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Friday, August 19, 2011

my fat free mass

So.  Let's talk about something.

FFM.  That's fat free mass.  When I agreed to be a research participant before having surgery, they measured me with all kinds of fancy gadgets.  Here were my stats, taken September 2010.
Height: 5 ft 2 (actually no one can seem to agree if I'm 5 ft 2 or 3).  
Weight: 207 lbs 
FFM: 110 lbs
Fat mass: 97 lbs (***k!)

The lady explained that FFM (fat free mass) is what your bones, organs, and muscles weigh.  

Then at the bottom of my printout it says:
Desirable Range: 21-33% body fat
Desirable Fat Mass: 29-54 pounds

So I asked the lady that day, "Does that mean I should weigh 139-164 lbs?"  (That's my FFM of 110 lbs plus my recommended "desirable" fat mass).

She looked at my paper and said, "Yep, you're very solid.  That's good.  You're less likely to get osteoporosis as you age."  She said some people have heavier and more dense bones, especially kids who were chunky (who you talkin' bout?).  She explained that my body frame is still "medium," it's just that I have a dense skeleton......which makes me think of Cartman on Southpark---"I'm not fat, I'm big-boned!"

So it turns out Cartman is right, but it's more like dense bones, not big bones.  At least for me.  I'm sure there are some people out there that are big-boned AND dense-boned.

Here's the kicker----according to the BMI chart, I'm "overweight" as soon as I pass 136 pounds (at 5 ft 2).  ANDDDDD,  I'm "obese" at 163 lbs.  But according to the fancy measures these research docs took, I'm actually not even overweight at ALL until I weigh 165.  At 5 ft 2!

When I was a kid, my mom told me women should weigh 100 pounds if they are 5 ft tall.  Then, for every inch over 5 feet, they can weigh five more pounds.  I'm not sure where she heard this little formula, but it's obviously not for every body.  According to her (or that) I should weigh 110.  And noooow I see that I can't EVER weigh that little.  It's not possible.

The funniest part is that when I got down to what I now consider my "skinny weight" (142 pounds thanks to Weight Watchers), I considered myself a failure (for years) because I thought losing more weight was necessary (at least 6 pounds so I could have a "normal" BMI).  In fact, I had joined WW on-line (I started at 171 lbs) and was working super hard to get down to 136 pounds so I could nominate myself to be one of their featured "success stories."  For some reason, I couldn't see (or didn't care) that you could see veins rippling from my ankles to my knees, from my hands to my biceps, etc.  But, if only I'd known then what I know now......

I was already a "success story," but I got too caught up in the stupid in numbers, particularyly the ****-ing BMI chart, to see it.

HOWEVER, if these doctors are right, I was only 3 pounds over the minimum weight recommended for me (and my boobs alone weigh more than that).  And I did maintain 142 lbs for over two years.....the problem is I had to work out 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week, and then on weekends I typically went skiing or hiking for 4-8 hours just because I enjoyed it.  Not only that, but I had to feel like I was starving 24/7 AND it was also necessary to avoid outings (of a non-fitness nature) with friends.  It required avoiding parties to prevent myself from overindulging.  It required refusing dinner invitations.  If I hadn't been so strict I could have never achieved that weight or maintained it for as long as I did......

Another thing, recently, that helped me see that 142 was a perfectly acceptable weight for 5 ft 2 (or 3, whatever I am!) is that Stephanie from Electric LadyBand, posted about her friend Bitchcakes, a Weight Watchers success story.  Like me, she is 5 ft 2.  She achieved her goal weight of 138 pounds.  And she looks fabulous.  I'm glad she was wise enough to ignore those blasted BMI charts.

I'm really thankful she's brave enough to post her height and weight so morons like me can see that it's not necessary to weigh 115 lbs to have a fit & fabulous body.

So I get it now.

142 lbs at 5 ft 2 was good.

Can I have it back now?  Please God?

I will appreciate it this time.  I promise.


  1. Hmm, I'll take 142 lbs, too, please. ;)

    I wish my doctor had that fancy scale so I could know what my FFM was!

  2. I think a lot of us are realizing these things right now. I know i am. I've been between 148 and 153 for a year now (I'm 5'8"). That's a good weight. A really good weight. And I wanted to get around 140. I just don't think it's going to happen. So now, i'm trying to 'talk myself into' thinking 150s are ok, and that i'm doing this for my health, not the blasted numbers.

  3. I'm with Ronnie, I would love to know my FFM. That would make such a difference to people, I think to know what you really SHOULD weigh and not what is on a generic chart. I'm so glad you got that information and you are you way to feeling good about where you are!!

  4. You know, I wondered about that. I'm also 5'2" and the fancy scale machine at my surgeon's office says I'm like 135 pounds of lean body tissue...but I'm supposed to weigh 120? What's up with that? My personal goal is 140 because that's exactly half of what I started with. We'll see if I get there.