We have one of those body composition scales in our house. This thing doesn’t just tell you how much you weigh, it tells you the percentage of your body that’s water, and the percentage of your body that’s fat.
It tells you how much muscle you have, in pounds, and it tells you how much of you is bone.
It also tells you your basic metabolic rate, expressed as the number of calories it takes to
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run your body at a minimally functional level for a day. And it tells you something called your metabolic age, which it obtains by comparing your basic metabolic rate to the average for your age group. A metabolic age higher than your actual age apparently means you’ re well on your way to an early grave.
We’ve had this thing for a long time, at least 10 years, which means since I was in my early 40’s, and during that time I’ve climbed on it at least once a month — and sometimes much more frequently — to see what the damage was.
And every time the weight would change, up or down, depending on where things were in the metacycle of weight gain and loss. But everything else would remain pretty much the same. Stubbornly so.
My body fat percentage consistently rivaled my water percentage for supremacy. My muscle density fluctuated a few pounds this way or that, depending on whether or not I took the measurements in the morning, fresh out of bed and flaccid, or at the end of the day tense and rigid. And my metabolic age remained pinned at 50, the maximum this particular make and model of body-composition monitor will pin on you, no matter how deathly out of shape you might be.
Until yesterday. When it told me my metabolic age is now 46.
Sure, things have changed. Not quite 12 weeks after the surgery, I’m down 70 pounds. My body fat percentage no longer threatens to overwhelm my water percentage quite so viciously. So it makes sense that this number would change, too.
But I didn’t believe it. I thought, there has to be some mistake. It must be broken. So I stepped off, reset it, waited for it to zero out and then stepped up once more.
Same numbers. Same 46, flashing at me again and again. I even took a picture of it, as if that would somehow confirm the reality.
But I still don’t believe it.
More to the point, despite the obvious objective proof in virtually every area of my life, I find that sometimes I still don’t believe this whole thing — this weight loss and reshaping of my body, this improvement in my health — because I’ve been here before, on the way down and, inevitably, on the way back up. It never took.
It’s gotta be too good to be true.
But this time does feel different. I can’t quite put my finger on why, exactly; I’m still struggling to define it, and maybe I always will, but this is the first time that number’s ever changed. A metabolic age that’s lower than my actual age. That must mean something, right?
After all, scales don’t lie.