Nowadays fat has a bad rap.
We hate it.
We fear it.
We name it.
We blame it.
We shame it.
Some people will do whatever they can to destroy it and eliminate its "wrath" from their lives. But who ever said that fat was ugly, degrading, or something to be ashamed of?
Who ever said that fat was a bad thing?
And who ever said that fat was anything other than... fat?
Since it IS such a prevalent "enemy" in today's world and it's not going away anytime soon, we might as well learn about it, right? In fact, if all we do is hate on fat and wish it away, we might miss out on its useful (and downright cool) characteristics!
Here are three reasons why your fat deserves a bit of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
1. It's just fat
Your elbow is just an elbow. Your eyebrow is just an eyebrow. And your fat... is just fat.
But just like every other part of your body, your fat has an actual job to do. In many cases, it's job is to protect you.
Not only will your stored body fat keep you alive if your body experiences a food shortage while roaming the desert or while stranded on a deserted island, but fat takes care of us in various other ways too.
Fat not only cushions and protects your vital organs, insulates your body against heat loss, and protects nerve tissue, but (ladies) it also helps regulate your menstrual cycles.
2. Your fat is very smart.
You may regard fat as this stubborn, squishy substance that you wish would disappear, but in reality, fat is simply a tissue. Technically it's adipose tissue.
Now just roll with me for a minute...
Back in 1864 a guy by the name of John Hilton came up with a theory that is well known today and frequently taught in anatomy courses.
Hilton's Law (as it's called today) states that "the nerves that supply any muscles and its joints are also supplying the skin and surrounding tissues relating to that particular joint."
Here is why this is so cool:
Your muscles and joints are constantly communicating with your nervous system, but so is your fat. That means that every time your brain sends a signal to your elbow to flex that bicep muscle, it's also sending a signal to the surrounding tissues and fat.
But it doesn't just stop there.
More recently the Department of Dermatology at Queens Medical Center in the U.K. did an entire study about the nervous system's connection to fat, stating specifically that adipose tissue is not just concerned with energy storage as fat, but it is also a major endocrine and secretory organ as well. (Hello metabolism.)
So why is this good news for you and your fat?
For one thing, your fat is powerful!
Brain power. Metabolic power. Survival power. That's a lot of power.
Lucky for us, we can use that power to our advantage when it comes to our own adipose tissue. Here's how:
Touch it: Massages aren't just for sore muscles and tight joints. Your fat wants to be touched too. Even if you don't get regular massages, you can use tools such as foam rollers, massage tools, and even your own hands to massage any area of your body, and in turn your body fat.
Temp it: Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. But as soon as you put a dollop in your frying pan, it turns into a liquid. Fat is directly affected by temperature according to a 2013 study reported on by ScienceNOW -- both hot and cold temperatures. Heating pads, saunas, and ice packs are a useful tool for impacting more than just your muscles and joints. Your fat likes it too.
Talk to it: How do you talk to yourself about yourself every single day? Did you know that weight loss or weight gain is directly impacted by how you answered that?
"Calories in, calories out" sums up the law of thermodynamics when it comes to losing or storing fat, but that's only one piece of the very complicated puzzle.
When you feel sad, mad, stressed, or uneasy about anything, your body elicits a stress response, and it lays down a cocktail of those infamous "fat-storage hormones" that we hear about all the time in the weight loss industry, specifically cortisol and epinephrine. But in reality, they are simply STRESS hormones.
Rutgers University did a study on women specifically where they found that the "high stress" group of women had significantly greater BMI, circumference measurements, and reported greater emotional eating.
Another study done in Finland found that "stress-driven eaters" tended to eat sausages, hamburgers, pizza, and chocolate more frequently than other people, and that stress-driven eaters consumed more alcohol than other people.
If you knew that walking around feeling stressed or unhappy about your body was "fattening" and would increase your chance of weight gain (and decrease your chance of weight loss), would that motivate you to change your tune?
Here's what I say about it: You don't have to like your body fat, but if you do in fact have it (and we all do), wouldn't it make more sense to accept it for what it is and then go change it, rather than hating on it while it's there? After all it's just fat, right?
I'm not suggesting that you start talking to your body like it's a pet gerbil, but changing the way you talk to yourself about yourself can do more for your waistline than you might think.
3. Fat is feminine and voluptuous
When you think about it, every part of you that makes you a woman involves fat. Your breasts, your hips, your thighs, your bootylicious be-hind. And that frenemy of a tummy of yours, isn't it the same part of your body that changes form as you become a mother? If you hate and curse and shame your fat, you're in turn doing the same to the parts of you that make you a woman. Instead try to own your body, embrace your curves, and if you do in fact want to change something about your body, by all means, change it. But in the meantime, embrace your feminine and voluptuous curves, because they are beautiful.
Bottom line: I know extra or excess fat can be a bit of a bummer and a bit of a nuisance. When it shows up uninvited, overstays its welcome, or keeps you from feeling beautiful, powerful, and confident, it's easy to hate it, shame it, blame it, and wish it away.
But the main point I wanted to get across (in addition to the fact that fat isn't all bad) is simply this:
Your fat is just fat. It's a substance. It's a part of your body just like your arm and just like your nose, and it will be with you until the day you die -- in fact, you would die without it!
But just like you have the power to communicate with your bicep or your abs in hopes that they will elicit change, you also have the power to communicate with your fat. And the points above show you just how influence-able your fat really is.
Use this as a gift, not a curse, and I think you'll find out just how much easier it is to get your fat to start finally listening to what YOU want it to do.
Leave a comment below and share your practices for embracing your curves and loving your body.
Tomiyama AJ, Dallman MF, Epel ES. Comfort food is comforting to those most stressed: evidence of the chronic stress response network in high stress women. Departments of Psychology and Nutrition, Rutgers University Piscataway, NJ
Laitinen J, Ek E, Sovio U. Stress-related eating and drinking behavior and body mass index and predictors of this behavior. Oulu Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland.
Katharine Dalziel, MD, MBBS, MRCP. The Nervous System and Adipose Tissue. Department of Dermatology, Queens Medical Center, University Hospital, Nottingham, United Kingdom. October-December 1989, Volume 7, Number 4, pages 62-77
Averett, Jennifer, RD . Why Fat Cells Are Important. University of Rochester Medical Center
Hébert-Blouin MN1, Tubbs RS, Carmichael SW, Spinner RJ. Hilton's law revisited. Department of Neurologic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Leanne Ellington is a writer, a mad scientist, a storyteller, an ambidextrous hoolah-hooper, and wholeheartedly believes that peanut butter should become the fifth food group. Her career started after she personally lost over 100 lb. of fat and then went on to help other women do the same thing through her weekly television segments, award-winning corporate wellness programs, and women's fitness studio.
Although weight loss was her main driver initially, major spine surgery and the face-off between her "fat head" and "skinny head" took her on a journey she could have never predicted, and she became a spokeswoman for women all over the world shunning "weight loss as usual". You can learn more about her and her work at http://www.HowToDitchTheWeight.com.