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Operation A.B.S.

People warned me about the "marathon blues" that hits post-race. I basically thought it was crazy. Um, now I don't have to train, and I did something amazing. Why will I feel bad? Saturday I was on a high all day (well, except when I was napping) but I'm already sinking into a feeling of "so what's next?" I do have a spring marathon on the agenda - more on that later - but for now I want to refocus my goals and spend some time working on things OTHER than running. 

Like my ABS

Hold on - ABS in this case is standing for "Always be Sexy", and I'm not alone in my effort. No no. I managed to rope this guy into my plan as well:

I have spent so much time focused on running lately, and I've been neglecting other vital parts of fitness, like strength and flexibility. So Tim and I are both going to spend a few weeks focused on reducing body fat and increasing muscle. 

Hubby has managed to put on a little, let's call it "America Weight". Too many good foods in the supermarkets here, clearly. I have no plans to lose weight, but I would like to reduce my body fat percentage and build muscle. The stats:

Tim - Starting BF %: 21.6
Vanessa - Starting BF %: 24.2

For this case, we are both going by body fat. Less focus on the weight, and more focus on what we are made up of. We have a scale that registers body fat percentage, so we will stick with checking our body fat that way (although calipers or a bod pod would be more accurate). Here's a chart I found showing healthy body fat levels for men and women:

That means right now I'm hovering above "fitness" level - and of course I'd much rather be in "athlete" mode. Less squishy, more muscle!

I'll be reporting back here just before Christmas to let you know how we do. I'm hoping to see some noticeable changes through increased resistance training, HIIT, and healthier eating habits. 
And hey, if Operation Always Be Sexy results in some abs? Well I certainly won't be complaining.

Clearly drinking champagne in our old kiddie pool is the key to sexy abs. Or maybe working out and eating healthy foods. Definitely one of the two. 

Do you ever use body fat percentage as a gauge of your fitness? How do you check it?
I think it's better (for me at least) that weight, definitely. Running keeps my weight the same, but can reduce muscle mass easily, based on personal experience. I check with my Tanita Scale, we have had it about a year so far and it seems to work really well. 

Do you like to have constant goals to work towards? How do you feel once you reach them?
I always need an upcoming goal, something to train for and look forward to. But when I reach it (even after a success!) I can be disappointed. So I find something new!


  1. Very cute pool pic!

    I do like to have goals to work towards.

    I have only ever gone by weight and height and hip measurement scales.

    I cannot believe you are 24% body fat. You have ribs!

  2. I got my body fat measured at my gym with this little handheld wavelength thing they have and have been working toward decreasing/maintaining since!!

    Are you working on any specific exercises or sticking to running?

  3. love this plan sweet friend! i have a body fat percentage scale and i kinda love it...i know its not the most accurate but it definitely keeps me in check! good luck to you and the hubs!

  4. About a month ago I bought a fat loss monitor to see what my BF% was and to monitor it as well. I too am at 24% so maybe I need to get with it too! Keep us posted on how it goes!

  5. my body fat was at that but once I dropped my weight and started running it's been holding steady @ 21-22% :) I'm happy though now that I see your chart I really want to get to "athlete" zone :P

    and you are less fatty than me. I think you measured wrong :)

  6. Great goals!!! I have a scale and go back and forth between using it regularly and not :) And, yes, I always need goals to give structure and direction to my training. Can't wait to hear about your spring marathon!

  7. Wow - I can't imagine where you will lose any fat from! I do agree with having other goals than just running goals though. After my big race, I am looking forward to getting some definition back in my arms. I am way too terrified to check my body far, who knows what I might find?

  8. Nice interim target you have set yourself. I like the idea of body fat percentage as a gauge but am too scared to check mine at the moment. Looking forward to your update.

  9. If you're losing muscle mass from running, it's because you're not eating enough calories.

    Also, cutting 4% of your body fat will make you look ten years older, so I'm not sure if the potential ab definition is worth it.

  10. Hi gorgeous! I love the idea of measuring it by body fat % but don't have a scale that measures it... any other ideas of what I could do?

  11. How did you guys calculate your body fat? I can't believe you're at 24%!

    Even though I don't practice, I definitely think a well-rounded workout is awesome and it's seriously awesome that you and your husband are doing it together! I just think maybe you should retest before trying to lower your bf so much.

  12. I have a scale that reads BMI, but I'm pretty sure it's way off. It says I'm 28% fat, but when I did calipers in a lab and another method I was in the 23 range... wish my scale was a little more accurate it would be nice to use. Good luck getting ABS :)

  13. I used to have a bodyfat scale but it seemed so off to me. You changed the numbers and it would change your bodyfat so drastically. So I just try not to worry about it instead go by how I feel and how my clothes fit. I had it done at a gym once and my BF was 16% my scale said it was 27% way off. I trusted the gym.

  14. you guys are gonna rock this!Body fat is much better to measure. Muscle is sexy and you are gonna love getting the metabolism back. Awesome Vanessa!

  15. Having another goal to reach for is always good. Can't wait to follow you on your journey!

  16. This is an insanely brilliant challenge. I need to do it myself - I can't remember the last time I touched a weight... slightly embarrassed!

  17. You seem like you're way less than 24% body fat.

    But what do I know. I've never calculated my body fat percentage before. Seems like a very interesting concept, I'm curious to see how it goes. Can't wait to see how this body transformation unfolds. Not that you need to transform your body or anything!

  18. I am loving your new goal of working on body fat, very inspiring. I am so tired of just focusing on weight, weight and weight.

    Thanks for the chart as well - I think I have a new goal now and luckily my scales measure body fat too, but I have never thought about using that as motivation. I always find your blog so helpful, I just love it!

  19. Tanita is pretty accurate, I've used it before and think it is probably one of the most reliable scale body fat tests. But for me I turn into a maniac when I think about numbers: weight, body fat percentage, BMI...they all make me feel like I need to have that bad kind of control. So I go with the "how are my pants feeling today" test.

    But I'm thinking the alway be sexy is probably the premier way to measure anything.

  20. Post Marathon Blues was ALLL about an absence of a major goal. I still haven't quite figured out what 2012's mountain is, but cutting down the body fat seems like a good start. You and hubs be sexay fo sho.

  21. I absolutely love having goals to work towards and do think it's tough once I reach a big one and don't really know where to go from there. You are definitely taking the right approach to beat the blues, though!!

    I think the #1 thing about this post, though, is the rainbow kiddie pool that you guys had!

  22. I'm in operation ABS mode as well!! Not so much running...a lot more strength training and interval training. I never weigh myself made me a little crazy a few years ago so I've ditched the scale for now. It gives me anxiety!

  23. I like to have goals to work towards but this summer was just content running when I felt like it.
    I don't have a body fat scale and think I might obsess about it. Plus I have a teenage girl that is ever so observant about what I do and I don't want to unintentionally make her body conscious as she is so beautiful in every way. It's hard having impressionable young kids around!

  24. I've had my body fat percentage measured in a bod pod. I measured my body fat on my home scale before I had the bod pod done, and my scale showed me that I was 7.4% higher than the bod pod (my home scale matches the handheld bioelectric impedance body fat device at my gym).

    So, while home scales are great as a baseline to get an idea of where you're at, I wouldn't trust it enough to base my goal percentage on. But, if you want to lose X percent body fat, then it's a good tool.

  25. Loved this. I should do it with you. My jeans are feeling a little too tight lately. I used to check my body fat on a scale thing at the gym when I belonged to a gym, but now I don't have access to any body fat measuring scales. I'll just go by how my clothes feel. I want to focus on eating cleaner for the most part and being more strict on the gluten free rule.

    And I love having goals! Once I complete a goal I like to pick another one to work towards right away. I think I would feel lost without a goal to work towards.

  26. The body fat % is the way to go! You're already at a healthy weight, but this will help you focus on strength training and fitness rather than getting too skinny.

    When do we get to hear about your spring marathon plans?

  27. I think body fat % monitoring is a great idea - I wish I had a way to check mine. I'd definitely get another opinion on your numbers though - scales tend to give you a false high percentage and you don't want to risk cutting your body fat too much based on a goofy number.

  28. I actually just got my body fat measured with calipers by my personal trainer and it was 27.1% and I'm a size 12 (way bigger than you so I would be hesitant about focusing on that body fat % from your scale). Good luck in firming up!

  29. I have actually seen varying levels of those body fat charts. Some say you need less essential, some say more for athletes, etc. If you are going to do a fitness goal based on body fat, try and see if you can go to your local gym or wherever and get your body fat measured with calipers. It'll be more accurate and they might also give you other statistics regarding your muscle mass, etc. (I don't know how you could be 24%?? You look tiny! lol)

    I had my body fat measured so that I would know if I was really in a position where it would be safe or unsafe to lose weight (not that I was trying - but I mean accidentally through increased exercise). It's really important for women not to dip below essential, otherwise you start a downward spiral..!

  30. I would think you were less than 24% too! Plus your hubs looks pretty fit. I'd be hesitant to trust the scale numbers! I don't have a body fat calculator but I've tried some online ones based on measurements, (large possible range though). Since I don't have a scale, I take measurements every couple months, or note how my jeans are fitting. Since going to bootcamp regularly and increasing my mileage, I've lost some inches from my waist and hips and there's less chub to grab in my middle section. I can also feel that I have some ab muscle hiding under there, and can see more muscle in my arm than I used to have.


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