Three Reasons to Thank Your Fat

Weight is a highly controversial subject, with experts all around disagreeing with each other and people trying and discarding methods when they don’t work. If you’re perplexed about why weight doesn’t come off when you’re doing what you think you’re supposed to do, consider the ways in which fat is doing you a big favor.

Much of what we think of as a health problem is really evidence of your body doing the best job it can do to save you. For example, some people think a fever is bad and needs to be reduced, given aspirin, etc. Others think a fever is a good thing: It’s your immune system’s way of burning off a bug. So maybe it’s a good thing. Pain is a language. It tries to tell us “Don’t touch that,” “Ease off,” There’s a problem here,” or “Do less.” And sometimes we make it go away with pills even before we understand the message it’s trying to convey. Overweight is a messenger too. And having more weight than you want may be a service your body is providing:

1) It is where you store extra calories – or energy – until you need to use it. And every single day your fat is saving your life for you. This is because if all that energy stayed in your blood, you’d rapidly die of diabetes. The chart on blood sugar and mood chemistry describes what it may feel like if you are on your way to diabetes.

2) Fat is also a safer storage unit for environmental toxins than your other cells. Exposed to herbicides, pesticides, metals and plastics and other pollutants every day, your body has to figure out where to store that toxic waste until it can unload it. When your body holds it in fat instead of your joints or heart or eyeballs, it’s doing you a big favor.

3) Resistance to weight loss can be a sign that something else is wrong: Your thyroid isn’t working properly, or you aren’t getting enough sleep, or your adrenal glands are flagging, or you are eating foods that you don’t tolerate well or simply haven’t found your way to the style of eating that works best for you. All these situations can make your body hang on to weight.  Even too much exercise can be the culprit if doing too much cardio generates huge amounts of cortisol (stress hormone production). And sometimes the weight isn’t even fat! It’s retained water, whose message is: You are getting exposed to something that is toxic for your body.

So the questions are, “Am I doing things in the right order if I just try to lose weight? Do I need to unload toxins first? Does my fat have an important message for me?" Calorie restriction and/or carb or fat restriction and exercise work for the people for whom they work, and then there is the rest of us.

If your body fights you on weight loss while other things are getting better (mental clarity, energy, mood, labs that measure inflammation and blood sugar, etc.), maybe your fat is still doing you a favor. 

Finally, consider the handout on blood sugar and mood chemistry. Here too, if we think of discomfiting situations like low blood sugar as messengers instead of health problems or vanity issues, we can use the data to fix the problem.

Rate your personal take on how well you are following what you understand to be a healthy diet that ought to lead to weight loss. You can use a scale of 1 to 10, with "1" being you are entirely out of control while "10" means you adhere to the diet you think should be working for you.

Based on what you know about blood sugar and mood chemistry, if you get irrepressible urges to eat or drink, how might these impulses be life-saving messages from your body? What do you speculate gets in the way of weight loss, just in your personal case? In what ways do you suspect your fat might be doing you a favor?