Swimsuit season time

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jiffy Seto
  • 436th Aerospace Medical Squadron commander
Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and that means beaches, pools and swimsuits; yet most people hate swimsuit shopping. Do you know why? The answer is because we are fat.

The 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey stated that two in three adult Americans and one in three American children and adolescents are considered either overweight or obese. It's easy to say I can eat less and exercise more, but what you really need is to know your body.

My wife recently spent ten hours dress shopping with her girlfriends. She was going to shop online, but then she realized that what may work for the online models is not going to look the same on everyone. The same goes for your health. One size doesn't fit all - purely dieting may work for some, only exercising may work for others. You can tailor what works for you only if you have personalized information about your body.

We have a tool at the Health and Wellness Center (HAWC) on Dover Air Force Base called the Bod Pod. It gives you detailed data specific to your body beyond knowing just your weight, body mass index (BMI) or abdominal circumference measurement. The Bod Pod also tells you how much fat is on your body, your body fat rating and your resting metabolic rate. Like a good friend, it will help you know what works for your body and what doesn't.

The first piece of information the Bod Pod will arm you with is how much fat is on your body. This information is not for the faint of heart - it takes courage to move forward and learn about your body. Getting into the Bod Pod is the first step to entering an exercise and diet plan to lead a healthier lifestyle. The results may be surprising, but like my 16 month-old daughter learning to walk, the first steps are always the hardest.

By finding out what your body fat percentage is, you may find that you are actually "fitter" than you thought, or you may find that you actually have hidden fat that is not seen on the surface of your body even though you may be in the "normal" weight range. "Hidden" fat can surround your internal organs and this is not measured by simple body weight or BMI. This could lead to additional medical problems that you should discuss with your healthcare provider. So even if you think you are of "normal" weight, the Bod Pod could still help you. Furthermore, the Bod Pod is very accurate. Only water weighing is slightly more accurate, but is more difficult to perform.

The second piece of data the Bod Pod will tell you is your body fat rating. Based on the body fat percentage calculated by the Bod Pod, you will be given a body fat rating. In general, having less than 20 percent body fat for men or less than 30 percent body fat for women is acceptable. However, having too little body fat can also be considered risky. The Bod Pod gives a detailed printout explaining the results.

Having this sophisticated information will arm you and your healthcare professional to develop a strategy to reach your goals. The last vital sign the Bod Pod will tell you is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is your "personal gas mileage." As most of us know how much gas our car burns per gallon, knowing your RMR will tell you how many calories your body burns on average in a day while at rest. What does that mean? If you know your RMR, you know on average how many calories you need a day. Anything you eat above that is extra credit or extra fat in this case. So when I reach for one more Krispy Kreme donut or one more Girl Scout cookie, I realize that since I've already consumed my RMR and I haven't left my desk all day, those treats will lead to an extra workout the next day. Otherwise, my blues will be a little tight when I put them on next time.

The best part is that the Dover HAWC offers the Bod Pod service for free. A commercial fitness center charges about $60 to $80 per session. More than one session is recommended if you want to track the progress of your exercise and diet routine. The process is simple, comfortable and takes less than two minutes.

To check out the Bod Pod, all you need to do is stop by the Dover HAWC and see either Mr. John Walters or Mrs. Kate Jennings for more information. The Dover HAWC is located inside the Fitness Center on Dover Air Force Base. You can also call 302-677-FRED (Fun, Rest, Exercise, Diet). Make this summer a memorable one - get in the Bod Pod and on a path to a better fitness plan designed just for you.