Stick to your New Year’s resolutions by monitoring your body composition

A patient receives a body composition analysisIt’s no surprise that weight loss is the number one New Year’s resolution. After weeks of filling up on holiday treats and family feasts, we all feel like we need to make healthier choices.

But there are a limited number of ways to measure these goals and progress at times seems incremental. Stepping on the scale gives you the number you’re most concerned with, but it’s only one measurement and fluctuates daily. Body mass index, or BMI, is another common measurement. However, it’s based on weight and doesn’t give you a precise reading of your overall health.

Body composition analysis is an imaging tool that uses X-ray technology to give you a complete physical profile. You get a clear picture of whether you’re losing fat mass and adding muscle or failing to keep up with your New Year’s goals.

“Body composition analysis gives you valuable data to establish baseline health and monitor your progress over time,” says Jean Schuster, licensed radiologic technologist and manager of Des Moines University Radiology. “Whether you’re someone just starting a workout regimen to lose weight or you’re an athlete looking to improve your performance, it’s a useful tool.”

Scans only take a few minutes and use less radiation than what you’re exposed to on a cross-country flight. Results are available right away so you can compare your current health to previous scans, side-by-side.

In addition to BMI, body composition analysis provides fat mass index, body fat percentage and a trunk to limb fat mass ratio. You receive color images that distinguish between fat, lean muscle and bone mass.

“The results are so precise that you know the muscle to fat ratio of your left arm or right leg,” Schuster says. “It’s a much more accurate picture of your overall health than traditional measurements can offer.”

One of the biggest reasons New Year’s resolutions backfire is because the goals are hard to measure. If you’ve committed to losing weight or improving your health this year, body composition analysis can help you monitor your progress and become one of the few people who actually achieves their New Year’s resolutions.