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Not Fueled by Chocolate

As I
slide
towards
another birthday,
I am reminded that
increasing age diminishes
my ability to shed those
extra pounds that cluster
around the part of my body
that makes me look like
a pear.

An unfortunate side effect of getting older is that it is getting harder to maintain anything remotely resembling an hour glass figure.

A brisk thirty minute walk in the morning and forty-five minutes at the gym after lunch just isn’t enough exercise to make my clothes feel ‘less snug’. I’ve been forced to cut calories too, starting with the ultimate sacrifice – no dark chocolate snacks until the pudginess is brought into submission again. For some indefinite amount of time, my blog writing will Not Be Fueled by Chocolate.’

There are any number of articles and advertisements that suggest how to lose weight (many are for bogus diets or are designed to drain your bank account), but it is only in the last few years that researchers have identified how our body fat makes us fat. With the rise in obesity and diabetes, researchers have had increased incentive to investigate how fat cells work.

It has now been suggested that the number of fat cells in our bodies increases from infancy into our early twenties. After that age, we keep the same number of fat cells throughout our lives. Gaining or losing weight does not affect the number of fat cells.

Fat cells do many good, important jobs besides being able to store a lot of energy in a small space. Unfortunately, when we take in more calories than we burn by exercise, the extra calories make the fat cells larger.

Scientists now say that our bodies have THREE kinds of fat cells: white ones, brown ones and beige ones. White fat stores extra energy. Brown and beige fat cells burn chemical energy to create heat.

Brown fat is present in most adults, but adults with more brown fat are generally slimmer than those without. (That explains that skinny friend who doesn’t exercise and can eat whatever they like.) Unfortunately, as we age, the heat production ability of brown fat cells decreases. This causes a natural increase in weight.

Beige and brown fat activation are both triggered by exercise. Combined with a decrease in calories, this is still the best way to shrink fat cells.

Scientists are hopeful, though, that they can find other ways to enhance the function of brown and beige fat cells or cause white fat to turn into brown fat. They have evidence that exposure to cold temperatures (16 degrees C) triggers beige and brown fat activation, but they continue to search for the ‘silver bullet’ that could be the game changing treatment for diabetes and obesity.

Other interesting facts about fat and weight:
– a single study published in the journal ‘Obesity’ showed that a year after liposuction removed fat, the fat came back, but not in the areas it was removed from. An increased fat appearance was observed in the upper abdomen, shoulders and the back of the arms.
– about 10 percent of your fat cells die and are replaced each year.
don’t diet – think instead about how to satisfy your hunger for fewer calories. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. (Eat less chocolate…)
exercise (aerobic and strength training) – the more you do, the more calories are burned. The largest muscles (and therefore the largest calorie burners) are in the thighs, abdomen, chest, and arms.
one size does not fit all, so to speak. Researchers are trying to understand why one person may lose weight faster or slower than another, even when they eat the same diet and do the same exercise.
– the set-point theory of metabolism may be a myth. Studies suggest that if we lose weight, our metabolism shifts to a normal rate for that new weight.
walking for 30 minutes most days of the week, is as effective as a structured exercise done three to five days a week.
“low-fat” or “fat-free” food is not necessarily low calorie food. A bunch of low-fat cookies might have more calories than one or two regular cookies.

With that, I’ll go have a carrot…

Do share – are you an hour-glass, a banana, a strawberry, an apple or a pear shaped person?

15 Comments

  1. http://www.rickbrash.com/ says

    I get your posts all the time and thoroughly enjoy them. I too have found a similar situation that uses the “age” excuse – a slowing metabolism that seems to need less fuel to stay upright. This year, my conscious decision was to eliminate some of the chub and thus far I’ve eliminated 30 lbs from my Levi’s. That’s a good thing, though replacement Levi’s run about $65/pr!! By Fall I’ll need a couple of prs. Great article/post here, thanks.

    Like

  2. “Eat less, exercise more”. A mantra to live by, especially as we age. I was a “skinny minny” all my life – until I hit 45. Then – BAM – the pounds started adding up (2 – 3 per year) and I had to keep buying larger sizes. At 55 I cut back on portion sizes and the kinds of foods I eat (I still “treat” myself to a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert each night) and started moving more (you don’t need to hit the gym or take up marathon running – 30 minutes of moderate activity a day does the trick) and I’ve lost most of those extra pounds and inches. Its been a huge lifestyle change but I feel better and its something I can maintain for the long term. Still, there are a few little “wobbly bits” that are going to be with me to the end.

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    • Congratulations to you, Margo. Unfortunately, the exercise wasn’t enough, but I should be able to add a bit of chocolate back into the mix in about 6 months or so!

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    • The sands of my ‘hour glass’ had mostly slipped to the bottom! My new routine is slowly paying off…

      Like

    • ‘…not easy to digest’ – Good one, Ruth. Thanks for the Birthday wishes. I’m in a holding pattern as far as how many years I’ll admit to.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am having a similar problem as the years pass. I feel as though my whole body is putting on a sightly thicker covering every year, rather than one part of it changing. I had resolved at the beginning of the year to walk a few miles every day, and was doing quite well, but that’s slipped recently, so thank you for the nudge to get me going again. 🙂

    Like

  4. Some fascinating info, Margy, thanks. I was a chubby kid, and it’s a bit unnerving to think all those fat cells are still there, waiting to pounce if I duck into a bakery or a candy store!! Hang in there, we your fans love ya any which way!! 😊

    Like

    • “Ready to pounce” is an apt way to describe it.
      Shortly after I wrote this post, The Car Guy ‘ran’ across a book called ‘The Power of Habit’. It was very timely because losing weight is as much about habit as it is about eating.

      Liked by 1 person

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