Body Fat Testing: Lessons in Self-Testing Volume 1

In a bid to start being more informed about the changes I make, rather than focusing on arbitrary goals such as weight, my first round of self-testing found me at the Body Composition Center in Redwood City for body fat testing.

I turned up for my appointment and was told that I would first be weighed and my height measured before my scan.  My weight was a little more than my home scales presumed, but no biggie.  The big shock was that I am a whole inch shorter!!  I even asked her to check again… but alas I measured in at 5 feet 6.5 inches, a whole inch shorter than I recalled being.

Still reeling from the blow, I followed the technician in to the scanning room, at which point she explained to me how their testing was some of the most accurate, and having seen a 125-pound person with 30% body fat and a 125-pound person with 15% body fat, these scans are truly a much better means of understanding just how your health is ‘weighing in’.

As I lay on the table for the 4 minutes that the DXA scan takes, I started reading the posters on the wall about osteoporosis.  Some of the key indicators of this condition are stooping forward at the shoulders, loss of height….. suddenly I found myself getting rather nervous and caring rather less about my body fat in light of the fact that with my recent shrinking I must obviously have osteoporosis.

The technician re-entered the room and I somewhat with panic asked if bone density was also included in my scan.  She assured me it was, and then took me through my scans.  Check this out:

Bone Density and Body Scan

So – apparently when you’re 30 your bones are fully developed, and everything from there is downhill.  My bones though are +1 ( See ‘Age-Matched Z Score’ above), which means better than a 30 year old.  Result!!  This is good.

On to the body fat.  So the green zones below are low in fat (phew, my head is in the clear), the yellow medium and the red is the stuff that is really just not necessary.  At a first glance I feel like this is no huge surprise.  The next slide though is much more interesting – and really encouraging:

Scan page 2

What you’re looking at here is the percentage of fat broken down in to each area of my body.   The Region % Fat – Column 2 from the left – is the stuff you’ve potentially got to lose.  The ‘total’ field in this column (below Gynoid) is your total body fat.  The technician told me that at 24% I just slip in to the ‘athletic’ category – the bottom 3% of what they see come through their testing rooms!

This certainly has been a learning experience for me – I’d highly recommend it.

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