I could have easily called this post “Can Orgasms Make You Skinny?”, or “Can Eating Carbs Make You Skinny?”. You see where I’m going, right? Hint: it has to do with bodily systems, stress, and feeling better!
Sleeping, having an orgasm, and eating carbs all have a similar effect on the body. They lower your stress. I don’t just mean you “feel good” when you do them. It’s something bigger than that. What I mean is that you are tapping into the parasympathetic nervous systems’s (PSNS) awesome power to heal you. And that power can be harnessed to lose weight that you may have gained from years of stress. Sounds pretty good, huh?
But first things first: did you know that stress might be making you fat? It’s not just calories in, calories out, you know.
I know in my case, stress is a factor. I gained a lot of weight while pregnant with my second child. Something clicked over, and I could feel it. I was tired, but it was different. Something was wrong with my body.
My best guess is that I gained weight when I reached a stress tipping point. My sympathetic nervous system could only take so much “fight or flight” and it started protecting my body with excess fat stores.
I grew up in abuse, and I have had PTSD for a long time. Even though I have consistently made good emotional strides, gone to therapy when possible, and become increasingly self-aware, something was too much for my body to handle.
It might be that I didn’t eat real food until a few years ago. It might be that I never slept as a child, or a teenager, or in college. It might be that I have chemical sensitivities. It might be my PTSD. It might be all the PUFA’s I ate for all those years on a SAD diet. It might be imbalanced hormones. It might be a combination of all or some of those factors.
PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM: “REST AND DIGEST”
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for all your feel good body systems. If you sleep enough, your body gets a signal that all is well. Your temperatures stay warm, your hands and feet keep their circulation (and are warm), your body digests food well, and your metabolism responds with more energy.
This is in stark contrast to the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which deals mainly with stress responses. (I wrote about the SNS in my Is Stress Making You Fat? post.) Sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are sort of mirror images of each other, but work together rather than against each other. The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) is known for “rest and digest”, the opposite of the SNS’s “fight or flight”.
The PSNS is a slower response system, meant for dealing with non-stress situations. So while stressors in life are to be expected, you may need to help your body get back to it’s non-stress state in order to ensure your body functions optimally.
The main functions of the PSNS are summed up with the acronym SLUDD (salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion, and defecation).
I know I know, the orgasm is missing. I promise it’s part of the PSNS package! In fact, I think that a lot of people experience, ahem, an increased libido when healing their metabolism. That’s right. You can heal your metabolism via your PSNS. Good news!
METABOLISM: THE ROOT OF THE SOLUTION
I think we need a better understanding of metabolism. It’s more important, dare I say, to understand metabolism even than the specifics of real food. Because real food works within the system of your body and the metabolism functions. It’s vitalfor you to understand how these systems effect you.
From Diet Recovery:
Yeah, I know. Eating pretty much any overly restricted diet will do these things to you. Throw some “healthy” exercise in there with it and you’ve got a recipe for shutting down your entire system. It’s all caused by a drop in metabolic rate, which, in today’s day and age, is more significant than ever because metabolic rate, collectively, is already at an all-time low.
This of course sucks because your metabolism controls, well, everything. No seriously. EVERYTHING. Metabolic rate controls the rate at which every single cell in your body produces energy. In turn this controls how much testosterone you produce as a male, or how much progesterone – the primary fertility, sex drive, and youth hormone you produce if you are a woman. It controls the speed at which food travels through your digestive tract (the lower the metabolism, the more you have excess gas, bloating, constipation, or even irritation and resultant IBS-like symptoms).
Metabolism controls how many of those happy neurotransmitters you produce too. When metabolism is low you sort of live, perpetually, in that state that people get in when they haven’t eaten in several hours – somewhere between depressed, spaced-out, and angry at the world.
So, metabolism is the focus here. Not weight, or calories-in-calories-out, or pristine food (even though I love real food, you know I do!) If you heal the mechanism of your metabolism, you will unlock your body’s ability to balance itself.
THIN PRIVILEGE (AND FAT HATRED)
So I have speculated about what I think caused my weight gain. In contrast, I’ll tell you what is NOT responsible. It’s not for lack of eating “healthy”. It’s not because I never work out. It’s not because I don’t care about my body. It’s not because I cannot control myself.
Thin privilege is real. If you are thin, people assume you are healthy and energetic and good. If you are fat, people assume you are unhealthy and lazy and bad.
This simple assumption creates pain for so many people, and they might be people like me: I was a real foodie, I was committed to GAPS for pete’s sake!, I was being so good! And I still got fatter, more tired, and ultimately more discouraged.
This is why Health at Every Size is so important to me, and many other people.
Some of us will find that our bodies respond to eating the food, sleeping, taking care of stress levels, and so on by losing weight. Some of us will simply feel better and not lose weight. This is just reality. But we will feel better. Maybe it’s time to value our bodies, even when they aren’t thin. Think about it.
The obesity epidemic is not simple to understand, nor remedy. If it was, we’d all be getting thinner. Perhaps…we are on the wrong track with all this talk of low-fat, no wait! low-carb, no wait! vegetarian, no wait! paleo/primal ping-ponging. It’s time to get back to basics.