How many times have you lost weight, only to discover that you have put it all back on again? Releasing storage from our body is not simply diet & exercise – although those are key! Exercise combats type 2 diabetes better than any medicine invented so far – but do you have what it takes to keep up with a new exercise regime and not fall back into a sedentary lifestyle?
Understanding the relationship between our fat cells, their positive role in our bodies and health, and your habits, beliefs and thought patterns is essential for a healthy life! Our fat cells serve many purposes, not simply holding fat.
Scientists now consider the fat tissue to be an organ, producing hormones, which also affects our metabolism and emotional state. They protect us and cushion us against hard times. Nevertheless, they also drag us down with their weight and create health issues. Until we understand the interrelation between all factors, it’s difficult to unburden ourselves – releasing the storage!
What do fat cells do for us?
Our fat cells – known as adipocyte cells – specialise in fat storage. When we eat more calories (energy) than we burn immediately, fat cells temporarily store these calories for later release. This process maintains consistent energy levels throughout the day – mobilizing energy from the fat cells as needed. However, it was intended to be short-term storage – releasing the fat used to create energy throughout different moments of the day or week. You eat and store the additional energy, releasing it over ensuing hours or days when required.
Our fat cells also serve to regulate our metabolism, aiding in the process of insulin production. They tie in closely with the endocrine system, maintaining the body’s energy balance. But, through eating more than the body requires, we send these cells into an inflammatory response.
The fat cells also produce the protein leptin – this signals “satiety” – that you are full. One of the many problems faced by dieters is that the body may create new fat cells to satisfy the need to store fat and calories that it no longer needs, but it continually replaces about ten percent of these fat cells every year. This means that while it removes an old fat cell, it regenerates a new one to replace it. The fat cell may shrink, but it doesn’t simply die and disappear. And as a fat cell shrinks, it produces less leptin (leptin is what tells you that you are full – satiated). So, as you release your fat storage, and the cells shrink – you get fewer messages of fullness!
The body also uses the fat cells to store more than just fat – it stores toxins within the fatty tissue when there is too much to process at a given moment. The body needs somewhere to put them safely until passed to the liver for release. Of course, if you don’t release that fat within the next couple of days, as would usually happen, the liver isn’t given the opportunity to then flush the toxins out of your body!
Through a combination of social, psychological, & emotional factors, we eat more than we need. Fast food has a high-calorie content, but low nutritional content. We actually live in a time of nutritional famine – a society that is under-nourished, with poor digestion. These extra calories convert into fat, conveniently stored for when later needed. The problem arises when we don’t need that storage for later use!
Typically, we eat for the following reasons:
- nutrition & health
- spiritual starvation
- control issues
- emotional detachment
- nursing old hurts
- negative self talk
Notice – the first three reasons are evolutionary reasons – survival of the fittest. In the best of situations – we eat simply to nourish our bodies and give us great health. We also eat to deal with scarcity – making sure we have enough fat reserves for days without food. Nonetheless, this evolutionary mechanism no longer serves us in modern times. We equate scarcity with more than simply a lack of food. When there is a scarcity of connection or touch – of hugs – or scarcity of money to pay the bills, our response is eating.
We eat to escape feelings – we hide and wrap emotions up in our fat cells, defending and building up protective walls around us. Fat cells become the bubble wrap that we protect ourselves within when we feel bullied, attacked, too sensitive or unsafe. We eat to sedate ourselves from pain and feelings. When we are unable to set healthy boundaries, we cushion ourselves with an extra layer of fat. Fat cells become the extra layer of protection against the outside world of threats – they cushion us from our feelings & experiencing the world – raw!
Have you noticed – no one ever eats lettuce as a comfort food when they are sad, stressed or bored?
Cortisol, adrenaline & stress
Under stress, the body produces adrenaline & cortisol – both essential in assisting us to outrun danger. The problem is – we are no longer in the Serengeti, chased by a saber-toothed tiger! When we exercise, the body releases adrenaline – telling the fat cells to release the storage and put it into the bloodstream so that it is available for use. Unfortunately, because the cortisol production has not been turned off (still under stress), this tells the fat cells around your middle to pick up that fat and store it in the belly area! Stress directly affects where our body stores the fat – the worst place for our health.
Cortisol – produced when you are in flight mode – tells the body to save the fat energy “for later” because we will need it. You don’t know when you will be able to eat again – you are on the run. Until you know it is safe, you probably shouldn’t stop to eat – but look — grab that fruit in the tree, you can eat that while running! The cortisol production caused by stress also affects dopamine transmission in the brain – leading us to seek more “rewards” – i.e. craving sugary foods! Unfortunately, as we live a sedentary lifestyle – this response to stress and the production of cortisol is not very helpful!
Unfortunately, we learn from an early age to self-sooth by eating more. Think about how you were trained to deal with your emotions as a child. When a child cries, you ask “what happened?”. External. Not internal. We fail to ask the child “How are you feeling?” or “How did that make you feel?”.
Ignoring the feelings & emotions that the child needs to process. We even may go so far (I’m guilty) of telling that child – Let’s get an ice-cream and see if you don’t feel better! Is it any wonder that as adults we turn to food (external) to deal with the discomfort we feel internally?
When we feel lonely, we comfort ourselves with food, because loneliness increases the production of ghrelin (the hormone that tells us we are hungry!).
When we suffer deprivation – of any kind – we eat to cover the lack, because our body interprets this as a craving. Any “forbidden food” is then seen as a reward.
We turn to “heavy” foods – those where all of our energy goes to digesting and breaking down the food and storing it – so there is no energy left over to deal with the emotions. We hide our discomfort under the guise of digesting the food! But we fail to digest the discomfort or emotions that were calling for our attention. It is then possible for these undigested emotions to be stored in the very fat cells formed at the time you were eating, instead of digesting the discomfort.
What you don’t deal with has to be stored somewhere! These undigested emotions are stored either as pain, fat, dullness or disconnect.
Pain = Please. Acknowledge. Information. Now
Any time there is dis-ease or disorder in the body – it is simply asking us to listen. There are messages of truth to be heard. What truth does your body need to share with you – that you need to be uncomfortable enough to listen?
Our organs weep the tears the eyes refuse to shed.
You are what you feel. How does your fat feel? Is your fat happy? Sad? Lonely? Satiated? Satisfied? Anxious?
Any eating that is not for nutrition or to satiate physical hunger (from the stomach) – is emotional eating! Whether you eat from boredom, rejection, heartbreak, or loneliness – it is all emotional states that need to be addressed. The most common reason that someone is overweight – eating more calories than what they burn exercising. Diets address this issue – eat less. But does your diet and exercise program address why you were eating? Or when you go off the diet, do you return to your former size and shape?
Your eating is merely the symptom, not the cause! And you have to address both symptoms and cause together – in order to truly make a difference and transform your life!
Ditch the Diet & Face the Feelings
Your emotional health is actually independent of your weight – so even if you lose the weight, if you fail to deal with the emotions & feelings, you could be part of the 90% that puts the weight back on! What burdens were you carrying within that storage? Did you release the burdens as well as the storage? Or are you still carrying the burdens, just waiting to cover them up again?
Are you truly satisfied with your life?
Have you built a new support system for yourself that will allow you to face the feelings that arise for you in life – and challenge you to live life, rather than simply to hide behind food once more?
Does your new lifestyle support activity & exercise?
Have you learned to recognise the difference between brain hunger (cravings) and physical hunger (in your stomach)?
How will you choose to deal with boredom from now on? When you are dissatisfied, restless and unchallenged – will you turn to food or will you choose to find your purpose?
When you remember past trauma – what are your new coping mechanisms? How will you express your feelings – feel validated, understood and healed? Will you choose fat to keep you safe? Or are you willing to be courageous and face life and your emotions?
Ultimately, those successful with any weight loss program learn to ditch the diet and face the feelings! They adopt a new lifestyle – one which allows them to eat healthily, enjoying their food and activities, and address the underlying feelings & issues that were hidden within the storage.
Be kind to yourself!
My coaching focuses on finding the source of your inner energy – the reconnection with yourself that allows you to release the storage and burdens that you have been carrying as you design a new life!
As you release the storage from your fat cells – we will also look at what needs to be released in your emotions, thought patterns and habits. You may find it helpful, even necessary, to declutter in your life at the same time that you are working on your diet, exercise & releasing all the energy you have been storing in your body unnecessarily!
As you clear out old habits, it may be time to clear out the drawers or closets. Releasing the energy in your home as well as in your body!
As you release blockages, you may want to release relationships that do not provide you with the support you need – and search for new relationships that will energise you to becoming the person you intend to become. As you discover who you are, you may also discover you need a new support system – a different circle of friends that will push you to try new activities.
Exploring a life that you don’t need to be sedated for will bring its own challenges – of being awake in life.
What do you want to wake up to?
What life are you happy to be fully awake, aware and lively for?
That’s the one that you want to build! One that you don’t need layers of protection from!