Big boned and sturdy are not strangers to my ears.
I have trudged through numerous diets and exercise regimes, the ominous millstone of BMI weighing heavy around my neck.
And I have always felt my body was being judged unfairly.
So when I heard there was a fancy service in Bank that could measure exactly how much fat and lean mass I was carrying I was intrigued.
Bodyscan is the only DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) body composition facility in London, although the technology is reportedly used by sports teams including Arsenal and England Rugby.
It was brought over here by Phil Chant who discovered it while working in corporate marketing in Australia.
And with more than half of women and two-thirds of men in the UK now overweight or obese, he believes it is a vital tool in helping people understand their bodies.
“BMI is a lousy way of measuring body fat composition because it is affected by muscle,” said Phil who took a radiography course before launching the business in Marylebone in 2014.
“I have had bodybuilders come in who have been told they have an unhealthy BMI. It is really worrying how many doctors and health professionals are still using it.”
Men have to strip down to shorts and woman don a fetching hospital gown for the scan, which involves lying on a floating table as the £100,000 machine passes over your body.
It takes four minutes of absolute stillness so the best option is to close both eyes and be lulled by the gentle ribbiting noise it makes.
While getting changed Phillip prints out my three page report, including an image that shows my bones, muscle and fat in all their glory, and they are quite the eye-opener.
All my results will also be emailed to me but he spends 40 minutes explaining them in detail.
He uses his database of 1,300 women and 2,700 men as comparison to tell me which percentile I am in for various readings.
One of the most pertinent is Fat Mass Index - my visceral fat in proportion to my height but I also get a breakdown of how much is on each arm, leg and my torso.
I’m not surprised to discover I have too much – especially around my middle – but I am daunted to discover I am near the upper end of the table. Especially as Phil said a lot of his clients were dieters.
The real wake up call is my VAT reading which shows the high level of “bad fat” there is around my internals organs.
This is associated with heart disease, type-two diabetes and stroke but doesn’t show up on a BMI reading.
“Take sumo wrestlers – they are morbidly obese on the outside,” said Phil, “but usually have a very low VAT reading because they exert so much energy pushing each other out of the ring.
“So BMI really wouldn’t be a true reflection of their bodies.”
But it is not all bad news – there is even more of a shock in store with my lean mass readings.
Phil tells me I have “bones of steel” putting me in the 95th percentile of clients and far from the reaches of osteoporosis, and the muscles of an amateur body builder. Yes, I am a female Wolverine.
I feel vindicated for every time I protested to my mum, the changing room mirror and my diet coach that I was “heavy boned”.
Phil also points out helpful information such as my arms being relatively less muscular (damn, that means more press-ups) and one leg being more toned than the other.
He then explains how much fat I should aim to lose and how many calories I should be eating to achieve a healthy target loss of one pound a week.
“Many Bodyscan clients know they’re heading towards poor health and have a body scan to give themselves a kick up the pants,” said Phil.
Yes, it is pricey, starting at £159 for one scan and consultation, but I feel the important information it imparts is worth the money.
My confidence is buoyed, knowing I am on the right track with a low-carb Keto diet and will be back in three months to check I’m losing fat not muscle mass.
I leave with a purposeful stride, determined to melt that layer of cushioning away and reveal my superhero physique beneath.
Prices for a single DEXA scan with consultation cost £159, with packages ranging up to £499 for five scans.
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