Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A "Fit"ing Birthday Present

Saturday evening while opening birthday presents at my parents house, I received a wonderful surprise.  Katie had done the planning and my parents paid for it.  And when I opened the gift I learned that I was having a fitness evaluation performed by a local company. 

Following my post about my difficulties losing weight, I had several discussions with some trainer friends.  During these conversations, it became glaringly obvious I had very little information about my body's chemistry.  I had no idea what my percentage of fat was, nor what my base metabolic rate was, nor what my VO2 max (don't worry, I still don't know exactly what this means either) was.  This evaluation was going to measure all that, plus give me dietary instructions and a 12 week fitness plan to follow.

I was excited to have this evaluation performed, but I was also very nervous.  I had not been very mindful of my fitness during my birthday celebrations, and I was very concerned  that my gluttony would somehow give a false estimate of my current physical fitness.  Oh well, the appointment had been made, so there was little I could do about it now.

In the end, I had nothing to be nervous about.  The evaluation went swimmingly and I left with valuable information about my body and a new found enthusiasm for the work that I have been doing.

Some statistics:

My basic metabolic rate is 1807 calories.  That means if I did nothing but sit in the recliner all day I would burn 1807 calories per day.  I found that to be pretty impressive, and somewhat concerning as I will explain later.

My percentage of body fat is 18%.  I thought that was kind of high, but Jeff, the trainer explained that it was in the "good" range, and with a little tweaking to my exercise and diet could come down a few points.

My VO2 max, which is described as the "'horsepower' to my metabolic engine", is 62.9 ml/kg/min.  I still don't know what any of that means, but Jeff says that puts me well above average for men of my age.  I liked the sound of that.

After the tests had been completed, Jeff gave me more information about the results and later sent me the 12-week fitness plan for running.  The plan is overlaid onto my current running program and deals mostly with running within some different heart rate zones.  Later this week, I will meet with the dietitian to go over a meal plan to help with my fitness fuel and weight loss.

Things I learned:

With my running, all I had ever known was to go out and just run.  If I felt good, I would run harder.  If I felt sluggish, I would slow down.  I figured over time, just from experience, I would get faster and lose weight. Jeff helped me to see with great detail how working within these heart rate zones can improve my body's fat burning potential, help to recover, and increase my body's ability to perform faster and longer.  I found the information to be extremely valuable.  I have ordered my HR monitor and cannot not wait to get started.  Again, I am a little nervous because the treadmill test was excruciating.  Jeff had me running 6mph at a 12% grade for almost 2 minutes.  If he had not stopped the test, I would have.  But if my peak workouts are anywhere near that level, I am in for some pain!

I do not eat anywhere close to as many calories as I should.  I typically consume between 1400 and 1800 calories a day.  That amount of food does not even satisfy what I burn at a base metabolic rate (sitting in a chair all day).  When you add in all of my workouts and just going to work on a daily basis, my calories burned in a day can reach more than 3000 calories.  I had always thought that a calorie deficit was good, and if a small deficit was good, a big deficit would be even better. WRONG!  My body has been so starved for fuel that I have been burning my lean muscle mass, even while I am resting!  During my resting metabolic measurements, Jeff said there was an indication of protein being burned.  That means that after fasting for 12 hours, my body was burning my muscle for fuel while I just sat in a chair.  Apparently, this is a learned behavior and I can teach my body to use other sources of food, but first I have to start providing it.  I am anxious to meet with the dietitian and I have already started looking up high calorie, low fat foods.  All in all, I think learning that I need to eat more food is a good thing to learn.   

The evaluation was a wonderful experience and so completely necessary.  Thank you so much to my parents and Katie for providing me with this opportunity.  I love you all!


  1. that is so wonderful Bri! I knew it!

  2. Awesome, man! Information is power.

    You've inspired me to learn more information about myself.