Being a fat dude is not fun. It’s no way to live. The simplest tasks can be a real chore. I was so heavy, taking a shower was like a work out. I had to sit down and rest for a little while when I got out of the shower. I think that’s when I really knew I was in bad shape. When I stepped on the scale in late 2017 and the number staring at me was 385lbs, the first thing I thought, after the initial shock passed, was how did I get so fat?
I didn’t really eat that much, except on pizza night, because pizza has always been my first love. I could really do some damage to a large pizza all by myself. I didn’t snack during the day. I didn’t eat first thing when I got up in the morning. I actually didn’t eat until lunchtime, so how did I get so fat?
I ate the same foods my friends and co-workers ate, and nobody around me was as big as I was. How did I get so fat just being a regular guy doing what everybody else did? How did I get so fat? Eventually I learned it wasn’t really my fault.
Our bodies don’t come with owners manuals, and the minor physiology education we get in public schools doesn’t teach us anything about keeping our bodies running smooth. I knew more about keeping my car in top operating condition than I did about keeping my body in top operating condition. I’ll share with you what I learned about how I got fat and why.
Just a reminder, I’m not a doctor, a dietitian, or a health guru, and this isn’t intended as medical advice. I’m just a regular guy sharing my experience in the hope that I can help, and maybe inspire, other overweight people to lose the fat.
We’re Being Hunted – The Trap is Set
Here in the USA food is always available, in a variety of forms, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We are constantly bombarded with advertising for a new tasty hamburger, a delicious new coffee drink, a better pizza with faster delivery, a bigger container of soda, the latest special at the local all you can eat buffet, and it goes on and on and on.
When we stop for gas, we can fill up our car and fill up our belly, with a full meal, or just a quick snack. Almost any place we go there is food, or food like substances, available for sale, and sometimes for free. We are endlessly tempted to eat by TV commercials, radio ads, and huge billboards. It’s a non-stop assault!
This is a big contributor of why we’re getting fatter as a nation. I know it was a part of my weight gain. We’ve been caught in a trap that was set by highly trained, expertly skilled individuals, that basically just want our money. The food industry is big business. The food companies have created an obesogenic environment, full of obesogenic products, and they’re pushing it on us every chance they get. They don’t really care about our health, or what their product does to our health. It’s all about the money.
They just want to continue the stream of money coming their way. Food companies know no boundaries when it comes to getting us to buy their products. False labeling. False claims. Lobbying the FDA. Food companies actually employ engineers to find the “bliss” points of the foods they produce. The point where it makes us the happiest by affecting the pleasure centers in our brains. They engineer the food until it’s perfect, perfectly addictive that is!
Falling In The Trap – Am I an Addict?
Food addiction is a real thing, and there are triggers that set off those addictions. That’s the exact goal of most of the advertisements we see. These companies want to create that overwhelming, unfightable desire within us to buy, and eat, their food as soon as possible, and then buy some more.
Our brains can work against us too. They always remember how good a certain food tastes and drive us to get more. I could easily fixate on the taste without realizing it. I can remember eating pizza, not caring about how many slices I had already had, and cramming another slice into my mouth because it tasted so damn good. It was all about, as Joe Rogan says, the mouth pleasure. I was throwing down extra food, putting extra fat on my body, because that 10 seconds of pleasure meant so much to me.
We’ve all experienced it first hand. We see a commercial for a new type of burger, with the steam rising off of it, melted cheese slowly trickling down the sides, the fresh crispy toppings, the thick juicy meat patty. It looks so perfect, and delicious, that we’ve got to have one. (they never look like the commercial when you get one either!) They just triggered us. They set the trap and we didn’t even see it. It’s the Pavlov’s Dog thing in full effect. They present a stimulus and we respond, and most of the response is subconsciously without our participation.
Ever have that argument with the voice in your head that keeps rationalizing why you should eat something you know is bad for you? It’s hard to resist when you’re addicted. You’re compelled when you’re addicted.
Brain imaging has shown that, for some people, junk food, can activate the pleasure centers of our brain. These appear to be the same parts of the brain that respond to addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin. In other words, they trigger the release of dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter that makes us feel good.
Food addiction leads us to some strange behavior. Any of these sound familiar?
- Cravings you must fulfill
- Setting a limit before you start eating and then eating beyond that limit
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably, gotta unbutton your pants, stuffed
- Feeling guilty after you eat
- Rationalizing to allow you to eat something you know you shouldn’t
- Trying to quit eating a certain food and then repeatedly failing
- Hiding your eating from others
- Feeling unable to control eating something even when you know you shouldn’t
I’ve experienced all of these at one time or another. Don’t lose hope if you have too, you’re not alone, you just might have some food addictions. But, just like all addictions, recovery is possible. I’ll tell you how I did it in some future posts. But next I want to tell you why certain foods, like junk foods, highly processed foods, sweets, and the standard American diet can make us fat. This is how I got so fat! (Isn’t it ironic that the acronym for the Standard American Diet is SAD.)
The Metabolism Factor
Our body is fascinating and complex. It’s almost like a machine or a supercomputer. Inside of us, when one thing happens, another thing usually happens in response, which will make another thing happen, and so on. It’s like a cascade of chain reactions. I like to think of it in terms of conditions and actions. If a specific condition is met, then a specific action will be taken.
Eating sets the condition action process of metabolism into gear. I’m going to keep this explanation as simple as possible for the purpose of this post.
Metabolism is the conversion of food into energy. You can classify food into three main categories. These categories are called Macronutrients. They are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. When these macronutrients have been digested they are absorbed into the bloodstream to be converted into energy and distributed to the cells of our body.
Carbohydrates are metabolized as a sugar, known as glucose. The liver can only store a small amount of glucose, for immediate energy, so the rest is pushed into long term storage, known as adipose tissue, aka the fat cells.
Notice I said storage. We are supposed to be able to access this stored energy later, on an as needed basis. This is how bears survive during the winter as they hibernate. They store energy through the summer, and fall, as fat. While they’re hibernating the fat is converted back into energy to keep them alive during their long nap.
Another thing that happens when we eat is the release of some key hormones. Some of these hormones are released before we ever get the food into our mouths. The senses of sight and smell can set our hormones into motion.
This may mean that when you hear somebody say they can gain weight just by looking at a piece of cake, it could be true. I’m just kidding. Seeing food won’t make you gain weight, but it will set off some processes within your body and your brain. Hormonal responses.
The Best Kept Secret – Hormones
Here’s the one big thing I’ve learned that I want to share with you. The most important takeaway. I’m about to tell you the weight loss secret that nobody wants you to know about. Well, it’s mainly the people that get rich off of diet books, diet foods, weight loss programs, diet pills, and pharmaceutical drugs that don’t want you to know about it, because they’re literally making billions of dollars a year from people that want to lose weight. Are you ready? We get fat because of our hormones. I told you it wasn’t your fault!
There are a lot of theories flying around about why and how we get fat, but I personally know this one is sound. It’s what has allowed me to lose a small woman. No, I didn’t get a divorce, it was all fat! If we can control our hormones, we can control our weight. And we can control our hormones … with our food choices. The main hormone we want to control is Insulin.
Insulin is always in our bloodstream, but the amount of insulin rises whenever we eat, especially when we eat carbohydrates.
Insulin’s main job is to control the levels of glucose (sugar) in our bloodstream. It does this by moving the glucose into the liver, muscles, and where ever else it is needed. Anything left over goes into our adipose tissue, the fat cells, our long term storage. The more glucose that’s in the bloodstream, the more insulin that gets released, and the longer the insulin level will stay high. When insulin is high, our body can’t access any of the energy stored in our fat cells, but it can put more energy into storage if it needs to.
Access to the stored energy requires a low level of insulin in the bloodstream, which can only be brought about by a low level of glucose in the bloodstream. This is generally estimated to take approximately 8 to 12 hours after a meal, but every person is unique, so it could be less or it could be more. The lower the level of glucose in your bloodstream, the lower the amount of excess insulin required to move it around.
When insulin hits the low point, another hormone called Glucagon is unleashed. Glucagon is our friend. Glucagon is key that unlocks our stored energy. In a nutshell, we really want more glucagon and less insulin. Guess what? If you keep your carbohydrate intake low, you keep your insulin response low, and you allow your body to get that energy out of storage. As you use up your stored energy, you lose weight.
This information revealed to me, and I hope to you as well, why I got so fat. It wasn’t a calorie thing. It wasn’t because I didn’t move enough. It wasn’t because I ate huge quantities of food. It was because I ate foods that threw my hormones out of whack. Foods that made my insulin rise, and I ate so often that my insulin never returned to a normal level, which would have allowed my glucagon to rise and unlock my stored energy.
I mentioned that I usually didn’t eat until lunchtime. At lunchtime my insulin was just about returning to a normal level from the previous nights feast, and then I would spike it up again with a big lunch full of carbohydrates, highly processed foods, and maybe something sweet to top it off
I may not have had my first meal until lunchtime, but after that I pretty much ate up until bed time. I’d have dinner, then maybe some dessert, than an hour or so later a little snack, and usually a bedtime snack. My favorite late night snack, right before bed, was a couple of bowls of sugary cereal. I was severely addicted to highly processed carbohydrates and sweet treats. I was so focused on how the food tasted, and satisfying my addictions, that I never even considered how my body responded to the food I was eating
Of course, I didn’t deny myself either. If I wanted it, I ate it. After all, life is too short right?. I should be allowed to live it however I want, and eat whatever I want too. Big is beautiful. Accept me as I am and all that crap, right? Boy was I wrong! I was on the fast track to a starring role on “My 600lb Life” with that logic.
I really couldn’t even accept myself. I was miserable, and trying to justify what I was doing to myself. I was using food as entertainment, enjoyment, and to soothe my feelings. Thank god for my baby girl telling me about keto.
Now I know that if I don’t eat certain foods, I can control my hormones. If I control my hormones, I don’t gain weight. If I control my hormones, I can actually lose weight, by accessing my supply of stored energy.
I sincerely hope this helps another soul struggling with their weight. You are not alone. The deck is stacked against us, but we can still win.
We all have the power within us to do great things. You just have to take that first step and keep moving forward.
What you do today is who you’ll be tomorrow. You are capable of great things!