Body fat percentage to me all comes down to how big of a role you want training and eating to play in your life. If training and eating healthy real food in the right amounts have not been in vocabulary for a few decades you will have work to do. If they have been, you may still have work to do or you are just over it and need a break or a new outlook on the “hustle”.
The very measurement of body composition is an estimate. The only way to actually measure body fat percentage is an autopsy. Not helpful. The reason I measure body fat percentage with my clients is not because I really care or even trust the value. It is because I need a value to track as we go through this process.
Are you gaining muscle? (The number one determinant of how long you will live)
Are you losing fat?
Is what we are doing actually working?
In consults, there is zero emphasis if the number is high. No judgment. This just helps guide me on what we have to do. If it is low, we talk about this and what the next steps may be for that individual.
If someone has a body composition goal, superb, let’s work on that. If they don’t and just want to feel better, have more energy, or create a better relationship with their body that is phenomenal as well.
I never try to manipulate people’s goals to fit my motives. BUT, I flat out won’t take on clients with unrealistic or unhealthy goals. AKA If you are a female and want to get to 10% body fat for the summer, I am not the person to help you and if I was I would seek to understand why you would want to be at a body fat percentage that is extremely unhealthy and one that the opposite sex doesn’t even find attractive.
What I care about is seeing a change in the right direction driven through health!
Playing the long game, I would like all my females to be in the mid-twenties. That is a great place to be. Curvy, sexy, and healthy. Some may want to get down into the low twenties or even high teens, but then we have to be aware of what is really driving this want, health, a challenge, or some other need/insecurity?
For men, we should definitely be under 15% body fat. Under this we have to find what is maintainable and where you feel your best. For instance, my brain and body seem to work best around 11 to 12%.
The crazy thing is that when you survey the opposite sex these are the body fat ranges that get their motors running. Actually, I don’t think this is crazy at all because what we find sexy is the ability to procreate and make healthy babies and these ranges tend to be the healthiest.
No matter what your goals are I implore you to watch this TedX talk by Emily Nagoski
And then take action.
For the next 30 days I want you to stand in front of mirror naked for 3 to 5 minutes and write down everything you like about your body. No flexing. Just breathing and writing. OK, maybe a little flexing.