What I learned about myself from a DEXA scan…

Sometimes I choose not to blog things. Sometimes because I am too busy to write. Sometimes because I don’t think whatever it is is interesting enough to interrupt people with. And sometimes, it’s simply stuff I don’t want you to know.

Yep. I got secrets. Sorry.

So when I preemptively told the blog-o-sphere that I was having a DEXA scan, I sort of set myself up to NOT be able to do that. Which kinda sucks.

To clarify, the whole reason I wanted the scan was I know that I need to move away from the significant obsession I have with weighing myself at least once a day. I do KNOW it’s a bad idea, not a great reflection of my body composition and can’t really be trusted to give me accurate information. In fact, Cathy knows my level of pain with the scale and tagged me in this post on IG during the DEXA day:

weigh

So I had the scan. I had it done at the University of Tasmania sports science unit. To be fair, the scientist did advise me that it was a very old machine and not capable of the type of information that modern DEXA units are. I still was a little taken aback at the sheer age of the thing. It looked like it was made in the 70’s from a factory conveyer belt and my Grandad’s camera. Fo Realz.

The UTas DEXA is older than this model and not in quite as good condition. Notice the natty computer it runs off.

The UTas DEXA is older than this model and not in quite as good condition. Notice the natty computer it runs off.

Also different is the level of information you get back from a modern DEXA. I was hoping for detailed information about the specific location of body fat held, but sadly this model was only capable of averages per limb and the trunk. You don’t get a print out of the information, but a written summary of what the operator interpreted from the scan. Even my sports scientist wrote though there was some ambiguity in the scan and the results may have been skewed in certain aspects.

But hey, enough blaming the equipment.

I came in at just over 32% bodyfat.

Huh. 32%.

In all honesty – I was expecting 25-26%. I would have been annoyed but understood 27-29% and would have been stoked with anything under 25%.

Nope. The machine in all it’s science-y wisdom says 32.4%.

I waited to feel crushingly sad. I put my polite face on, paid the man and walked to the car in the eerie drizzling rain, wondering if I was going to cry. I sent a message to a friend letting her know what it had come back as and said that I might cry. But I wasn’t crying. Not even close.

I sent a message to The Captain. I had promised him that getting a DEXA would end ‘the crazy’, which is the umbrella term we use for just about anytime I talk about my weight or size based on ridiculous perceptions I have of myself.

Message read:

wpid-2014-09-10-21.00.19.png.png

Being the awesome husband that he is, he offered to come out and hang out with me for awhile. He knows this stuff can knock me about a bit. But still, I was fine.

Not quite fine enough to leave it alone though…..

I mentioned in my previous post that I have in recent times been using an Inbody scanner to do a electrical bio-impedance measure of weight, muscle mass and body fat. So….

I drove straight to the gym and did another one. To compare apples with apples. As best I could.

On scan 2 months ago exactly I came up as – having 31.6kg muscle mass and 28.7% Body fat.

Yesterday – 33.2kg muscle mass and 23.8% Body fat

So, what did that experiment tell me? That comparing data from the same machine with conditions as similar as I could (same time, similar clothing etc) showed that I was heading in the direction I need to.

AND – because I want a third and independent non-scale reference point – I have an appointment to have my body fat read with calipers next week.

But what did I LEARN from today?

That peace of mind for me in not in the numbers. Not even in the better numbers from the InBody scan. It doesn’t put my soul at rest. It doesn’t make my life easier or even really validate my feelings about the work I put in being worth it. I wish it did. Some part of me really, really wants to cling to data to tell me it’s all okay. Numbers are part of a sport that I really enjoy. Transforming your body in incremental steps is far easier to celebrate when you know the height you need to climb and the progress you make each week. That’s going to be the ongoing struggle.

But at the very end of the day, hanging out at home, I kept coming back to the idea of what I wanted to know from this whole exercise. I wanted a non-scale baseline where I could come back and reference this point in the preparation in three, six, twelve months and know then what I’d been doing for my body.

It was never going to tell me if I was happy with myself. Only I can do that.

So I did. Stripped down, no make-up, at the end of the day with 4 litres of water and 1900 calories in my belly – this is me.

wpid-img_20140910_145610.jpg

This is me. At 32.4% Body Fat. Or 23.8%, depending on who you ask. Look at that smile and ask me if I care 🙂

And if this is 32.4% body fat, or 23.8% body fat or 40% body fat – I’m pretty darn okay with where I am.

Yes, I want to grow and develop and be lean and have a physique that others aspire to. But feck it – I’m strong, happy and healthy and capable of doing anything I want.

And I want to continue on this fun-filled adventure of eating lots and well, lifting heavy things and generally living life like a boss without guilt or shame or feeling like I am supposed to be anything other than where I am.

So yes, I’m going to change. I’m happy to be open and honest with you about the road and the fact it’s not going to be easy, and sometimes not pretty. And yes, there will be more scans, and tests, and weigh-ins.

But what did I actually LEARN from the DEXA. I learned that I’m okay. I’m better than okay, I’m good. And that I don’t need a machine to tell me that.

Beep. Boop. Beep.

Night all!
SV

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8 thoughts on “What I learned about myself from a DEXA scan…

  1. Did you know that the brain is 60% fat? It registers on a DEXA scan too – my husband had one; one of the modern ones with the colourful bodyshape print out. Anyareas of fat were marked in red, with a big blob of red on his head. I have refrained from making the expected gags.

    • It’s hard. I have to trust science. I would love to see it on a modern dexa where they illustrate WHERE that fat is so I could believe it more. I won’t say I don’t believe it but I would love to see it better quantified.

  2. It’s oh so easy to get lost in the numbers, I totally agree! But with that said, Yes — go have a “modern scan” done! Oh I LOVED my DEXA scan! 😍 It totally put everything in to perspective for me. I’ve had two just this year! It completely changed my fitness/weight loss mindset, and helped me set realistic goals that MY body can healthily reach AND achieve. It’s a great thing to do, especially if you’re an athlete, or of athletic build, or do weight training (Crossfit etc) like myself. If I didn’t have it done, I’d be sitting here in tears crying about not being able to reach “goal weight” or my “healthy weight” according to the BMI or my Tanita scales, or numerous online programs I’ve signed up to in the past… Turns out I’d have to lose 30kg of muscle to get to that number. So in the grand scheme of things I’ve found having access to that kind of personalised information about my body priceless! 😊 MeasureUp even have a mobile DEXA scanner that travels all over the place doing scans. They’re constantly upgraded and updated, so you’re always getting the most accurate information. I’m in a private health fund, so mine only cost me $65. My scan has helped my PT work out my food guide so it fits within my macros that were outlined in the detailed report I received. http://www.measureup.com.au

    • I’d love to but there is a legal glitch meaning MeasureUp and any mobile scanners can’t come to Tasmania. Next time I get to the big island, I’ll be there! I agree they can be a great tool. Maybe it is 100% accurate here, but I got so much more out of the newer machine DEXA I had done last year.

  3. I have had 2 DEXA’s now and I don’t think I would bother having one again. Mine was at about 33% 9 months ago but I felt amazing and was at my leanest at that point in time. Do we really need machines to confirm how we look/feel?

  4. Wow, I definitely would have guessed less than 32% body fat. I have seen other DEXA scans of ladies around 27% body fat who do not look any leaner than you. Could it perhaps be an issue with the algorithm used?

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