Almost one third of my body is fat. Whoa. But first, let’s step back a couple weeks to see what led to this.

Around the beginning of March, I was challenged by a friend to run every day – at least one mile – for 22 consecutive days between March 13th and April 3rd. I accepted, of course.

One week into the challenge I’m talking to the same friend again, and we get to talking about body composition. We are often told that Body Mass Index (BMI) is a poor measure of health for an individual because some individuals are extreme outliers. Looking at BMI alone, a muscle-bound body builder is going to get classified as “obese”, and that is obviously wrong. To get a better picture we need to look at measures like body fat percentage.

However, most of us don’t actually know our body fat percentage. We could buy one of those bathroom scales that displays a number, but I’ve been highly skeptical of those as a real measuring instrument for years. But with nothing to compare against, it was just idle cynicism.

Now my friend is telling me “there is a really cool company downtown called BodyComp.” Apparently they can scan your body using X-rays to accurately determine not just total body fat, but also distribution around the body. The technology is called DXA (or DEXA). Elective X-rays? Sign me up! Within 30 minutes I had booked my appointment.

The Scan

Now it’s one week later, I’ve just finished my debriefing with Peter at BodyComp, and frankly I’m shell-shocked. I didn’t expect these results at all. The DEXA scan says I have 29.4 percent body fat, and it includes this dire warning:

For males under the age of 40 a body fat value of greater than 23% is suggestive of increased health risks. You may want to discuss this with your health care provider.


I’m well beyond 23%. In fact, I’m well into the range of being considered obese. Although my Body Mass Index (BMI) is in the healthy range, I have low muscle mass combined with high body fat.

According to “Physiology of Sport and Exercise” by Jack Wilmore and David Costill, obesity can be classified using body fat percentage or body mass index. A man is considered obese when he has a body fat percentage greater than 25 percent. (Livestrong)

This is hard to believe! I’ve always seen myself as a skinny guy, and others have mostly seen me the same way. Only once or twice in the past has somebody warned me that I might actually be “skinny fat” (normal-weight obesity). I always just wrote that off as being unlikely, but now here I am.

Now I know where I’m at, so I can make a plan to correct this. But most of all, I feel motivated.