The Mystery of Metabolism

As Dylan returned to health and gained weight, his figure remained reassuringly slim, just slightly more well-defined and muscly. This was very encouraging for me. I’d never look as good, but perhaps I could gain weight without rolls of fat bulging over my belt.

I’d no idea how, though. The human metabolism is a confusing thing that seems to operate by magic. It isn’t just an arena where a simple mathematics of weight gain and loss is resolved. It is a dynamic, highly responsive, self-regulating, living system of hormones and enzymes and gut-bacteria and neural signals and metabolic responses and cognitive de-sensitivities, and habit-formation and formative experiences and leptin and ghrelin and insulin and dopamine and serotonin and DNA that’s triggered or not, and environment and growth hormones and LOVE  and the empty calories in alcohol and DANCING and exam stress and catholic guilt…

This makes it difficult to control. Weight and energy levels and body shape are very wayward. They change in fits and starts and swoops and spikes and troughs. You’ll eat something dreadful and feel dreadful, but your weight will stay stubbornly the same; you’ll diet for ages and lose virtually nothing. This continues until you tame your body, break it to your will by driving your weight right down and holding it there. When your body is at the limits of what it can sustain, it all becomes reassuringly predictable. You eat: you gain weight. You restrict and over-exercise: instantly your weight plummets.

And who cares what you look like?

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