Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is 15-16% BF healthy for a female?

The Half Marathon is only three short weeks from this Saturday. I am getting extremely excited! I have been able to do my long runs without stopping at all, and that is a HUGE accomplishment for me! With the way my runs have been going, I should be able to run the whole Half AND still beat my PR (not hard to do when I’ve only run one other half).

As the race has been getting closer, I have been thinking about my next goal. The thought of a full marathon has crossed my mind. Part of me once to do it just once to say I did it, and to have that accomplishment. The other part of me is not sure if I want to invest the time into doing one. I know people do them all the time, but I wonder how healthy it would be for my body. I mean, I would fuel properly and everything, but… well, I just don’t know. Another goal that crossed my mind (and don’t laugh) was to do a body competition. This one had a very short journey through my mind, but it did cross it none-the-less. I know the competitors put in a LOT of hard work and dedication (and have to be very self-controlled) but I just don’t want to prance around in front of a bunch of strangers in a bikini ;)

So here is what I think I have decided on… I want to get to 15-16% body fat (BF). That’s only a loss of about 3-4% from where I am now. Genetically my extra BF goes straight to the heart-disease area (your midsection) so I think it’s important to get/keep that area under control. As you lose weight in general your body fat starts to drop, but I want this to come from muscle. My fitness journey is to be healthy though and so I have a few concerns. First, I want to make sure this is a safe and realistic goal. Second, this means I need to be more self-controlled on what and how much I eat. This is the toughest part for me but I think if I have a goal and really commit, I could do it. The third concern I have is that in the near (but not too near) future, my husband and I will want to start a family. I’ve heard there can be complications if you are at a low weight. Would getting to 15-16% BF be safe for me in the aspect of getting pregnant? I mean, I guess once the time came that we were ready for babies I could put some more weight on if needed, but again… I want this to be a completely healthy journey.

I know for anyone to accomplish a goal in their life, they really have to have their mind set on it. I feel like I am getting there. The exercise piece of it has clicked and I enjoy it. Like everyone, I still have occasional days where I just don’t want to go run or lift (my ‘I just want to be lazy days’), but I usually do it anyway because I know once I get there I will be glad I did. Side note for any reader, I do take 1-2 rest days throughout the week, so I am not over doing it. The food piece is where I know I will really struggle. I feel like I would an accountability partner would be beneficial if I do take this journey. I have people who review my food journals and give me advice. They also give me tips and ask how my exercising is going. I would want a hard-core, tough-love candidate though; someone who would check in with me often and ask all the right questions; someone who would tell me the things I’m messing up on and give me direction on how to change and why I need to change; someone who I could vent to on days I am frustrated that would be encouraging in their response. Ha, ha, maybe I should post an ad :)

If I definitely make this my goal, my plan to accomplish it is to reduce my cardio days to 2-3 days a week and then I would strength train 3-4 days a week. I would talk to a trainer before putting this in place to make sure I am on the right track, but I think that would be a good goal. The timing on this is… well, interesting I guess. On one hand it is good because the holidays are coming up and that’s when people tend to over-eat and having this goal would (hopefully) keep me in line. On the other hand it is bad because, well, because the holidays are coming up and that’s when people tend to over-eat. ;)

Does anyone have thoughts/suggestions/advice?