Body Weight, Body Composition and Health

What is the difference between body weight and body composition?  and why do I need to know?

Body weight is fat + lean tissue (muscles, organs, bones and water) pretty simple…

Body composition is the proportion of lean tissue and fat that make up a person’s total body weight.

Body composition is not as easily measured as body weight so most people use a scale to judge their “fatness” and for many overweight means overfat.  This however, is not always the case.  Some people may be overweight by a standard height and weight measurement, such as BMI (body mass index), but have very little body fat.  And on the contrary, some may have perfectly acceptable body weight, but in fact have way too much body fat.  Measurement of body fat is a much better indicator of health then just a simple scale weight.  There are health risks with being underweight and there are health risks with being overweight.  If you’re like me, you just want to be the right weight.  Again, body composition is not as easily measured, so what can you do?

Many gyms and clubs offer body composition testing, a doctor would be able to do that and another option if you live in a college town would be to check with their health programs and see if they ever offer free testing, they often do.   Honestly, just throw out the scales and grab a measuring tape, it’s a much better indicator of body composition change.

Many search and search for a magic pill to this ever longing desire to LOSE WEIGHT.  Changing our thinking from weight to composition is a great start.  Let’s be more concerned with body fat percentage then total weight.  Your stress level just went down by throwing that scale in the garbage.  The magic pill is dun, dun, dun…diet and exercise.  Just what you want to hear uh!  Well, it’s true, but luckily for you it’s not as challenging as it seems.  It starts with your mind set first, which is why I started with this post about body weight, composition and health.   Before next week’s post, let’s determine our calorie (or energy) needs.

Calories, calories who wants to deal with those, right!  Well if you want change then you’ve got to because the key to body composition management and or change is calories in – calories out = change, positive or negative.  Exercise helps us with this simple equation, but the truth lies in our diet, dang it!  Estimating our energy requirements considers the following components

  • energy spent on basal metabolism (energy needed just to make all our body functions, well, function.)
  • energy spent on physical activities
  • energy spent on digesting and metabolizing food
We take in energy from food and on average, spend most of it on basal metabolic activities, some on physical activities and a little on digestion and metabolism.
Let’s determine our Basal Metabolism energy needs here is the equation:
Men: 1 kcal(kg)(hr)
Women: .9(kg)(hr)

First we need to convert weight in lbs to kgs (lbs/2.2)

Example:  120lb female Basal Metabolism need would be: 120/2.2 =55 (rounded), .9(55)(24)= 1188 kcalories/day

Then we need to account for Physical Activity.  The equation is: activity factor(kcal/day)

Level of Intensity
Activity Factor
Very light                       
Men: 1.3
Women: 1.3
Men: 1.6
Women: 1.5
Men: 1.7
Women: 1.6
Men: 2.1
Women: 1.9
Men: 2.4
Women 2.2

So, let’s say our example woman is moderately active: 1.6(1188)=1900 (rounded) kcalories/day would be this woman’s energy requirements.

Next post I’ll share with you my thoughts on managing body composition.

Next Week: Body Composition Management and Body Composition Change

Posted in Health and Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good Food Choices and Balancing Your Plate

Image    We want foods that will help us balance our blood sugar through the day proteins, veggies, fruits, good fats and grains.  We should try and eat small meals 5-6 times daily to help maintain blood sugar.

So what are some good examples of these foods:

Protein:  serving size is 3 oz and 1 serving is approximately 150 calories

Eggs (2 whole), Fish (3 oz), Poultry , Cottage Cheese (3/4 cup), Ricotta (1/2 cup), Mozzarella (2oz)

Vegetables:  serving size is ½ cup.  1 serving is approximately 10-25 calories

Category 1 veggies: servings unlimited

Artichokes, Asparagus, Bamboo Shoots, Bean Sprouts, Bell or other peppers, Broccoli, , Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage (all types), Cauliflower, Celery, Chives, Onion, Leeks, Garlic, Cucumber/Dill Pickles, Eggplant, Green Beans, Greens such as bok choy, escarole, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, spinach, dandelion, mustard or beet greens, Lettuce/Mixed greens: romaine, red and green leaf, endive, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress, chicory, mushrooms, okra, radishes, salsa (sugar free), snow peas, sprouts, tomatoes, water chestnuts, zucchini

Category 2 veggies: serving size ½ cup. 1 serving is approximately 45 calories

Beets, Winter Squash, Carrots (1/2 cup cooked, 2 med raw, or 12 baby carrots), Sweet Potatoes or yams, ½ medium baked

Dairy: serving size is 6 oz. 1 serving is approximately 80 calories

Buttermilk, Fat-Free Yogurt (plain), Lowfat yogurt (plain, 4 oz), milk

Fruit: 1 serving is approximately 80 calories

Apple (1 med), Apricots (3 med), Avocado (1/4), Berries: blackberries and blueberries (1 cup) raspberries and strawberries (1 ½ cup), cantaloupe (1/2 med), cherries (15), fresh figs (2), Grapefruit (1), grapes (15), honeydew (1/4 small), Nectarines (2 small), olives (8-10 med), orange (1 large), peaches (2 small), pear (1 med), plums (2 small), tangerines (2 small)

Grains: serving size is ½ cup cooked.  1 serving is approximately 75-100 calories

Armaranth, teff or quinoa, basmati or other brown rice, wild rice, barley, buckwheat groats or millet, bulgar (cracked wheat), whole oats, raw (1/3 cup; cooked ¾ cup), whole wheat, spelt, or kamut pasta, whole grain rye crackers (3 each), bread: mixed whole grain or 100% whole rye (1 slice), whole wheat tortilla or pita (1/2)

Legumes: serving size is ½ cup cooked.  1 serving is approximately 110 calories

Beans, garbanzo, pinto, kidney, black, lima, cannellini, navy, mung, fat-free refried, green soy beans, bean soups (3/4 cup), hummus, ¼ cup, split peas, sweet green peas, lentils.

Nuts and Seeds: 1 serving is approximately 100 calories

Almonds or hazelnuts (10-12 whole nuts), walnut or pecan halves (7-8), Peanuts (18 or 2 tbsp), pistachios, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds (2 tbsp), nut butter (1 tbsp)

Oils: serving size is 1 tsp. Oils should be coldpressed. 1 serving is approximately 40 calories

Flaxseed oil, walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil and canola oil for cooking, mayonnaise (from canola oil)

Water is also an important nutrient, try to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces per day.

Finding a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat can be easy.  Divide your plate into 3 sections: 50% veggies and salad, 25% mixed whole grains or starch, and 25% is protein source – poultry, fish, beans, or soy products.

Next Week: How to find the right number of calories for you and the number of servings for each food group

Posted in Health and Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking for an Elliptical?

Manual Dual Action Elliptical

If your in the market for a home elliptical cross trainer machine, then you should really consider the ECT-4100 Cross Trainer Elliptical. Working out within your target heart rate zone will improve your cardiovascular system and maximize your fat burning potential. The elliptical motion is a unique blend of stair climbing, cycling, skiing, and walking all together in one movement.



Posted in Store | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Metabolism, Blood Sugar and Insulin

We like to think it’s the culprit for weight gain, but is it?  The Mayo Clinic website has a great article on metabolism that you can read up on click here.

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.  Although your metabolism influences your body’s basic energy needs, it’s your food and beverage intake and your physical activity that ultimately determine how much you weigh. Metabolic balance or “glycemic” balance means keeping blood sugar and insulin levels in proper balance.  Insulin is the hormone who’s job it is to keep the blood sugar level in a healthy range.  Weight management answers lie in blood sugar and insulin.  Our bodies convert food into glucose.  This illustration depicts the importance of eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet containing carbohydrates from whole foods.  It also depicts what goes on with an unhealthy diet containing simple, refined carbohydrates.

When we consume simple and refined carbohdrate foods they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, our blood sugar rises quickly and insulin is released.  Our cells are not able to intake the insulin properly and the excess “energy” is stored as fat.  This rapid rise causes a drop in blood sugar signaling our body that we need more therefore we eat more and the cycle continues.  When we consume more complex carbohydrate foods, they are broken down slower and absorbed properly leading to fewer food cravings and better weight management.

Have you heard of the glycemic index?  All foods have a glycmic index.  Foods that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar are “high glycemic” foods.  Eating foods low on the glycemic index help maintain healthy levels of blood sugar or metabolic balance.

Click here to learn more and to find the glycemic index of any food.

Next Week: Balancing Your Plate and Exercise

Posted in Health and Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating, Exercise, Energy and Metabolism Part 1

Let’s change the way we think of eating. Most of our lives we’ve thought of eating as something to do when we get hungry, but let’s instead think of food as something that will nourish our bodies and keep them healthy and vital. Food is the way we provide our bodies with the fuel it needs to conduct our everyday activities. Within food are components that our bodies use to generate energy, to grow and repair, and to fight off invaders like toxins.

The energy food provides is in the structure of macronutrients, which are combined in an endless variety of ways to make up the food we eat. These 3-calorie contributing macronutrients are protein, carbohydrate and fat. Energy that food provides is measured in calories. If we eat more calories than we need, the energy is then stored as fat.

  • Protein is essential and we cannot make it ourselves, therefore we must consume it. We need protein for growth and repair of body tissues.
  • Carbohydrates provide a readily available source of fuel. Carbohydrate is part of many foods.
  • Fat is the most concentrated source of calories. Fats play a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function.

Most foods are a mixture of all 3 macronutrients

It’s helpful to know what the major macronutrients are in the foods that we eat. We want to balance the levels of the macronutrients in our daily meals. In general, here are the food groups and the kinds of macronutrients they are made up of:

  • Fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta and rice are mostly carbohydrate
  • Dairy foods, chicken, beef, and fish are good protein sources with widely varying amounts of fat
  • Beans have protein and carbohydrate and very little fat
  • Oil and butter are pure/good fat

In the 70’s the lipid theory became popular, basically stating that fat is what makes us fat. Fat was taken from food and replaced with sugar, which is a simple carbohydrate. Skim milk was chosen over whole milk and processed foods have taken over. Now, more than ever we have chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease on the rampage. The lipid theory is only that, a theory, we need to get back to the basics and learn how to balance the all the macronutrients.

Start with dinner…choose a protein source, then choose a good quality carbohydrate food such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and don’t be afraid to add a little fat, good fat that is! An example might be grilled chicken, rice, and broccoli with butter salt and pepper. Start slow, be conscious and expand your food choices.

Next week: Eating, Exercise, Energy and Metabolism Part 2, let’s talk about metabolism

Posted in Health and Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Live your life as if your health depends on it….because it does!

Everyone is responsible for the choices he/she makes.  We make healthy lifestyle choices because good health is something we value, something we want to own and enjoy throughout our entire life span.  The lifestyle choices we make today will impact our health in the future.  No matter where you’re starting from, you can make choices that will make a big difference on how thoroughly you enjoy your life.

How do we change our lifestyle?

–It takes 45 days to change a habit or incorporate a new one, be patient with yourself

–There are 5 stages of Change, what stage are you in?

  • Pre-Contemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

If you’re reading this blog you’re most likely at Prepartion, preparing for Action, so way to go!  Remember that moving through these stages doesn’t always mean going forward in a linear fashion.  It’s normal and part of behavior change.  The key is to recognize where you are and take steps to get back on track towards ACTION and MAINTENCE.

First things first, write down your goals.  Start tracking your eating and exercise habits.  It can be a positive reinforcement while developing new habits.  Keep it simple.  Write down your daily goals for food, water, and exercise.  You’re in control of your choices.

Coming Next Week:  Eating, Exercise, Energy and Metabolism

Posted in Health and Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Start

There is so MUCH information out there on fitness and nutrition. How do I know what is good information and what is a bunch of hooey?

I even have a degree in Exercise Science and I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of information and have a hard time deciding what works and what doesn’t. I still keep coming back to simplicity. It is not that complicated to be healthy and I think we all inately know how and what we should be doing, but it’s so easily ignored. Through this blog, join me on my journey of getting back to the basics. It will take time and effort, but anything worth doing is worth doing RIGHT! There are so many looking for a magic pill, but the magic pill my friends is time and effort.

With a healthy diet along with a cardio and resistance training program we can live and enjoy being healthy. I’m not talking about craziness (5 hours at the gym) and 500 calorie diets, I’m talking about truly enjoying being healthy.

The path to optimal health (being free of disease) begins with:

  • knowledge of a healthy lifestyle
  • balanced eating habits
  • regular physical activity
  • stress management for internal balance
  • sleep for proper mind/body functioning


Next Post: Live your life as if your health depends on it….because it does

Posted in Health and Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment