Friday, June 15

Who Your Fat Is

The other day I felt as if I were suddenly dealing with 101 internal demons of emotion, loose and flowing about my mood like 'free radicals' of the mind. It wasn't time for PMS, yet the "turbulence inside me" was severe.

It occurred to me that maybe I was underestimating the effect of doing something that causes the fat cells to empty.

Fat cells store toxins. Which can be internally generated biochemicals that simply did not fully vent as necessary -- which sums up most emotion in today's high stress world. Biogram Theory suggests we store biochemical under the myelin sheath of the nerves, and that could also be affected by changes in fat cells in a given area.

Every fat cell that empties into the bloodstream is reading aloud, inside us, a tiny chapter of a story to us, a story of who we were at the moment we stored that fat.

And who might that be? What emotion might that come with? And what if we lose not just one fat cell at a time, but a whole avalanche of them once in awhile?

Emotion inside the body is biochemical. If we can't vent it, we store it. Storing emotion in fat, if this indirectly is so, suggests that we might not really be ridding ourselves of it, but merely burying it, till the time we finally use those fat cells... and the ghosts of our emotion come back to haunt us, processing "through" us to be vented, as they should have been in the first place.

After thinking of it that way, I spent the night feeling as if a thousand little elements of me over the last 20 years were weaving through me, like energy motes looking for a doorway out, one denied them for who knows how long. In retrospect I think I should have dived into the turbulence and cried if possible, to help 'vent' some of that. Instead, by the time I finally decided to meditate on it, it knocked me out (nothing like sleep=denial) and woke up yesterday in a 'flatline' mode of no emotion whatever, not even normal amounts, which is just as much its own issue.

I go into 'flatline' and barely eat, breathe, or live: this is my own dysfunction. Some people go into the turbulence and binge themselves sick. Some people go into the turbulence and starve themselves sick. Maintaining balance of food and behavior while losing weight might in fact be more of a challenge than doing so while not losing weight. I haven't heard this addressed anywhere before. Probably because there's little if any research on it.

I suspect in some people, this variance in biochemical probably has an even greater effect on their mood. As if while they are working on the new person they want to be, elements of that old person are quite literally flowing through them in the present, sparking or carrying the same emotions that made them gain the fat in the first place.

Who is our fat? Are we ready not just to 'deal with the fat', but to 'deal with' the emotion it carries, and the toxins that cause current-emotional responses?

Is it losing a part of ourselves... literally? As literally as cleaning out a house is losing all the things we give away and throw away? Is part of the resistance to this change because our overall body/psychology know that it is literally a "loss"?

My grandmother believed in karma. I mean in the very literal balance of the universe kind of way. She believed if you stole a nickel, you would pay that nickel back most certainly. In a sort of funny way this almost struck me like an emotional version of her take on karma: like we cannot get away with denying ourselves, our feelings; that sooner or later, unless the storage contributes to killing us, we are going to have to deal with those feelings; what we don't vent one day, we will face again when we lose the fat that biochemical stored itself in.

It also makes me wonder if, just like people vary radically in how much insulin they produce, maybe emotional biochemical quantity varies that much too. And if so, if maybe some people 'need' to store more fat in order to 'deal with' that biochemical that the person is not willing or able to process, than others.

It does sort of give a new way of looking at the idea of Reich's fat as 'Body Armor' theory, yes? That one is not merely protecting themselves from the world; but that the fat storage is quite literally physical protection, via biochemical storage in fat cells rather than having it flow through the body and be experienced and hence vented.

[edited to add: D reminded me, Reich's theory is about muscle tension (stress); it's work based on his theory since then that suggests that fat is a form of body armor.]


Big Daddy D said...

This is not quite what you are talking about... but it is related to coming to terms with losing weight.

Not quite a decade ago, I lost 60 pounds relatively quickly by following the protein power plan. I was actually skinny for about a year after. Upon losing the weight, I felt attractive and started dating again. Sometimes as many as 5 new dates a week. Needless to say, I was feeling really good about myself. My self image had improved tremendously. And this in turn made it much easier for me to pursue relationships with others.

Anyways, right after losing the weight, I was sitting in my living room contemplating that I no longer had a gut hanging over my belt. Back then, I still smoked pot occasionally. I got high and suddenly realized that deep down inside I actually missed my fat. It was as if a large part of me (no pun intended) had died... kind of like, if you can imagine, losing a limb. And, I realized that I had to let that part of myself go... That missing fat was a part of myself that I had thought I would have no attachment to.

I don't think that this is simply a drug induced psychosis. At a cellular level it makes sense. I am sure that my body's fat cells were starving. Fat cells are programmed to hang onto and store nutrients. That is what they do. And losing weight denies them of the ability to do so. So at some unconscious level, I would be willing to bet that everyone who loses weight is going through something similar. But I highly doubt that most people would be aware on this level.

Big Daddy D said...

When you write of Reich's fat as 'Body Armor' theory, are you referring to the William Reich famous for Organomy? The same one who in 1957, our government confiscated and burned his scientific books and papers?

If so, I didn't know that he had any theories about fat. Can you tell me where I can read more about his writings on this topic?

PJ said...

Yes. But Reich himself who originated the idea was referring to chronic stress as we would call it today, or 'muscular tension'. Since his time many others in therapeutic professions have suggested the working theory that obesity is in part a form of, or contribution to, the 'body armor' concept: protection. Research showing how chronic internal stress adds to weight gain kind of supports that.

Mary said...

PJ - I'm a new reader of your blog, but am hooked. You are a wonderful writer and have an amazing honesty and insight that is captured in your writing.

This entry hits home with me for two reasons. I started doing the LC diet about a month ago and the first week was very emotionally dramatic. Part was cutting out caffeine, but even after I got over that, I was on an emotional roller coaster. Fortunately, I've settled in to some really stable, good emotions and am healthily addicted to eating this way.

For the past ten years, I've weighed just under 200 pounds. And often, I considered it a burka of sorts! Until I was about 28, I always weighed in at under 130 and attracted alot of male attention. Quite honestly, most of the attention was overt and bordered on harassment. After ten years of it, putting on the weight and becoming invisible to the men who thought that my body was their property was a relief.

My friend is a muslim and as I learned about the reasons that muslim women cover, I realized that this is what my fat was accomplishing for me. It was hiding the features that made me a public commodity. (I hope this doesn't sound like vanity - I see it happen to any thin woman - men think that it's okay to just ogle and remark, etc. It's really rude!).

Yes, I missed it when I needed help with something and my invisibility meant that no one would offer to help. But, that price was a small one to pay for the benefit of simply being left alone!

If I'm successful with my weight loss, I realize that my burka/armor of fat will be gone. But, I think that my maturity and awareness will make it easier for me to deal with whatever life offers me.