Friday, June 5, 2009

Dexa Body Scan

As I continue to explore the Ranch I have been able to experience more and more of the unique offerings that define Canyon Ranch as not only a spa to pamper yourself, but a cutting edge preventive medical facility.

When Nicole and I first joined Canyon Ranch, I wanted to know my body-fat percentage so I could then assess if my exercise and healthy eating was paying off. Of course, understanding your body-fat percentage is easier said than done. Apparently there are about 10 different ways to measure this body characteristic and none of them are as easy as stepping on a scale in your bathroom. You can hold onto a machine with your hands and it will give you an estimate, some places dunk you in water to see how much volume is displaced, there are calipers, and then there is the granddaddy of them all, the DEXA body scan. Eight months ago I opted for the quick, down and dirty estimate by the calipers, which should give you an estimate within 3% plus or minus of your true body fat percentage. From that reading and your weight, a personal trainer can then calculate your lean body weight (muscle and bone) and the amount of weight attributed to fat.

The DEXA body scan however, is supposed to be accurate to less than a 1% of your actual body fat percentage. Even better, the machine actually measures your bone density so you can see if you are above or below average for your peers or are at risk for osteoporosis. Now, before you start asking me what type of snake oil I sell, let me tell you a little bit more about the equipment. The DEXA machine is an industrial grade medical scanner built and manufactured by GE. The device measures your body composition, by scanning you with the equivalent of a low (emphasis on the low) powered x-ray. How low, you may ask? Dr. Param Dedhia, the newest addition to our elite medical staff, who came to us from Johns Hopkins Hospital, said it is less than a guest would receive in an airplane traveling from New York to Tucson for a visit to the Ranch. I’m fine with that, but I didn’t know I was subjected to any radiation while traveling in an airplane.

Anyway, for my troubles of lying down on a table for 5 minutes, I was provided with a great report on my body fat, lean muscle mass and bone content. The report actually shows you a scan of your skeleton! Although I absolutely refuse to share my results with the World Wide Web I will tell you I have lost a grand total of 16 pounds since I joined the Ranch 8 months ago (and that wasn’t even my goal!). The best part, though, is I have hard numbers that I can refer to when I do the scan again in 6 months, then a year, and a year after that to see whether I’ve gained more muscle or bone density and lost fat. Unlike the caliper numbers which unfortunately differ based on the person administering the test, these numbers don’t lie.

Live healthy!

Ken Morris