December 08

The BodPod. Facing the Fat.

Taking a very short breather from an intensely dull title investigation, I thought I would update you as to my progress. In the last post, I mentioned that I was going to go and get my fat measured at the University of Westminster in something called the Bodpod. I did that on 8 November. I turned up at a strange side entrance to the University where I was met by a lovely man called Dinesh Shah. Dinesh has clearly never had any problem with his weight and is rake thin. He guides me through the labyrinthine passageways of the University to a research room. Behind a medical type curtain, I am asked to remove my clothing and jewellery and don a swimming costume and a plastic swimming hat. A plastic swimming hat is never a good look at the best of times and I am glad there is no mirror. I check out the famous pod. It is like one of those old-fashioned side carriages from a motorbike. Fortunately, it also has a vision panel so I  do not feel completely claustrophobic.

You sit in the pod for a few minutes and during that time, the door is opened twice. The machine uses air displacement technology (whatever that is) and feels like the sort of pressure that you sometimes experience when an aeroplane takes off, or you go in a fast lift to the top floor. It is, apparently, considered to be the “gold standard” of body composition measurement. It can detect even small changes in body fat and lean body mass, which is what I want. I am keen on it because I know that weight is not a good measure for me and because it fluctuates too much and also I get fixated on it.

Given that, I was not expecting to get on the scales as part of the process but there was no choice.

When I first got measured, I had already been watching my weight for a few weeks. At my very worst on my new scales, I was 12st 6. By 8 November, these were my statistics:

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When handing me my little bit of paper, Mr Shah commented that my body fat was in the “risky” category and that was a good thing that I had started to do something about it. I confess that I had not expected to be in the risky category. Fat, yes but not risky. I have to say that the reality of the “risky” was helpful to me and meant that I could no longer kid myself that it wasn’t actually that bad.

So having had a month of really healthy eating, cutting out quite a lot of high GI carbohydrate, eating tons of vegetables, drinking very little alcohol, upping my water intake, not weighing myself at all, doing moderate exercise (not very much to be honest) these were the results:

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You can see for yourself what has happened. My body fat reduced by 3.6%. My lean weight went up. That means more muscle, which is good.

 I was also interested to see how this compared to BMI.

At 12 stone 6, on the BMI scale I was in the obese category at 30.8. Obese. Nice.

At my first measurement  11 stone 10, I had gone down to simply overweight at 29

At my measurement today, 8th of November at: 11:5 I had gone down to overweight at 28.1

BMI says that I should be 25 and at a weight of between 7st 6 and 10st 2. At 7st 6 I would look like I was dying of a wasting disease.

What I am fascinated to learn is what my weight will be when I am at a  healthy body fat, recommended to be at 25 to 30% for my age.

Obviously today I wanted to see a dramatic weight loss (the curse of the scales) but frankly, a just under 3% reduction in body fat suits me fine. And in reality, I have lost about a stone since I started doing this a couple of months ago and that isn’t bad. It means that if I carry on as I am, it will be 5 to 6 months until I am at a healthy body fat level. I already feel so much better and I’m not finding it difficult. Facing the fat has been easier than I thought. Looking at it as a medical issue rather than a vanity issue has made all the difference.

Onwards and downwards.