Friday, December 18, 2015

I'm famous! (Sort of) Plus some talk about 3D printing to aid weight loss

I've finally been in a podcast!

You can listen to it here:

So what is this "3DLILA" thing? LILA stands for "Late in Life Athlete". My friend who does the 3DLILA blog is also someone who became athletic later in life. She's a runner. And has also struggled with her weight. Which is where the 3D comes in.

There are these new technologies out that measure a person's size by scanning them. This is then translated into measurements. And, at a company called Shapely, they have technology that can scan anything and print it out on a 3D printer. LILA is getting little statues of herself throughout her current fitness project. It's a way to measure progress that isn't about a number on the scale. I would also think that having a model of yourself would help with body dysmorphia as you could really see in a physical, touchable way, how your size and shape is change.

I have also participated in a 3D project. The company Fit3D uses scanners to measure you. They don't print a doll of you but you do get a image to look at online. They were running a fitness contest through Sports Basement and I entered to (a) hold myself accountable during the holiday season -- to not gain weight rather than to try to lose it and (b) to check out the technology.

The challenge cost $20 to register and it included "unlimited" scans. Now this sounds pretty cool. Until you think about how slow you are to lose inches. When I was losing 10 to 20 pounds a week, I'd do my measurements once a month. And most would go down about .5 to 1 in. When I got down to losing the last 30 pounds, the measurements went down even slower.

The contest lasted six weeks. Which means, if I was trying to lose weight, and I had lost about 10-20 pounds, maybe my last scan would show the difference. Maybe. It would depend on how accurate the scans were.

I ended up getting scanned every two weeks on Sunday. I tried to always have to same sports bra and pants on. (I may have changed from the first scan to the second but for the 2nd and 3rd I was in identical clothes.) I also cut my hair right before the last scan.

Here are my results:

Weight Bust Waist Hips Thigh (L) Thigh (R) Calf (L) Calf (R) Biceps (L) Biceps (R) Forearm (L) Forearm (R)
129 36 32.1 39.9 22.1 22.7 14.9 14.3 13.3 12.8 11 10.1
130 36.4 33.2 39.7 22.4 22.8 15 14.4 13.2 11.8 10.9 9.6
132 35.5 32.3 39.7 22.1 22.8 15 14.5 12.7 12.6 11.1 9.9

As you can see, my waist and bust went up about an inch between scans one and two. There were no other indications that I had gotten bigger. I had actually lost a pound or two. My clothes still fit the same. I didn't think to take my measurements myself so I don't know how the scans compared to using a tape measure.

Also, my neck measurement (not included here) was HUGE! This is my own fault as I did not tie my hair back as they suggested. I had no hair tie and my hair isn't that long. But it was down past my neck and the scanner wasn't sophisticated enough to realize it was measuring hair and not neck. As my hair grew, the measurement got bigger until I cut it all off (mostly) above the neck and the measurement went back down close to what it should be.

My bust and waist also went back down although the scanner was still saying my bust was 1/2 inch bigger than when I started. All other measurements bounced up and down a bit but within a reasonable margin of error. The only exception is my biceps where I supposedly lost almost an entire inch on the right side in two weeks but then miraculous gained it back two weeks later. And on the left side, I supposedly went up half an inch and stayed there. This is actually possible as I had been strength training, but given all the other bounce, I'm going to assume it was just noise.

In the end, it was an interesting experiment but I think the scanner technology they used just isn't accurate enough to be used in a fitness challenge. Even if I had scanned only once a month, it would have been possible for real losses to be hidden by scanner error. Maybe if you had 100+ pounds to lose, it would work better (as the losses would be clearer) but you'd also be losing pounds like crazy on the scale and so would be getting better feedback more frequently as to progress. Plus the scans are external only so they still wouldn't tell you if you were losing fat vs. muscle.

It's really the people who have 30 pounds or less to lose who need to know how their body composition is changing. When you are losing slowly and don't have much to lose, the scale can be frustrating. So having unlimited body composition scans could be helpful. I don't know of any company that does comprehensive and accurate body composition scans cheap enough that most people could afford to get scanned every couple of weeks though.

There is one good thing that came out of my experiment. As an incentive, Fit3D gave me a $10 credit as the Watsi site and I was able to donated it to gentleman who needed medical care. I just got a notice yesterday that his care has now been fully funded!

For more information on the Shapely and Fit3D products:

And a link to check out Watsi

And finally, check out my friend's blog: 3D LILA

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