On Monday, I am scheduled to have some testing done: body composition through dexa scan (also called DXA scan), resting metabolism, and Fit3d. I am having them done at my local Dexafit location.
September, 2015 Testing
In September, 2015, I had my body composition tested using the Bod Pod and had my resting metabolism also tested. I posted then in advance of that testing. After the testing, I posted about my results having found (as I expected) that I was skinny fat. That is, I was basically normal weight with a really high body fat percentage.
At that time I found that my resting metabolic rate was 1120 calories a day. That was over a hundred calories less than the RMR that Fitbit used for me which was 1224. I had expected something like that since I never came close to losing what Fitbit would predict I would lose based upon what I had done and eaten.
Your RMR is based very heavily on how much muscle you have. Imagine there are two people of the same weight and one of them has a body fat of 20% and the other has a body fat of 50%. The first person has a lot more muscle than the second so burns more calories.
I knew then that my body fat would be high. On my home scale, it estimated my body fat percentage at 38% that morning. My result, though, was 45.3% body fat. It wasn’t a huge shock. I knew that the scales that measure body fat are not all that accurate. I used mine more for the trend than anything else. Still, that number was depressing.
I knew that the Bod Pod wasn’t a perfect device, but it was more accurate than my home scale. Supposedly, it was very similar to underwater weighing which was also considered more accurate. I knew then that, in recent years, a dexa scan was considered the gold standard. DEXA stands for “dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.” I knew then that dexa (or DXA) scans were used mostly for two reasons. They were primarily used for bone density tests particularly to find out if you are risk of or have osteoporosis or osteopenia. I have had dexa scans for that purpose a few times. I fall in the osteopenia range and expect to get to osteoporosis (I could already be there since I haven’t tested for that in almost 2 years). But, dexa scans can also be used to measure body composition. However, in many areas it wasn’t that easy to find affordable dexa scans for body composition purposes. So, I settled for the Bod Pod since that was the body composition testing method offered where I was having my RMR test done.
December, 2015 Testing
When I had my testing done in September, 2015, I had been doing personal training for several months where I focused on resistance exercise. After the testing, I kept doing it. I then went back and retested on the Bod Pod in December, 2016. I was very disappointed to find that despite all my efforts that fall that my body fat percentage had increased to 46.6%. The tester did explain that this was within the margin of error. When I did the testing in September, I weighed 147.8 pounds. In December, I was at 146.1. Since the weight change wasn’t much, I didn’t redo the RMR testing. I was hopeful that even though I hadn’t lost much weight that I would have gained muscle and lost fat. But, no. The tester said that the two results were close enough that I should not draw any conclusion from the change.
Why Test Now
At the time I thought I would continue to strength train and would retest in 6 months or so. But by 6 months later, I was in the middle of my surgeries and felt it didn’t make sense to retest until after I had my tummy tuck.
I kind of wish I had tested while my weight was down around 140 pounds after my surgery. I didn’t do it then because I was still having swelling and I didn’t want that to distort the results. By the time the swelling went down I had regained part of that weight. When I got back to my new baseline in February of this year, that might have been a good time to retest. But, then I started overeating and quickly regained. And, then, I had the liposuction in May and it was out of the question to retest until the swelling was gone.
I am now 4 months past that surgery. Most of the swelling is gone. Well, there isn’t swelling in the mornings. I still have some swelling in the afternoon. The other day my waistline grew 3 inches from morning to lunch. But, I think I will be fine to have testing in the morning. I also wanted to redo the RMR testing. While I weigh very similar to what I weighed when first tested and I think my body fat is about the same or a little higher, I am 2 years older. Note that age itself doesn’t necessarily change your RMR. Many RMR calculators use age to estimate RMR. But really they are using age and height as a proxy for body fat. That is, a better estimate would be based upon weight and body fat percentage. But, most people don’t know their body fat percentage. Therefore, most calculators use age and height as a proxy. As people get older, they lose muscle. Most people if they don’t engage in strength training will have a higher body fat percentage as they get older and will burn fewer calories even if their weight doesn’t change. And, even though I did strength train until April of last year (hoping to at least keep the muscle I already had), I haven’t strength trained since then until the last few weeks. Therefore, I probably have lost muscle during this time.
When I decided to retest, I thought about going back to the place I went before which was at a hospital sports medicine center that is nearby. But, I wondered if I could find someplace that could do the RMR testing and the DXA scan at an affordable price. I searched online and found Dexafit which seems to be a franchise in a number of cities. It is over an hour away for me to drive to, but that is OK. I liked that they could do both tests. At first, I thought it was a little pricey as the price for each test was $150. I had paid $75 for the RMR testing before and $50 for the Bod Pod. I was willing to pay a little more for the dexa scan but $150 for each seemed steep. They did show a special for the dexa scan of $99 with a Fit3D scan. That was a bit better. But, they also had plans if you wanted to do more tests. The one I liked was a 4 pack which gives 4 DexaFit tests a year and a monthly Fit3D scan for $313 (or $29 a month). Extra tests during the year, if wanted would be $75. This seemed reasonable. I could repeat the dexa scan a couple of times during the next year if I wanted or I could possibly do their other test which is a VO2 max test. So that seemed reasonable and that is what I plan to do.
The tests I plan to do this Monday are the following:
Dexa Scan – This is an easy test. You basically just lay there while the machine scans you. It takes I think 10 minutes or so. The thing I am steeling myself for is that my body fat percentage will likely be higher than it was with the Bod Pod test. You might think it would be less since I had a tummy tuck, breast lift, and upper abdominal liposuction. There are 3 reasons, though, that I expect my result will be higher.
First, the dexa scan is notorious for coming up with higher percentages than other methods. Part of that is because the dexa scan measures all of the fat in your body including visceral fat and the fat in your brain, etc. And, the dexa scan measures you actual bone density instead of relying on a typical formula. Some tests look mostly to subcutaneous fat and estimate the rest of the fat in your body based upon that. I watched some videos on YouTube of people doing dexa scans and read some stuff online and people are routinely getting something 5% or more higher. Based solely on that, I might expect that my body fat percentage will be — ouch — over 50%.
Second, yes, when I had the mommy makeover surgery last year about 2.9 pounds of fat was removed with my loose skin. And, another 1.2 pounds of upper abdominal fat was removed with the liposuction. That by itself would very modestly lower my fat percentage. However, last summer they also removed about 3.5 pounds of skin. That missing skin reduces my lean body mass. So, not much net change due to surgery.
Third, apart from my surgery I have probably lost muscle (due to no strength training for over a year) and gained fat. I have been a bit of a yo yo. My weight is currently about where it was before the tummy tuck so I have gained weight since my new baseline. I think everything I’ve gained is basically fat. On my home scale I am currently tending to show body fat percentages between 39% and 40%. That is higher than I was showing before Bod Pod testing in September, 2015.
Given all of that, I am thinking my body fat percentage will be higher than it was when I tested in 2015. I am guessing it will be 5% to 6% higher. There is a chance it might not be, if the Bod Pod result was less accurate and I was never really at 45% to 46%. But, I am not expecting that. I expect that most of any increase in body fat percentage will be due to the fact I am doing a different body composition test. You can’t compare a dexa scan to a Bod Pod. And, I imagine I probably do have a real increase of a percent or two in body fat.
Even if I test at over 50%, I value the test to give me a baseline that I can use to go back later on and retest after I continue to strength train.
Resting Metabolic Rate – Dexafit apparently does the test using the same method that was used at the other place I went to. You basically wear a mask and breathe into it. Basically the amount of calories you burn are determined based upon measuring the gas you breathe in and out. If I do in fact have a truly higher body fat percentage now than I had in 2015 (that is, not just a higher number based upon a more accurate measurement) then I would expect for my RMR to go down. If my true body fat percentage hasn’t changed (even if it is a higher number on paper because the dexa scan is more accurate), then my RMR might not have changed. I don’t think this is a test that needs to be repeated often, but after 2 years I think it is a good time to check it out.
Fit3D Scan – This is something I had never heard of. Basically you stand on a small platform and are rotated for 40 seconds while your body is measured and photographed. This creates a 3D image of your body. You also get measurements of your body parts. You are given this information online and can compare how you change over time as you get scanned again. I really like this idea. Back when I first got to goal with Weight Watchers, I was given a chart to fill out with my measurements. Weight Watchers had lots of things on there including neck, biceps, thighs, calves, etc. in addition to the more typical chest, waist and hips. I faithfully measured myself every month. But, I was always a little uncomfortable with it because I wasn’t sure how consistent I was at measuring at the exact same spot.
Well, with the Fit3D Scan, you are getting the same places measured and it is far more exact than what I could do. And, you get measurements for each side. If I get this 4 test package, I will be able to do 1 Fit3D Scan a month for a year. I just love this idea.
The one thing I am steeling myself against is the waist measurement. I went and looked up where they measure you. This chart shows the core measurements. Most of them seem fine. But, the waist measurement is at the small of the back. In the photo, that seems to be just below the belly button in the front. I personally usually measure my waist at the natural waist, the narrowest part of the waist. I am now at about 32.25″ at that waist in the mornings. Pre-tummy tuck, I was at 36.5″. That is a huge change. But measured at the belly button I am a few inches larger. I don’t usually think of that as my waist measurement, but I think that is basically where I will get measured with the Fit3D. Maybe they will also give a measurement for the narrowest point, but I am doubting it since it doesn’t show on the measurement guide. Still, I think it is worthwhile. And, measuring the natural waist is one of the easier measurements that I can do myself.
Anyway, I think that the Fit3D will be good to look at to see my progress (or lack of progress as the case may be) over the upcoming months as I try to improve my body composition.