I just used the Healthy Body Calculator® and was shocked by its negative results. Could you please give me some advice or point me to someone who could? The calculator results: Measure: US Age: 29 years Gender: Female Height: 5 feet 7 inches Weight: 168 pounds Pregnant: No Breast feeding: No Activity level: (hours/day) 7 hours – Sleep 7 hours – Very Light / Sedentary 8 hours – Light 1 hours – Moderate 1 hours – Heavy Body fat: Current 23 percent Goal 18 percent Calorie distribution: Fat 30 percent Protein 10 percent Carbohydrate 60 percent Weight goal: Lose 2 pounds per week Elbow breadth: 2 3/4 inches Waist circumference: 33 inches Hip circumference: 39 inches Results: Healthy body weight range is: 118 to 159 pounds I have been exercising regularly for about 13.5 months. Prior to that, I did not exercise at all and was probably about 3 pounds heavier. During the last year, I have built up to the following routine: step aerobics (1-hour class) 3 times weekly (sometimes only 2 times); stationary bike 2-3 times weekly for 20 minutes at heavy rate; weight training with a personal trainer 3 times weekly using moderate to heavy weights with 2 sets at 20 reps (lighter weights) or 2 sets at 12 reps (heavier weights). I sit at a PC all day but walk around the office a lot. I drive to work, get up at 8:00 A.M. work 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. then exercise, eat dinner anytime between 8 to 10 P.M. (late!!) then go to bed between 11:30 P.M. to 12:30 A.M. I travel a lot for my job, about 40% of the time. All of this is international travel worldwide where I experience jet lag, time changes, changes in diet (handle all well) and sometimes no opportunity to exercise. Trips usually last 10 days sometimes up to 3 weeks or less than 1 week. Current diet when not traveling: Breakfast (10 A.M.): 2 to 3 cups of black coffee, 8 ounces orange juice, cereal muesli plus skim milk, sometimes a bagel with cream cheese instead of muesli. Morning snack (sometimes): banana or apple or yoghurt or a few pieces of chocolate or 2 to 3 cookies. Lunch (12:30 P.M.): I usually eat out, pizza or sandwich or pasta or big salad or Chinese or Mexican. I know this is the not the best. Sometimes I’m good, other times (like Mexican) I eat too much and too heavy foods. Sandwiches are usually without meats (or turkey, chicken), low fat/fat free condiments, try to stay away from high sodium. Afternoon snack: Sometimes similar to morning, sometimes none, sometimes a chocolate bar or ice cream, hot chocolate w/ skim milk for dessert. Dinner: I eat very little meat in general (about every 2 weeks, turkey or chicken), but a lot of steamed veggies, salad, (whole) grain bread, a lot of pasta (low calorie, sodium, fat sauces), fish (baked in foil in oven w/ salt free spices & herbs), grains (rice, millet, barley, kasha, etc.), or cheese (love cheese and eat sometime fatty cheeses). I would have 3 glasses of wine with and after dinner (dry red & white) every evening or every second evening. Sometimes 1 to 2 beers instead. If I don’t drink wine or beer in the evening, I drink water or herbal teas. Beverages during the day: Tea (mostly herbal), water, unsweetened ice tea with lunch. Earlier dinner is difficult since I can’t eat at 5 P.M. and exercise at 6 P.M. By the time I have food on the table after exercising it is at least 8 p.m. Any suggestions? My FRUSTRATION is that I don’t look overweight, wear dress size 10 (sometimes even 8, less and less size 12), shoe size 8. I’m happy that I don’t have wide hips, although I have a tummy which bothers me. I have a large rip cage, bra size 38B. My shoulders are very wide, looks like a swimmer’s shoulders. I have noticed that my body is a bit shaplier since I began exercising, but not as shapely as I would like. Whereas, people don’t think of me as overweight, most of co-workers/friends do not necessarily notice that I work out (well, they know I do, but nobody comes up and says “you’ve been working out”. I see family in Europe about 3 times per year and they have not made any comments). So, what am I doing wrong? Could you please give me some advice for the following: I know that I could eat less (tend to eat large servings), but I’ve always been eating healthy and big servings, from when I was little. How come that I exercise a lot now and it doesn’t make that much difference? My heart rate during aerobics is high (usually about 33 per 10 seconds count at peak with 22 per seconds 5 minutes later). My doctor knows and said to watch it but said that some people do have a high heart rate. He doesn’t want me to take beta blockers. Particular body areas: What kind of exercise should I do or avoid to enlarge my calves and knees? Both are big, have wide knee caps and some fat around knees. Have always had strong calves. I would be very grateful for any advice that you can provide, or any points of contact where I could get further advice


    First, was your body fat measured or are you estimating it? 23% bodyfat is average for a female, age 29. If you were estimating your body fat percent, then re-do the calculator without adding any body fat data. If you are sure you are 23% body fat and want to get to 18%, then the calculator would have given you a weight goal of 122 to 149 pounds based on 18% body fat goal.

    Your exercise routine is very good and probably the reason for your size 10 clothes. Muscle takes up less room than fat and results in more curves. BTW, a woman’s hormones encourage curves and you may never have a flat stomach even if you lost weight to the weight goal above, but you can have an exercised body. Can you live with that? I assume you don’t have children as a woman’s hips spread (permanent) during pregnancy, but this doesn’t mean that you have to have unshapely hips. Hope you can live with that if you plan on having children.

    By exercising, you have lost body fat mostly because of aerobic exercise and added muscle mostly because of weight lifting. So it is not surprising that your weight has only changed by 3 pounds. Continue with aerobic and weight lifting exercises.

    If your heart rate is 33 beats for 10 seconds, then it is 198 for 1 minute which is way too high for effective aerobic exercise. In fact, your maximal heart rate at 29 years is 191. Why would your doctor be discussing beta blockers for a 29-year-old? Does he know how intense you exercise?

    You are exercising anaerobically (without oxygen) and probably burning blood sugar, not fat! You should feel hungry and possibly shaky after exercising at this rate for 1 3/4 hours at your current weight. Slow down so that your target heart rate is 23 – 29 beats for 10 seconds. (To figure target heart rate, take 220 – age – resting heart rate X 60% + resting heart rate = lower target rate. Use these same figures, but at 90% to figure the upper limit of target heart rate. Then divide each result by 6 to get your rate for 10 seconds.) Heart rate is an estimate of oxygen uptake. If your heart rate is too high, you are unable to take in enough oxygen for exercising muscles to burn body fat. No wonder you aren’t pleased with your exercise results.

    You wonder why exercising doesn’t make that big a difference? You have probably also increased your food intake to compensate for the exercise you now get. If you were to add up the calories burned for the exercises you do now that you weren’t doing before, that would be the number of additional calories you are probably eating now compared to what you ate before you exercised. Calories out – calories in = 0 net effect if you eat as many calories as you expend. So, to get a continued exercise effect (i.e. lose body fat), you will need to reduce the portions of food you eat or exercise more (latter doesn’t seem possible given your lifestyle).

    Your family and co-workers may not notice the new improved you since your shape has changed gradually over the last 13.5 months. Why not point it out to those you care about for some positive strokes for the work you have done?

    When you travel, you can still take walks or climb stairs in your hotel. Strive to fit 30 minutes of exercise into your day 5 days a week when you travel. Find a creative way to implement this goal depending on where you are in the world.

    As for your large knees and calves, these muscle groups will continue to get bigger if you exercise them beyond their present size. Muscles get bigger when they are asked to do more work than usual i.e. body building results. If you lift weights using your calf muscles, they will get bigger. Aerobic exercise and biking will just keep these muscles toned. Would suggest you ask an exercise physiologist or a certified trainer about your exercise routine.

    My calculator would also have told you how many calories, grams of fat, etc. to eat and those amounts would depend on whether you chose weight maintenance or loss as a nutritional goal. Look at Your Nutrition Facts on the bottom of page 3. This is the place to start if you want to make some eating changes.

    If you want to reach your goal of 18% body fat, then you need to make some adjustments to your eating habits. I wouldn’t worry so much about that fact that you don’t eat your evening meal till 8 PM as it would be unrealistic to eat before exercising after work. It may be smarter if you make your main meal at noon and a lighter meal in the evening. Your meal and snack schedules are well timed though.

    You seem to sense that your portions of food are a bit large and that is where you should start. Start by eating 2/3 of what you would normally eat. You eat a variety of food which is good. Would suggest you cut down your chocolate and cookie snacking as these foods mostly contribute calories, not nutrients. Instead of ice cream, choose low fat frozen yogurt. Excess calories will support storing fat which will not help you reach your goal of reducing body fat. Stick with fruit, yogurt or grains between meals.

    You also mention that your lunch can get out of hand. Would suggest you stick with sandwich, pasta or salad. Choose whole grain breads, little or no sandwich spread (mayonnaise type) and lean meat or vegetable filling for sandwiches. Choose pasta with red sauce rather than white, poultry or fish rather than red meats. Ask for salad dressing on the side so you can decide how much to use. Unless you can order pizza with vegetables (no olives), Canadian bacon, ham, chicken or fish, try something else and definitely don’t ask for extra cheese! If you go to a Chinese or Mexican restaurant, order an entree that is not deep fried or ones with lots of sour cream, cheese and olives. Start to recognize sources of fat and start limiting them in foods you choose to eat.

    For your evening meal, if you don’t eat some kind of meat at noon, then definitely include some meat at dinner. I would recommend you cut down your wine and beer drinking to 1 per day. Wine is lower in calories than beer, but both are a source of calories without providing nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Research does suggest that 1 glass (5 oz) of wine per day is beneficial in terms of reducing heart disease and increasing longevity. Studies point to wine’s beneficial benefits and I don’t recall research saying the same about beer.

    Your other beverages during the day sound healthy, but you may not be getting enough calcium which seems to be limited to milk with cereal at breakfast, ice cream for snacks or cheese. Unless you are allergic to milk, I would suggest you include skim milk at one other meal, perhaps your evening meal.

    If you would like additional suggestions, I would recommend you contact a registered dietitian. Call your doctor’s office or local hospital and ask to speak to a dietitian. It would be money well spent as you have invested in a personal trainer, why not invest in a personal nutritionist?