Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weigh-In Wednesday

This post is a double whammy. First up: I'm going to show a picture of my scale every Wednesday. Why? Because I feel like it. Also, because people email me from time to time asking how I lost weight and then maintained it. And here's the thing - I haven't exactly maintained it. A year ago I was 117 pounds, today I'm, um...see the picture below. I don't mind the number now - it's in the healthy range for my height (5'4") and Tim doesn't grimace when he looks at me. So I'm happy.

The problem? I don't want anyone who reads my blog to read my little "weight loss journey" story and think I have been the same weight every day since then. It changes. It fluctuates. Life happens. So this is to track those changes and hopefully to help me maintain my weight. 6 pounds in over a year? No biggie. 6 pounds every year for the rest of my life? Not so awesome.



Because a post about JUST my weight would be incredibly dull even for me to read, I figured I would add a little "weigh-in" of my own - as in, my opinion about something. I hope you guys are interested in the same topics I am and I would love for you to share your two cents in the comments.

Should the military adjust their current health and fitness standards for new recruits?

Although sometimes I'm not as vocal about the military as a lot of Americans are, that doesn't mean I don't respect and appreciate the work and sacrifice that many make in order to protect the nation. In order to be accepted into various military branches, you first need to meet some basic health and fitness requirements.

For someone that is my age and gender (female & 24) I would need to adhere to the following:


Complete at least 17 push-ups
Complete at least 50 situps
Run 2 miles in 19:36 or less
Have a body fat percentage below 32 OR
Weigh between 110-145 pounds

*Edited to add: I failed to add an important piece of information here. The weight/body fat percentages are for a woman who is 5 feet, 4 inches (my current height). Obviously this amount will differ with different heights! 

(information from here and here)


Source


As far as all the physical fitness requirements are concerned, I think they are fair. (Let me know if you think otherwise.) Strength and speed are important for those in the military and recruits can work toward these goals over time. Weight? Hmm....

I guess we're getting back to the issue of - can you be strong, healthy and overweight? How about strong, healthy and obese?

I have read several articles that show a large number of Americans are simply unfit for service because of their weight. Do you think this is fair? Do you think that the military should lower its standards?

My thoughts: I would actually be more interested in the strength and speed tests rather than the weight or body fat. After all, if someone can run a 5 minute mile and do 100 push-ups in a row, who am I to tell them that they are physically unfit to serve? Also, would a crazy strong (and lean) woman who weighs 109 pounds be TOO SMALL to serve? I don't know if I buy that. For the record, I know that some standards are necessary for those who work in submarines or planes - obviously, weight and height are important in these cases.

Add your thoughts and let me know what you think about this subject!



48 comments:

  1. I never knew there was a minimum weight. That is actually kind of refreshing!
    I think the standards are a little too lenient.
    These are the people battling for our freedom, I guess I imagine them all a 'la Jake Gyllenhaal from JarHead!

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  2. I think their requirements are a bit ridiculous,, especially the weight. I am 5' 5", and I can do ALL that they ask except be 145 lbs. I'm currently about 15 lbs past that limit and currently in the shape of my life. I've been getting all sorts of new PRs with my running, and I feel good. You would never look at me and think that I weigh 160 lbs. I carry A LOT of muscle. Body fat percentage requirement? All for it. Specific weight? Nope.

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    1. "Have a body fat percentage below 32 OR
      Weigh between 110-145 pounds"

      Your point is super good. BF% is important. Why could it be okay to be 50% BF as long as you were under 145lb? That would be ridiculous, right? Having the weight there as an option doesn't make any sense.

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  3. If they're going to require a weight, shouldn't they also specify height? I mean, what if you're 5 foot 2 and 145 lbs, compared to 5 foot 10 and 145? In reality, I feel like, there should be requirements, but if people are trying to enlist and the US is actively turning them away, that's dumb. Troops are at an all time low.

    If I did a weigh in every week, the number would always be the same. I've weighed the same amount since high school. My clothing sizes have changed a quite a bit, though, depending on how in shape I am.

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    1. You're so right about the height - I edited my post to reflect that!

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  4. I think you are at a perfect weight girl you look freaking fantastic! I think it's more about how you feel than a number.

    I'm not sure what I think about all the standards. I think being in good shape is so much more than just numbers. Interesting topic to say the least.

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  5. first. i could relate when you were talking about your own weight loss journey. when i first started running i felt like i lost so quickly...it felt "easy" for a while. then my body got used to running and i hit a weight i felt like was very healthy for me...i plateaued a bit. that was hard but i felt good that i had "made it." now it just feels like im constantly fluctuating...which i know is normal...but its definitely a journey and one i, like you, am okay with where im at, but want to keep vigilant so as to remain healthy and not continue to creep up year after year. its disheartening to look back and see i am not where i was last year...but i also feel a lot stronger with a better focus on strength training this year...so i feel good about that!

    as far as the military thing goes. i always have felt like the fitness test stuff was very reasonable. they seem like you could complete them by being "averagely" in shape. i was surprised about the weight requirement. i had not seen that before. in a good month i am at the high end of that scale but more recently outside of it but i think under the BF%. so i guess it kinda freaked me out to see that i would possibly be "too big." interesting post. thanks for sharing!

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  6. Just for comparison's sake, here the requirements for a 24-year-old female to pass the annual fitness test in the Canadian military:

    Beep test: level 4.0
    Push-ups: 9
    Sit-ups in 1 min: 15
    Hand-grip: 50

    There are no weight limitations/restrictions in Canada.
    NOTE: There is a higher standard if you want a 2-year exemption from the test and some specific trades have their own PT test.

    A lot of people complain that the female standard in Canada is too low, that maybe they lowered it solely to attract more women in the Forces. Personally, I think it's a little too lenient but that's just my two cents.

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    1. Really interesting to hear how much more lenient it is in Canada - thanks for sharing that!

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    2. As a Canadian - I find those standards interesting too. I feel like they should up those requirements at least a little bit...seems not quite enough.

      As for the American standards...if you're fit enough to do the push-ups and the running but happen to be a couple of pounds over the limit, that seems not quite right. But I have no idea what it takes to be in the military.

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    3. They're more lenient about EVERYTHING is Canada ;) Kidding.

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  7. I think it depends on what they'll be doing in the military.

    In Israel, EVERYONE, regardless of weight, has to serve. And they still function well. They're basically at war all the time, and haven't lost due to putting fat people behind a desk somewhere.

    Now, jobs like firefighters and EMTs and stuff, this shit is super important. Enlisting? There are people who go through basic training and never lift anything heavier than 10lbs ever again.

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  8. I don't think the military should lower their standards.

    The weight requirement seems fair since the way it's worded here is that it's either a body fat percentage of less than 32% OR less than 145 pounds. If your tall and weigh more than 145, then I would think your BF% would be low, right? But that's just my assumption, not sure if it is valid or not.

    I'm not sure if I believe that one can be healthy AND overweight/obese. I think one can be strong and overweight, but there are many chronic diseases that can be tied to extra pounds.

    I wonder if they make exceptions? Like the lady in your example who may be TOO SMALL to serve? I wonder...

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  9. I don't have an issue with the requirements.

    When I was in college I was in ROTC for a year, and then about two weeks before I was to go to boot camp, it came down that I was called into Major Hayes' office and told that the ARMY would not take me due to my medical condition (which I had told them upfront about. . . nothing like delaying the turndown).

    At that point in my life, I was within the guidelines for weight.

    (and the ARMY has one of the loosest requirements. I recall calling the Marines to tell them to stop sending me recruiting postcards. She said, "I can't do that ma'am". I replied, "well the ARMY won't take me, so I definitely think my joining the Marines is out!". She concurred. )

    Now I'm not and realize the only time I've been within the scope of weight for my height was either when my chronic condition acted up and I was basically anorexic until it healed, or when I was in high school/college and walking around a lot and very active.

    I'm currently technically "obese" by the BMI scale, especially since it was just tightened up as the nurse informed me a month ago. I laugh, I scoff. I'm a size 12, my thighs are pushing a size 14 from the muscle in there (and they do have a fat coating, I can admit it).

    Am I a person who eats junk food all day? Nope, I eat quite healthy, but not extreme and no fun either.

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  10. I think that the standards look reasonable, but I know there are always exceptions (people who are truly healthy but weigh more due to body shape/size/muscle, etc). Those exceptions are hard to capture in a small list of requirements.

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  11. A. You have the strangest stumpiest toes I've ever seen. It's like you had some sort of accident with a weed whacker long ago.

    B. For both men and women in the military, if their weight is too much, they check body fat. My little brother is "fat" for his height, but has like 8% body fat so the Marine Corps doesn't cut his food. For elites like Special Forces, they don't need to be told, that's why they are elite. For other military like admin people, I don't really think a few extra pounds is going to matter.

    C. I can't think of anything less exciting than a weekly weigh in post. Even daily oatmeal has more variety.

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    1. My toes = sad and stumpy. My fingers are the same. I will never, ever be a hand or foot model.

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    2. I thought Kara was going to be nice on her birthday? This comment was impressively mean even by her standards!

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  12. Speaking as a military wife...

    Yes they should. Absolutely. There is absolutely NO reason that anyone in the military should be overweight, period. I have seen fat cops, fat pilots, fat desk workers and it drives me NUTS. There is no reason for that at all. (And I am not talking about those that are stocky or built that way. I am talking about the ones that look like snausages shoved into their uniforms and are on the "Fat Boy PT Program" for repeatedly failing their PT test.)

    The checking the body fat isn't always valid. And half the time they aren't doing it right. My husband just had to file paperwork to kick someone out because his measurements were 2% OVER the limit. TWO PERCENT. And that isn't fair for people who are just stocky. A really good friend of ours is stocky but well within his weight limits AND can exceed all the minimums for his PT test. He's in danger of being booted because of his waist measurements. That's not fair.

    The military is having to downsize tremendously right now (mostly Army and Marines) and so the PT standards are becoming a lot more strict. There used to be remedial PT programs (ie what I called the Fat Boy Program as its called in the military world) and now they are even cutting that.

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  13. I just read your weight loss journey...totally love it. I'm trying to get rid of 5lbs and it's very inspiring to me that it can be done! When I ran my 1/2 marathon last summer I ended up gaining weight and I haven't lost it...it's time!

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  14. Rather than use the scale, I check my weight by telling my boyfriend "I am a fatty-fatty two-by-four who can't fit through the bedroom door." Sometimes he disagrees and sometimes he just nods gravely. It works.

    Um, totally agree that speed+strength are more important than weight or body fat?? That's really weird. They must want AH-NOLDS.

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    1. Haha. I'll try that on Tim today. Although I think he has a programmed, "no baby, you're beautiful TO ME" response.

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  15. I'm 5'4", 185 pounds and can complete all of those requirements (with exception of the weight or bodyfat). Would it be detrimental for me to lose some fat? Of course not. But I think they should stick to performance and drop the weight/body fat requirement as I am pretty sure they are always looking for people to serve.

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  16. Hmmm I don't know, I'm not a doctor and I've never served so I seriously have no clue if that's enough pushups to prove someone will be able to help protect our country. I will say in college when my boyfriend joined the army I was shocked to find out all the many jobs that it includes (don't judge, I was sheltered). I mean, someone might join and become a psychologist or play in the band or something, and in that case, who cares if they are in shape? It's comforting to know that I'm not far from the weight limit for my height though, so if they even institute a draft and include females, I can just stuff my face with brownies for a few days and be safe.

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  17. No I don't think they should lower the numbers. In order to meet recruitment goals during the height of war the last few years they basically took a lot of people who normally wouldn't get in before ie. gang members, criminals etc just to have bodies. My husband is a veteran and he was in the best shape of his life when he was in the army. But his time in the army also did permanent damage to his body and soul.

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  18. i think we should come your weigh wednesday and my wine wednesday. Hmmm... weigh then wine? teehee

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  19. I think the standards for women are too easy (for the fitness part), and the standards for men are too strict (for the weight part). According to their weight charts, my husband is supposed to weigh about 20-30 pounds less than his healthy weight (when he is in really good shape and his body fat is low)... For him to already be in shape and then still "need" to lose 20+ pounds... that just isn't healthy.

    They also need to fix how they measure body fat. According to the army's way of measuring, I am about 23-24% body fat, when I'm actually about 18%. And for men, you can be as fat as you want as long as you have a big neck. I've seen guys who are obviously overweight by a significant amount, but because they have large necks, they aren't "overweight" by army standards.

    The system is definitely flawed and needs help.

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  20. I want to see some before photos. I mean, if you lost weight, I want proof. ;) I took a look at those charts. It says that the minimum for my height is 121 lbs. So, like you said, is it possible to be TOO skinny (or fat)? If you run a 15 minute 2 miler and do 100 sit ups but only weigh 120, what then? I remember in school when we had to do the PE exam, 2 pull ups was a B for a girl (or something like that)! Where do they get these numbers??

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  21. I'm Australian, our military do it a little differently... I like how they go on body fat percentage.
    Because at 5'8" and 200lbs I would be unfit.
    But my body fat percentage says otherwise.

    Thing is... I don't see many people who are bigger meeting the fitness requirements anyway, even if there was, it would be a small minority.

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  22. I can understand a weight restriction on military personnel... I mean, logistically speaking, it is going to be much harder to pull an injured heavy person off the battlefield and carry them to safety.

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  23. I'm ok with the military rules on weight, etc. I think you look great and that the 6 pounds you've gained in the last year are a good 6 pounds, especially if you feel fit and healthy.

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  24. Canadian Standards for someone your age:

    Pushups - 9
    Situps in one minute - 15
    Hand Grip - 50
    Run 2.4 km - <12:36 minutes
    Chinups - 3

    People must be able to pass rigorous standards to get through basic training and if not/then within 90 days of finishing.

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    3. The information above isn't entirely accurate. Chin-ups are not included in the official PT test and the aerobic fitness is measured using either a step test or a beep test.
      The acceptable range for the 2.4km run for a 24-year-old woman starts at 14:26 (12:36 classifies you as "superior"). The time for the 2.4km is not an official requirement, but simply a guideline to help you prepare yourself.

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  25. I'm a relatively new follower to your blog and I have to say that I've thinking similiar thoughts as you. I'm a graduate student in public health and also an endurance athlete. As a student we are constantly bombarded with the obesity crisis and it truly is very scary to know millions of people are overweight and obese in the United States. As a woman, we are taught to love our bodies no matter what size they are. And, finally as an endurance athlete we strive to be lean and mean to enhance performance. It's hard to find a happy medium I think with pressure from so many different societal views. I've never really considered the military view before and I must argee with most of the comments that body fat percentage is more important than actual weight on the scale. Love the blog by the way!

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  26. I think that's a GREAT weight for you. Especially since I've seen pics of you in just a handful ;) you look healthy and GREAT!

    So maybe try to stay around this weight not 117! YIKES!

    Also....I love this idea of a "weigh in" opinion too. I totally agree with you on how strength and endurance and speed should be taken into account far more than body fat and weight, however, maybe that IS important....like what if you're only trained to lift a specific weight but then some HUGE comrade gets injured on site and you have to carry him?? not possible if there's no weight restrictions. I'm sure that's why it's like that. there is usually a reason for everything

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    1. PS: I mentioned your blog a lot last night...b/c I love it and people knew it ;) POPULAR!

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  27. Most research shows that both "underweight" and obesity are health risks, but once you take cardio fitness into account, most of the differences are statistically irrelevant (see journal article: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(12)00266-2/fulltext)

    So I'm on the side of: fitness is far more important than BMI

    That said, I'm not sure it's possible to be morbidly obese and also have good cardio-respiratory fitness.

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  28. My weight fluctuates all the time - its crazy how what you eat and how much water you drink can affect your weight! Some days I can vary by up to 5 pounds, especially if I run a long run!

    I think the military standards are good - but there are acceptation to everything of course. I think if you are in the military you should be able to do those things.

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  29. Serving in the military is an honor, not a right. The government is under no obligation to accept any applicant that walks in. That being said, I actually think they need to raise the PT tests all around.

    As far as body weight, I think the numbers are absolutely justified. An overweight/underweight person can be a huge liability if they're serving in the military, and the government doesn't want to be responsible (nor SHOULD they be responsible) for any bodily harm that person might experience due to the physical nature of their job. The weight ranges per height for men and women are very large, so even a "big boned" person, like myself, will still easily meet the weight requirements, given they are healthy and fit for duty.

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  30. my weight and i are not on good terms right now, my clothes are fitting better but my scale hates me, i'm trying to come to terms with it. trying to realize that stupid number doesn't make or break me. but it's trying sometimes.

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  31. This is such an interesting topic and although I'm going to opt out of weighing in after reading previous comments I will say that for me the number on the scale is just a number. I may not be the lightest I've been as an adult but I'm stronger and healthier than I've ever been and right in the middle of the recommended weight range for my height so I can't complain.

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  32. I don't even know how much I weigh :P

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  33. I didn't know their was a min. weight...kind of interesting.

    Hm, I hate the scale so my scale stays dusty and in the corner!!!

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  34. My weight's done some creeping as well. But I try to remember that I'm eating healthy, exercising almost everyday, and looking good so weight is just a number, right? I think that we do create these ideas about how everyone else is and how we compare to the "norm" as far as weight maintenance goes. And I agree about the military guidelines- maybe weight shouldn't be one unless it's job specific

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  35. So I'm hopelessly behind on reading blogs and only have a minute, but wanted to comment on this - first, I think you are awesome for being so open and honest. My weight always has a little fluctuation, but tends to stay within a certain range. However, I've actually gained quite a bit (for me) over the past two years and it's tough….sometimes I feel like no matter what I do or don't do, it stays the same.

    As for the military, I'm mixed….but I suppose overall I agree with you that if someone can meet the fitness requirements, who cares about weight. I think my issue with weight has more to do with how overweight Americans are overall (especially compared to other countries!) and if the weight or BF% limits help motivate Americans to lose some weight, then it's a good thing.

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