Body Composition 2011

Oh yes, it’s that time again, my annual body composition post. Last year I talked about self acceptance and you got to see some of my heavier photos, those are always fun, eh?

This year I am going to get all data crazy on you. I’ve always wanted to go have one of those DEXA things done. They always use them on The Biggest Loser to tell the people “you are 50% fat” etc etc. I wanted to see what my skeleton looked like and everything I have read said that it’s the Gold Standard in body fat percentages. There is a mobile DEXA unit that comes to my gym once a month so I signed for for a slot, paid my $70 and showed up on time.

I wasn’t nervous…ok, I was a little nervous. Mostly I was excited and really intrigued.

Inside the van was the DEXA machine. It’s a low dose Xray machine as I understand it. You lay there really still and it goes up and down and up and down a ton of times. I would say it takes about 5 minutes.

Then the technician does her work which I’m not sure what that is. Then she printed out three pages for me. I kinda tried to ask her some questions and she said “I’m not really good at explaining the numbers.” So I figured that wasn’t part of the $70, went on my way and figured I had a bit of research to do.

Check me out! How cool is that…it’s me, and I look very skeletal! Very halloween, and I don’t see a lot of fat there…looks pretty lean and good to me. I like the ribs, look at all those ribs, I think I have a barrel chest. Spine looks nice and straight. Look at me, trying to act like I know stuff…

So then come the results. Honestly it’s a lot of numbers that I don’t quite know exactly what they are, but you can see pretty clearly that the DEXA machine (now affectionately nicknamed “Liar”) thinks I have 30.5% body fat. What? Wha? Wh?W? WTF?

The following numbers are quite a hoot to look at as well, check out how fat my left arm is compared to my right. I get that I am right handed and all, but really…I don’t write that much anymore…just a lot of typing really. My right arm is the wonky one in the pool too…maybe it’s too lean and doesn’t float enough?

So of course immediately when I get home I strip down to my birthday suit and make Troy come take pictures of all the scales I have at home and what they think. I used to not even have a scale but now I have a few, and I love them all equally (not really).

First off, my uber-favorite scale, the Withings Scale. This scale is totally awesome because every morning (that I remember) I get on it and it takes my weight, body fat % and BMI. BUT THEN…it automatically uploads my data to the Withings site, the Withings app on my iPhone, AND to Training Peaks, using my wi-fi network at home. Yes, my scale is wi-fi! This seems silly, but it’s actually a really nice feature. So what did Withings have to say?

Humm, Withings thinks 24.6%. So how do scales calculate Body Fat %? Well, they use what is called bioelectrical impedance analysis, which clocks the speed that electricity moves through you and based on the levels of resistance it can determine fat vs muscle. Everything I have read says that DEXA is way more accurate.

I pulled out the Tanita Scale that I have as well. I used to use this all the time and have noticed since getting the Withing that it was usually lower than the Withing. The Tanita thought:

Can you read that? It says 20.9%. It also thinks I gained 0.6 pounds in the 12 seconds it took to go from one scale to the next.

So, what do I think of all this? Other than I paid $70 for a picture of my skeleton? Humm, 30.5%, 24.6%,20.9%. That’s a tough one. I guess what I think from a personal standpoint is that it’s just a number. I know that I am fit, and lean. I wear a size 4, I’m healthy, and I’m not at risk of any serious conditions that I know of.

I think the bigger issue I have is with the recommendations and numbers that have been put out there from the various institutes on health (which in and of themselves are hard to track down):

I found this:

For women, they are considered obese if their body fat percentage is 32% or above, for men this number is 25%. Acceptable levels of body fat include 25-31% for women and 18-25% for men; while athlete’s body fat percentages usually range between 14-20% for women and 6-13% for men.

I also found this:

For women:

  • The recommended amount of body fat is 20 – 21%.
  • The average American woman has approximately 22 – 25% body fat.
  • A woman with more than 30% body fat is considered obese.

Either way, the DEXA is telling me I am either at the upper limit of acceptable, or I am considered obese. I think my favorite is “the average woman is 22-25%”. But the CDC has just revealed that “1 in 3 of US adults is obese”. BMI data was used to make that claim, not Body Fat %. I just think there is a huge disconnect here. HUGE!

Clearly the Body Fat Percentage recommendations are missing the mark when it comes to supposedly accurate DEXA data. I’m not sure what testing system the recommendations are based upon. While I know I am fit and healthy and I don’t need to worry myself about the latest forskolin benefits for fat loss but still, it bums me out that the lines of health seem to be so blurry. I’ve heard that BMI is not an accurate indicator of health, I would argue that Body Fat % is not as well. So much research, but so little actual facts.

No 2011 Body Composition blog post would be complete without some photos of my “12 days until Kona Ironman World Championships” body. I’m always a little embarrassed to post these, but I do think they are cool to look back upon and I would urge any of you training for an Ironman to take a few photos in your final days of training.

Not Obese…

I’m really curious on all of your thoughts here! Have you had any body fat testing done? Have you found it to be accurate and/or helpful in determining your proper weight or leanness for a big athletic event? Do you think the information out there is helpful and plentiful? Do you think the DEXA is correct? Do you think the health recommendations are correct based on the DEXA results I saw? I’m so curious what you think!

Le Poudre

Yesterday was one of the best all around days I’ve had in a long time. PIC Michelle and I went on a riding adventure. We headed out with Troy and Annie for SAG support and aimed for the Poudre River. It was so neat to go from point to point on a 4 hour ride. It was hot and we were overdressed so Annie was super busy handing out new bottles. The final 20 miles of our ride were downright nasty with multiple 12% grade climbs. We were in the middle of nowhere, it was super rad.

Annie trying to tell PIC where to go, and about to miss a bottle toss

It’s a great time to be in Colorado, warm temps this week in the 80s and yet the leaves are changing on the trees. I’m always amazed at all the great roads we have to ride around here and Buckhorn Canyon did not disappoint!

When PIC and I made it to the Poudre River we were pretty jazzed. We did our run off the bike down the canyon with the wide green/blue river rumbling over the rocks to our left. We even had to skirt through a tunnel dug out of the rock. It was an adventure.

The best thing about riding to a river is the post race ice bath. Never have I had an ice bath is such a serene, calm, blissful location. After the initial shock (and it was shocking) my legs numbed up and we just sat in the river…happy…contented.

It’s not the first time I’ve dragged Michelle into freezing cold water all in the name of icing our legs. I secretly have an obsession with really cold water. I love it!

At the end of this ride, I looked at Michelle and I said “We’re ready.” I think we are. As long as we continue to do the right things these next two weeks I think Chuckie has really guided us to putting the right work in. There is still the whole matter of execution, and it matters, a lot. However, I think I will have that pretty ironed out by the time race day rolls around.

After grub and dropping off Annie at grandparents house, and dropping PIC off at here car, I had a great surprise planned for Troy.

I had purchased (on the sly) tickets to TEDxBoulder. Sadly I can’t actually remember the last time Troy and I had a date night, but I knew he would love this since he watches TED videos all the time. Do you know abut TED?? If not, you have to watch some. After intermission he leaned over and whispered in my ear “this is the best gift I’ve ever been given” and my heart melted just a little bit.

I walked out of Mackey Auditorium 4 hours later inspired, uplifted, challenged, and excited. The speakers were amazing, stunning, and thought provoking. It was awesome, and we will go every year, hands down. It was great to see a spark in Troys blue eyes, to see a genuine smile on his face. Such a great night!

Now, go watch some TED and tell me what you think!

Security Blanket

Yup, it’s pretty much here, the big day, the K to the ONA day is allllmost here. It’s that time where I can start packing without feeling like an idiot. I leave in just a little over a week. I travel to San Jose Friday the 30th and then onto Kona the morning of October 1st. Michelle and I have a cute little one bedroom apartment on Alii for a week, then our families come in right before the race. Every place we seem to be renting together recently says “romantic getaway.”

This place said “perfect for romantic walks on the beach holding hands.” I’m totally holding Michelle to that one…

Last year I went to Kona from Wednesday to Wednesday and I cried getting on the airplane to come home, I wasn’t ready to leave. This time there will be no tears, we are staying on the island until Sunday Oct 16th which will leave plenty of time to swim with the turtles and lay on the beach. Bring it on!

Today was a sad day. It was the first big long ride day that Michelle and I didn’t have Chuckie with us. The weather has turned cold here in Denver which means they were off to Tucson to chase the heat. It was like all of the sudden we were without our coach on our wheels and there was an obvious void. We even stopped an hour into the ride to get ready for the hard stuff and we said “Okay….Chuckie is telling us what to do right now.” It was like he was still there with us and we both sat there for a minute and imagined what he would be saying.

At some point the baby birds gotta fly and while we know what we are supposed to do and we were able to execute that today on the ride, it was still just…different. We couldn’t help missing him and Angela. I can’t say I blame them though, the cold weather is a drag and we were bundled up like a pair of Eskimos…but hopefully it will make the Kona heat that much sweeter.

There has been lots of reflecting going on recently in my brain. This year has been so different than last year leading up to Kona. Sure some of the rides and runs and swims have been the same, but I’ve had a bit tougher time with things this year. Last year I was just so excited to be going, so appreciative, and this year I’ve been more focused on doing better there. I can’t say that’s totally a good thing. It’s a fine line I think you ride. In the end, doing the work and listening to your body is really all you can do. Putting in the good time, trying to stay out of the bucket, and trying to keep some semblance of perspective. I’ve struggled on all these fronts this year, but I’ve also learned from the struggles.

It’s hard not to let this sport totally consume you. Then again, try to get better without letting it consume you. It seems that just letting it in the door, letting it fill the room, and living in the sport can be both great, and also hard. Hard on a family, hard on a social life. Hard when results don’t stack up. You put together the best training you can, you put together the best race plan you can, you buy all the gear you think will help you out there, and all for a chance to do well at a race that takes place on one little day of the year.

They say that true champions are the ones that rise to the occasion when the conditions are the worst, when the competition is the best, when adversity is around every corner. I believe this is true and I believe there is a certain part of all that which isn’t trainable. You have to have that something in you that wants to hurt, craves to hurt, stares down into the well and wants to jump in.

I have 16 days to bring all that to the surface. 16 days to reflect upon the work that has been done, and prepare to tackle the day that I am faced with.

You can see why my family is flying in the day before the race….best to leave the athletes alone before Kona!


My Andy Schleck Moment

Yesterday is was COLD here in Denver. Michelle and I headed out for an easy and longish ride and we had to bundle up big time. It’s the first day where we had to pull out all the layers. Also, Kona is hot (duh) so CV has been instructing us to over dress.

One of PICs athletes (Peter) had kits made for his company (Nulite) and he gave each of us a full set up. I’m talking legs, arms, tri kits, cycling kits, jackets, the whole 9 yards. Very generous of Peter (thank you Peter).

So I decided to do it all up. I was matchy matchy top to bottom.

Andy Schleck…that’s why you are reading…okay, here goes…but in my defence I had to paint the picture first.

So PIC and I are riding on the bike path, because our coach told us to, and well, we do what we are told. So we are riding along, about 2+ hours into the ride and we are headed homewards.

We head up a super steep little hill on the bike path and we’ve got a fairly decent amount of speed going into it. So what do I do, I quickly drop to my small chain ring. And because I’m so talented I stand up to climb out of the saddle right as I do this.

It is then that I have a Schleck moment and I drop my chain.

Have you ever tried to climb out of the saddle at the same moment you drop your chain?

Yup, Sonja is now air-born, up and over the handlebars, bike still attached to feet, total ENDO.

In my defense I was wise enough to tuck the head and shoulders. The elbow, knees and outer hand were the main contact point with the concrete bike path.

The funny thing is what happens after a crash. I hear Michelle laying down her bike and coming running over. “are you ok, are you ok”. Oh it’s just all very funny as I sit here typing it. I lay there in the bike path making sure I feel ok, but about to crack up at the same time.

So get this…on the one day that I have 40 thousand layers on, I crash my bike. I have less road rash than Annie gets when she cruises down the stairs on her belly. It’s quite awesome. It reminds me of last year before Kona when I tripped on a 1/10th inch board and went down.

It’s my annual pre Kona ENDO!

So, thank you to Peter, who supplied the cushion for the fall. By the way, you have to check out this kit, it’s absolute hilarity. I think Peter told them to use every neon color that exists. And the leg warmers….yes I get looks, I get LOTS of looks. Ha!

2011 Harvest Moon Triathlon

I love this race. I raced it last year, and here I was, on the start line again. I had some nerves, those are to be expected. What I always forget is just how many friendly faces there are at this race. I know so many of the racers and the run course being an out and back is just 13 miles of high fives, thumbs up, and cheers. Love it!

Here is the swim course in all it’s glory. It was shaped like a pencil with a point at the end. The buoys were nice and straight when the sun came up, but they seemed to move a little by the time I was hunting for them (might just be me).

Driving in I saw the flag going into the park flying strong and I knew from then on that we weren’t going to get the same bike course as last year. I ride out on these roads a lot and rarely is there no wind. Last year when there was no wind I was overjoyed, so this year I knew we had it coming to us.

I got a good spot racking my bike. I did my thing, laid out my gear and got in the potty line.

This is Mo, she’s one of my ponies. She lives way up in the hills so she stayed the night with us before the race which I LOVED. I made her keep her hoodie on because she looked like a rapper and all tough….triathlete rapper! She is also shorter than me….??


Annie, as usual was a big fan of the playground at the Aurora resevoir. This child continues to amaze me. We woke her up at 5:15 and the girl was stoked to be headed out to the race. She was excited to see her friends, and she was happy snappy. I know you all might think I’m cruel, but I tell you, the munchkin is happy. She’s well rounded and she gets a lot of play time.


I decided to imbibe in a little First Endurance PreRace for this triathlon. This is me on PreRace…HELLO Sonja! I also got in a top notch warm up before this swim. It was great to get out there and really swim, and since the start was about 20 minutes late, I felt like the timing was perfect.

I signed up for the elite wave this year. Since I won the race overall last year, and I was in the AG category last year, I thought it was the right thing to do. I think there were only 2 elite women. I’m not eligible for the prize money but the major perk was starting in the first wave and getting to line up with Michelle and Lauren. That really helped calm those pre race nerves.

Before I knew it we were off. I had started right next to Lauren and it was totally rad to swim with her the first several minutes. We were right next to each other and I recognized her blue armed wetsuit and her stroke with her big wide arm. It was cool and I was trying not to bump her or anything. Then we sortof lost each other and I found myself with a little pack of ladies. One was wearing a black cap (I was in pink) and she was just to my right. I swam shoulder to shoulder with her because she seemed to swim really straight (and I seem not to).

All of the sudden I saw her do a breast stroke and then suddenly my toes were getting tapped. Wow….someone actually WANTS on my feet. Oh, she does not know what she’s getting herself into. We might end up in a completely different lake with my sighting abilities. Then I got serious. I wanted to swim straight and not get us all lost, we were a little pack of 5 or so.

I lead all the way to the 1/2 way turn buoy. When I went around the buoy I got off course (leave it to me) and I saw the black cap (on course) swimming to my left with the other 3 girls on her feet. I went alone for awhile and then I started to bog bog bog down. I think this might be a common theme of mine.

So I made the decision to do whatever it took to get on her feet. I put in a surge, swam over to her, and got on her feet. I rode those feet all the way to the finish and she swam fast…and straight! Her name was Amy….thank you AMY!!!!

Here she is…who’s that chick that drafted off her and then passed her on the run up to transition? Not very nice Sonja. Amy…please forgive me and let me draft off your feet more often…Amy, are you going to Kona? Can I pack you in my bag if you aren’t??

The bike was indeed windy. I knew that PIC was up the road oodles, and from prior swims over the last few weeks it could be anywhere from 4-10 minutes up the road. Thanks to Amy it was about 4. I got out on the bike and just tried to settle in. The wind was there and I know exactly what it does to this course. I mentally prepared for the tough parts. Being in the first wave it was a rather lonely bike and there were times when I couldn’t see a single soul ahead of me. It was truly a “time trial.” I worked hard to keep my heart rate in check and to keep my heart rate as even as possible.

And I worked hard to catch Michelle, but that was proving to be a very tough thing. It wasn’t until mile 30 that I could even see her and then it took an additional 10-15 miles to catch up to her. We did the I passed her, she dropped back to legal limit, she passed me, I dropped back to legal limit, etc etc for a little bit. It was nice to give each other kudos on each pass.

Coming back into the res I was in front with PIC just behind me and it was really neat to hear the crowds reaction to being the first chick in off the bike. That was special for me.

I never knew I could fit so much down my sports bra! I had a Garmin head unit, a Garmin wrist band, and an EFS liquid shot flask all shoved down there. I put on my number, put my hair in a ponytail, put on my hat, dug out all the junk down my bra and put it on, reset my watch, and got to running.

Troy yelled at me that I was in second and 1st was 2 minutes up. What? Chuckie was there too, and I looked at him and got the nod. I love the nod.

I got to running and looked up the road and I saw this person with long hair running and I kinda thought it was a girl. It psyched me out. But then that person was walking several miles later and it was a guy. Everyone at the aid stations was telling me I was first but I kept thinking about Troys comment. I went out a little too hot in this race and it came back to bite me. At mile 4 when I saw the male leaders coming back I checked thoroughly to make sure they were all male. Whew they were.

I ran with all sorts of friends out there. It was great to see so many smiles and hear so many “goSonja” cheers.

Hitting the turn around I now knew for sure I was in the lead but I remembered last year that I was the one who started one age group back and took the show. So I was worried that someone in the AG behind my wave would be faster. So I looked at my watch at the turn around and got a time check on the next girl. She was 8 minutes back. So I figured I had a virtual 3 minute margin if she just so happened to be in the next wave. That along with all the support I got out there on the course from other racers really kept me going. I wouldn’t say I felt too great out there, but some days are harder than others. You have to measure yourself by how well you preserver when times are tough, something I haven’t done too great at in the past week.

The finish line was as great as it ever was. The slip and slip was just as slip and slidey as last year and I took my turn on it. Apparently the girls had broken it in for me. Can I just say what a great race this is that they let the kids take a dip in the slip and slide…?


All in all I was 15 minutes slower than last year. I went 4:45 and last year was 4:29. But every course is different every year, and I am different too. Last year magic seemed to happen on this course for me and I won by 12 seconds. This year I had to fight an internal fight to keep the pressure on and I won by 12 minutes. You never know what you are going to get, but if you are smart you can find a way to learn from all of your experiences. Sometimes I’m smart, sometimes not.

I was awarded a horseshoe for my efforts. Mom says she’ll cut me a check for the prize money (gotta love moms). See all the wine in the background, well they gave that out to the 3rd place finishers. I secretly think this is because Chuckie went and talked to them. He said “Sonja and Michelle were 1st and 2nd so don’t give them wine.” He always has our backs!

As the day wound down I got to see lots of friends come across that finish line. Mo and Tyler were the heros of the day with the perseverance award. PIC hung strong through a tough run and I am proud of her.

The day ended with Annie running around with the camera. I downloaded her shots and I think we have a portrait photographer on our hands. The next 4 shots are all taken by Annie. Jeff (Mo’s husband, and resident bear), Troy, Me, and PIC. Go Annie!




A huge thanks to Kompetitive Edge and TYR for all the support. They are just all a girl could ever ask for from a sponsor. Thank you to QR, my bike so rocks the house. GoalZero, Punk Rock Racing, Justin’s, Love Grown, First Endurance, Nathan, and Nuun…this horseshoe is for you! Congratulations to all of you that raced out there and thank you to everyone who volunteered and came out to cheer. I’ve got 4 more weeks until the big show and I can’t wait!!


Bits of This and That

Hellllllo quiet blog! The last few weeks have been event filled, but I haven’t been creative enough to get anything written down here. The weeks have had some great days, really fantastic highs. There have been some lows too. I have continued to try to learn from both and move forward in the best way possible. I thought I would catch you up on a few fun things that have been going on.

Probably the most exciting was Jen making it to Kona. As most of you know, I started coaching this year. It’s something I take really seriously. I took on a mix of athletes that I though would challenge me, and that I thought would be responsive to my style. Jen excited me because she had 2 IMs under her belt, a marathon background, but she was trying to make that switch to being a triathlete. It’s a hard switch for a previous marathoner. You can’t train for an IM like a marathoner, you have to think of all three sports and the balance between the three and between your strengths and limiters. Tracking Jen at IM Canada was really fun, and it’s exciting to know that she is headed to Kona as a result of all her hard work.

This is what it looks like when you didn’t think you were going to get a slot and you did. I love this picture. GoJen!!!

Let’s see, Michelle and I have had a few strange experiences over the last few weeks. We almost never discuss wardrobe choices but always seems to show up wearing the same outfits. This one particularly made me laugh. We went out for  along run, met each other early in the morning, and we were matching. The purple and white Punk Rock Racing shirt is my favorite running shirt right now. The fit on it is perfect.

Our new Quintana Roo steads are no longer feeling so new. We have put a few thousand miles on them, adjusted, readjusted, tinkered, and retinkered with them. We’ve switched up saddles, PIC on an Adamo, me on a Cobb. We added theXLab Torpedo to our aerobars after coveting Angelas for long enough. Blackjack is definitely all dialed in for Kona. My bike fits me, it’s comfortable, and it’s fast, that’s all a girl could really ask for, right?

Here’s the girls hanging out at the bike rack in Ward. We’ve been up there a few times this year, but this was a first for racking the bikes, and actually going into the store for refreshment. Double Trouble.

I think this was the all time weirdest, yet coolest thing we saw over the last few weeks on one of our easy bike path spins. We were headed towards REI on the Cherry Creek Bike Path when we passed this guy. I think the mustache and bow tie really completes the look. Michelle and I secretly wanted to take it for a spin, but we just tried to pass as safely as possible.

This weekend is a big weekend for triathlon. It’s the 70.3 World Championships and the first time they will be held in Las Vegas. I turned down my spot for this race when I qualified at both Racine and Boulder 70.3s. It was a little hard to turn down the slot twice! It’s a dicey call though. Kona is 4 weeks later and the Vegas course is both hilly and hot. Because this is the first year, nobody quite knows what the effect of racing Vegas and then heading to Kona will be. I seem to be the only one who isn’t taking a stab at it…well Michelle and I…and Jen too. I just think if Kona is the race you are gunning for, then Vegas is a distraction. But I may be eating my words. Regardless, I’m really excited to track the race, and all the people I follow on twitter who are racing. I’m excited for them and I hope I get a chance to race this race at some point in the future.

For me, there is a nice little local 1/2 Ironman here on Sunday that I did last year called Harvest Moon. It’s only 8-10 miles away from my house with a mellow swim, a safe bike course, and a straight forward run. It’s a good Kona run through and last year I really enjoyed the race. I can sleep in my own bed, and flop in my own pool later than evening so it’s pretty hard to pass up. I’m excited to get my feet wet again and to test the waters.

Last thing with the bits and pieces. Coaching! I have a few more slots if you are starting to think about next year. Just submit something through the “Contact me” if you want to discuss. I like the IM distance, that’s where my passion lies. I’ll probobly post another reminder in December if I have any slots left at that time as well.

Happy training, stay healthy, chase your dreams!