One of the things I’m ever conscious off, particularly with having a young daughter, is the impact of language and how we, and me in particular, talk about my body.
I’m pretty happy with my lot in life; mid 30’s (just about!) and three children on and I think I’m in decent shape. I look after myself by working out; running or in the gym, and I am getting much better at eating a broader variety of food. I am never going to be the size 0 I was 11+ years ago, and nor would I want to be. I am happy with where I am, and it’s important for me that the children see Damian and I being active and looking after ourselves.
Whilst I am all for the body confidence movement – there really is something very wrong with the models that we see in magazines and catalogues – they’re so airbrushed beyond recognition that it really skews the ideas of what women look like. I’m pretty relaxed and have never been overly hung up on these sorts of images, but the Instagram generation and the such makes it harder and harder to escape, and I’m not sure, if I was a 15/16 year old today, I’d be quite as comfortable as I was in my own teenage years.
That said, I do struggle when I see images of heavily overweight people being held up as aspirational models – the ultimate in body confidence. They may well feel healthy, and not care what others think of them, but there is overwhelming evidence about the impact of excessive weight on overall health and wellbeing and I think we do our children a disservice if we aren’t honest about this. There’s also the effect of the unseen fats too – you can be ‘skinny fat’ whereby you might seemingly be on the slimmer end of the scale but you’re actually hiding some dangerous internal fats.
I was recently asked if I’d like to undertake a DEXA Scan. When I read about it it sounded really interesting, and working on my lean muscle/reducing fat has been a big thing for me over the last 12 months. Unfortunately, the nearest one to me is in Edinburgh so not one I can make easily. The more I read around the DEXA scan the more interested I have become and it’s something I am really keen to have a try of if one closer to home ever becomes available.
What is a DEXA scan?
A DEXA scan – or to take its full name a ‘dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry’ uses x-ray technology to determine the distribution of lean muscle, fat, water and bone in your body. The DEXA results are highly accurate and highly reproducible. It essentially works by passing two safe and very low dose x-ray beams at differing energy levels through the tissues of the body. The amount of radiation that passes through the tissue is measured by a detector. The computer then determines how much of your tissue is muscle fat water or bone and where it’s all stored.
I’ve used various things in the past to try and work out my body fat percentage and I’m never entirely convinced of their accuracy but the DEXA scan sounds perfect. The whole thing takes about seven minutes and the results are available instantly.
What interests me
One of the things that really interests me is the bone density element. I have a real risk of developing osteoporosis in later life (family genetics) and a DEXA scan would highlight where my bone density is at now. I have made a conscious effort to work on lifting weights as this is one way of improving bone density. Looking at the list of reasons to get a bone density scan I do hit a couple of these so, for me, it’s certainly something to consider in the future.
Understanding our bodies
It’s only really over the last 12-18 months that I’ve really begun to appreciate what I need to do to keep my body fit, healthy and strong. My aim, when working with my personal trainer, has always been to be able to keep lifting my children! They’re not getting any lighter and, sadly, I’m not getting taller. But to power this I’ve had to re-teach myself some of the basics about food and what I need to do to grow and maintain my strength. Understanding the composition of my body has helped all this, and I think if more people understood the makeup of lean muscle and fat, the body confidence movement would see another switch to looking at things in a different way.
You can read more about DEXA Scans, including the available locations and pricing here.