Ok, this is going to be a little strange and just a bit gross. You’ve been warned.
I’ve noticed something happening lately, and I’m so glad my cursory internet research proved that I’m not alone. The areas of my body with the most subcutaneous fat (arms, stomach, neck) are getting super squishy!
For those of you who aren’t doctors or nerds who research things like this for your blog posts, there are generally two types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral.
Subcutaneous fat is the type that most people think of – the stuff sitting right under your skin that tends to be soft, even if it’s filling up the available skin.
Visceral fat is like what happens to men when they get a Dad-gut (beer belly). It’s harder than subcutaneous fat, and is more dangerous to your health. Apparently, most young women don’t deal much with visceral fat, which is good, because it’s harder to get rid of.
So, back to the squishy fat, which one internet poster described as “like a bean bag with some of the stuffing taken out.” Yep, that works. Much better than “cheese curd.” Ew.
It’s a very strange sensation, to be able to take fat between your fingers, separate it from muscle, and know that the reason you can do that is because less of it is taking up the same amount of skin-space. In fact, I can flex the muscle while doing this, and feel its every movement. So weird.
Aside: Um, so I’ll admit that these days, instead of absent-mindedly twirling my hair, I’m absent-mindedly fiddling with my arms or other areas where I’m seeing major fat loss. It’s like I’m continually rediscovering a body that keeps changing. That sounds really strange, but apparently it’s very normal (especially for a tactile learner). That’s the story I’m sticking with, at least.
In searching for an explanation of the squishy fat online, I found that several posters referenced one specific blog post, “Of Whooshes and Squishy Fat.”
Lyle McDonald describes the sensation as small “marbles” under the skin, which are fat cells that have been drained of their contents (triglycerides) and filled with water, your body’s response to the “sudden” loss of fat after so many years of having it. The water eventually “whooshes” out, and the fat cell deflates (but can never completely go away).
It’s like the cell is using a bag of popcorn to save a seat at the movies for your fat, which is never coming back. Eventually, the cell comes to terms with the reality of the situation and gives up on ever seeing the fat again, knocks the popcorn onto the floor in anger, but won’t give up the seat for some guy who’s gonna text the whole time. (Ok, that metaphor got a little out of control).
It’d make sense, then, that as my measured triglyceride levels are going steadily down (under 200, woohoo!), my fat has gotten squishier, the movie seats are emptying, and I can feel the totally awesome muscles I’m building during my personal training sessions.
Also, apparently this can happen in slow-fast-slow-fast spurts. This would explain why in the past week or so, my face has slimmed down “suddenly.” It’s actually been happening slowly, with the fat cells being supplemented by water, and then over the past few days, the “whoosh” happening.
Isn’t this stuff crazy? Our bodies are mystifying, incredibly complex structures that don’t always behave as expected. The sooner we realize that, the easier it is to deal with the ups and downs of weight loss.