Why You Get Fat, and Stay FAT, Meet Your Saboteur

February 18, 2019

ReferencesBright Line Eating,

Did you know you have a saboteur living inside you? Well, I'm going to introduce you to yours. Well, at least to the ideas that allow you to see your own foibles and fallibilities. If you want a fuller and better explanation, read Susan Thompson's book, Bright Line Eating

Here goes. The first insight to understand is that the human brain is not a single isolated entity that represents you. You are not governed by the dictator named "You". Rather, what you perceive as "yourself" is actually a raucous democracy with multiple parts of your brain yelling for air time, screaming for attention. All on the surface is calm, but deep down, different parts of your brain are seizing the moment, when their moment arises. An example of such a moment would be when you try the experiment of holding your breath for two minutes. Your brain stem, the part of your primitive lizard brain is in charge of oxygen, and you are now at war with your brainstem. Your brain stem is in charge of keeping you alive. As the seconds tick by, your conscious upper brain that is curious about this experiment gets shouted down by your brainstem that takes over and screams at you to give it up, stupid, or you are going to die. You breathe. Brain stem wins. So now you are aware of different messages coming from different parts, all of them sounding like "you". 

Let's do a unique experiment to show now this turns into a conundrum. Let's find four men who have had a surgical procedure splitting their brains in half to stop horrible, unrelenting seizures. The surgery worked. The seizures stopped. But so did the communications between the two parts of their brains. Now, show the men pictures. Remember, the left brain has speech and is analytical. The right brain recognizes patterns. The left brain controls the right side of the body's muscles and vision, and vice versa. Lot's of things cross over. Now they don't. They men were given matching pictures, like a chicken and a chicken foot, or a snowy house and a snow shovel. They were assigned to match them with a picture on one side but the matching picture on the other side. The men couldn't make the match. But they didn't simply accept the disconnect and say, "Huh, I have no idea why I made that silly match." Instead, they confabulated and made up all sorts of odd and unreal reasons. They weren't even aware of their own web of odd stories. Why? Well, the left hemisphere is in charge of making sense of things. And it simply takes the messages it has and puts a story together to make sense of it all. Out it comes, bizarre as it might be. 

What are the implications? They are huge. Remember back to the messages you are getting from your sugar-addicted nucleus accumbens? You just had two chocolate chips and your Left Hemisphere Interpreter (aka: Your Saboteur) made sense of it and came up with a story that bubbled up into your consciousness. You didn't even see it coming, or feel it as a bald lie, going against all your beliefs, intentions, will power. You just bought into it and accepted it graciously. "Yes, I deserve another 40 chocolate chips. No, make it 100 because I had a hard day." "Oh what the heck, make it the second bag and let's put in on some ice cream". And your saboteur whispers in your ear, in one voice, "You deserve it." 

[And you know what happens next? You watch your own behavior and see what a loser you are, and make a judgment about yourself based on what you just observed. Your perception of yourself is not based on your inner moral compass as much as it is on your brain observing your behavior and seeing what you do. (That's called] (That's called Self Perception Theory). When you see your Saboteur winning, time after time, you get a pretty low perception of yourself.

And that's the genius of Susan Thompson's Bright Line Eating. It's not you that is broken. It is your brain that is broken by the foods you are eating. The addicting nature of sugar and flour tips the balance of wiring in your brain. With that set in motion, you accumulate fat, alter leptin, block your brainstem from leptin messages and off you go on a journey of weight gain and failure.

Only one way out. Make a bright line. No sugar, no flour, no snacks. Weigh your food and watch your success.

WWW: What will work for me. Well, I've been intrigued trying to listen to my own inner voices shouting for attention. After a four-mile winter hike at the Hiking Club potluck, I made good food choices with salad and jambalaya. Then I found the apple cake with cream cheese icing. I deserved it because I had just walked four miles in the snow. But did I deserve two pieces, the second one being from the middle where the icing was double thick? It's a wonder I escaped while half the pan was still there with 12 more pieces to go. I went four days this week being sugar-free. I've bought some new teas that taste good without sugar or sweetener. Progress in millimeters is still progress. I can see the inner voices doing battle. How are yours doing?

Pop Quiz

  1. Who runs your state of consciousness? Answer: You have multiple parts of your brain responsible for different functions, but your left hemisphere has got language and when we think in language terms, we rely on that integration. So, call it your left brain
  2. What does the cerebellum do? Answer: this is a huge new topic. We have been taught for years that it was what coordinated your muscle movement and that was about it. Wrong. It has half the cells of your brain and is deeply involved in many more functions. Stay tuned. New topic outside the scope today but likely key to future understanding.
  3. What does your Saboteur do? Answer: It makes up rational reasons for your listening to and acting upon dissonant messages from broken parts of your brain.
  4. Remind me, what's broken? Answer: sugar and flour deplete your nucleus accumbens of dopamine meaning you need more and more to get the same hit, just like with heroin and cocaine. And they both help you gain weight and make you leptin resistant, making your brain stem unresponsive to leptin via insulin resistance. Finally, you run out of will power and open up the fridge. "What looks good tonight?" You get insatiable hunger, horrible cravings and failing willpower.
  5. What's the best way to combat all this? Answer: New habits that take the willpower equation off the table. This will be next week.