My Big Fat DEXA Scan

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).

The results:

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.

Doc Sep 19, 2017, 11:12

Doc Sep 19, 2017, 11:13


Hey Ho, let’s go!

I once stayed up all night delivering a baby and then curled up on the couch, water bottle clutched in my hand, squeezing my eyes shut for 15 minutes before my ride picked me up to go to a race.  I PRed by something like three minutes because I got to the starting line and said something to myself like “I’m totally wrecked, there’s no chance that I’m going to do well, so I might as well run as fast as I can until I run out of gas and just call it a day.  Fuck it.”  And then I took off, unhindered by fear of pacing myself too fast, dehydrated and wiped out and ran really, really hard through the hills of my town and had to blink my eyes when I saw the clock at the end.

I also have days, though, where the demands of mother-wife-daughter-sister-friend-midwife-community member leave me so knackered that all I want to do is lie on my bed, eating avocado toast and watching youtube.  And I do.  Until sweet slumber takes me and keeps me past the time I have to workout if I want to do so before the day’s responsibilities have me reigned in.

One of my best friends, pinkhairedchickenmama, and I are starting this blog to talk about our day to day efforts to achieve pure awesomeness in the pursuit of athletic goals meaningful to us.  This blog is about the pendulum swing between working out *really, really hard* to try and do things that we shouldn’t be able to do, like run marathons, get black belts in martial arts, lift cars, you know, things like that, and the opposite end of the spectrum, which is practicing radical self-care and being just fine with where we are right now.  We’re both midwives on call 24-7.  We’re both parents.  We sometimes don’t sleep for days.   We’re both fat.  These are our challenges and also the things that make us strong.

Pinkhairedchickenmama wants to lose a bunch of weight and be really strong and run long distances; I want to run another marathon in about 5.5 hours (and raise a shit ton of money for midwives in the process).  I want to eat a whole lot better than I do right now. I want to be able to lift completely mind-blowing amounts of weight.  I have mixed feelings about how weight loss ranks with my other goals in my pursuit of total awesomeness.  We’re different that way.  It’s ok.

I want to give big fat juicy smooches to the writers who have been so active in the fat positivity movement.  They have paved the way for a lot of people to be comfortable in their own skin.  I’m comfortable in my own skin.  I think that pinkhairedchickenmama is comfortable in her own skin too.  But we also want to make a space for it to be ok to want to change our bodies too for lots of reasons — for speed, for agility, for aesthetics.  We might whine.  But mostly you’ll just see awesome here.  Lots and lots of awesome.  A “plus -size” amount of awesome.