The magic number that gets me movingThere’s a number that’s been indelibly etched into my brain. I think of it every time I make a decision at a restaurant. It comes to mind when I think, “elevator or stairs?” When I plan my week and try to decide when I’m going to go to the gym, this number always floats to the surface of my thoughts.

My magic number? It’s 35.4%. That number is my body fat percentage and it’s far higher than it should be.

At my first visit to the Bod Pod, a highly-accurate body composition measurement tool the Army Wellness Center uses to measure body fat, I learned that I am carrying over fifty pounds of fat on my body. That’s over one-third of me.

I was shocked that my measurements put me squarely into the “Obese” category. I knew I had work to do when I made my wellness center appointments but getting a rating of obese seemed absurd at first. I have a normal BMI. I wear jeans in the single-digit sizes. How could I possibly be obese?

It’s widely known that excess fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. The scale isn’t the best measure of that risk, though, as medical researchers have learned. The phenomenon known as “normal weight obesity” presents additional challenges including more visceral fat, higher cancer risks and greater incidence of heart problems as one recent Mayo Clinic study has shown.

Now it’s easy to get myself off the couch to get to the gym or to pass on the second helping of chicken parm because I want my next Bod Pod assessment to show a healthy, new rating in the “healthy” range. Getting that 35.4% result was the wakeup call I needed.

What motivates your healthy choices?