane Katrina).

We stayed in Key Largo (the Key closest to the mainland) while we were on vacation (the second half of the week) and spent one day driving the hundred miles from there down to the end of the Keys--the infamous Key West--spending as much time there as we could, and then driving back to Key Largo later that night. Neither of us had ever been to the Keys before, and it was really incredible. Just to describe the color of the water there requires a thesaurus; it is like nothing I have ever seen before. Spider Robinson wrote a terrific book called Callahan's Key (from which the title of today's blog is taken) which involves, among other things, a group of wacky people moving from New York to Key West, and he describes the wonderful weirdness of the Keys better than I ever could. We read that book and its sequel several years ago (they are part of a series of five or six books, all of which are fabulous, assuming you like sci-fi/fantasy with tongue firmly in cheek), and while we were in Key West I announced to Tom that the first thing I was going to do when we got home was request those two books from the library again, and then re-read them...which we both did.

We were nowhere near a gym while in Florida, so I missed my normal seven workouts in the eight days we were gone, but we walked quite a lot, so it wasn't a waste, fitness-wise. In fact, my weight when we got back was exactly the same as it was when we left, despite my having indulged in sugar somewhat more than usual (that is, I had dessert after dinner about half of the days, instead of once a week). Then it was back to the usual workout schedule as soon as we got home.

Tom re-started Body for Life seriously a week after we got back (he'd been slacked off for the last few months). Then last Saturday we got a lovely spring day, and we decided to enjoy it from the saddles of our road bikes, for the first time this season (we've been using the stationary bike in the basement for almost all of our aerobic workouts since starting BFL). And that was the first time in months that I saw that all of my grueling workouts have really made a difference in what I can actually do: we went over 30 miles, and I kept up with Tom better than I ever have in over 15 years of bicycling together, and when we were done, I felt really good. Really good.

Keep in mind that I got into cycling because he was into it (although after a few years I started enjoying it for itself), and when we started cycling together (and for years thereafter), he would have to wait for me at the top of every hill, and if he wanted to get a real workout in, he had to leave me behind and sprint--repeatedly. Also, his bike is a racing bike--it is built for speed. Mine is a sport touring bike--built more for pacing oneself so that one can actually arrive at a destination...eventually. Over the years, I have improved relative to Tom...very slowly. He eventually didn't have to wait for me at the top of hills so long that he got bored. And on Saturday, I had no trouble keeping up with him. In fact, I spent a certain amount of time just behind him...singing. And when we were home again, after those 30-plus miles, he said he was beat, and I was disappointed that it was over. Now, granted, he had already done a lower-body weight workout earlier that day (I hadn't done a workout because it was my day off for the week), and he had lost a bit of steam in the few months he'd been hit-or-miss on the fitness program, while I'd been hard at it the whole time. But I was thrilled to see that all those hours I'd spent sweating on the stationary bike, and heaving big metal things around, had made a difference in my abilities that was real to me.