Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dave vs. the Bod Pod: Fight!

I seem to recall an NFL Total Access episode where we went behind the scenes at Baltimore Ravens training facility with Bart Scott (when he was a Raven). I seem to recall him preparing to enter the Bod Pod, a state of the art body composition tester, and hating every minute of it. "I hate the Bod Pod," he said "The Bod Pod never tells me anything except I am fat, weak, lazy bastard who needs to lose weight."

I second that emotion.

Back on May 13th, I had my first close encounter of the ugly kind with the Body Pod at CHLI (California Health and Longevity Institute). The results were so disturbing, so disconcerting, so up-ending that I didn't even blog about this subject.

Just what was the problem anyhow? It was the lean-mass figure. This machine had the audacity to to tell me I had only 144.561 pounds of lean mass. This did not accord with the submersion test I did more than a year ago, which indicated 190 pounds of lean weight. This didn't accord with the Tanita composition test that my General Practitioner did on May 11, which indicated 165 pounds of lean weight. The Tanita figure of 165 was scary enough, but the Bod Pod? Forget about it! That was just brutal.

These figures were so wildly askew from one another that it was enough to make me question is anyone had a device that worked. If you own a couple of clocks that can tell you you are somewhere between 4:00 AM and 4:00 PM, what good will that do you? How much value can this wonderful level of detail and precision provide?

There is another factor, a psychological motivation factor, that is far more important to consider. You need to understand that the ultimate finish line for the race I'm running is entirely dependent on how much lean weight I have in this body. My ultimate goal can only be determined by dividing my lean weight in pounds by the figure 0.83. This is because I should have no more than 17% body fat at the age of 44-45, speaking in terms of grand ideals.

If my lean weight is 190, the finish line is right around 228.9156. If my lean weight is 165, the finish line is right around 198.7952. If my lean weight is 144.561, the finish line is 174.1699. You can imagine how pissed and frustrated a runner gets when they keep moving the finish line in the middle of the race. This could break the will of a guy who isn't a competitor.

They wired me awake and hit me with a hand of broken nails. They tied my lead and pulled my chain to watch my blood begin to boil. Hits like a Philips head into my brain.

This produced remarkable motivational results. You shouldn't tie my lead and jerk my chain to watch my blood begin to boil... Not unless you want to see me cut my teeth on bars and rusty chains. I'll break my rusty cage and run.

I went into turbo-overdrive mode to try to correct this situation. I re-arranged my workout schedule. I decided to pull double-days. Instead of one workout at lunch or in the evening, I did two workouts: One at lunch and one in the evening. Instead of 30 minutes on the treadmill and 30 on the bike. I did 20 on the treadmill and 20 on the bike... but I did it twice a day. This represented a 133% intensification of effort from 60 minutes to 80.

In the first week after the Bod Pod, I even invented a thing I called "Murder Days". This was the extra hard day where I would get up and hit the ROM first thing in the morning, do my 40 minutes at lunch, do my 40 minutes in the evening, and then spend 10-20 minutes in the sauna (steam and dry).

You would think that much effort would just about kill you. On the contrary, I found it quite energizing. This kind of day keeps my metabolism burning most of the time, and at a high level. There are moments of extreme fatigue during a day like that, but they usually don't last more than 20 minutes. Most of the time, my energy is quite high.

During the second week after the Bod Pod, I came to a full realization that I had to get my lean weight up. 144.561 is just not acceptable. There is no way I should weigh anything like 174 pounds. I never weighed anything less than 192 pounds at anytime during my adult life. Even then I was too light. To whit, I decided to begin weight lifting and resistance training again. I also bought a nice pro-hormone stack called Trifecta from a company called LG Sciences. It's the next best thing to anabolic steroids. It works too, as we will see.

Discussions with a number of medical professionals shed a little light on this subject. It is impossible to lose the nearly 80 pounds I have lost in the last 4 months without losing lean weight. It's virtually a scientific law that you will lose lean weight anytime you lose fat weight. This can't be avoided. It's natural and normal, and even necessary.

Consider your blood. Human blood is not fatty tissue, but a certain amount of blood is necessary to support the life of you fatty tissue. As that fatty tissue is drained, atrophies, and goes away, less blood is necessary to support the life of that tissue. The body would be foolish to waste scarce energy and building blocks producing blood cells that are unnecessary. As unnecessary red blood cells die off, they simply are not replaced. In this way, the body reduces unnecessary metabolic costs. This is efficiency. However, as you eliminate those unneeded red cells, you will also lose lean weight. Red blood is lean weight. Consider how much less blood volume you need when you have reduced your fatty tissue by 60 to 70 pounds?

The moral of the story is clear cut: You always lose some lean with some fat. This cannot be avoided, and it really shouldn't.

However, I am not entirely sure that this scientific law can explain my case. I find it every difficult to believe that I have lost something like 45 pounds of lean weight and 35 of fat. No folks, the original figures estimating my lean weight were in error. The wing-nuts who ran my original submersion test screwed it up good.

If I had lost 45 pounds of lean by this point, my doctors would have put me in the hospital for a reversal of the gastric bypass surgery. This would be a surgical failure scenario, and there would be medical red flags all over the place.

So what do you do when you have several measuring instruments that yield different results? You pick the one that is most accurate; you roll with that one and discard the others.

As much as I hate the little bastard, my research does seem to indicate that the Bod Pod is (in fact) the gold standard for body composition testing. I don't like what it says about me, but I need that accuracy. There is no use in having delusions in this life. It is what it is. The sooner you are honest about it, the sooner you can correct the situation.

Honesty has some rewards, as I found out yesterday. Yesterday, just two weeks after my first test, I decided I wanted a re-test. I paid the $65 fee and entered the Bod Pod naked once again. I guess I wasn't really naked. I had a skull cap on.

The results were very encouraging. I totally out-performed all projections and expectations. I lost 8.52 pounds of pure fat. I added 2.4 pounds of pure lean. I reduced my overall body weight 6.12 pounds from 258.651 down to 252.533. This is total combined weight swing of 10.92 pounds.

One of the most fascinating features of the Bod Pod test is that it can tell you precisely how much volume of space your body occupies. The unit of measure is the liter. On my 13th, my body occupied 117.111 liters of space. Yesterday, my body occupied 113.808 liters of space. This is a reduction of 3.3 liters of volume.

This all happened in just 14 days.

The lady administering the test at CHLI is a registered nurse specializing in exercise nutrition. Believe me, she fully appreciated what her equipment was telling her. She was astonished. She shook her head in disbelief. She said to me "Whatever you're doing it's working like crazy. Most doctors would say you can't do what you just did." If she hadn't run the test herself, both times, she would certainly have questioned these results.

Understand that you must have an energy deficit of 29,809.5 kcal in order to lose 8.5 pounds of pure fat. To do this in 14 days, you need to maintain a per-day deficit of 2,129.25 kcal. That is a deep, deep energy deficit folks. It's far more intense than most people can handle.

It gets better still. I weighed in at 251.6 pounds this morning on my own personal Tanita scale. I have noticed that there is a small discrepancy between my Tanita and the Bod Pod scales. The Tanita is a little shy to the heavy side, over-stating your weight by a little less than a pound. The Bod Pod would probably say I weigh 250.7 this morning.

I've already got the jump on my next test results. That date will fall on June 10th. Some would say I did the Bod Pod just one day too early, but I'm fine with it this way. I already have my first installment for the next test.

Now the big challenge is to do it all over again. I need this next two week phase to be better than the last. I need to out-perform the out-performance. One more big-gainer like this will make a tremendous difference in the way I look and feel. I should be a heck of a lot healthier in two weeks if I can just do it again.