My Body Composition Scan Done! Results May Surprise You..

The MFG got his body composition read – BMI, bone density, lean body mass and body fat %. What does all of this mean? Are the results of any value? Read on my friends! 

When we think of weight loss, we think of shedding pounds of fat. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. Depending on how you lose weight, eat and exercise, you could be shedding muscle, water weight and fat. The scale, however, can’t differentiate between weight loss of muscle or weight loss of water or weight loss of fat.

It’s actually for this exact reason that I typically don’t weigh myself and instead, look to taking before and after pictures. Unfortunately, even that’s not great and it’s hard for me to to tell if I’m losing too much muscle along with fat during my fat loss workouts or if I’m gaining too much fat during my muscle gaining workouts.

On top of this, who has regular access to fancy calipers and scales that can measure your body fat %, bone density, etc.? I don’t!

Until recently that is :)

To my surprise, I had the opportunity to get my body scanned for muscle, fat and bone composition via a DXA (DEXA) scanner. This was done in January 2014, after all that Christmas and New Years celebratory eating and drinking. I will admit I was/am not in the best shape as I could be, but that’s normal for me during that time. And today, my fellow readers, I get to share my results with you and what they actually mean.

How Does The DEXA Scanner Work: 

You lie on a scanning bed as the scanner scans you for about 5 minutes, shooting low level x-rays into you and it measures how much of the rays your body absorbs. It then calculates a value for your bone density, body fat % and lean body mass (muscle).

What’s also interesting is that it compares your value to an average value of someone in your age, gender and race category. This will give you an idea if you’re average, above average, below average for bone density, body fat and lean body mass.

It also prints out an image of your body and color codes the body composition: blue = bone, red = muscle and yellow = fat.


Bone Density: 

I have healthy dense bone. Not particularly surprising as I’m male, eat dairy regularly and resistance train. Bone density value is typically used to diagnose people with osteoporosis.

Body Mass Index (BMI): 23

According to my BMI, I’m within average range but very close to being classified as overweight.

BMI is not a great measure beyond how much “stuff” is in your body. That stuff, however, could be muscle too and big guys with very high muscle content (eg. power lifters, body builders, hockey players) could also get a high BMI reading, falsely classifying them as overweight or even obese.

Body Fat %: 16

This tells me how much fat I’m actually storing.

So of my 165 lbs, 26.4 lbs of that is fat.

Body Image:

The color coded figure actually shows me where that fat is stored and where I’m building muscle. According to these results, I have a thin layer of fat all around, but majority of it is around my torso and thighs.

In terms of muscle, I have significant muscle on my upper body, chest and legs. My arms could use some work (no surprises there!)

The Problem with Dexa Scan Results: 

I find it very interesting how the results compare you to the average. I’m still undecided if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I remember seeing some fairly overweight people looking at their results that are ‘just below’ or ‘just above’ average and think that they’re, for the most part, healthy. Some of them are even proud of this!

The problem with this thinking, in my opinion, is that the average is just that - an average. It’s like patting yourself on the back for getting a C when everyone else in the class got a D. Is that really the bar we want to set for ourselves? I don’t think so.

The average values of which we are compared to are based on what the typical person would be for my age, gender and race. That’s right; I’m compared to the average 34 year old, Chinese man, living in North America.

In my mind, this ‘average person’ won’t be particular active, won’t eat particularly well, and is probably too occupied by family, work, etc to incorporate health and fitness into his daily life. That person is also likely to not live in a health conscious city like Vancouver. From this perspective, this average person isn’t the average I’d like to be compared to and I would likely consider him to be unfit.

To compare me to that person isn’t particularly raising the bar of fitness and health. If my body composition was similar to his, I’d be a bit concerned. If my values are worse than his, I’d be very concerned.

Instead, I’d rather look at the actual values I got. I know that I have a BMI of 23, a body fat % of and a lean body mass of and it’s just a matter of improving those numbers to my liking.

Bottom Line: All in all, I’m happy with my results. But more importantly, it’s a great starting point and gives me an idea of where to go next. Now it’s just about how to get there.. Stay tuned for that!

MFG Gives Hot Yoga (aka HOYO) A Shot!

The Mighty Fit Grasshopper is all about high intensity training – supersets, boxing workouts, complexes, “Spartacus training”, and functional training to name a few, and don’t forget the more conventional training methods like ‘body building’ training and steady-state cardio. And now I get to add one more to the repertoire: Drum roll please….. HOT YOGA. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Read on for more! 

For those that aren’t familiar: hot yoga is, to the lay person, essentially yoga done in a temperature controlled room at 40 deg C (105 deg F) and at a humidity of 40%. That’s about it! It gets hot, sweaty and smelly.

Why I Didn't Rush To Yoga

I’ve never had the pleasure to do yoga before and always wanted to give it a try to see what all the hoopla is about. On the surface, it’s not something that I had to do and I’m not a fan of the lululemon apparel (on me that is). From a workout standpoint, I don’t really see any significant muscle-building, cardiovascular benefit potential and, in my opinion, people that are lean and in great shape ‘doing yoga’ already live an active, healthy lifestyle and eat well.

When you look at calorie burning effect, functional strength or muscle hypertrophy, yoga doesn’t appear to hit these parameters either.

And on top of that, a yoga session could last about 45-90 minutes long – a fairly inefficient ‘workout’ for what you’re getting. It’s also not particularly cheap either, classes can cost anywhere from $25 or more per session, while my gym is in my apartment :)

So What Happened?

Anyway, enough of the ‘bashing’.. So this is my first class and, contrary to what you may be thinking right now, I’m there with an open mind. I really love the atmosphere and also note the cleanliness of the facility. Given how sweaty and smelly the session could get, I was happy to see the efforts taken to maintain a clean and odour-free environment.

I’m the only one in the class that’s a beginner, so the instructor just asks me to follow along the best I can. It was interesting to see the workout gear that people were wearing – essentially, not much. Guys were only in shorts and the ladies were in tiny shorts and tops. Considering how hot it gets, that makes sense. I was obviously ‘over-dressed’.

To my surprise, I was quite comfortable with this temperature. 40 deg C is quite warm but I was expecting hotter. I sweat a lot when I work out and boy did I in this session.. Again, that said, the temperature/humidity didn’t bother me at all and I kind of liked it.

The instruction was pretty much non-existent, most likely, because I’m the only newbie in the class (why slow down the rest of the gang?). And we ran through one pose after the next. I was familiar with some poses, while others not so much. My balance wasn’t great on any pose involving only one leg and, on top of that, my knee was tweaked somehow in the middle of the session (my knee is hit and miss).

There was a lot of emphasis on stretching, posture, breathing and there were stability/core-like poses that I would equate to exercises like the plank and lunges.

How Did I Find The Class? 

To summarize my thoughts of this session of hot yoga – it’s like a karate warm up session done during the summer time. I remember my days in karate class – the warm up sessions consisted of no hitting/striking, but stretching and poses for not just 30 seconds but maybe 2-5 minutes and the stances were performed even ‘lower’/more difficult than that found in the yoga sessions.

Would I Do Yoga Again?

To that note, I enjoyed the yoga session. It wasn’t something that I found painful or grueling – it was a very relaxed atmosphere, except when I found myself clumsily trying to mimic a pose. Would I do it again? You bet and here’s why:

Typical workout routines you find at the gym – circuit training, crossfit, supersets, powerlifting, and the like are great but they all belong on one end of the spectrum. I would classify these exercises as having “yang” energy.

But yoga class is the other end of the spectrum where the emphasis is on stretching, opening up of the torso, and proper body alignment. It’s the very opposite of conventional workouts. I would classify yoga as having “yin” energy.

I’m a true believer that duality exists in everything and it is harmony in this duality that we seek.

We see this duality everywhere (eg. dark/light; negative/positive; love/hate; alive/death) , one cannot exist without the other.  When you're training hard (eg. crossfit, weight training, etc), yoga is a means that contributes to this duality.. If you haven’t tried it, I invite you to.

Bottom Line: Hot yoga doesn't build muscle nor does it help your cardiovascular health. That said, yoga is as important as any other workout. The element of stretching, posture, and deep breathing directly counters that of more conventional workouts. This ‘counter’ effect is exactly why it’s so important to do both as it is the harmony between these two spectrums of exercise where we find the meaning of ‘physically healthy’.
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