I bet when you count your blessings you don’t think “wow, my body fat is such a blessing!” And for sure, I am not going to say that excess fat is what you want. I am saying that body fat can be a blessing – and that counting your blessings is key to any transformational process.
Body fat is a brilliant, biological and evolutionary component that has been key to our very survival as a species. It stores energy, insulates us, and protects our vital organs. Additionally, as modern humans, body fat can be a blessing because it gives us a point of awareness and therefore can help move us closer to body acceptance.
Think about that: who you would be if you weighed less? How would you be different? Would your kids love you more?
Meditate on this: you are not your body fat. You have fat, but you are not fat. Avocados are fat. Olive oil is fat. Get it?
Body Fat Can Be a Blessing for Diagnosis
Sometimes losing fat can be helpful in creating freedom of movement. Sometimes losing body fat can be essential for restoring health and balance. But many people think their value as a person is attached to their body composition, thinking, “if only I were less fat I would be more worthy.”
I was in graduate school with a colleague who existed primarily on Coca-Cola and Snickers bars. He was 6’ 4” and approximately 125 pounds. His body resembled a long, lean comma. Among his health issues, he suffered from a variety of sleep disorders that he medicated with Rohypnol. Rohypnol (aka the Date Rape drug) is a heavy depressant that is ten times more potent than Valium. Of course, in order to wake up in the mornings, he had to take another drug, an upper. Remember what happened to Elvis? Michael Jackson? Heath Ledger? Prince?
What if my colleague’s doctor had asked him what he was eating, instead of just prescribing heavy narcotics? If my colleague had been fat, his doctor would at least have said “you need to change what you eat and lose weight.” But because he was super skinny, his doctor just medicated him with no additional advice for lifestyle changes.
Existing on Coke and candy bars is a recipe for NO SLEEP. No sleep is a recipe for HORMONE IMBALANCE. Hormone imbalance is a recipe for many AUTO-IMMUNE DISORDERS including type II diabetes. It is also a recipe for infertility. As could be expected, when it came time to have babies, my colleague and his wife had to use fertility drugs and in-vitro to conceive. Biology dictates that if the organism is not healthy enough, reproduction will be shunted. The body knows when it cannot support additional life and will not provide the necessary elements.
The complete irony of this cautionary tale is—my colleague and I were working on our doctorates in BIOCHEMISTRY! Yep.
Multiple Causes for Body Fat
So, body fat can be a blessing. It can be a harbinger of poor lifestyle choices—not just poor nutrition. We gain excess fat mass when our hormones are out of balance. And hormonal imbalance can come from not getting enough sunlight, not sleeping well, not eating in a way that supports health, not moving enough (or appropriately), and not reducing stress.
One of the first questions I ask a potential client is how is your sleep? Then we dig deeper. Sleep is the most important aspect of great health. If you sleep poorly your body is always trying to make sense of the rhythms.
And it is deeper than that. Matthew Walker has written a great book detailing “Why We Sleep.” I recommend that book and his TED talk to all.
What you crave to eat–and why–has a lot to do with sleep. We know that when you have not slept well you crave sugar and caffeine, both of which perpetuate the negative sleep cycle. We also know that if you haven’t slept well that you are less likely to exercise, and if you do exercise you are more likely to get injured or perform poorly.
Living Your Best Life, Body Fat and All
Living your best life is about choosing to.
Choose to live your best life first and foremost. Count your blessings every day. Keep a journal by your bed and before you go to sleep write at least three things that you are grateful for. I bet you can always find a lot more than three. And when you do, I hope you count body fat as one of them.