On Saturday, I went to the Brick House Fitness center in San Jose, where BodySpec was conducting body fat, muscle and bone scans using a General Electric dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scanner (DXA or DEXA) housed inside the BodySpec RV.
I spoke with the Co-Founder and CEO of BodySpec, Jason Belvill, prior to my scan. He was impressed when I showed him my photos of my 30-pound weight loss and openly wished that I had gotten a scan before losing all that weight. I agree! Unfortunately, I didn’t think about getting a body composition baseline while I was in my chubbier state.
The process of being scanned was painless and relatively quick. Ari, the x-ray tech, had me close my eyes in the beginning as the scanner started head-first. Over six minutes, I lay still as the scan head passed over my entire body; now I know what it’s like to be a piece of paper in a Xerox machine! I was a little concerned that the results would be skewed because the whole truck would shake each time the scan head moved; fortunately, the results don’t seem to have been affected. Bringing the DXA to the customers was a good idea on the part of Body-Spec. The company charges $40 for the initial scan ($55 for each scan thereafter), and it sells packages of up to four scans at a discount.
Here are my body composition specs:
- Total Body Fat % = 14.1%
- Total Mass = 140.5 pounds
- Fat Tissue = 19.8 pounds
- Lean Tissue = 114.6 pounds
- Bone Mineral Content (BMC) = 6.2
At 14.1% body fat, I’m in the 0-20th percentile for my age group (under 18%). The scan broke down the composition of my mass, fat, muscle and BMC in the arms, legs, trunk, Android, and Gynoid regions. For instance, my right arm has more lean mass than my left arm, and my left leg is bigger than my right leg. The ratio of Android fat (upper trunk, neck and shoulders) to Gynoid fat (fat that’s concentrate in the hips, upper thighs and buttocks) was very good (0.74. Anything under 1.0 is considered to be good). Looking at the diagram, I still have a bit of red in the inner thighs and sides that I’d like to melt away!
The DXA results are similar to what my FitBit Aria has been recording over the past several months. My weight on the Aria is a tad under 140 pounds and my body fat was calculated to be in the mid-13% range. So, I am inclined to believe in the accuracy of the Body-Spec’s DXA device. That said, I was disappointed but not surprised when I saw the weight had crept up above 140 pounds and my body fat was over 14% (I had been tracking between 136-139 pounds and low-to-mid 13% body fat in the weeks prior). It’s all my fault, though, as I had been eating poorly over the past several weeks — multiple days of burgers, garlic fries, and deep dish pizza will do that to you!
Luckily, the added weight hasn’t affected my runs negatively, and my pull-ups have seen steady progress. Though at times I feel like I’ve been stuck at 20 (max of 21) consecutive pull-ups for weeks, what I’m seeing is actually an ability to do more sets of 20. I’m hopeful that it won’t be long that I’ll be about to hit 22, 23, 24, and my annual goal of 25 consecutive pull-ups. It will be tough, though; I start to get tired at the 15th pull-up. If I can get to 18 without hanging briefly to rest, I know I can make it to 20 or 21. I’m thinking I need that feeling when I am at 20 in order to be able to bust out the remaining five.
There was a rock climbing wall outside of Brick House Fitness. I tested myself on the difficult route twice. The first time I ascended the wall very quickly, but I made use of all the hand and footholds along the wall face. The second time, the guy manning the wall told me only to use the holds on the far right side (save for the initial footholds to get started). It was indeed much more difficult, but I was as to get up to the top while resorting to using two additional footholds on the left. I could feel the benefits of my pull-up prowess and weight loss on the climb. My forearms were a little sore for the rest of the day, but they felt fine the next morning — usually they are burning for several days after rock climbing.
My goals over the next few months is to lower my weight and body fat percentage to 130-135 pounds and by a few percentage points respectively. This will help me reach my annual goals of a sub-20 minute 5K and 25 consecutive pull-ups. I’ve read that one pound is roughly 2 seconds per mile off the average pace, and I need to shave off 12 seconds per mile to break 20 minutes. Not having to pull 5-10 extra pounds will surely help with my endurance for those last five pull-ups too!
Once I hit those goals, I may sign up for another DXA scan to compare with my baseline results from Saturday. For those embarking on an exercise routine, I recommend getting some kind of body composition analysis done, be it a DXA scan, Bod Pod analysis, hydrostatic weighing, calipers test, or a scale like the Aria. Knowing where you are will help you determine where you want to be. And remember, the process won’t happen overnight. It took me five to six months to get to where I am today. Keep track of your exercises, be mindful of what you eat and how much you eat, and be consistent. Losing ounces will lead to losing pounds!