Bring Up Fat—Why I Am Getting Chubbier

Olya Kobruseva|

As we grow old, our bodies change enormously. Our skin seems to get drier or, at least, more sensitive. Our hearing steadily decreases, and our overall strength diminishes (that uniquely happens if we stop exercising sufficiently). I had no difficulties believing any of the above, and I knew that all these things would one day happen to me. However, I am pretty stubborn. I could not admit that one day my body would start abruptly gaining weight. This resistance was a product of my childhood. As a child and as a teenager, I struggled with what was considered a drastically low body weight. Other children and teenagers would seek to humiliate me by spreading lies about my weight. They would tell their comrades that I was anorexic and therefore disgusting. The truth was that I never, thankfully, suffered from any eating disorders. Not then and not now.

From what I understand, I had a fantastic metabolism, which allowed me to eat whatever I wanted without my body having to store it. Two elements could explain why this was the case; either the tremendous level of activity that I had to maintain or my chronic anxiety. My mother, seeking all possible relief from our sometimes overbearing presence, insisted that my sisters and I went outdoors right after completing our homeworks. We were only allowed back inside at sunset, when it was time for us to go to bed. During the weekend, we spent most, if not all, of our time outside. Fortunately, I had sisters to keep me company, and we would keep each other entertained through games and simulated adventures. Being considered the most responsible one (I was deemed the oldest, despite having a twin sister) was often a burden I had to carry. Over time, anxiety finally got its hold over me.

Meruyert Gonullu|

All that said, I seemed incapable of developing any fat. Not only was my classmates’ harassment pushing me to try gaining some weight, but also my family physician tried encouraging me to do so. I honestly couldn’t manage it. I concluded that I would never be able to change anything about this and not even through ageing. After high school years were over, my slim figure started attracting a different kind of attention. This change got me to begin making peace with my appearance. I was then confident enough to get my first boyfriend; I was 18 years old. It sadly didn’t last. I sincerely believe, in hindsight, that the only thing he was after was my physical appearance. A similar situation happened with the second boyfriend, which led me to adopt a no romantic relationship rule. I was despising the attention I was getting from men and women. Men, indeed, were attracted by my appearance but couldn’t care about my feelings. As for the women, they were starting rumours about me saying that I was a very loose woman and without honour.

RODNAE Productions|

I then had a newly acquired mission and determination. I had to gain weight. To do that, I stopped all the physical activities I was doing (Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Dancing, Running and Working out). All that while maintaining the same food intake. Little did I know that this mission would be way easier to accomplish than I thought. In only the span of two years, I had gained 22.5 kg (50 lbs) in fat. However, for the first time ever, I was okay with my appearance. I was beginning a relationship with a fantastic man, and he was accepting me, not for my looks, but for my personality and my wits. As such, my weight stayed more or less stable for the next six years. Only recently did I realize that my health was beginning to suffer from this excess mass. I knew I had to gain muscle mass and reduce the sheer amount of fat I had accumulated so far.

I knew that I had to pick up physical activity back again. I had to start burning more energy than I was consuming, which would kick-start ketosis. Ketosis would allow me to transform this fat into ketones bodies which I could use as an energy source. However, two years ago, being active was truthfully tricky to implement since I was suffering from chronic muscular pain disorder. The stress on my joints created from my excess weight was beginning to hurt me, which again brings me to the importance of losing weight. I then started intermittent fasting, which also activates ketosis. With intermittent fasting only, I succeeded in losing approximately 11 kg (25 lbs), which allowed me to be active once again. I started taking regular walks and working to further my improvement, but I know that all this is a work in progress. Dropping everything now would mean having to start everything all over again next month.

Fat cells are also referred to as adipocytes and can live up to ten years. This statement means that they can hold the memory of their characteristics for a very long time. Thus, cells that have been massive for a very long time will try their best to stay this way. So you really have to keep watch over your food intake and physical activity for a good ten years. Otherwise, the product of all your hard work would disappear faster than you can possibly imagine. Although, many other characteristics may be desirable in fat cells, like their type (determined by their colour). In all three types, the cells holding a brown colouration (brown adipocytes) are more beneficial. Mainly present in newborns, these cells are essentially responsible for producing heat instead of storing fat, like the white adipocytes. However, most adults possess these white adipocytes, which make us more prone to accumulating fat. Here, not all hope is lost since there are ways to change white adipocytes into beige adipocytes, which share some common attributes observed in brown adipocytes.

RODNAE Productions|
Andre Furtado|

These adipocytes’ colour modification is also called cell “browning.” You can achieve such change by either repeated exposure to cold or exercise. As for the exposure to cold, the temperature that we are exposing ourselves to does not need to be extreme. It barely needs enough chilling power to engage our body to start producing heat. So reducing our ambient room temperature to a few degrees can be sufficient, or going outside on a chilly day for a quick walk can also do the trick. Personally, I started dressing up more lightly when I am at home, which is somewhat of a big deal since I am oversensitive to cold. I am always used to dressing up super warmly. For example, I typically wear sweaters even during summer. As for exercise, any moderate activity can do. I sporadically practise yoga. I regularly walk and work out. Occasionally, I treat myself with the opportunity to go hiking.

Besides helping with fat “browning,” exercise also helps to isolate adipocytes to the parietal region. This region refers to mainly what is attached to the skin. Fat cells nearing organs (visceral fat) are especially threatening. They significantly increase the risk of developing the following: heart attack, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Additional recommendations to keep this balance in check would be to adopt a better diet and integrate stress management techniques into our lifestyle. An adequate diet should include healthy food with low levels of transformation, and it should be well balanced. We should avoid all products containing highly processed (refined) sugar. We should opt for leaner meat and introduce fish in our feeding habits. Stress management techniques could include, but are not limited to, yoga and meditation. Both these techniques should help keep stress hormones, like corticosteroids, in check as they are known to increase visceral fat accumulation.

Andrea Piacquadio|

Just remember that it does not matter how hard we all try; we all must keep a certain percentage of fat in our bodies. Actually, on average, fat will account for 15% of the men’s total mass and 22% of the women’s total mass. This percentage can even rise to 50% without the person being considered morbidly obese. Still, muscle cells weigh more than adipocytes when comparing their respective density. The density of muscle cells is 1.1 g/mL compared to 0.9 g/mL for adipocytes. That should explain why we seem to plateau after a while of working out regularly. We may not stop losing fat but instead gaining a massive amount of muscle.

Fun fact: The only place where we will never accumulate fat is in our eyelids.

I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.

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Bring Up Biophilia—What makes us particularly attracted to nature

No one can dismiss the amazing feeling we get after spending some time in nature. We instantly feel relaxed and reinvigorated. Some might attribute this effect to time spent far away from work, and even though they could be correct, it is not the whole picture. Biophilia is a relatively new concept that brought the…

Bring Up Blood—How our oxygen gets carried throughout our body

Good evening my dearest followers, Please, take a moment to enjoy this excerpt for my newest post (Bring Up Blood). We could most certainly not live without blood. It is absolutely essential for the survival of our most distant limbs and organs. Even though almost all of our respiration is thanks to our respiratory organs,…


Bring Up Snow – What is that fluff coming down the sky


I have very mixed feelings about snow. On one hand, I like watching snow fall down from the sky, but more precisely, I thoroughly enjoy examining their intricate designs. Also, snow forms such a beautiful white and shiny coat on the ground. Moreover, It is also a phenomenal medium to express our creativity. On the other hand, I hate being in the middle of snowfalls as snowflakes always seem to end up in my eyes. Plus, I particularly dislike how snow perpetually shows up with cold temperatures. I must say that I sincerely detest cold, as I am hugely sensitive to it. My typical ideal temperature is around 25°C. Despite the collection of statements I have made, I have to make a sizeable nuance. If you ignore the cold temperature, which is technically a different matter entirely, then my appreciation for snow would outweigh any aversion that I might hold against it.

Furthermore, snow has often been the centrepiece of my childhood memories, so we can say that snow holds an invaluable place in my heart. Snow has eventually forged its way to gain my love and is now at the heart of my most cherished and happy memories. When I think of it, I usually think about Christmas, a white Christmas. So it is not surprising that one of my earliest memories happened around Christmas. This memory takes place in early December. Despite having our natural Christmas tree entirely decorated (which always seemed to bring me joy), I remembered feeling somewhat uncheerful. I was feeling spiritless simply because there was no snow outside. Typically in Québec (Canada), around this period, there is always snow on the ground. Its absence seemed to take away my anticipation of holidays. Without snow, it seemed like any other day. I know that even as a kid, I was acting overly tragic. However, such things are not uncommon for children. Anyhow, two days before Christmas, a snowfall began and the soil, frozen by that time, was unable to melt it. We got a white Christmas after all, which had been the case for as long as I can recall. Even to this day, I have yet to experience a non-white Christmas. This means that as soon as snow makes its first permanent appearance, it always makes me look forward to Christmas. Every time the first snow settles on the ground, I can immediately feel the excitement and joy most often ignited by the spirit of Christmas.

A second memory involves snowmen creation. For about four years, my little sister and I had a yearly tradition which was, as you may have guessed already, building a snowman. But who cares about a stereotypical snowman formed of three snowballs, one carrot, buttons and a top hat? Certainly not us. Our snowman took the shape of a bear which granted it the apparent name of “snowbear”. We had so much fun accessorizing it. Every year, we tried using many different objects to customize the snowbear; from berets to hats, and from rocks to marbles. We had lots of fun, and the fact that only my little sister and I shared this tradition made these moments quite special to me. That tradition, unfortunately, stopped once I moved out of our family nest. Nonetheless, every time I see snow, it sparks a deep desire in me to build a snowbear or at least a snowman.

Hui Huang|

My third and last memory, which I’ll share with you, concerns snowball fights and attempts at building igloos or even slides. As a kid, my mother often insisted that my sisters and I go play outside for many hours. To keep us entertained, we often took it upon ourselves to start projects or elaborated activities. Snow fights required planning since we had to build snowball reserves (I must admit, this was a made-up rule). Making igloos required strength, so creating a digging schedule, by splitting the work between all girls, was essential. As for the slides, we had to use ingenuity. Often enough, when we started using them, they wouldn’t be working properly. So we had to troubleshoot and then solve the problems. The snow was really like a toy used to express our creativity and to stimulate cooperation between every single one of us. These moments are irrevocably unforgettable childhood memories. 

Karolina Grabowska|
Egor Kamelev|

I first learned about snow in elementary school, and that moment was truly extraordinary. I always loved learning and, even more so, learning through experimentation. You can’t see me now, but if you could, you would see the huge smile that just appeared on my face. That day started like any other day, but suddenly in the afternoon, things began to change. I remember the teacher telling us that snow was a type of precipitation and that every snowflake was different and unique. It was at this moment that she introduced the experiment. We would be allowed to go outside to observe snowflakes in real-time. First, we had to pick a black construction sheet of paper and then we left our desks to move outdoors. That afternoon there was a light snowfall for which I remember the teacher being so delighted to see since the experiment involved examining the snowflakes depositing on our sheet. The fact that the sheet was dark allowed us to isolate and analyze each snowflake better. I remember looking at the uniqueness of the snowflakes and believing that it was pure magic.

For simplicity’s sake, the water cycle can be described in the following stages: evaporation, condensation and precipitation. Evaporation happens when water changes from a liquid state to a gas state. The water in the gas state moves towards the sky to eventually form clouds by condensation. The air at cloud-level, being colder, transforms water molecules back to a liquid state. But since they are sufficiently light, they remain in the sky, creating the clouds we can see. Once the water droplets become heavy enough, they proceed to fall towards the ground to form what we know as precipitation. So you might be apt at this point to tell that snow is just one form of precipitation, and you would be absolutely right. It might not be magic, but it’s still pretty darn incredible if you ask me. Only a small change in temperature is sufficient to determine which form of precipitation it will be, either rain or snow. So as I said previously, high up in the clouds, evaporation and condensation will produce many fine droplets. The droplets will remain in their liquid form if the temperature is sufficiently high. As the fine droplets join together, they become increasingly heavier and lead to the formation of rain. If the temperature starts to drop, then the droplets will solidify around a speck of dust and crystallize. This process is responsible for creating their unique shape. Their crystal shape is, in truth, the reason why they are so shiny when you observe them at night and why snow appears white in daylight. Snow is white as a product of the reflection of all visible light.

As for the stickiness of snow, it depends solely on the surrounding humidity level in the air. The more moist the air is, the stickier the snow will be since it will have a chance to collect water in its liquid form during its fall. The presence of liquid water amongst the snow creates additional weight since liquid water has more molecules (for the same volume) than its solid form. This statement determines why the clumpy snow, which forms in humid conditions, is so heavy. This type of snow creates what we call fluffy snow, which is particularly perfect for building snowmen. This is strictly possible if it does not melt right away, which is quite likely. Indeed, snowfalls have no chance to accumulate until the ground gets completely frozen, which happens to coincide with the approach of December. If the soil is even partially thawed, there is enough heat to make it melt right away. So that’s why we don’t see much snow accumulation before the week preceding Christmas. However, once the ground has frozen, snow is there to stay at least for a while. Fun fact, the snow is a surprisingly good insulator for the soil, which is why it takes so long for the ground to unfreeze in Spring and thus for the snow to go away.

Alex Kozlov|
Gustav Lundborg|

But the accumulation of snow depends on the amount of precipitation. Unfortunately, when precipitations are insufficient, ski resorts that make most of their money during Winter can be irreparably hurt, financially speaking. This possible inconvenience is the reason for them to often rely on the use of artificial snow cannons. These machines are essentially spraying water into the cold air, which instantly changes it into snow. The resulting snow is dryer since it didn’t have much time to collect water molecules present in the air. This snow has consequently less adherence than natural snow, which many skiers and snowboarders truly dislike. However, let’s just say that it’s still better than nothing at all—What would you say?

I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.