We talk a lot about the benefits of getting down to a healthy weight and having a trim waistline. Obesity is one of the acknowledged targets of the government with new dietary guidelines.
I can attest to the benefits of reducing excess fat from your body. Your clothes fit better, indeed, you get to go out shopping for a new wardrobe with the latest fashions and nicer looking outfits. You have more energy and your disposition generally becomes more sunny. Lastly, you get wonderful feedback from your friends and acquaintances on how good you look.
Yet, as a person who has experienced all that, there was also one significant drawback to my trimming down from a 44 inch waist to a 34 inch one. Can you guess what it was?
I’ll give you a hint – it has to do with winter.
Okay, it is very logical and yet I was totally surprised by it, like a well-written piece of fiction. When you drop all that fat – insulation – you become much more sensitive and vulnerable to the cold. That’s right. When winter comes around, I get out what we used to call long johns. Now it is ‘base layers.’ I start wearing my base layer in late October here in Chicago. Once the temps fall below 40F, I wear long johns. And I keep them on through March.
I asked my doctor about this phenomenon. Since it is my skin – on the outside – that feels the cold, why should what happens under the skin have an impact on my sensation of cold? This seemed a reasonable question. I understand the principle of insulation, but it is the outside that feels the cold so what difference does it make if we burn off 10 inches of fat – insulation – underneath the skin around my waistline?
The answer which is simple and obvious never occurred to me. It has to do with our core. Our major organs are in our midsection – the part that is insulated by the fat. When we burn that fat off, we figuratively expose our major organs to the cold. And, we get a very real sense of the cold that we never had before. So, we need to cover up with more insulation – to replace the fat.
The good news is that the solution is a simple one. I now ‘layer up.’ The long johns are the first line of defense against the cold. They are a good one. I have also become the biggest fan of the Eddie Bauer stores. They sell all that wonderful mountaineering equipment which weighs very little but affords super protection against the cold. I have purchased from them some excellent ‘systems’ which include an outer water repellent windproof shell which goes over a thin down-like jacket. It does the job. There is no wind that can blow through that combination. And, it is lightweight too.
When the temp drops below 20F, I put on my flannel-lined pants over the long johns for extra protection. I happen to be a dog owner and as every dog owner knows, there is nothing colder than taking Fido for a leisurely walk in freezing cold, because Fido doesn’t rush or even walk fast. So, the dog walker is very exposed to the elements.
Regular readers may be wondering how this sensitivity affects my bike riding which I continue year ’round here in Chicago. Because cycling is such an excellent cardiovascular activity, I have little problem with the cold. I do wear several layers and the cold does not deter me from riding.
So, the good news is that there is an excellent technological answer to the downside of burning off all your fat. You can still enjoy outdoor activities as before. Just dress correctly for the temperature.
With that in mind, I hope you can set about your own weight loss program with a clear view of what you have to look forward to.