No, I’m not talking about the “good” fats we eat, like healthy oils and nuts. I mean the actual fat—the adipose tissue—we all have on our bodies, and which we have come to believe is sinful. And the more we have on our body, the more sinful we are, right?
Truth be told, I’d guess around 75 percent of people who show up at our door express their desire to lose weight—to lose fat—as their impetus behind being there. Often the person is embarrassed to talk about it, avoids eye contact and generally looks like he/she just wants the conversation to end. Other times, the person looks you in the eye and says, “I want to look good naked.” And, of course, the assumption is less fat means he/she will look better naked…
The point is, you’re not alone. All of us, even those you might not perceive as needing to lose fat, probably wants to lose fat. Including myself.
Now I’m not trying to talk you out of your body composition goals, but I am asking you to take a moment to consider, and maybe even appreciate, fat—your fat, even—in a different way.
There’s a short documentary called “A Brief History of Fat and Why we Hate it,” by Science Community Lab. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vinqph-g5QI). It’s only 20 minutes long and is very much worth watching.
One quote from the documentary to keep in mind: “We mustn't confuse fat, which is generally a healthy and important and necessary nutrient, with diseases that come with too much fat”. (The documentary also goes into this, and does a great job explaining insulin resistance and how it leads to Type 2 diabetes).
At the same time, it also challenges you to think about fat in a different way, and appreciate why we have it on our bodies, and that our hatred of it (again, health reasons aside) is a new phenomenon:
- ”We can go quite a long time without food. Much longer than some other animals can. Fat really gave us a big advantage in terms of beginning to colonize hostile environments.” -Bruce Spiegelman, Cell Biologist, Harvard University
- “We have a general cultural abhorrence for fat today, which is a very recent trend.” - Daniel Lieberman, Evolutionary Biologist, Harvard University:
- ”As an evolutionary biologist I've come to appreciate that without fat we would be dead. Humans wouldn't be the way we are. Fat is really life.” - Lieberman
Think about that for a moment: Fat is life. It’s true. Think about what happens when women become too thin and don’t have enough body fat. They stop menstruating. They actually stop being able to procreate. They stop life dead in its tracks. So why do so many women today strive to be 12 percent bodyfat? (The average hunter gatherer female sat closer to 25 percent bodyfat).
- ”Fat is important to all animals but humans are especially adapted to be fat. Even thin humans who have very little fat on them, by our perspective, are extremely fat compared to most other primates.” - Lieberman
With this, I’d love to discuss your unique childhood experience about “fat.”
I’d love to hear about yours: What ideas about fat and being fat were drilled into your head as a child? Did your parents raise you to avoid eating fat, and becoming fat? To fear fat?
Or Were they overweight, and being overweight was seen as normal, and you, too, expected to become overweight as an adult? How does this affect you today? Do you have scars from the ideas about fat that were instilled in you as a young age? Have you overcome them? How has it shaped you today?
Please, share your stories, in all their fatty glory!