After a bit of a delay, I managed to get into my local university´s nutrition center for a DEXA scan. I had been burning quite a bit of mental energy around determining what my intentions were with said scan.
Things that are true:
I wanted to find out how much lean muscle mass I had and to work in the future to either preserve said mass or increase it:
I expected that I would have at least decent bone density and wanted to find out if that was true so that, as a perimenopausal woman, I could make sure that I was taking necessary interventions if I needed to.
Things that are bullshit:
Whatever my body fat percentage was, I was going to be ok with that.
I was absolutely not going to use that body fat percentage and the lean mass numbers as a jumping off point to try to change my body composition to lower the body fat and crank up the lean mass.
I was also not going to spend an obsessive amount of time calculating how many pounds I would have to lose to lower my body fat percentage 1%. (Ahem, it´s about 4.5)
Things I expected:
I honestly thought that my lean body mass was going to be around 135-145lbs (out of my current weight of 270), giving me a body fat percentage of around 50%. This was based on my lowest athletic weight of about 145 lbs (in high school) and estimated body fat percentage at that time (around 15%). It was also based on me looking at pictures on the internet of women of different body fat percentages and determining the 50% body looked the most like mine.
I expected my bone density to be at least average. I eat well, I have good vitamin D levels, I powerlift, I ran a marathon, I´ve been carrying a lot of weight on my frame for quite a bit.
I also expected the folks at the nutrition office to have a thin veil over their fat phobia and to gingerly dance around reporting my BMI of 40 and my body fat percentage. I frankly expected to have to do a lot of work around convincing them that I´m mostly ok with where I am and that there are things to celebrate about my body and, in fact, I do balance my unhealthy lifestyle (staying up all night, stressing about life and death situations at work, too much coffee) with healthy things (low-sugar, high protein diet, lots of lifting and martial arts and rowing and walking and swimming).
Overall, I am super-glad I did this. My tech was a dietician who was actually really, genuinely body positive and talking to her was a joy. I was shocked to find out that my LBM is actually almost 160lbs. And my feelings about that are very positive. (I am weirdly ok with objective validation of the fact that I am fucking huge.) I feel athletic and strong. I feel like all of my physical training is paying off. I feel inspired to continue trying to maintain that LBM, even if I do try to lower my body fat. 41% body fat feels like a smaller number than I would have expected. I feel a feeling of balance around trying to reduce that body fat percentage and am pretty darn comfortable with just sitting with my feelings around trying to improve aesthetics, athletic performance, health, aches and pains, flexibility and range of motion. It feels safe to look into making changes for any of these reasons without being self-hating or obsessive. I feel more calm than I thought I would.
My bones are made of fucking concrete. Or concrete and steel. My bone density is off the chart for a perimenopausal woman. It feels awesome to know that for the immediate future I can check off one of the worries about aging and focus more on my new liver spots and the fact that I can´t remember where I put my glasses. (My T-score was 4.3 for all of you stat nerds).
I´m in a pretty big muscle-building phase with my training and plan to go back in 3-4 months and see if there are any changes. For SCIENCE.
The two docs below are my scan documents. The crappy scanning has removed some of the details from the charts and graphs, but you get the picture.