Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Dexa Scan

I recently received an offer to get a DEXA Scan which measures body composition (muscle, fat, bone). As a tinkerer and a stat lover, I love anything that can give me more insight into how to make myself healthier or a faster runner. Also, as a fan of the show Scrubs, all I could think about was the episode where full scans were the bane of Dr. Cox's existence where they showed perfectly healthy people all their imperfections. Obviously not the same thing, it was a nice discussion I had with myself before realizing it wouldn't be a bad idea just to take a peak under the hood anyway.

So off to the Fitness Institute of Texas courtesy of the generosity of the DEXASCAN people I went. I knew the chances were low I would be happy with much of the results I would see, simply because I am fairly hard on myself.  However, this is the best shape I have been in since 2012 so I was glad I was doing it now than just about any other time in the recent past.

I was a bit surprised when I weighed in a good ten pounds more than I normally weigh, especially since I have taken off so much weight this year. But I hadn't run yet for the day and had eaten heartily over the Memorial Day weekend. Another nice surprise was that I was, barefoot, 6'1''. I have been 6'1'' since I was 18 but I know that guys often fib their height a bit. I often joke saying I am the only 6'1'' guy in existence as most who claim they are actually are 5'11.5'' and the ones who are 73 inches, skew upward in their tales. But here I was, no shrinkage or anything at all, (I was in the pool!) proving years of running hadn't shrunk my spine a bit.

The scan was quick and painless, as I simply lied down on some butcherblock paper as the arm of the machine gave me the once over. My pleasant and affable test giver, Rachel, peppered me with questions while we waited. When the results came back, I can say I was both unsurprised and also, as expected, a little disappointed. The biggie was body fat percentage. Mine was supposedly 24.8% which really gave me pause. But in our conversation, Rachel mentioned that if I weighed a bit less the percentage would go down as well, which I didn't think seemed to make sense because the weight alone shouldn't dictate the percentage of body fat. Perhaps I misunderstood her. (Or the scan works with some simple plugging in of weight as a number which makes it a little less exact than I thought.) Since, I already thought I weighed a bit less (and I came home and weighed myself on my own scale at 176) my guess is that it is closer to just under 20%. Still, egads.

That's actually fine. I have already made great strides towards losing fat and building muscle this year, even while not working specifically on that. You see, being a long distance runner and being all ripped do not go hand-in-hand. I remember a good friend of mine once saying he was surprised given al the running I do that I am not significantly more "cut." Well, I sorta eat what I want (in moderation) and running alone doesn't give you that cover of Men's Health magazine build. (Also, thank goodness I have a good sense of self-worth or that comment might have hurt, SCOTT.) It was reassuring to see that my bone density is thoroughly fantastic, so hopefully no new hips anytime in the next three decades. Also, I laughed at the density of my collarbones, both of which I have broken twice and one could actually see where those flimsy porcelain snapsticks had shattered previously.

There were a lot of numbers I didn't fully get a chance to understand but the gist is I have another set of guideposts to help me along on my journey. Sure, we all want to look good in the mirror, and to have fat wrapped around our organs, but the numbers which usually mean the most to me are those on the clock above the finishline as they cruelly tick upward. The less of those numbers I see the better. If I can use this scan to help me get those numbers down, than it was well worth my time.

But I guess I could go do a few more crunches.

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