By FITNESS Magazine | Healthy Living
By Melissa Roth
I am lying on what looks like a cross between a jumbo Xerox machine and a tanning bed at the University of California, Los Angeles, Risk Factor Obesity Program as the big mechanical arm of a DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scanner moves over my head and then down to my feet. I came here to get the latest high-tech body-composition tests and to learn how fast my metabolism is.
Two minutes later a virtual relief map of the muscle, fat, and bone in my body starts to fill in on a computer screen.
"I never would've guessed," says Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, the UCLA professor of clinical medicine analyzing my results, when she reads me the verdict: 40 percent body fat. As in obese. Except I'm a size 8. Here in Los Angeles, that alone can make you a plus size, but at five feet four inches and 148 pounds, I'm really just three or four pounds overweight.
To think that I had actually been looking forward to this visit. Me, the lucky girl who never dieted, never gained the freshman 15 and, until recently, never came close to being overweight. I chalked it all up to my speedy metabolism.
Electrodes are pasted onto my hands and feet for my second test, the bioelectrical impedance analysis. This one pegs my body fat at 32.7 percent, which, I am assured, is the better figure to go with. Translation: I'm not obese, just borderline unhealthy.
I am what is called skinny fat, explains David Heber, MD, PhD, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, who oversees the obesity program. "People can appear to be thin and fit, but their body fat is putting them at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even breast cancer," Dr. Heber says. "A lot of models and actresses who don't exercise are actually skinny fat."
For the next eight weeks I would systematically follow the advice of leading scientists and trainers to reboot my metabolism. What I found out may be the key to keeping yours from ever flatlining. ...more