Friday, June 7, 2013

I Got Tested (A Bod Pod Experience)

I've been working with a nutrition coach who specializes in athletes and the first thing he recommended doing was to get my body composition tested.  Previously, I've tracked body fat using both calipers and BIA (those bodyfat scales you can use at home) and they both suck.  Calipers require a high degree of skill to use and only measure subcutaneous fat.  Even with an experienced tester, the margin of error is around 5%.  BIA has a margin of error around 8% and is greatly influenced by hydration levels.  Depending on the machine you have, BIA also only measures your lower body fat (scales) or your upper body fat (handheld devices).  Not to mention that you aren't supposed to consume caffeine for a week prior to BIA testing.  Eff.  That. 

For example, I would wake up and get on my fancy bathroom scale and get a reading of 40%.  I'd then use my handheld Tanita device and get a reading of 30%.  Then I'd go to the gym and one of the trainers would measure me to be 22% and another would measure me at 32%. 

I always told myself that it didn't matter what the actual numbers were; the trend is what was important.  But it's hard to see a trend when the margin of error is greater than the change.  (Did I really lose 5% body fat or is that part of the +/-8%?)

So anyways, my coach advised me to get a Bod Pod measurement.  Bod Pods have a 1% margin of error, which is similar to underwater weighing and DEXA scans, but is cheaper and easier.  Plus, being repeatedly dunked in water or bombarded with radiation just isn't my thing.  Google told me that a local university had a Bod Pod, so I called and made an appointment for Jason and I for that same week. 

Photo from

I was told to wear tight fitting Lycra shorts and a sports bra for the testing and not to eat or exercise for 3-4 hours before the test.  They said that normal hydration was okay, but I had read elsewhere not to drink anything 2 hours prior to the test. 

We got to the testing lab, donned a stylin' swim cap, and got weighed.  Then we sat in the Bod Pod, a big egg-shaped chamber that looked like something out of a B-list Sci-Fi movie.  The tester (who was a grad student in the Human Performance Lab) ran two tests with us just sitting in the machine.  We sat there, perfectly still, for about a minute while the pressure was changed inside the machine.  It wasn't uncomfortable or anything, but my ears felt a little funny.  Then, he repeated the test with us breathing into a tube so he could account for our lung volume.  This part was a little tricky.  The machine required us to breathe at a certain pace and then huff at the end.  Jason took three tries.  I, however, am excellent at breathing and nailed it on the first shot. 

We got dressed and got a printout of our results.  All to the tune of $25, each.  It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  

Now about the results...  it is what it is.  As I said, my body fat numbers have been all over the place each time I've been tested before, so I really didn't have a certain number in my head.  These results are really just a starting point for my journey with my new coach.  I'll test again in 3 months and all that will matter is that the number goes down. 

This link will give you all the science of how a Bod Pod works (pdf). 
This link will take you to a Bod Pod site locator. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Run for the Dream Race Recap

The Run for the Dream 8k was held in historic Williamsburg at the College of William & Mary to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and An Achievable Dream.  The Wounded Warrior Project is one of my favorite charities, and I was really excited to be running for such a great cause with our Crossfit team.

Before the start of the race, Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, gave a very moving speech about the bombings.  He said that his young son was at the finish line when it happened and his son later told him that he didn't want him directing the race anymore.  When he asked why, the son said because he wanted to direct it.  Running spirit, yo!

Normally, I don't really get nervous about races, but I did have my doubts that I would be able to finish this one.  Five miles isn't all *that* long, but I hadn't done any longish runs since I tore my meniscus last summer.  Not to mention it was already 75 degrees an hour before the race started.  I told my fellow Crossfitter, Cory, that I would run with him since he was a little worried about the race, too.

That worked for about 2 miles. 

I lost Cory.

Actually, I think Cory decided he didn't want to run with me anymore and was hiding, but either way, he was next to me one minute and gone the next.  I looked for him for a minute, then kept running.  I caught up with Coach Heather and her husband, Chris, and ran with them for a bit.  Heather hurt her leg last month and still finished the race.  Meanwhile, Chris was prancercising.  

The single best part of the race was when I passed Team Wounded Wear at mile 4.  The team was a group of soldiers in full gear carrying a "fallen soldier" for the entire race.  They were so inspiring that runners were stopping to cheer for them.

I went in to the race without a set goal.  I mean, I hoped to finish in under an hour, but since I had planned to run with Cory, I wasn't trying to beat the Garmin.  Surprisingly, I finished in 58:35, and that included Cory's potty break at mile 1.  Less than a 12:00 min/mi pace in 80 degree weather... I'll take it. 

Shortly after I finished, Louis Lodovico, the oldest runner in the race came across the finish line.  He is 89 and finished in 5 miles in 1:03:34.  How amazing is that?  When I grow up, I want to be just like him!  

The race, itself, was great.  The volunteers were friendly and the course was full of locals cheering us on.  Lots of food and beer was available after the race.  The BBQ alone was worth the race fee.  The bling wasn't bad, either.