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More on Influences on Weight

Let’s move on, shall we, from believing that weight is based solely on what and how much we eat. Learning about other factors influencing weight can help take pressure off yourself for doing something “wrong” or for not doing enough of what’s “right.”

“Could bacteria be influencing your weight?” by Gina Kolata (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 9/6/13) tells us that gut bacteria “may help determine if a person is fat or thin.” The study involved mice and humans, in this case twins, one obese and one lean. Dr. Michael Fischbach of the University of California, though not involved in this twin study, called the findings “the clearest evidence to date that gut bacteria can help cause obesity.”

Does this mean that if you have fat-generating bacteria, you’re destined to be fat? Interestingly, the answer is no. It seems that “the part of the study that most surprised other experts [ie, those not part of the study], was an experiment indicating that, given the right diet, it might be possible to really change the bacteria in a fat person’s gut so that they promote leanness rather than obesity.” Of course, we have no indication that the knowledge necessary for this kind of protocol is going to help heavy people any time soon. Still, this idea gives hope, especially in terms of future generations.

What about my weight? you might ask. I’m getting to that. The reason I often blog about possible genetic and physiological roots of obesity circles back to my initial comment about how people who carry more weight than they’d like feel about it. If you haven’t done it already, it really is time (past time) to cease comparing yourself to others, stop wondering why the gazillion diets you’ve been on haven’t worked to keep weight off, and why even when you restrict calories, the pounds just don’t melt away. There are factors you can control and those you can’t, and it’s possible that your particular gut bacteria might fall into the latter category and not (right now) promote leanness.

What too many people who want to lose weight feel when they hear this is despair: Why bother to try to lose weight if their body is working against them? I understand that you’ve been frustrated, but even if you can’t be the weight you want, you have it within your power to be, and it is your responsibility to get, healthier. Hopelessness stems from all-or-nothing thinking: If I can’t have a thinner body, then I don’t care. The truth is that maybe you can’t have a leaner body, but you can always, always have a fitter, healthier one. Shift your focus from weight to health and you’ll feel far more in charge of your life.

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