A friend shared these fascinating comparison MRI photos of two women at different weights – one at 250 lbs and obese and another of one at 120 lbs and a healthy weight for the height. Since I went from around 200 lbs to a current weight of 122 lbs, this was hitting kind of close to home to me and was a strong reminder of how much I’ve changed my body by eating an appropriate amount of food (vs eating everything in sight) and adding exercise several days per week to my lifestyle!
This week I went to BSU for a body composition test (skin fold caliper test using the Jackson/Pollock method) to see where my body fat % is at these days. I wish I had done the same test earlier in my weight loss so I’d have some interesting data about what changes were happening in my body as I lost weigh and became fitter. Unfortunately, the last time I had this test was when I was a student at BSU and was fairly fit at around age 22. I was doing a little bit of recreational running back then 2-3 times a week, never more than 2-3 miles at a time, taking a step aerobics class twice a week, riding my neon pink mountain bike to school each day and walking all over campus to get to my classes. I also had little time to eat as properly as I should have, so my calorie intake was probably not ideal. I weighed 107 lbs at 5″3′ and had a tested body composition of 18% body fat. I was told I was in the “athletic” category at the time.
Unfortunately, that healthy phase of my life was short-lived. By the time I was 26, I had gotten married (to a wonderful man who loved me as I was and made me feel I didn’t have to starve myself to feel beautiful in his eyes) gained about 15 lbs and stopped exercising. Over the following 7 years, I went through 5 pregnancies gaining an average of 40 lbs per baby and by the final month of my pregnancy with my 5th child, I weighed about 200 lbs on my 5″3″ body and was a far-cry from the fit, college girl I’d once been! I didn’t have a fat composition test done, but I can tell you that I went from being a size 4 in college to a tight size 14!
It wasn’t until my youngest turned a year and a half old that I finally decided that enough was enough and I was ready to take back my life! Though I did lose the first 30 lbs pretty easily after my 5th baby’s birth just from childbirth and nursing, I was left at around 170 lbs which is considered obese for a woman at 5″3′! Those last 50 lbs were not easy to lose!
If I had a fat % test done at that point, I’m sure the results would have been very sobering. I also wonder what a photo x-ray would have looked like for me at that point. Seeing this photo and all of the white areas (the accumulated fat both around organs and just beneath the skin) really makes it clear that being overweight or obese affects us more than just by how we feel about ourselves in a bathing suit!
My results this week are that I’m about a 21.24% body fat, which is considered to be in the “fit” category for a 40 year old woman. 20% and below is the “athletic” category that I once was in – about half a lifetime ago! That’s not too bad! I think that if I work on cleaning up my diet more (I still struggle with eating too much processed, junk food and fast food – though in much smaller portions these days than I used to eat) and if I add some strength training to my weekly routine, I think I can get back into the athletic category again! That is my 2013 health goal!
I think looking at this photo is a strong reminder of where I once was and where I never want to be again! I hope to continue to life an active, healthy life and to continue to encourage others to do the same!
I know it isn’t easy to make the time to workout especially when you’re a parent or have a job. But, the health benefits of making the time to exercise and make conscious efforts to eat better (and less!) will improve your quality of life, your overall health and your longevity! It’s worth the extra effort! I did it and so can you! 🙂
* I did a little research to find out more about this photo. This is what I learned:
This photo is from a National Geographic article from Aug. 2004 entitled ” The Heavy Cost of Fat.”
Here is how it was taken:
“Two women, (one 250 pounds, 5’6″, 40.3 BMI, the other 120 pounds, 5’5″, 20 BMI), spent five hours under a state-of-the-art open scanner to get a high resolution magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI).”