Tomorrow is DEXA Day!

So we are coming to the end of my year off. Balance achieved, muscle growing nicely and health is finally back on track.

Which means… it’s time to think about the next goal.

I make no secret of the fact that I still struggle with having an accurate perception of my body. I freely admit also that I am a lot heavier than when I competed last week – about 10kg above that stage weight actually!

I am known for throwing massive tantrums, some angry, some in tears, because I want to be super lean again. As much as I know this time off was needed, it hasn’t been easy. I get crabby at The Captain because he is naturally slim and can’t possibly understand. I don’t believe him when he tells me I am not “fatty-fat-fat” as I may have ranted. He reminds me that I am healthy, stronger than I was a year ago, with more muscle and for the most part – less crazy. Not right at that moment. But mostly.

I hate the scales. Which is funny, ‘cos I’m pretty sure they hate me back.

Measurements are good but if they go down is it because I’m losing muscle? Or should I look at an increase in size as new muscle under my body fat and not get too worked up about it? And where the hell did I measure my ‘waist’ at again last time anyway?!

Honestly, I like hard numbers. When I was initially losing weight all that mattered was the number on the scale. When I was competing it was still largely about the number on the scale, but also about measurements and being calipered. Calipers…urgh.

Urgh. Don't touch my fat!
Urgh. Don’t touch my fat

So tomorrow, I’m having a DEXA scan.

What’s a DEXA? It’s a groovy machine! DEXA stands for Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). It assesses total body bone mineral density and highly accurate measures of the body’s soft tissue composition (muscle mass and fat mass). By measuring my body’s muscle mass, fat mass, and bone mineral density, it can determine the total body fat percentage, and changes in regional body composition. So, HOW MUCH fat I have and WHERE the fat is hiding.

Woohoo. Or yikes. Depending on how mentally prepared I am for the outcome.

Last time I had a DEXA was when I was at a ‘goal weight’ for weight loss but before I had really dreamed much of training heavily with weights or cared about much more than my BMI. I came in at just under 30% body fat then and coming from obesity (I estimate I had been 40-45% at my heaviest) I was pretty happy.

I didn’t have any DEXA scans while I was competing last but did have my body fat percentage tested by someone very experienced in it each week. In the week of my last ever show I came in at a fraction under 14%. There is a lot of literature about DEXA readings coming up higher than caliper readings as a DEXA also includes the fats in your body NOT held in your skin (so internal fats around your organs etc aren’t reflected in a caliper). So it can’t be a direct comparision.

I do sometimes use the InBody scanner at my gym which is a bio-electrical impedence type (like a VERY expensive version of bathroom scales that do body fat) and it had me back at about 28% a few months ago.

This infographic isn’t perfect, but is a helpful visual of how different percentages might look. Keep in mind the women pictured are all different ages/heights/builds/poses etc so it is a ROUGH guide:

body-fat-percentage-picture-men-women

I don’t really mind where I land on the body fat percentage tomorrow – I’m just more excited to have firm data as my start point which will allow me to build and shrink in the right ways again in the future.

Wish me luck!

Bella

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