So. This is the second draft of this post/newsletter. And it’s the second draft, because in the first one I used the Fear of Fat to help motivate you to try a stress reduction technique.
Yes. I did that.
Because what do we fear deeply in our health and wellness in Western culture?
Getting fat and gaining weight.
And because most of us have that fear (‘don’t gain weight at the holidays!’) I was going to use it to motivate you.
I can’t do that.
Instead, a mini-tutorial on fat.
Because we need to stop being irrationally afraid of it.
(Rational fear is fine. Irrational is not.)
[We will get to the stress reduction part; keep reading.]
One: Fat Can (Sometimes) Reduce Your Lifespan
The main reason health and wellness folks fear fat is because excess weight has to be stored somewhere by the body, and it is often stored around vital organs and- last resort- in your arteries and veins. If you do not exercise, or if you have certain genetic predispositions, or a family history of heart disease, this fat storage can cause heart disease. And heart disease is still the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. Fat storage in the arteries can also cut off blood flow to vital organs- sometimes resulting in heart attack or stroke.
This is a legit reason to fear fat and fatty deposits.
Two: If You Exercise, Fat Will (Most Likely) Not Kill You
If you carry excess fat tissue but you do cardio 5x/week for 30 mins each go, you’re much less likely to have heart disease or other poor health indicators associated with excess weight and fat. Don’t believe me? Please see all this data from The Fat Nutritionist.
If you are overweight, exercising – cardio, heavy breathing, sweat- will reduce your likelihood of developing health problems or diseases normally associated with being overweight.
Don’t fear fat; fear not exercising.
Three: What Size Feels Good?
Humans come in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors. I think that creativity on the part of our genetic code (and maybe some Universe magic) is pretty cool. Look at all the variety- it’s miraculous!
With regards to fat, as long as you’re exercising- what size feels good to you? And why?
If you want to ‘be skinny’ because that’s more highly valued in society, then okay!
But at least know that’s why you’re doing it.
If you want to lose weight because you feel heavy and uncomfortable, then okay!
But at least know that’s why you’re doing it.
If you want to stay at the weight you’re at because it feels good, then okay!
But at least know that’s why you have the goals you do.
When I work with clients, we are always shooting for ‘feeling good in my body’ and making sure that the standard of ‘feeling good’ is not based on social expectation (i.e. Barbie or models or knowing she’ll ‘go farther’ because she weighs less). Feeling good in our bodies helps us be confident and energized.
Holidays are not a legit reason to fear fat, k? If you fear fat cuz you gotta keep a certain weight to please other people or society at large- that’s not healthy and we should probably talk.
My beloved readers, that is the shizz on fat. There is only one half-way decent reason to fear it, but that reason can be obliterated with exercise. So I am not going to use fear of fat to coerce or motivate anymore.
And now, on to that tip for reducing holiday stress.
Most women these days are carrying low-grade stress every day. Over time, this stress can wreck a lot of things, including hormones, hormonal systems, digestion, joints, the menstrual cycle, and metabolism. The holidays only add to this stress.
So I’d like to offer you one tool to potentially create less stress for yourself: eat what you want.
It sounds a bit crazy, I know, but there is something particularly important about stress and eating. When you are stressed, or stress out about food, the hormones that are released are essentially telling your body, “OH MY GOD, there’s something awful happening and WE MIGHT NOT EAT AGAIN FOR MONTHS! Save the calories! Pack those babies away for future use!”
The part of our brain related to stress and food function is very old, very deep, and hasn’t caught up to modern times.
In essence, our cave-lady brain understands that if we are stressed, something awful is happening in our environment, something that might threaten our basic safety. Our cave-lady brain is still worried that stress means there will be no buffalo meat this winter, or that the gathering of the carb-loaded moss wasn’t enough and we may starve. So the stressed brain/body holds on to whatever calories it gets and stores them as fat, because it thinks a crisis is happening and we should have adequate stores of energy to deal with it.
If, however, we try to reduce our stress, and especially if, when we eat, we don’t stress out, we’re telling our bodies ‘everything is just fiiiiine, chill out, dear one’ and our bodies believe us. The body processes food more efficiently (funny things like producing more saliva, which aids digestion) and creates less fat tissue because the calories aren’t needed for ‘just in case’ scenarios.
What do you do then? You enjoy your food.
You enjoy the act of eating it.
You savor every bite and texture and flavor and indulge in it.
You tell your body: this is not stress, this is pleasure.
You breathe deeply, you eat slowly, you smile.
And your body will process the food much more efficiently and effectively. Your body will also be getting better access to the nutrients it needs to build hormones (and all the other parts of your body). And you’ll be reducing your stress levels and helping your hormones function more normally.
Final round up: don’t fear fat. Fear not getting your heart rate up. Fear not enjoying your food. Fear the havoc of high-stress. If fear has to motivate us (and sometimes it does), let’s fear these things. And, in turn, let us move with joy, eat with joy, and feel joy as a reply to that fear.
Love you, strong babes!
Joanna :: xoxo