Fat is a particular type of cell in the human body. Some people have more of these cells than others. But everyone has them – even people who are so thin that you can see the shape of their skeleton through their skin.
Fat cells are like balloons – they inflate and deflate according to their contents. Then they reach a certain level and multiply. They can be stretched to fit in more content. This is why it is so hard to keep weight off. If you’ve stretched them, they just re-inflate until they’re full again.
Yes, I know this is a simplistic view and that it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s how I imagine the ones that I have under my skin. And I dislike people calling me “Fat”
Oh, it hasn’t happened recently, but with the warmer weather it’s more likely for me to hear a shouted comment from a passing car as I’m pushing PW along in her buggy, something along the lines of “Stay off the cake, fatty!” or “Go get some surgery, Fat bitch!”
And yes, I am willing to say that I have a lot of Fat.
I’m tall, it takes a large accumulation of fat cells to actually show up on my figure. So as I am a size 18, have a waist measurement of 40 inches and wobble in all the wrong places when I bounce, I am not going to deny the fact that I have a lot of Fat Cells.
However, I am not FAT. I have many other tissue types in my body (just like every other Human on this planet), I am not made entirely of Fat cells.
If I were, I’d be one of these guys:
I’m not. I’m Human.
Fat is a type of body tissue. It should be used in a sentence thusly “Gosh, I didn’t realise I had so much fat!” not as a name for a type of person.
Am I bitter that I have this much fat?
No, not really. It’s an accumulation that occurred while I wasn’t paying attention. My attention was on looking after my children, writing and teaching and not on what I was eating. I don’t over eat. I don’t under eat.
I do eat some of the wrong things and don’t exercise enough, but when life is happening to you, making time for exercise other than scrambling after a toddler, or walking the older children to and from school, becomes a luxury.
I had less fat when I was working full time as a Teacher, because I rarely got time to eat anything, lived on tea & coffee and spent my days walking around a workshop / classroom / school grounds. It turned out that while I might have been making just enough money to pay for the childminder, it wasn’t all that good for my children’s mental health and my daughter’s autism went completely unnoticed.
So here I am scrambling after another toddler and I realised that the reason I was having trouble keeping up with her (she’s a bit of a whirlwind), getting out of breath pushing her up the hill or chasing her as she disappears up the stairs looking for bubbles (her code word for having a bath) is that I have too much fat.
There are justifiable reasons for having too many fat cells. Just in case you were wondering, here they are:
An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) means that your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones, which play a central role in regulating your metabolism. Although an underactive thyroid can occur at any age and in either sex, it is most common in older women.
Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin to manage their diabetes. Insulin helps to control your blood sugar level. It’s not uncommon for people with longstanding diabetes to eat a diet that “matches” their insulin dose, which can mean they’re eating more than they need to in order to prevent low blood sugar – also known as hypoglycaemia or “hypo” – from developing.
People begin to lose modest amounts of muscle as they get older, largely because they become less active. Muscles are an efficient calorie burner, so a loss of muscle mass can mean you burn fewer calories. If you’re eating and drinking the same amount as you always have and are less physically active, this can lead to weight gain.
Steroids, also known as corticosteroids, are used to treat a variety of conditions, including asthma and arthritis. Long-term use of corticosteroid tablets seems to increase appetite in some people, leading to weight gain.
Cushing’s syndrome is very rare, affecting around one in 50,000 people, and is caused by high levels of the hormone cortisol. It can develop as a side effect of long-term steroid treatment (iatogenic Cushing’s syndrome) or as a result of a tumour (endogenous Cushing’s syndrome). Weight gain is a common symptom, particularly on the chest, face and stomach. It occurs because cortisol causes fat to be redistributed to these areas. Depending on the cause, treatment typically involves either reducing or withdrawing the use of steroids, or surgery to remove the tumour.
Stress and Depression
People respond differently to stress, anxiety and depressed mood. Some people may lose weight, while others may gain weight.
Some studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a day may be more likely to be overweight than those who get nine hours of sleep or more. It’s not clear why, but one theory suggests that sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel full, and higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone.
Fluid retention (oedema) causes parts of the body to become swollen, which translates into weight gain. This gain is caused by fluid accumulating in the body. Some types of fluid retention are not uncommon – for example, if you’re standing for long periods or are pre-menstrual. The swelling can occur in one particular part of the body, such as the ankles, or it can be more general.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. Symptoms can include irregular periods, trouble getting pregnant, excess hair and weight gain. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it’s thought to be hormone-related, including too much insulin and testosterone.
Thankfully, the toddler is now going to playschool, that means I have some child free time. Sadly, getting rid of it isn’t going to be as easy as putting it on. As I said earlier, Fat cells are like balloons – they inflate and deflate according to their contents. Mine have multiplied and inflated over and over again.
Every dress size I went up (I was a size 12 when I was sixteen) over the last twenty four years meant a new layer of fat cells. I can’t get rid of them now – not unless I can afford surgery – so I have to deflate them, and keep them deflated.
That’s the tricky bit.