Mirror by Rossella Pruneti
Mirrors are psychologically biased
Bathroom scales are misleading
How to evaluate your body (image)?
the end, you got started. You went on a diet. You joined a health club.
You embarked on an exercise program. You did your best to make and keep
commitments to yourself. But whenever you mirror at yourself, you don't
like your reflection at all. Getting started isn't the hardest part.
You may find that the hardest part is going on at full sails – staying
committed to your fitness goals.
If you set out on your lifetime voyage in fitness and health, you need
to find your way with the most advanced “navigation systems”. You want
to take your “fix” or “craft’s position” punctually and accurately.
That is how you can guide yourself safely and expeditiously towards
your fitness goals. You'll always have a good idea of where you are
going. You will never be at a loss to design and implement your own
fitness program. Scales and mirrors will not upset you any more. Most
important, you will not get stuck. And if you do, you can figure out
when it happened and what to do to overcome the difficulties.
Shaping and firming up argent sheer weight loss or
A fitness plan radically changes your body – its shape, size, appearance
and its physical conditioning. Most of the time, a successful fitness
plan also radically changes the balance between your mind, body, and
self in a positive manner.
If you believe a fitness plan is only weight loss or
gain, you can keep on trusting your bathroom scales. You'll be deceived,
however, by your own mind and you won’t be able to understand if you
are getting results. Chances are You'll wind up overtraining and/or
over dieting. Even sailors who argent sailing towards interesting, far-off
destination use the simple “dead reckoning technique” - which estimates
position for inshore courses.
On the other hand, if you understood a fitness plan is a complex balance
of methods and deductions, you would use the state-of-the-art navigation
techniques. Medicine and sports physiology offer you a great variety
of electronic, scientific aids to have more accurate, easier body measurements.
A navigator usually attempts to find the shortest route
between two points. I wish I could tell you there's such a shortcut
even for your fitness plan, but the fact is, you have to plan your personal
chart. Maybe it can be a long and arduous course. Whatever your goals
are, you should try to plot your own course including data such as setting
goals, departure information, tracking your progress, where you would
like to arrive, and use strategies not to be discouraged by your mirror
and by your bathroom scales.
You may be looking for a chart to get started or perhaps you're already
in action and need a reliable feedback. In either case, if you have
got your own chart, you sure achieve your fitness goals.
Actually, ancient sailors sailed most of the navigable waters of the
world with a few basic navigational aids.
In this article I don't explain how to test your physical
conditioning (such as your heart rate, strength, and flexibility). I
focus on several easy yet fairly accurate ways to plot the initial planning
and the end results of your fitness voyage. I suggest how to test your
fitness results from an anthropometrical point of view on your own.
Anthropometry is the science concerned with measuring the human body
(weight, height, body composition, pulse, …) or classifying its characteristics
(color of eyes, hair, blood biochemistry, …). Inside the field of anthropometry,
I am going to analyze a variety of easy, fairly reliable anthropometric
indices and methods you can use to determine your body composition.
In fact, the very body composition can be changed through your fitness
Even if you do most of the daily or weekly testing yourself, consider
getting your complete medical evaluation at a sports medicine or health
clinic, health club or by a health professional before beginning your
fitness plan. Get tested your fitness level again every one to three
months. To keep measurements consistent, go to the same professional.
The Mirror and The Self
Bodybuilders love to look at themselves in a mirror.
On the contrary, most of women comes into conflict with their own body
image and, as a result, with their reflection.
Edith Head, a Hollywood designer, suggests to take a large paper bag,
to cut two holes in it, and to put your head inside. She believes you
can look at yourself in a mirror in an unbiased manner.
Maybe, this advice sounds like a paradox, but it represents the attitude
many of us have regarding our self-valuation. As soon as we strip down
and stand in front of a full-length mirror, we start lying to ourselves.
You may be looking at your reflection through the filters of your emotions.
Even a bad day or a tiff may color your perceptions when you look in
the mirror. Escaping reality, we tell ourselves to be better or worse.
Vitangelo Moscarda, the character of Nobel Prize winner Luigi Pirandello’s
novel “One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand”, had always been looking
at his nose in the mirror. Indeed, his wife – and not his bathroom mirror
– pointed his crooked nose out to him!
Mirrors are useful just to check your form while weight lifting or doing
aerobics classes. To say who is the most beautiful, only the looking-glass
of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs spoke the truth.
The Scale Weight
Scale weight was introduced into medical practice by
Santori in the nineteenth century. It was meant to help in examining
patients and making diagnosis. Santori didn't regard scale weight a
fitness test. So, why is scale weight bothering you?
Don't be alarmed by the fact you notice a weight gain. This doesn't
always mean that you are getting fat.
Weight gains or losses may occur due to:
1) a different caloric balance (the ratio between how
many calories you take in and how many you burn);
2) any fluid shift fluctuation (e. g. water retention);
3) growth or decrease of body tissues (e. g. muscle tissue in bodybuilding,
body fat after a diet).
A weight loss may be due to:
1) dieting and/or exercise;
2) a disease (peptic ulcer, kidney diseases, digestive disorders, malabsorption,
cancer, tuberculosis, hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, AIDS);
3) psychiatric disorders (depression, anorexia, bulimia);
4) increased excretion of urine caused by a disease or drugs.
If you lose weight and you are not on a diet, see your physician.
Weigh yourself daily or weekly, always at the same hour
– the best time is before breakfast, stripped down or with the same
type of underwear to guarantee consistency.
You should be very accurate when weighing yourself on your bathroom
scales. Make sure the scales needle comes back to zero after you step
down from it. Since its spring could be damaged, never turn upside down
your bathroom scales.
Think of your weight like your height. When you measure your height,
you measure legs, trunk, neck, head. When you weigh yourself, the scale
bathrooms register the weight of your skeleton, skin, blood – 5-6 quarts
– and total body fluids –water is 70% of your total weight -, organs,
muscle, and, lastly, fat, both essential fat around your organs and
subcutaneous and intramuscular fat.
When weighing yourself, remember the following facts:
•muscle weighs more than fat – about 2/3 more;
•you may be losing weight and gaining fat. Since muscle weighs more
than fat, if you lose muscle and gain the same size of fat, you weigh
less. Vice versa, you may be at the same weight if you lose fat and
gain muscle. However, You'll look better.
•you may notice a weight gain when weighing yourself in a wet or humid
day or after breaking a sweat. In a humid day your body – and even the
scales - is moist and you may weigh one – one and half pound more. After
working out, you can weigh a few pounds less.
• scales don't tell you how much pounds of food are being processed
in your digestive tract or how many stools are in your guts at the moment
you are weighing yourself.
Body Composition Assessment
Every body measurement technique can be used to determine
your level of muscle mass and your percentage of body fat.
There are invasive techniques – computerized axial tomography (CAT),
nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), chemical methods, e.g., isotope dilution,
the measurement of total body potassium or total body water (TBW) -
and non-invasive techniques - hydrostatic weighing, ultrasonography,
Bioeletrical impedance analysis (BIA), Bod Pod, skinfolds calipers.
So, how can you determine just your body fat, or, conversely, your free
fat mass (FFM)?
By each of the above methods. Please, notice the scales cannot be used
to this purpose. Thus, scale weight can really be meaningless.
Most of the scientific, accurate methods require precision equipment.
Besides being inconvenient, they are expensive and lack of privacy.
Measurements must be taken by technicians. You have those test done
at sports center and private medical facilities.
We are going to revue which methods can help you to determine your body
fat on your own.
Your College Jeans
If you hate your bathroom scales, let your clothes do
Even though your weight comes at a standstill, you may find that your
old denims fits you again! WOW! The fact is that muscle weighs more
than fat. Besides, muscle size is less big than fat size.
All in all, scale weight is less important than how your dresses fit
Measure Your Wrist Circumference
That's particularly useful to
fine-tune your goals and your own body type. Measure your wrist circumference
with a measure tape. Find the smallest measurement near your hand. It’s
a practical way to know your frame.
Compare with table below:
Wrist Girth (in inches) Your Frame Size
The Pinch an Inch Test
Most of bodyfat lies around your waist, hips and stomach.
We all know this fact very well. Research indicate suprailliac area
is indicative of total bodyfat. Suprailliac area is approximately one
inch above your right hipbone.
By pinching your skin in the suprailliac area you can guess how fat
If you pinch one inch, it means your body has got 44 ounces of fat (both
essential and under the skin). Every 0,02 inches equal 11 ounces of
You can measure your skin fold more accurately than
the pinch an inch test with calipers. You can purchase skinfold calipers
on the Web or at your local health store.
You can even purchase a precision caliper at the hardware store – like
the ones carpenters use.
If you buy a skinfold calipers, follow the directions included with
it. If you preferred the cheaper and less accurate caliper, read on.
While standing, pinch the skinfold between your thumb and forefinger.
Place the caliper jaws over the skinfold. Read your measurement. Repeat
the measurement procedure at least three times and use the average of
the three readings. According to the bodyfat measuring method you chose,
you have to pinch 3-7 sites. Then, you should refer to a the body fat
interpretation chart to determine your bodyfat percentage.
A convenient and reliable test you can do is to measure
with your caliper:
1) your front upper arm skinfold;
2) your front upper thigh skinfold;
3) your suprailliac area skinfold.
Add up 1, 2, 3. Then refer to any body fat interpretation chart. You
can easily find one of them on the Web at: http://accumeasurefitness.com/charts.html
You can compare your percentages with the standards
listed in the following table:
Body Fat Percentages in Women (% fat)
11.0 – 14.0 Essential fat.
12.0 – 22.0 Athletes
16.0 – 25.0 Fitness for women in age range 18-30
≈27.0 Fitness for seniors
Some disadvantages are you need a highly skilled person giving you the
test; the test is not appropriate for very obese or very thin individuals
– since the calipers isn't accurate for thin skinfolds and the jaws
of the caliper cannot open wide enough -, and for seniors – their fat
distribution isn't equal everywhere under their skin.
Since some pinching techniques doesn't take into account leg skinfolds,
you could underestimate your bodyfat percentage. If you are an “apple”
– more fat around hips -, choose Jackson-Pollock formula.
Tape Measure Test
You can use the tape measure to assess if your vital
numbers – chest, waist, hips - are the same of fashion models. You can
even measure your biceps to figure out how it ranks among Valentina
Chepiga’s and Vickie Gates’ ones.
Obviously, you must strip down to your underwear. Never measure while
dressed. Your measurements cannot remain constant and accurate.
Whatever girth you are going to measure, your muscles must not be warmed
You must not either hold tight or loose the measure tape. The measure
tape must be perpendicular to the skeleton of the muscle you are measuring.
You must slide the tape to find your widest point and measure that widest
A quick tape measure test can be made with only two measurements. It
is useful to understand if you are getting too much bodyfat around your
waist and your hips:
1 – measure your waist just at your suprailliac area
– just below your belly button;
2 - measure your upper thigh girth;
3 – divide your waist measure by your upper thigh measure.
4 – check your figure:
Ideal fitness value: 0,9 – 1,2
Overweight: above 1,2
Your workout log, if you have got it, should track your
measures and accomplishments weekly or monthly. When you are into the
blues, achievements escape your memory. However, figures cannot lie
– you will certainly be inspired at seeing your accomplishments build
up. On the contrary, your log keeps you honest. If you are stuck, flipping
through your log can help you to understand why. The best bonus is writing
down success and goals do help focus keep going.
Maybe you have never had fun at keeping a workout log. Neither have
I. But an achievements log is really useful to plot your course towards
Track your progress on a piece of paper, or a notebook, and put it somewhere
secret. I don't think you like to hang it on your fridge for all to
see. If you are a computer geek, download a software or enter your figures
in your database.
Whatever your log be, here is how the blanks should be filled in:
Print and fill in a similar blank for every weekly/monthly evaluation.
Fitness Plan Starting Date: This Evaluation Date: …………
Your Actual Measure Your Long-term Goals
Your Weight (in lbs.)
Your Bodyfat Percentage
Measurements (in inches)
*Left/right measurements are essential to check whether
you are getting a balanced workout.
**Record any details which affected your fitness condition during the
week/month – diseases, period, cheat days, and so on. Write down whatever
even if you don't feel is important. Maybe, it could turn to be important
provide superior motivation to weighing yourself. They can provide a
more objective view of your appearance. You can use the pictures you
took during your last vacation. The best is to periodically snapshot
yourself – let’s say every two months. Take a front, rear, and lateral
You should write down next to the pictures what are the things you wish
to change and to achieve for your next picture. As Arnold Schwarzenegger
said, “Draw what you are going to achieve thanks to weight training.”
Body Mass Index (BMI)
This equation is based on the assumption that in man
weight raises in proportion to the square of the height.
BMI was recommended for body composition evaluation by Bray, Garrow
e by the English Royal College of Physicians.
BMI is calculated dividing your body weight in kilograms by your height
in meters squared. The equation that uses pounds and inches is the following:
BMI=(body weight in lbs. / height in inches squared)
Generally acceptable ranges are 18 to 22 for men, 20
to 24 for women. The World Health Organization describes people with
a BMI between 19 and 25 as being of “normal weight”, between 25 and
29 as being “overweight”, and higher than 30 as being “obese”.
Height and Weight Tables - Do Some Math
These tables don't tell you more than the scales. Though
for insurance company it is a convenient method to use, they are meaningless
in a fitness plan.
Weight and height charts don't take into account body composition, body
frames, and individual differences so that they break down for bodybuilder
and other people who are extremely muscular. They are compiled according
to statistical data. They may have been done in a different country
from yours – for instance, charts with Swedish data argent very useful
because Swedish mean height is bigger than anywhere. Besides, a few
charts argent updated.
Better than having nothing to base your weight on, do some math with
these tables and you can guess how near you are to your ideal weight
– or far from it.
Divide your actual weight by your ideal weight. You are OK if your result
is less than 1,1 and greater than 0,9.
Measurements in relation to your “periods”
Despite training and dieting, several women are highly
sensitive to hormonal fluctuations related to period. About ten days
before your period begins, you may find that your weight has skyrocketed
– about 1-4 lbs more. This temporary weight gain disappears at the end
of your period – and it'll be back the next month.
After your period, You'll lose all the fluid and your weight will be
back to normal.
If you measure yourself, You'll probably find your girth around your
stomach and your hips greatly varied – even one inch! As soon as your
period ends, girths will be back to normal.
Don't get discouraged by your feminine hormones and water retention.
Stick to your fitness plan. Fluctuations will go off.
Ancient artists highlighted human body proportions in
In your fitness plan you are the sculptors of yourselves and the painters
of the most valuable canvas – your body. It’s very important your measures
should be proportion and common sense.
The weight loss or gain is less important than your internal health
and your mood. Don't sacrifice your health and happiness on your bathroom
KEYS TO GO… BEYOND THE MIRROR.
-Keep track of inches and not of pounds.
-Weigh/measure no more than once weekly. Scale weight is particularly
deceptive during your periods, on a humid day, and after working out.
-Rely on the mirror more than the scales. But if you are lying to yourself
even in front of the mirror, trust in calipers.